Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tales with a twist

In the movie that famously bears his name, Forrest Gump states that life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. I've often thought of short story collections in the same way.

For an author it's an opportunity to explore a wider range of themes and ideas than a novel might allow. A short fiction collection can delve into a number of sub-genres and for the reader it's a journey across a diverse landscape of places and characters.

My collection, SWITCHBACK STORIES, draws together some new tales along with a number of stories published through the years in publications such as The Australian Women's Weekly and the Scandinavian University Press. All with a twist in the tail.

When I was growing up in the 70's I remember a great deal of outrage and concern over the growing drug problem in communities world-wide. Many actions were put in place but the problem back then pales by comparison with the scope of the problem today. Corruption alone has often been the undoing of any good achieved as trillions were spent. The war against drugs is the background to one of the stories, 'The Silver Chameleon,' about an anti-drug lobbyist in Washington DC who is targeted by a crime cartel - with unexpected results.

At the other end of the spectrum there is a tale with an Australian countryside setting, where we meet an aimless drifter whose life takes a different turn when he encounters a struggling farming family.

SWITCHBACK STORIES touches on acts of good and acts of evil and the ripple effect our choices have. It has so far appeared on the Amazon US and UK Top 100 Mystery Collections & Anthologies lists and also reached #8 in Canada.

I'm planning another collection but right now I'm heading back into novel territory, so more on the release of my new suspense novel a little later in the year, and my thanks to all those readers who've shown so much support for the books.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Launch -Free Kindle Giveaway-Switchback Stories

Sometimes a writer has to knuckle down and work on a project to the exclusion of many other things. That's what I've been doing. As a result, a new novel is taking shape. And in the meantime, my first book of stories, a collection of short fiction previously published in magazines plus a few newbies, has been published. SWITCHBACK STORIES: Tales With A Twist, is available in Kindle ebook from Amazon sites, and the paperback is from Amazon and various online retailers. THE KINDLE EBOOK IS FREE TO DOWNLOAD THIS WEEKEND SAT 12TH APRIL-SUN 13TH, PACIFIC STANDARD TIME. The stories cover a range of mystery/suspense sub-genres, and include 'Secret Day,' based on a true story and published in several magazines as well as with the Scandinavian University Press. There's also an introduction that gives a little more background. You can check it out at amazon.com and amazon UK

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Q & A

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Linda Bonney Olin, an author, composer, farmer, lay preacher, book reviewer and blogger. Linda is a fellow member of a Mystery Suspense Writing Group on FB.

Linda has a talent for engaging her victims (sorry, I mean interviewees) in conversation and drawing out points of interest to readers. An extract from the interview follows - or you can read the full discussion at Linda's blog here.

Without spoiling any surprises for those who haven’t read ('Disappear,' and 'The Delta Chain,') yet, I’ll just say that both books incorporate elements of research science. Is that going to be the “brand” or hallmark of Iain Edward Henn novels?

No, I am interested in all aspects of the mystery/suspense genre. Science, forensics and high-tech may resurface from time to time.

Growing up in the 60’s I loved thrillers set just slightly ahead in time that envisaged future gadgetry and scientific developments. Forty years later I’m living in a world where many of those far-out concepts exist and are taken for granted in our day to day lives – cell phones, the internet, space stations, DNA. I’ve followed and researched scientific developments through the years.

Do you think it’s harder to write a convincing thriller or mystery nowadays? I mean, it’s a pretty short novel if the good guys can track down a crook in three pages, using the Internet and all that scientific technology.

Not at all, more likely the opposite. Criminal elements always find new ways to cheat the technology, or use it to their own ends. A troubling statistic is that cyber crime has been on the increase in many countries. Forensic details can be planted or misinterpreted. In The Delta Chain, a computer virus causes chaos and false trails, creating a whole new set of problems for the protagonists to solve.

In my Amazon review of The Delta Chain, I joked about the “croc-shock” giving me nightmares. But really, both of your books treat violence and sexual encounters with a degree of restraint and good taste I found refreshing in a genre where “realism” often means ultra-graphic blood and guts, constant profanity, and boom-chicka-wow-wow sex scenes.

I believe in the old adage that “less is more.” Sex, violence, bad language are sometimes necessary in thriller fiction, but that doesn’t mean the reader wants to be totally immersed in them to the detriment of the other elements of the story and the characters – the right balance is essential in all storytelling. Having said that, balance can be difficult. The scenes you refer to are the ones that received the most revision and rewriting and editing in order to strike just the right note.

