Tobias Martin – the man who murdered Princess Diana

I was watching Sky News when BREAKING NEWS was announced:  ”Scotland Yard are tonight investigating fresh reports that Princess Diana was murdered by an SAS hit squad…”

And while they say truth is stranger than fiction, the next day’s headlines seemed to have been torn from my royal conspiracy thriller, The Power Behind The Throne.

If you’re new to the story, here’s what you need to know:

The reign of Queen Elizabeth is finally drawing to a close. Three of the UK’s most powerful men, members of a secret organisation called Sceptre, will stop at nothing to protect the monarchy.

Sceptre is on a mission to murder Jack Hollander, an innocent victim of circumstance – and the one man who can prevent Prince Charles from fulfilling his destiny.

After a botched assassination in Canterbury Cathedral, Sceptre Chairman Sir Gerald Akehurst sends for former SAS man, Tobias Martin.  He can be trusted to get the job done.

Here’s what happens next:

Tobias Martin was handsome enough to be a movie star. He dressed smartly enough to pass for an investment banker. He sounded posh enough to read the news on the BBC, and his fingernails were beautifully manicured, which made Bell deeply suspicious. ‘I know you’ve worked with Gerry and Robert before, but so far, no-one’s got round to telling me what it is you do. Are you the chap who’s been trying to keep the Duchess of York out of trouble for us?’

       Martin’s laugh was as dark and brown as his mischievous eyes. ‘I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise I was meant to bring my CV along. Here, have one of these.’ He offered Bell a Turkish cigarette. ‘If I could take the credit for that particular good deed, then I’d be the wrong man for the job that needs doing now. Don’t you think?’

       Akehurst laughed, too. Bell responded with a scowl. The bloke was obviously a smart-arse, and a patronising smart-arse at that. ‘Will someone kindly tell me who the fuck you are, and what the fuck you’ve done?’

       ‘No need for you to be so confrontational, Barry. Mr Martin’s credentials are impeccable.’ Akehurst sounded almost reverential. ‘Are you comfortable with me explaining your previous involvement with Sceptre?’ he asked.

       ‘By all means. So long as the gentleman understands that if he ever repeats what he’s about to hear, then I’ll be obliged to kill him, too.’ This time, Tobias Martin clearly wasn’t joking. The remark was delivered in the same, mellifluous tone as before, but the brown eyes had turned to stone.

       ‘Mr Martin has worked for us on one previous occasion,’ Akehurst stepped in quickly, before Bell caused any further trouble. ‘The incident was officially designated Fatal Road Accident, 31 August 1997, 00:30. In Paris. Does that ring any bells with you?’

      ‘Jesus Christ!’ Bell looked as if he’d seen a ghost. ‘Of course it does. So you’re the man who ruined my thirty-first birthday.’

     Now it was Martin’s turn to look surprised.

       Bell explained, ‘I’d hired a place on the Isle of Wight. Two dozen of us had gone over there for a weekend party. As soon as we heard the news about Princess Diana, we just sat and watched television for whole day. A Sunday, wasn’t it.’

       ‘Indeed,’ said Martin. ‘I’m sorry about your birthday.’

       ‘Fuck me sideways. I’m sorry about my language. And for taking the piss just now. So Princess Diana was murdered. By us. By you, I mean. How the fuck did you do it?’

       Martin’s explanation was as succinct as it was mind-boggling. It had been a three-man operation. One of them planted in the thick of the paparazzi pack that pursued the doomed Mercedes from the moment it left the Ritz Hotel, forcing the chauffeur away from the busy Champs-Elysées and ensuring he took the riverfront road that led to the Alma tunnel. Martin himself at the wheel of a white Fiat Uno lying in wait on a parallel road, the Cors Albert 1er.

       ‘The car looked inoffensive enough, but it was a actually a Turbo IE, one of the few vehicles powerful enough to out-accelerate the Mercedes.’ Martin had the look of a man who enjoyed fast cars at all times.

