A Q & A with Rory Clements

Rory Clements is the author of Nucleus, published by Zaffre, hardback, £12.99. To celebrate the upcoming release of the second novel in the Tom Wilde series he has kindly agreed to stop by and do a Q & A. I have read the first book in the series  Corpus and you can find my thoughts on it here. To make it easier for you to follow, all my questions will be in blue and Rory Clements responses will be in bold. I’d just like to thank Rory for agreeing to doing this Q & A, and I’d also like to thank Emily for organising it. I hope you enjoy the Q & A.


Hi Rory, thank you for agreeing to do this Q & A with me.

I’ll jump straight into the questions:

NUCLEUS is your ninth novel, the second book in your Tom Wilde series, how do you feel with the publication date so close? Are you doing anything to celebrate?

I think I’ll have a glass or two of red wine.

This is probably quite a difficult question for me to ask but, how would you describe NUCLEUS in ten words?

Tom Wilde must save a child to protect the world.

Both of your series are historical novels, what drew you to writing a series set in Elizabethan England and the late 1930s?

They are set at times of extreme peril, when enemies send agents in to England and threaten invasion. They both feature the world’s oldest secret service, founded by Sir Francis Walsingham in Elizabeth’s reign and continued by MI5 and MI6 in more recent days. The perfect canvas for a series of thrillers.

Who or what was your inspiration for Professor Thomas Wilde?

I wanted an outsider – someone not impressed by the rather effete university types found in Brideshead Revisited. So Tom Wilde is half American, half Irish. He is inspired by two specific Americans: Conyers Read, an American historian who studied at Oxford and wrote the definitive biography of Sir Francis Walsingham and was later involved in setting up the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime forerunner of the CIA, and James Jesus Angleton, also American but a survivor of an English public school and later chief of CIA counter-intelligence. He was a friend of Kim Philby and, like everyone else, was betrayed by him. But Tom Wilde is neither of these two men, nor an amalgam of them. He is very much his own man.

Was there a particular reason that you chose Cambridge as the main setting for this series?

Cambridge in the 1930s was a political cauldron – and the breeding ground of the spies Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt. It also produced the men who split the atom, developed radar, broke the Enigma code and started the computer age. And it just happens to be a gorgeous place within easy reach of my Norfolk home.

You worked for several newspapers; do you think that background has helped you with your writing?

Undoubtedly. In newspapers you quickly learn what makes a good story, because if you don’t you won’t last long. And then, of course, you have to tell that story well or face the editor’s wrath. It’s a shame so many modern ‘literary’ authors have lost the plot and forgotten their poor readers.

If you could give your younger self any writing tips what would they be?

Write, write, write…read, read, read. Expecting your debut novel to be brilliant is like someone picking up a tennis racket for the first time and going out to face Federer on Centre Court. Tennis isn’t easy, nor is writing. You need thousands of hours of practice. Stick with it and never stop trying to improve yourself.

Typically how much research do you do before you start writing?

Half a year of reading, travelling, experimenting and talking to the experts.

And to end on a lighter note what, if anything, are you currently reading?

I’m reading a mass of history books to help me with No.3 in the Tom Wilde series. The most recent novel I enjoyed was The Binding Song by Elodie Harper. It’s a very atmospheric thriller set in Norfolk. Highly recommended.

Nucleus by Rory Clements is out in hardback on the 25th January 2018. If you want to you can pre-order a copy on Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon UK, and The Book Depository.

Nucleus by Rory Clements

From the award-winning Sunday Times bestselling author of CORPUS

The eve of war: a secret so deadly, nothing and no one is safe

June 1939. England is partying like there is no tomorrow, gas masks at the ready. In Cambridge the May Balls are played out with a frantic intensity – but the good times won’t last… In Europe, the Nazis have invaded Czechoslovakia, and in Germany he persecution of the Jews is now so widespread that desperate Jewish parents send their children to safety in Britain aboard the Kindertransport. Closer to home, the IRA’s S-Plan bombing campaign has resulted in more than 100 terrorist outrages around England.

But perhaps the most far-reaching event of all goes largely unreported: in Germany, Otto Hahn has produced the first man-made fission and an atomic device is now a very real possibility. The Nazis set up the Uranverein group of physicists: its task is to build a superbomb. The German High Command is aware that British and US scientists are working on similar line. Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory is where the atom was split in 1932. Might the Cambridge men now win the race for a nuclear bomb? Hitler’s generals need to be sure they know all the Cavendish’s secrets. Only then will it be safe for Germany to wage war.