What idea pestered you into writing The Delta Chain?

A few years ago I read in a local paper about an unsolved case – the body of a drowned man that had been found in a bay, and who remained unidentified after several months. Curiosity led me to research whether there were many cases like this and to my surprise I found there were many from around the world going back, in some cases, decades.

What aspects of writing come naturally to you?

I have a passion for stories. If I’m not looking for them, they find me anyway. I’ve usually got more ideas than I can possibly find the time to work on.

Which aspects of writing do you struggle with?

Finding the time and …pretty much everything, actually.

You and me both.

(On the subject of villians in thriller)... villains follow a different Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Or maybe “To get the gold, you’ve got to break the rules.” Part of the fun of reading thrillers is anticipating those nogoodniks getting their just deserts.

My books are primarily entertainment, however thriller fiction also serves as cautionary tales of the evil that is our world, and of the struggles and triumphs of the human spirit. People’s actions, responses and relationships are constantly influencing my fictional characters’ motivations.

Please answer the question I haven’t asked but would have if I’d known how interesting the answer would be.

On my first day in my first job, as a teenage despatch boy, I was sent on a foot errand to hand deliver letters in the Sydney CBD (Central Business District). I left the building via a back exit into a small narrow alleyway where I saw the body of a man crumpled on the ground. He had apparently just jumped out of a window in the building behind ours. There were several people pointing above and paramedics already approaching. I watched for a moment then went on my way to perform my trivial task in a bustling, crowded city.

When I returned an hour or so later, the body and all the surrounding activity was gone, there was just a chalk outline on the ground where the body had been.

This was just a couple of weeks before Xmas and I read later that Xmas was the worst time for suicides. I wondered who the man was and what had pushed him to this, and was struck by the irony that everything is very important to us while seemingly insignificant at the same time.

Over forty years later I still think of this from time to time and that chalk outline is often in the back of my mind when I’m telling the stories of my characters’ lives.

What a profound experience for a kid! For anyone, really. Hmmm… That image is going to stick with me for a while, too …

You can link to the full interview here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blog hopping with The Next Big Thing

I was invited to tag along with the The Next Big Thing Blog hop by Gayle Hayes, author of The Sunset Witness and The Scrimshaw Set novels.

The Next Thing Blog Hop issues 10 questions about your current Work In Progress which an author answers on their blog, and then tags other authors to do the same on their blogs or websites in the following week.

You can find out more about Gayle and her novels at http://wwwgaylehayes.blogspot.com.au/

Now - I can't reveal too much about my WIP, so in the spirit of Seinfeld I've tried to answer by telling you everything and nothing at the same time.

What is the title of your current work in progress?

There are two potential titles vying for attention, like siblings trying to outdo each other, so the jury's still out. We'll have to leave it as "Untitled." Most probably to be released under the same name as my first two novels, but who knows? So for the purposes of this interview, we'll call the WIP "Untitled," by Unknown. Hope that's clear :)

I've always had a sneaking suspicion that a book called Untitled by Unknown with a vague synopsis would be a big seller.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

There were several inspirations. A visit to a family member at a medieval-style battle- fun day made me wonder how those methods would fit into a modern day crime scenario. A news story a few months later added fuel to the idea.

What genre does the book fall under?

Suspense/Thriller

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In keeping with the noncommittal tone of 'Untitled," by Unknown, I'd want - for the male lead character - Mr. Up-And-Coming-About-To-Break-Big. And for the female star - Ms. About-To-Be-This-Year's-IT Girl. I'd sign them up now if I knew who they were.

For the second male lead -  a laid-back but dedicated FBI guy - I could see Chris Hemsworth or Sam Worthington fitting the bill. But they'd have to work for free. Tight budget.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

If we told you what this book is about, we'd have to kill you.

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

I'm currently publishing through my own imprint, Sunfire, but this is a rapidly-changing industry and so it's important to keep all options open. Never say never...except when you do.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

18 months. Currently revising and editing.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

My previous novels, 'Disappear,' and 'The Delta Chain,' are thrillers with underlying elements of science, forensics and high-tech. My new work will have a mix of some of those. I'm crap at comparing to other books, however I can say that some of the authors I've read and been inspired by, who have books with some of those elements, are Allan Folsom, John Case, Tess Gerritsen.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have read accounts of executives, who walked away from the corporate world after a life-changing event. It caused them to revaluate what they were looking for in life. I  felt many people, including myself,  could identify with events that cause them such reflections. My novel's main protaganist is confronted with this.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

For several years there have been growing protests against economic and social inequality, for example the G8 protests and the Occupy Movement. My thriller blends the ancient and the modern against this backdrop as a murder investigation unfolds.