       He’d entered the expressway at the last possible moment, taking Diana’s driver by surprise, making him slam on the brakes and skid as he entered the tunnel. And then hurtle even faster towards disaster when he felt his vehicle being nudged by the Fiat. An ideal spot, the Alma, with its curve and dip configuration, its absence of guard rails, and its thirteenth, deadly, support pillar. No need to use the back-up vehicle. And it had taken the bogus photographer just a couple of seconds to reach inside the wreckage and inject the dying driver through the roof of his gaping mouth with a hypodermic syringe, so that the posthumous blood tests could reveal he’d been full of drink and drugs. The Fiat Uno gobbled up by a crusher long before morning. And the other two members of the team?  They’d both died – accidentally – by the end of that year. Anything else you’d like to know?

       ‘How come you’re still alive?’ whispered Barry Bell.

       ‘Let’s just say I took out sufficient insurance before I agreed to carry out the operation.’ Martin lit another of his stubby, brown cigarettes. He smoked almost as much as Bell.

       Like millions of others, Barry Bell had always been a little in love with Princess Diana. He’d even stood there, outside the gates of Kensington Palace, with his single red rose. But it seemed wise to keep quiet about that.

       ‘So shall we proceed with the Hollander briefing?’ Akehurst produced his laptop computer and booted it up.

       It was going to be another long night. 

“Nicoll is the natural heir to Frederick Forsyth and David Baldacci”

Does Tobias Martin claim another royal victim?  Download The Power Behind The Throne and find out!

Fifty-six four and five star reviews.  Lots of praise.  And two people who seem to believe I should be arrested for treason.

Get the full story here (UK) and here (US)

PS:  If you enjoyed the excerpt, please help spread the word by hitting the Facebook or Twitter buttons.  Thank you so much.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I owe my career to the British public library system.”

Read this, then decide:  Would YOU have taken the money?

There’s not much in life that makes me angry.  Last time I got hot under the collar was when the chairman of my beloved Tottenham Hotspur sacked a manager who had twice guided us to Top Four in the English Premier League and appointed in his place one of Roman’s (many) Rejects.

I retaliated by not renewing my season ticket; a gesture that undoubtedly hurt me more than anyone else… but sometimes, you just have to take a stand.

This post is not about football.  It is about libraries.  And me.

 You see, I owe my career as a writer to the British public library system.

My mother was a Jewish refugee – an asylum seeker, she’d be called today – who fled Hitler’s Germany and arrived in England on the Kindertransport

 Like generations of immigrants before her, she was determined her children should have the best possible education, which probably explains why some of my earliest childhood memories involve the libraries of Portsmouth.  All of them.

I was an early reader, and the story goes that shortly before my fourth birthday, I demanded my own library ticket. 

My mum asked the Man at the Desk for an application form, only to be told, “Children can’t be independent library members until they are seven.”  (NB, this was back in the twentieth century.)

My mum promptly tore through several Men at several Desks, each one bigger than the one before.

No dice.

Correspondence flowed like an angry river between our house and the office of the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth.  Whose name I forget, although assure you he had a HUGE desk, as well as a gold chain.  This I know because he presented me with my very own library card – pink and made of cardboard – long before I turned five.

Armed with this magical passport, I tore through the works of Enid Blyton, Frank Richards, Richmal Crompton and whoever it was who wrote the Chalet School books, before abandoning mum’s recommended classics and graduating to the likes of Ian Fleming and Harold Robbins not so very long after the Eleven Plus.

“Should have been inscribed on the walls of a public lavatory.” New York Times Review

(Mum confiscated the Harold Robbins, but too late, and The Carpetbaggers probably has much to answer for, along with The World According to Garp, The Diceman, and Tale of Two Cities.)

 Anyway.  Given the dearth of football managerial opportunities available to women, I was always going to be a writer, and about the first adult decision I ever made was to turn down my University place in favour of an apprenticeship on the local paper.

Jobs followed on bigger papers, on radio stations and at advertising agencies.  My mother, had she lived to see it, would have been very proud.  And while you can take the girl from Portsmouth, you can’t take Portsmouth from the writer.  Which is a first-draft way of saying libraries have always been enormously important to me.

I am, of course, a book-buying junkie – it goes with the territory – but as my career evolved, I prowled the libraries of Southampton, Lewisham, Islington and Camden, my library card, now plastic, always maxed to the hilt.

Then, when I moved to Primrose Hill, the icing on the cake was that my new home was no more than an Oxford English Dictionary’s throw from the local library.