When one of the Cavendish’s finest brains is murdered, Professor Tom Wilde is once more drawn into an intrigue from which there seems no escape. In a conspiracy that stretches from Cambridge to Berlin and from Washington DC to the west coast of Ireland, he faces deadly forces that threaten the fate of the world.

Review: The House by Simon Lelic (Blog Tour)

This review is part of the #TheHouse blog tour.

The House by Simon Lelic

Title: The House
Author: Simon Lelic
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Penguin (3rd November 2017, 17th August 2017 in ebook)
Blurb:

The heart-stopping thriller about a husband and wife who are hiding something from each other, and from you…This book won’t let you go until you’ve found out the truth. Perfect for fans of Erin Kelly, Gillian Flynn and Fiona Barton.

Whose story do YOU believe?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door.

AND NOW THE POLICE ARE WATCHING THEM.

(Blurb taken from Penguin.co.uk)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

THE HOUSE is Simon Lelic’s first venture into the psychological thriller genre. The book is narrated by Londoners Jack and Sydney; a happy couple who, after years of scrimping and saving, managed to buy their first house together. The house seems perfect; everything they wanted to continue their lives properly together for the first time. The only slight downside to their purchase is that the house comes with contents from the previous owner and they have to decide what to do with it. Then Jack discovers something gruesome in the attic, but they decide to ignore it until someone is murdered right outside their back door.

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Review: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy (Blog Tour)

DoNotBecomeAlarmed-blogtourbannerNEW

This review is part of the Do Not Become Alarmed blog tour.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy (ARC copy)

Title: Do Not Become Alarmed
Author: Maile Meloy
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Viking (6th July 2017)
Blurb:

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship’s safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their shattered lives.

(Blurb taken from Penguin.co.uk)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

DO NOT BECOME ALARMED is the latest book to come from Maile Meloy. It’s a standalone novel that tells the story of a group of tourists who are on a cruise in Central America. Liv and Nora are cousins who decide to take their husbands and children away together to celebrate the holidays. After days spent aboard the ship they start to feel restless so they decide to leave the ship, and take part in one of the activities organised by the cruise liner. Unfortunately a series of small mishaps lead to a larger disaster for the women: their children go missing.

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Review: All the Good Things by Clare Fisher (Blog Tour)

This review is part of the All the Good Things blog tour.

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher (cover via Penguin.co.uk)

Title: All the Good Things
Author: Clare Fisher
Genre: Contemporary, Crime
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Viking (1st June 2017)
Blurb:

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?

All the Good Things is a story about redemption and hope for fans of Nathan Filer, Stephen Kelman and Emma Healey

(Blurb taken from Penguin.co.uk)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

ALL THE GOOD THINGS is Clare Fisher’s debut novel. The novel is comprised of letter’s written by the story’s protagonist Beth, who is twenty-one years old and is in prison for doing a bad thing. Through the course of the twenty-two letters we gradually learn more about Beth and her life prior to her ending up in prison, we also learn about the bad thing she did to get there. Although I found Beth a hard character to like, I think Fisher does a great job weaving together a narrative that is both compelling and heart breaking, where you find yourself rooting for Beth.

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Deposed by David Barbaree Q&A

Welcome to a post with a bit of a difference. Normally I just post reviews of books that I have read, so it has been a while since I posted a Q&A on my blog. I’d just like to say thank you to David Barbaree for agreeing to do this Q&A and to Emily of Bonnier Zaffre for arranging it. None of the questions or answers in this Q&A have spoilers. I hope you enjoy it.

Deposed by David Barbaree

More gripping than Game of Thrones and more ruthless than House of Cards – this a stunning new thriller of power, treachery and revenge

In a darkened cell, a brutally deposed dictator lies crippled – deprived of his power, his freedom – and his eyes.

On the edge of utter despair, his only companion is the young boy who brings him his meagre rations, a mere child who fears his own shadow. But to one who has held and lost the highest power, one thing alone is crystal clear: even emperors were mere children once.

Ten years later, the new ruler’s son watches uneasily over his father’s empire. Wherever he looks rebellion is festering, and those closest to him have turned traitor once before.

