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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski **Blog Tour Interview **

Everything I've read from Orenda Books so far has been glorious and Six Stories continues the trend! Its great to welcome Matt Wesolowski to Books, Life and Everything today to talk about his debut crime novel but first, let me tell you a little about this intriguing book.

 One death. Six stories. Which one is true?

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic
murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.


Welcome to Books, Life and Everything!

Matt Wesolowski

Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself?

Certainly. I'm Matt, I'm 35 and I'm from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. I've been a chef, a high-school teacher and a DJ but I've always written stories. I used to want to become a parapsychologist but ended up with a degree in Linguistics instead.

I've also got a brown belt in kickboxing.

And I just acquired a new cat.

 What was the inspiration behind Six Stories?

I was a latecomer to the Serial podcast and it utterly consumed me. I thought the idea of a novel structured in this way was an interesting one. I thought if I don't do it, someone else will! I also used a lot of my own teenage experiences as inspiration.

Six Stories is written as a series of podcasts created by an investigative journalist. Did you decide to use this narrative structure from the start or did it evolve as you began to write the novel?

It was always my intention to write it in this way, the original manuscript even had re-caps and musical interludes. I had no idea if it would even translate in written form.  It was the only thing I planned, the story evolved as I wrote it. I had no idea who killed Tom Jeffries until the penultimate episode!

How important is the setting of Scarclaw Fell within the story?

 I think that location is crucial, my favourite books always have really strong sense of setting which bleed through and add so much depth to the story. Nordic writers seem to be especially good at this. I took huge influence from Kati Hiekkapelto and Benjamin Myers' writing where location plays such a strong role.

Tell us about your approach to writing. Do you plan meticulously before you start or do you create an overview and see where it takes you?

 I never plan anything. I start with an idea, or an image and just start writing it. The characters and plot evolve throughout this process. I've tried planning before and the results have been terrible!

Can you give any hints about any upcoming books you have planned?

I have just finished a second MS. It's more of a traditional 'procedural' rather than an alternative format like Six Stories. All I'll say is that I was listening to a lot of black metal and reading about Icelandic sorcery at the time of writing. I've always wanted to write a serial killer novel, so maybe that's the next work in progress...

Thanks so much for answering my questions, Matt. 

My Thoughts 

    This is a refreshing and original story which taps into the digital age, following the format of six podcasts, each concentrating on a different protagonist. As the reader, you feel that you too are uncovering clues and interpreting facts to try to establish what really happened to Tom Jeffries. This feels like a dynamic process to be involved with. I particularly enjoyed testing out hypotheses and cross- referencing the different accounts.

    It is difficult to talk about the story without giving away elements of the plot. However, suffice it to say, there some  surprising twists before the final page is turned. The wildness of the setting at Scarclaw Fell is beautifully evoked and  mirrors the feelings and emotions of the characters.  The mysterious legends and reported sightings of 'The Beast of Belkend' and the 'marsh-hag' add to the suspense and hints at horror. This is engrossing story-telling which keeps the reader on their toes. As you glimpse the characters through the eyes of different characters, you are never quite sure who to believe. It is as if the truth is constantly just out of reach, obscured by an ominous and unsettling landscape.

In short: a haunting account with an unexpected and chilling outcome.  

                                                            About the Author 

 Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

You can connect with Matt on  

Thanks to Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for a copy of the book and a place on the Blog Tour!

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