Fast forward more than a decade.  I am an author (two books published, a third parked on the hard drive, and a fourth under construction) who supports her habit with the occasional bit of copywriting.  The other week, I reread The Diceman.

Primrose Hill’s career, meanwhile, has been yet more spectacular.

Once an affordable Zone Two backwater, it is now home to the likes of Jamie Oliver, Daniel Craig, Alan Bennett (we nod shyly to one another in the newsagent of a morning and occasionally my Jack Russell, Dow Jones, has a spirited crack at knocking him off his bike), David Milliband, Robert Plant, and forty per cent of One Direction.

And the local library?  That’s a sad story. 

Camden Council finally succeeded in closing it in April this year, citing budget cuts.

We fought.

We petitioned.

We lost.

The silver lining is that the one-time Chalk Farm Library morphed into the Primrose Hill Community Library, meaning it’s now run by volunteers, assisted by a measure of initial financial support from the local authority.

Alan Bennett takes a night off from being chased along the streets of Primrose Hill by my dog, Dow Jones

But once this dries up, the library will have to rely on cash donations from the public – or close its doors forever.

Most of the people I know put their hands in their pockets, eager to step in where Camden Council had failed us.

 

 

Now I want to tell you about our local high street, Regent’s Park Road. 

It’s a bit special, in that it has some lovely, quirky shops scattered between the many cafes, restaurants and cupcake shops. We’re lucky enough to have one of London’s best bookshops, a trio of hairdressers, various purveyors of strong liquor and a pet shop.

Then there are the chain stores, which include William Hill – very useful, and I do indeed speak from experience – Shepherd Foods, Graham and Green, estate agents John D Wood, and a Save the Children charity shop that operates under the brand of retail guru Mary Portas, who moved here a few months ago.

Over the past few months, there’s been an alarming trend:  empty shops.  Even Primrose Hill is not immune from the recession.

So imagine my surprise when word swept through the neighbourhood, “Space.NK want to set up a branch in Primrose Hill, and we have to keep them out!”

When I say word swept through the neighbourhood, it began with a couple of local traders protesting that the aforementioned Space.NK – a successful retailer of cosmetics – would be ‘unfair competition’ to an existing beauty salon.  And it snowballed from there.

At the time of writing, Primrose Hill is a village divided,  The local press has dubbed our squabble “Battle of the beauty salons”.

On the one hand, we have several traders, who have persuaded over 1,000 people – who may or may not live locally – signing a petition requesting that Space.NK should rethink its plan to come to Primrose Hill.  “You’re a chain!” they cry.  “And we don’t want chains in Primrose Hill.  You people will drive up the rents, and then we’ll be out of business.  Next thing you know, we’ll have Starbucks and Subway taking over our street.  And mobile phone shops.”

On the other hand, we have a significant number of residents, myself included, who acknowledge: “The chains are here already.  What are they supposed to do?  Rename William Hill Primrose Hill?  Space.NK fits the local demographic, and it’s an entrepreneurial business made good.  It’ll give the neighbourhood a much-needed shot in the arm, and other shops will benefit from the knock-on effect.  Retail competition is a fact of life, and the street isn’t supposed to be a Communist co-operative. The truth is that many of us yearn for a butcher, a nice little WaitroseLocal, or – whisper it – a pound shop, or even a five pound shop.  But we’d better keep quiet about that, or we’ll get lynched.”

What’s all this got to do with Libraries?

 Last weekend, we had the Primrose Hill Christmas Fair.  It’s essentially a street market, where fledgling businesses from all over London come and sell stuff, there are rides for the kids, the burned-sugar aroma of candyfloss mingles with pungent spices and a couple of thousand people rollup and and have a good time.

This year, we also had David Milliband reading poetry (I so hoped he would stand up and recite:  I once had a brother named Ed, I really wish he was ––  but sadly, he confined himself to reciting ‘twas the night before Christmas), Nick Grimshaw failing to show up, a jolly good time had by all, and rental from the stalls helping to pay for the Christmas Lights.

One of the stalls was taken by – you guessed it – Space.NK.  They decided to introduce themselves to the neighbourhood, by running a raffle and offering a face painting service for children.

“Primrose Hill Community Library will close forever unless local people donate cash.”

In an effort to be good neighbours, they offered all takings from their stall to – you guessed this, too – The Primrose Hill Community Library.