To this city in crisis comes a hugely wealthy senator from the very edge of the empire, a young and angry ward at his heels. He is witty but inscrutable, generous with his time and money to a leader in desperate need of a friend – and he wears a bandage over his blinded eyes.

The fallen emperor’s name is Nero.

But this isn’t his story.


Q&A

The Flutterby Room (TFR): Hey David, thanks for agreeing to stop by The Flutterby Room for a Q&A. DEPOSED is out on the 4 th May. It’s both your debut novel, and the first book in a trilogy. So my first question is, are you going to be doing anything to celebrate on publication day – or have you already celebrated?

David Barbaree (DB): Hi Becki. Thanks for having me.

It was exciting to land an agent and a publishing deal. But I think the biggest thrill was when I held the hardcopy in my hands. It finally felt real. After I’d admired it from every angle, my wife and I opened a bottle of wine to celebrate.

TFR: How would you describe DEPOSED in ten words?

DB: Fallen emperor, blinded and left for dead, seeks his revenge.

TFR: From the blurb we know that DEPOSED is set in Ancient Rome, was there anything in particular that drew you to that empire rather than Greece or Sparta?

DB: I’ve always been fascinated by ancient and medieval history. My love of Roman history in particular was cemented about ten years ago when I read John Julius Norwich’s series on the Byzantine Empire, which covers the later period of the Roman Empire. I worked backwards from there, to the earlier Imperial period and then the Republic. I’m not sure what it is about Rome that’s captured my attention. I’ve heard it said that it’s the combination of Rome’s similarities to our own time and the stark differences; how it’s both familiar and very foreign. I think that’s true. And everything is grander in Ancient Rome, the battles, the politics, the personalities. Also, the eight-year old in me will always love a good sword fight.

TFR: Nero is perhaps one of the more famous Roman Emperors, and although the blurb says DEPOSED isn’t his story, he was obviously a starting point for you. What drew you to him?

DB: I wanted to tell the story of a tyrant who, after he was deposed, blinded and left for dead, seeks his revenge. I’ve always loved the brutal protagonist the audience will reluctantly cheer for, like Walter White. Nero fit the bill. But he also had an artistic sensibility that didn’t really match the stories of the bloodthirsty hedonist. I think this made Nero more complicated and interesting than the commonly held view allows, and a compelling protagonist.

TFR: As this is an alternate history, was there a lot of research involved writing DEPOSED?

DB: You could call DEPOSED an alternative history. But I went to great lengths to exploit gaps in the historical record so that the story could be true. Obviously, it didn’t happen the way the book depicts, but the gaps were useful to me as a novelist. For example, the historical record from Vespasian’s reign (the emperor who eventually succeeded Nero) is sparse at best. I wanted the story to be not necessarily true but possible. So I spent a lot of time researching the period, and I did my best to make it an accurate, compelling recreation of Ancient Rome.

TFR: How long did it take you to write DEPOSED – was it something you just sat down and churned out, or did the idea come to you gradually?

DB: It took about 6 years in total. But at first I didn’t work on it fulltime. It began as a hobby. I’d re-write the opening chapters again and again, teaching myself to write. At the same time, I would research the period. Eventually it grew into an obsession. I wrote the last half of the book over about a three month span.

TFR: You’re a lawyer, a busy job by all accounts; did you find it difficult to find them time to write?

DB: Yes. But I found I could carve time out in the mornings before work. I didn’t mind getting up early because I enjoyed writing.

TFR: And my final question is what are you reading right now?

DB: I’m just finishing up Conclave by Robert Harris, which I’d highly recommend. It’s both a thriller and a fascinating procedural on how Pope’s are elected. Harris is exceptional at pacing a novel.


David Barbaree is a lawyer and a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative Writing School. He lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter. His  debut novel DEPOSED is out on May 4th 2017. You can pre-order it on Amazon UK, Foyles or The Book Depository. Or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown (Blog Tour)

This review is part of The Witchfinder’s Sister blog tour.

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown (UK edition)

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown (UK edition)

Title: The Witchfinder’s Sister
Author: Beth Underdown
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Viking (2nd March 2017)
Blurb:

‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Based on a true story, this beautiful and haunting historical thriller is perfect for fans of Sarah Waters, The Miniaturist and Burial Rites.