Joining me on the Blog Hop are the following authors

Chris Everheart at http://www.ChrisEverheart.com

and

Grettir Jacob at http://grettirjacobs.com/

Check their blogs for their Next Big Thing interviews from  Wednesday 23rd January.



Monday, October 29, 2012

The Delta Chain's Breakthrough on Amazon US lists

Over the past week, 'The Delta Chain,' appeared for the first time on the Amazon US Paid Top 100 lists. (Woo hoo! as they say in the classics).

It reached #6 in Technothrillers, #7 in Police Procedurals, #37 in Thrillers, and featured in sponsored posts on Kindle Nation Daily, Cents-ible Ereads, Flurries Of Words, Ereader News Today, FK Books and Tips and Bargain Ebook Hunter. Currently with 13 reviews, averaging 4.2 sars on Amazon US, and 10 reviews from UK readers, averaging 4.5 stars, on Amazon UK.

My interview with Anthony Wessel, from Digital Book Today, can now also be found on The Delta Chain's US Kindle ebook page, or here at DBT 

A big, personal thank you to all those who've supported the book over time.

You can check it out at amazon.com or at amazon.co.uk 


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Time travel, rock'n'roll and Stephen King...now there's a combo


I’m a bit of a sucker for time travel stories. On an entirely different note, Stephen King has written some of my favourite novels over the years. (The Green Mile comes to mind).
So when I saw that King had published an epic time travel novel, “11.22.63” I was attracted like a moth to a flame.
Those who know anything about Stephen King know that he likes his rock’n’roll  , has at times played it himself in a group, comprised of bestselling authors who-play-intruments, called the Rock Bottom Remainders, and that he has an enduring interest in the America of the mid to late 20th Century (reflected in his novella ‘Stand By Me,” and many other works).
One of the fascinating aspects of the time travel genre is that it enables us, through the eyes of a character from our time, not just to observe the past but also to imagine the impact of interacting with it.
And King does that – and more – in this story of Jake Epping, who does not just visit a previous era but “lives’ in it, day by day, year by year, becoming part of the lives of a group of people. For Jake there is a life-changing romance with the wonderfully drawn Sadie Dunhill, while dancing to some of the now classic rock hits as they are released for the very first time.
From the perception of a man of “today,” we experience the culture, the attitudes, the prejudices (and in some cases the innocence) of a different generation. All leading, of course, toward one of the most famous and tragic moments - the JFK assasination - in the history of America.
"11.22.63," won the Los Angeles Times 2011 Best Mystery/Thriller Novel and the 2011 International Thriller Writers Best (Hard Cover) Novel.
My Goodreads review of “11.22.63” follows:

I've always enjoyed a good time travel story, and I'm a long time reader of Stephen King, so when King produced an epic time travel tale, I was a definite starter - and without question this is one of the best I've read. This novel has a powerful emotional tug, and delivers fascinating insights by juxtaposing the social mores and thinking of the current era against those of half a century ago. An ordinary, everyday guy - a teacher - from our time, goes back and lives and works - and falls in love - in the America of the late 50's/early 60's. And we experience it as though we are right there alongside him. Once again King builds the suspense with a master's touch as we head toward that historic day in November, 1963. Can an ordinary man alter one of the most fateful moments in history? Should he?

Rock'n'roll image -
© Ashestosky | Dreamstime.com

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Amazon UK Top 20

Update : 'The Delta Chain,' this past week re-entered the Amazon UK Top 100 Mysteries and Thrillers bestseller lists, on Thursday reaching #18 on Thrillers and  #22 on Mysteries.

A fine day indeed then, as my Irish friends would say.

The UK site has thee 5 star reviews, and the Amazon US site nine reviews, averaging 4 stars.

In addition to the ebooks, both 'The Delta Chain,' and 'Disappear,' are also available in paperback from the Amazon sites in the US, UK and Europe, and from other online booksellers.

A big "thank you" to all those readers who have supported the book.
cheers
Iain