You know what I’m going to say next.

The Primrose Hill Community Library turned down Space.NK’s offer of a donation.

 “We don’t want your money,” the retailer was informed.

And that was that.

But this being a village, word soon spread.

Space.NK decided instead to give their donation to the local primary school, but that’s not really the point.

The Primrose Hill Community Library relies on goodwill and donations for its future.  But now it seems not all money equally acceptable.

I think it’s a shameful decision.  In effect, to prefer to make a political point, rather than accept the funds they need to continue to foster literacy and promote the joy of reading.

Space.NK are not arms dealers.  Or drug runners.  They sell slap.  I gather they even pay corporation tax…

I fear local people will think twice before they give the Primrose Hill Some of the Community Library – as it is now being referred to – any more money.  I know I will.

Does the chairman of Tottenham Hotspur regret hiring Andre Villas-Boas?  (And if not, why not?)

Do I regret giving up my Spurs season ticket? (The answer has three letters.)

Will The Primrose Hill Community Library regret telling Space.NK to shove their money? 

Advertising legend Bill Bernbach once said, “A principle is not a principle until it costs you money.”

On this occasion, I hope he was wrong.  But I fear his words will turn out to be correct.  And that’s a bloody shame.

What would you have done?  Taken the money?  Or turned it down on the basis that some residents don’t want Space.NK to open a shop in the neighbourhood? 

Want to know more about Primrose Hill?

If so, you might like to check out two of my books.

The first, Bets and the City, was supposed to be a beginner’s guide to spread betting, but turned instead into a comic romp (God bless you, Harriman House) about losing far too much of money while hanging out with my gang of friends – the latterati – in Primrose Hill.

Then there’s my fiction debut, The Power Behind The Throne, which has several important scenes taking place in Primrose Hill.  If you love a conspiracy thriller, I reckon you’ll enjoy it.  Take a look and see if you agree!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

“Life is just what happens when you’re meant to be flogging The Power Behind The Throne.”

Meet (Non) Reader of the Month:  Trish Bertram – Voice of the London Olympics Closing Ceremony

You never know who you’re going to meet on Twitter.  At least that’s what my real life flesh and blood friends warned me when I mentioned I’d met this woman online who said she lived down the road and did I fancy meeting her for a coffee?

“Probably an axe murderer,” was the general consensus, with one particularly cruel person reminding me about the time I flew halfway round the world to meet someone who resembled their online persona about as much as I resemble Ed Miliband.  (No worries, libel lawyers;  it wasn’t him.)

We decided there was safety in numbers.  And meanwhile, a member of our local pub quiz team had quit.  So we invited Trish Bertram to join us one Tuesday night, back in the Spring.

Trish Bertram - Voice of the Olympics 2012There was no mistaking her.  The moment Trish spotted me and my hand-picked gang of cynics and said, “You must be Sally!” we were enveloped in one of the most distinctive, husky, deep warm voices you can imagine.  Think chocolate and cashmere…

Not only did Trish turn out to be a walking encyclopaedia of Music and Entertainment Trivia (some months later, our team was crowned champions of the Top of the Hill Quiz), she also doesn’t own an axe, and thus far, the only thing I’ve seen her murder is a bottle of Pinot Noir.

It turned out we have a few friends in common – in another life, I used to work in radio – along with diametrically opposed political views, and a shared German heritage that ensures we are both remarkably punctual.

In fact, I got to like Trish so much, I invited her to my Olympics Closing Ceremony Party.

“Can’t make it, babe,” she said.  “Really sorry.  Would have loved to join you.”

Why Trish didn’t come to my Olympics Party

Since Trish is one of life’s joiner-in-ers – you should have seen her at the Jubilee Celebrations, decked out in more Union Jacks than the rest of the Commonwealth could shake a stick at  – I assumed she had a better offer.

At least, until we turned on the television, and realised Trish was the stadium announcer for an event that was watched by 23million of us in the UK and 750 million worldwide.

“That was some secret,” I admonished her the following day.  “How the hell did you manage to keep it?”

“Far too frightened to tell anybody,” she confessed.

As a one-time investigative reporter, it took me a whole thirty minutes to discover Trish would also be doing the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Paralympics.

“Don’t mention the Olympics.”