(Blurb from Penguin.co.uk)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER is Beth Underdown’s debut novel. The story is set in England in the seventeenth century, and follows the story of Alice Hopkins. In 1645 Alice is forced to return from London to the small Essex town of Manningtree to her brother Matthew’s house, after the death of her husband. She and Matthew left on poor terms, and she has not spoken to him apart from the letter she received notifying her of their mother’s death. The Matthew Alice returns to is very different from the brother she remembers. He now has powerful friends, and soon Alice hears that he is gathering a list of women’s names.

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Review: The One by John Marrs (Blog Tour)


This review is part of The One blog tour.

The One by John Marrs

The One by John Marrs

Title: The One
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Romance, Thriller
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Del Rey (4th May 2017, 26th January 2017 in ebook)
Blurb:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

(Blurb taken from Penguin.co.uk)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

The premise of John Marrs’s book THE ONE is an intriguing one – if there was a test you could take to find your perfect match, would you take it? In THE ONE we follow the stories of five people who submit their DNA, and find their perfect partner. Everyone has secrets they keep. All five stories are different, but linked through them using Match Your DNA to find the one person they are genetically made for. From there, their stories diverge. In THE ONE John Marrs tells a psychological thriller, peppered with romance, that will keep you turning the pages.

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Review: Corpus by Rory Clements (Blog Tour)

This review is part of the Corpus blog tour.

Corpus by Rory Clements

Corpus by Rory Clements

Title: Corpus
Author: Rory Clements
Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre (26th January 2017)
Blurb:

1936. Europe is in turmoil. The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland; in Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror; Spain has erupted in civil war.

In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within a week, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.

When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson . . .

Professor Wilde’s specialist subject is the Elizabethan secret service. As the scope of the conspiracy is revealed, he must use all the skills he has learnt to save the woman he loves and prevent a massacre.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

CORPUS by Rory Clements is the first book in a new spy thriller series. The story is set in late 1936, and tells the story of Cambridge history professor Thomas Wilde whose life gets caught up in a series of murders. The story is set during a period of great political turmoil within the UK as King Edward VIII is being forced to decide between Mrs Wallis Simpson and abdicating the throne. Something more than a few people are not happy about. Alongside this, Britain is split between the growing powers of Communism and Fascism, creating a huge powder keg about to explode.

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Review: Relativity by Antonia Hayes (Blog Tour)

This review is part of the Relativity Blog Tour.

Relativity by Antonia Hayes (UK edition)

Relativity by Antonia Hayes (UK edition)

Title: Relativity
Author: Antonia Hayes
Genre: Contemporary, Family
Source: The publisher
Publisher: CORSAIR (19th January 2017)
Blurb:

Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.

His single mother, Claire, is fiercly protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him for ever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.

Now aged twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father’s absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three of them together again.

Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.

Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

RELATIVITY by Antonia Hayes is a beautiful, poignant read. That is not to say it is a sad read, because it is not. RELATIVITY is full of life and hope. It tells the story of a twelve year-old boy who is obsessed with physics and astronomy, and of his parents. On the cusp of being a teenager, Ethan still views the world with a child’s wonder and curiosity. His mother Claire has brought him up on her own since he was small, and is fiercely protective of him. She has never told Ethan the truth of his father Mark, and why he’s no longer in their lives.

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Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

This review is part of the blog tour for #MySistersBones by Nuala Ellwood.

My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood (actual cover taken from Penguin.co.uk)

My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

Title:My Sister’s Bones
Author: Nuala Ellwood
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Penguin (9th February 2017, 1st November 2016 in ebook)
Blurb:

Kate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped their father. Her younger sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks.

But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.

At first Kate tells herself it’s just a nightmare. But then she hears it again. And this time she knows she’s not imagining it.

What secret is lurking in the old family home?
And is she strong enough to uncover it…and make it out alive?

(Blurb taken from Penguin.co.uk)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood (uncorrected proof copy)

My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood (uncorrected proof copy)

MY SISTER’S BONES by Nuala Ellwood tells the story of Kate Rafter a war correspondent with a troubled past. Her mother has died recently and Kate returns home to help her sister settle the estate. Once back in her childhood home Kate is woken by a terrifying scream. She convinces herself that it’s just a nightmare. Until she hears it again. Convinced something is wrong Kate tries to investigate, but being a reporter who has visited some of the most dangerous and harrowing places in the world comes at a price. Determined to find out what is going on and to lay the past to rest, Kate struggles not to lose her mind.

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