You can hear her having the final word at the Paralympics here  Just move the timer bar to 2hr. 24 min. 20 secs.

Before the day arrived, I asked,  “If I promise not to tell anyone in advance, can I interview you for my blog?”

“Well, maybe,”  Trish said.  ”Provided we don’t mention the Olympics.”

That seemed far too Fight Club.  But annoyingly, the only info I’ve managed to prise out of Trish to date – I caught her off-guard while we watched Andy Murray win his first  Grand Slam the other night – is as follows.

She told me:  “I applied for Olympics tickets, and was disappointed not to get any.  Then I ended up with the best seats in the house! If I never get another great job, I’ll still die happy. 

 “Due to the enormity of the occasion – lots of people assume the stadium announcements are pre-recorded, but I assure you they’re not! – I went into full anal mode, with my highlighter pens arranged around my script in a specific pattern, to make me feel safe.  My fellow presenter thought I had OCD.

 “My booth was next to the Royal Box.  Which reminds me, isn’t your blog meant to be about your books?”

 “Oh yeah.  So what do you think of The Power Behind The Throne?”

Save £2 by NOT buying my book – Support Trish and Alzheimer’s Society instead

 Long pause.

VERY long pause.

 “Did you actively hate it?”

 “Um, I haven’t got round to reading it, Sally.  It’s been a busy summer. More wine?”

 And the moral of this story?

“Twitter is much more fun, and I suspect, more useful, once you stop using it to bang on about how wonderful you and your products/services are and include links that take your unfortunate followers to sales pages.  Or worse, send instant, automatic ‘Like Me On Facebook’ messages  to new followers, which always strikes me as trying to ram your tongue down a stranger’s throat in response to a simple handshake.

Enough about etiquette; there’s another purpose, too.

Support Trish Bertram – Support The Alzheimer’s Society – It’s really easy

On Sunday 23 September 2012 Trish is taking part in the Alzheimer’s Society London Memory Walk.

You can hear her explain why she this cause is so close to her heart by clicking  here and moving the timer slide bar to 2 hours and 45 minutes

Trish says:  “We’re not asking for big individual donations. Our idea is Less than a Latte. If you’re willing to give up your takeaway coffee or something similar for just one day, and support us with £2, that would be fantastic.”

PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK NOW:

Support Trish & Alzheimer’s for less than the cost of this latte. Please click the link above and donate £2

 

Visit Trish Bertram here

Follow on Twitter:  @Voiceover_Trish

At the time of going to press, Trish Bertram is locked in a room reading The Power Behind The Throne

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The Power Behind The Throne is a very hard book to put down.”

Reader of the Month:  Brinda Glatczak

The Power Behind The Throne introduced itself big time to Amazon’s UK Bestseller Lists throughout March.  It’s also gone international, with healthy sales throughout Germany, France, Spain and – of course – America.

So who’s been reading my thriller?  And how will they answer these ten questions?

1.  Name and location:  My name is Brinda Glatczak and I live in Wisconsin, USA.

2.  Occupation:  I teach Spanish to children aged five to twelve.  (They usually call me Mrs G!)  At present, I have a husband, a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter who keep me busy, so I’m a substitute teacher, mostly for teenagers.  I also read too much and clean too little.

3.  What kind of books do you most enjoy?  It depends on the mood I’m in, and what’s handy. Generally, I like a book that pulls me into the story, makes me care about the characters, and ends happily.

4.  Who’s your favourite author?   Hard to choose, but I’ll go with J.K. Rowling. I have seven of her books sitting on my shelf, which have all been read more than once. She’s a great story teller.

5.  Which three books would you rescue if your house was on fire – and why?

  • The Novels of Jane Austen:   In particular, I could read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma over and over again.
  • The Host, by Stephanie Meyer:  I’ve heard this described as science fiction for people who  don’t like science fiction!  Yes, it’s sci-fi, but The Host is also a strange and touching love story with four people in three bodies. I had tears streaming down my face the first time I read it. And ok, maybe the second time, too….
  • Boycotts and Barflies, by Victoria Michaels:  It’s a light and fun romantic comedy, hugely entertaining, and it makes me laugh every time I read it.

 

 

6.  Which book have you been meaning to read but never got round to?  My to-read list is ridiculously long and grows daily, but I intend to get to every book. I may need to live to be about three hundred, though.

7.  Any books other people like but that left you cold?  Any books other people like but that left you cold? I heard great things about The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, but it just wasn’t for me.

8.  Ebook or paper book?  Both. I love having a printed book in my hand, flipping through the pages to find passages I really enjoyed.  I also like seeing books sitting there on my shelf, waiting for me to pick them up. Then again, there are so many great things about ebooks.  I like the instant gratification.  I don’t have to wait for it to ship, and I can carry hundreds of books in my pocket at any time (so long as my iPod is charged). Ebooks  are also generally less expensive than paper books – so I can buy more!

9.  What are you reading at present?  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – better late than never!  After that, A Satan Carol, by Alan S. Kessler, Bayou Moon, by Ilona Andrews,  and Lover Reborn, by J.R. Ward, are all waiting for me at the library.  I’ve set myself a 2012 Reading  Challenge with a goal of 200 books – so far I’ve read 53, so I’m just about on target.

"Classy and controversial." And now an Amazon UK Bestseller. Start reading today!

10.  What do you like best about The Power Behind The Throne?   It pulled me in right from the start, trying to figure out what this mysterious assassin was up to.  I needed to know what would happen next, and the story just kept pulling me along. It’s unpredictable, fast-paced full of action and intrigue, and a very hard book to put down.”

Visit Brinda’s blog here http://wilovebooks.blogspot.co.uk/

Follow Brinda on Twitter:  @wilovebooks

An Amazon Gift Voucher is on its way to Wisconsin.  Let us know which book you choose, Brinda!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

And The Winner Is…

Step forward @Greywanderer – also known as Fred Langridge – who tells me he was tucked up in bed when his name was picked out of the hat at about 10pm last night.

Fred belongs to a creative writing book based in Lancashire.  Please follow him on Twitter.

To everyone who entered and didn’t win, I am sorry.  However, in my book (which, I think you know by now is called The Power Behind The Throne!) you are ALL winners.

Your backing and enjoyment of POWER has been nothing short of staggering.

At the time of writing POWER remains Amazon UK’s No 1 bestselling political thriller.

Word of mouth is the best possible recommendation for any author.  If you are enjoying – or have already enjoyed – The Power Behind The Throne, please continue to recommend it to your friends.

Many thanks.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LATEST: Your final chance to turn 98p into fifty quid

Competition closes at 10pm tonight.  Winner announced here and on Twitter.  If you still have time to enter, it’s NOW OR NEVER!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UPDATE: How to turn 98p into FIFTY QUID!

At six o’clock this evening, The Power Behind The Throne entered the Official Kindle Best Seller Top 100 List.  It has squeaked in at Number 99.  To celebrate, I am doubling the POWER TWEET PRIZE FUND TO £50.  Details on how to enter and win are below.  

YOU CAN ALSO ENTER BY EMAILING ME YOUR AMAZON RECEIPT – CLICK THE ‘CONTACT’ TAB FOR THE ADDRESS!

Thank you everyone for your support and great feedback.  Can’t do this without you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to turn 98p into twenty-five quid!

I’m delighted to report The Power Behind The Throne has zoomed up the Amazon and is now the UK’s Number One best-selling political thriller.

As a result, I’ve been fielding emails and phone calls from people who want me to spend money advertising the book on their websites.

Not going to happen. (Except at The Kindle Users Forum, which is a great idea, and one I am happy to support.)

Here’s what I’m doing instead:

One of my Twitter followers is going to win a £25 Amazon Gift Certificate, and it could – as they say – be you!

To enter:

Buy The Power Behind The Throne.  It’s getting rave reviews, and if you like a good conspiracy thriller, you’ll enjoy it.  I’ve reduced the price to 98p.  It’s a tough old world out there, and we’re all in this together…

After you’ve bought it, Amazon gives you the chance to Share Your Purchase.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. First hit the Twitter button
  2. When the draft Tweet comes up, type @sallynicoll into the white box
  3. The Share A Link Twitter Box will appear.
  4. Just press SEND, and you’re in the Draw!

 The winner:

We’ll keep this going until Monday, 5th March.

The bonus:

If The Power Behind the Throne is in the Amazon Top 100 at 6pm on Monday 6th March, I’ll double the prize to £50.00

Let’s get Tweeting, and spread the word.  And thank you – as always – for your help.

 

Prize Fund Now Doubled to £50 - enter now via a POWER TWEET or by emailing me; contact details are on the tab at the top of the page

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Carrying a library on your iPhone is awesome!”

Introducing Sally Nicoll’s Reader of the Month

 One of the best things about being an author in the digital age is that I actually get to ‘meet’ my readers via social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

So who’s been reading The Power Behind The Throne?  And how will they answer these ten questions?

1. Name and location: I’m Simon McL and for now, I live in Manchester

Simon McLaren, Reader of the Month

2. Occupation:  I’m an illustrator.  Struggling but proud.  I turn my hand to anything creative. My last job was a series of painted panels for the Pure fashion show, which happened two weeks ago at Olympia. II also do a bit of website design.  What I’d love to do is illustrate my own children’s books.

3. What kind of books do you most enjoy? I like a broad spectrum, as opposed to any single genre.

4. Who’s your favourite author? I’m only allowed one!?  Gee. In that case, it has to be Roald Dahl. I love both his children’s and adult books.

5. Which three books would you rescue if your house was on fire – and why?

  •  The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame: This reminds me of childhood and bedtime, of being safe. And of course those wonderful illustrations by E H Shepard – the man who also breathed life into Winnie The Pooh.
  • The Adventures of TinTin, by Hergé:  Any title out of the 23 comic books that he created – or maybe I can cheat and have them all in a single collection? These books are so well written, and the artwork and draughtsmanship is exquisite.
  • The First Circle, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:  I‘ve read this three times over the years. It’s highly autobiographical, and depicts the lives of a group of individuals, locked up by Stalin for thought crimes, and then made to work for him.  I love and care about the characters. (I also love Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy;  I’ve got a thing for Russia!)

6. Which book have you been meaning to read but never got round to?  There are thousands!  I’d never read Dickens until the other day, but am now half-way through Great Expectations. I wish I’d had a classical education, reading the Greek philosophers and poets, but alas I’m the product of  70s secondary modern education.  Nuff said.

7.  Any books other people like but that left you cold?  I usually know within a few pages whether a book has the capacity to engage me. I’ll name no names because I’m sure it’s just a matter of taste – and probably bad writing, plotline, and character development!

8.  Ebook or paper book?  Publishing is changing so fast. I was always very wary of ebook editions. If the book isn’t in your hand, how can that be a good thing?  However, now I’ve actually read a couple of things on iBooks and Kindle, I’m all for it. Carrying a library on your iPhone is awesome! I can read in low lighting or dark. And when I’m in bed, an iPhone is much easier to handle than a book. So it’s all good. Mind you, I think illustrated books might still be better in hard copy!

9.  What other passions do you have apart from reading?  I’m passionate about illustration, street art, music, guitar, films and living for the moment.

Thank you for buying my book

10.  What do you like best about The Power Behind The Throne?  I was wondering when you’d get round to that! The plot is great and quite controversial, but at the same time, totally believable.  My favourite character is London itself. The private members’ clubs, The Savoy and even Buckingham Palace itself  are all well researched and beautifully described. I enjoyed the historical content too – Canterbury and Thomas Beckett, the Tower of London, and of course, the monarchy. I love it when a book you’re reading for entertainment, teaches you something you didn’t know.

Simon is available for commissions and you can see his work here

Follow him on Twitter:  @mcmoondog

£5 Voucher for Sally Nicoll's Reader of the Month

Sally Nicoll’s Reader of the Month wins a £5 Amazon Voucher. If you’d like to be featured, just email.  My address is on the Contact Page above

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Power To The People

If you’re reading this within a day or so of publication, you are holding my career in your hands.  An exaggeration?  Read what I have to say, then decide.

Earlier this week, I was contacted by a producer. Proper one. Good track record. He’d read my debut thriller, The Power Behind The Throne. Next thing you know, we’re sitting down to lunch and he’s telling me my novel would make ‘an incredible film’.

Great lunch. We both made all the right noises. But I’m not holding my breath for Hollywood – or even Pinewood – to come a-calling.

What I want. What I really, really, REALLY want, is to be able to afford to write fiction full-time, and to be known as a first class thriller writer.

Not easy.

Even though my first book, Bets and the City, has sold by the truckload (small truck, admittedly) and done well enough to merit best-seller status there’s still a long way to go.

By which I mean I’m not exactly a household name – not even in my own household, I sometimes think – and I know even some of my dearest friends think it’s high time I stopped scribbling and got myself a Proper Job.

Then again, if you’ve read Bets and the City, you know I’m a gambler.

Which is why, when I decided The Power Behind The Throne was finally ready to meet its readers, I opted to publish it myself as an ebook original, rather than take the traditional route.

I’d read so much about the ways in which publishing is changing. And when someone finally plonked a Kindle in my hands, it was a light-bulb moment.

So now you’re expecting me to tell you how much I enjoy being an indie author, right?

Well, up to a point, absolutely correct.

But here’s the thing. All the while I’m doing marketing and promotional stuff for The Power Behind The Throne, I’m not doing that other thing I love to do. The writing stuff.

There’s a new novel bursting to come out of me. But I’m no John Locke: I just don’t have it in me to bash out a book in a few weeks. The Power Behind The Throne took me well over a year to write, and to date, while my sales have certainly been encouraging, I haven’t been troubling the best-seller list.

Please spread the word if you've read & enjoyed The Power Behind The Throne

The honest truth is that I need more readers. The even more honest truth is that the film producer is far more likely to be interested if The Power Behind The Throne attracts every writer’s Holy Grail: The Word of Mouth Effect.

So here’s what I have done.

For the next day or three, you can read The Power Behind The Throne for free. All of it. From cover to cover. Free. Get your download right here, right now.

(If you’re in the USA, the free download link is here.)

It’s a case of Power to the People. Literally. I’m out to attract lots of new readers in a short space of time.

And so far, my little experiment is working. In the space of just 14 hours, more people have downloaded my book than I would ever have imagined, even in my most optimistic fantasies. (Before you ask, Amazon Rules mean I’m not allowed to tell you how many, but think of a number and then stick some zeros after it…)

I’ve spent much of the day on Twitter, having fun. Because giving away The Power Behind The Throne – and publicising the fact on Twitter – means people have been talking to me. And I’ve been talking right back.

Interestingly enough, I’ve also caught a bit of flack. From authors who are ‘properly published’ as one of them put it. Writers who insist I am devaluing myself and my novel by giving it away. Novelists who taunt me that if I cannot even get people to buy The Power Behind The Throne, then it has to be crap.

But here’s the thing.

Traditional publishers have been giving away books for decades. Millions of them. The only difference between what they do and what I do, is that their giveaways are called Advance Reader Copies, whereas mine is called a free download. Same thing.

By contrast, many other members of the Twitterati are telling me they actually feel guilty for downloading The Power Behind The Throne for free. I’ve even had messages asking me when it will be back on sale again!

Don’t feel guilty. But if you’ve read my book, and enjoyed it, there are three things you can do to help me:

Reviews are hugely important - if you enjoyed the book, please tell people via Amzon

1. Please tell your friends about The Power Behind The Throne. And your neighbours. And your relatives. Hell, you can even tell strangers. Point them towards Amazon, and get them to type in the book title. Lo! And it will appear.

2. Next time you’re on Amazon, bash out a quick review. It doesn’t have to be long – just a sentence or two. Please don’t give away too much of the plot – if you’ve read The Power Behind The Throne you know exactly why I’m saying that – but reviews will really help keep my book in the public eye.

3. Don’t have time to do a review? Love reading but hate writing? In that case, just hit Amazon’s LIKE button. That helps, too.

Because – of course – the acid test will come next week, when The Power Behind The Throne is no longer free. When it will cost people less than a Starbucks, or a glass of wine. But not free.

What will happen then? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe The Power Behind The Throne will freefall back down in the Amazon rankings. In which case, no harm done, and no regrets either… I shall remain delighted that I have so many new readers.

Then again, the optimist in me dreams of gatecrashing the Amazon Top 50 again, as I did with Bets and the City. (I once spent a very happy Friday afternoon under Piers Morgan on Amazon. But that is another story….)

The higher The Power Behind The Throne climbs on Amazon, the easier the marketing will become. And the sooner I can focus fully on writing the next book…. while day-dreaming about the movie.

Thank you everyone for your support. I hope you enjoy my thriller.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment