Novel Kicks

About Novel Kicks/Laura... Novel Kicks was founded in 2009 and is run by Laura who is currently living in Hampshire, and lives with husband, Chris and her cat, Buddy. She would love to be a writer. She’s trying to write the novel she thinks so much about. She’s loved reading and writing since ‘Creative Writing’ classes in primary school. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything she can get her hands on, she loves reading, dancing like a loon, and watching Project Runway and Ugly Betty (her two TV guilty pleasures.) She also has an obsession with chocolate and Jammie Dodgers.

5 Modern Protagonists I’d Like To See

Del Ray; Film Tie In Edition, August 2015

Writers’ ability to create new characters never ceases to astound me. Indeed, for as much as we hear that Hollywood is “out of ideas,” the literary world seems to be full to bursting with them. In just the last few years some of the most noteworthy books I’ve read have concerned a girl on a semi-fantastical journey launched from her family’s Everglades gator-wrestling attraction (Swamplandia! by Karen Russell); a tale of President Lincoln’s son in a state of purgatory (Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders); and a spellbinding narrative in which trees are as much main characters as people (The Overstory by Richard Powers).

A great written story can be spun out of just about any sort of character, provided a writer has a good idea, a bit of talent, and a great deal of imagination. Even with the innumerable ideas that have been tried though, I still catch myself daydreaming now and then about the characters or stories I’d like to read (or perhaps write). Lately, I’ve been musing about some more modern ideas for protagonists that – to my knowledge – haven’t really been tried yet.

Here are a few I’ve come up with.

 

1. A Space Voyager’s Spouse

Space travel is nothing new in fiction. From realistic stories to full-fledged science fiction and everything in between, there have been all kinds of tales written about people venturing out into space. What we don’t see too much of though is writing about the people who might one day be left behind by those heading out on deep space explorations. For instance, imagine Mark Watney, the central character in The Martian, had had a wife on Earth. Wouldn’t her story be fascinating as well? A few years ago, when people were signing up for a highly publicized one-way ticket to Mars, there was actually a profile about one woman’s husband who was coming to grips with never seeing her again. I’d love to see this sort of character fleshed out more in a full-length, realistic, yet fictional account. It feels like an aspect of modern space exploration we don’t consider, yet one of the most deeply human components of it all.

 

 

Credit: Kate Mango Star

2. A DJ

Personally I’m not wildly into the DJ or electronic music scene. Nevertheless, we have works of fiction pertaining to most every genre of music that’s ever dominated our culture – save for modern DJs (to my knowledge, at least). This just seems to be leaving something of a gap, and I would imagine that the right author could spin a fascinating story out of a character like this. Most of these people are fairly young when they make it big, and from that point forward they travel the world playing shows and festivals, with crowds full of people responding to their every whim. It’s an interesting life whether or not you like the music.

 

3. A VR World Architect

Virtual reality has been a hot topic for years now, and it’s had a place in popular fiction for decades. There’s fairly little talk, however, about who might design and control VR worlds if and when they become more sophisticated. In fact, the closest example I could think of in fiction (never mind books specifically) is the vaguely comical “Architect” character in The Matrix films. I’d be curious to see an inventive author draw up such a character though – someone with a god-like ability to control, manipulate, and monitor a VR world catering to thousands or millions of users in the near future. It’s not exactly a comfortable idea, but it’s an interesting character outline that could make for a fun read.
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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Clown in Training

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x164.pngFriday 19th June 2015.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: After loosing a bet, a clown in training robs a series of banks. All goes to plan until the third bank. Continue the story.

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Competitions: June’s Which Book is This Anyway?

rp_Mystery-Competition-300x1931-300x193-300x1931-300x193.jpgIt’s June and a new month of Which Book is This Anyway?

Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our competition adds a little mystery.

The prize for this competition is a book but the identity of that book will not be revealed until the lucky winner receives it. It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We won’t even reveal the genre. It’s a surprise. If you feel like having a guess in the meantime though, that’s OK, just comment below.

All we will reveal about June’s choice is this: ‘a book from a popular Irish author which focuses on large changes in the lives of the characters, their relationships and the importance of friendship.’

How to enter:

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Blog Tour: The Invisible Man From Salem by Christoffer Carlsson

Photo Credit: Anna-Lena Ahlström, 2013

Photo Credit: Anna-Lena Ahlström, 2013

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Christoffer Carlsson to Novel Kicks. To celebrate the release of his novel, The Invisible Man from Salem (published in the UK by Scribe Books and translated by Michael Gallagher,) we will be taking part in the blog tour by reviewing the book but first, we had a chat with Christoffer about his novel, his favourite word and the three books he couldn’t live without…

 

Hi Christoffer. Can you tell us a little about The Invisible Man from Salem and it’s main character, Leo Junker. How did the idea originate?

The Invisible Man From Salem is part crime noir, part coming-of-age drama. It’s about two friends who come from the same place but grow to be very different people, and a story about the mysteries of friendship, love, guilt, and betrayal.

The idea really came from the work I was doing in criminology at the time. I was hired to write a PhD, based on life history interviews with a sample of juvenile delinquents born in Stockholm during the 1940s and 50s. As I began doing interviews with then in 2010, they were around 60 and had lived long and interesting lives. My interest was the field we call continuity and change in crime, that is, why did some of these juvenile offenders cease to do crime whereas others continued to offend well beyond the transition to adulthood? In other words, me interest was why some fare better than do others. As it turned out, some of the people who we – based on childhood risk factors – predicted would do bad, they did bad. But many of those we thought would do bad, actually turned out to live quite good lives. And, reversely, several of the people who we predicted would do good, actually lived quite crime-intensive lives. So, doing that work, it just got me thinking about what shapes a person’s life and, of course, the answer to that is very basic: it’s the relations we have to people and places, our location in the various dimensions of our social structure, and it is our own dreams and fears and aspirations.

I’m not claiming that I have written a criminological, fictionalized account of real lives or anything like that. I just wanted to write a crime drama based on the idea of what shapes people’s lives, and it was from it that the idea of the Leo Junker series grew.

 

What drew you to this genre?

Oh man, you know, I was born and bred on crime fiction. I’ve always loved it. The beauty in crime fiction is that it, when it’s done good, is much more than just a story about a crime. You know, much crime is the result of very basic dimensions of human existence. Love, friendship, greed, sex, guilt, betrayal, and various forms of drug use – all these things are very human things. But when they are taken to their extreme, the end result is sometimes crime. So when crime fiction is at its very best, it shows us what can happen when the most human elements in us go wrong. It tells us, in a sense, who we are and what we are capable of. I’m, by the way, not claiming that we are all equally prone to do murder or armed robberies; clearly, we’re not. But crime fiction can make us understand what is actually going on when such things do happen.

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Blog Tour: Hunted by Paul Finch

PAUL FINCHI am very happy to be welcoming Paul Finch onto Novel Kicks today. His new book, Hunted was released by Avon on 7th May 2015. We review the latest adventures of DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg but first, Paul talks to us about his process for writing Hunted.

In some ways – at least at the start of the process – HUNTED was quite an awkward novel to write. Not least because late in the day we had to change its place in the schedule. Originally, it was slated to come third in the DS Heckenburg series. But then, due to reader demand to see the Nice Guys again – those were the villains in the first book, STALKERS – it was moved to fifth.

This in itself wasn’t a major problem, though obviously it necessitated some rejigging of characters and relationships given the tumultuous events in the third and fourth Heckenburg novels, THE KILLING CLUB and DEAD MAN WALKING. The real complication with HUNTED – if you could call it a complication, and I hesitate to actually use that term – arose because I always feel it’s important in these novels to take the central character, Heck, into different environments each time.

He frequently moves from the town to the city to the country, and back again, though inevitably most of these journeys see him trawling the badlands: impoverished urban zones, chaotic city centres – places where villainy most often occurs. Even in DEAD MAN WALKING, most of which Heck spends in the glorious Lake District, I found it important to ‘toughen’ things up. So I looked for as remote and isolated a location as I could, I set the book in late November and a thick winter fog, and introduced a deranged and seemingly unstoppable killer. For all these reasons I wanted a complete change of atmosphere and tone with HUNTED. This drew my attention to Southeast England, in particular the Home Counties, specifically Surrey, the place where allegedly there are more millionaires than anywhere else in the country. So the backdrop this time would be leafy lanes, comfortable commuter towns and well-heeled villages. I also opted to set the book during a hot summer, not just because it was scheduled for publication in May and therefore would arrive on most people’s e-readers or bookshelves with the sun shining outside and a feeling that the holiday season was just around the corner, but because I wanted to create a deceptively relaxed and peaceful mood.

Nothing bad could happen on a day like this and with such scenery around us, you might think. And if you do think that, good … that was my intention.
Because bad things, of course, do happen. This is a Heck novel, the trademarks for which are gruesome modes of murder and high body-counts. But this was another aspect of the book I also wanted to tweak slightly.

If you are writing about a dedicated investigation team like the Serial Crimes Unit, and you want it to be authentic, you are almost inevitably dealing with sexual homicide. This can be very discomforting for both the author and the reader. My crime novels are essentially entertainment, and yet sex murders are such a brutal and hideous reality of life that it’s not something we should take lightly. That said, I don’t think that as crime writers we do our readers any justice if we skate around this kind of unpleasantness. But it’s important not to be gratuitous with it. And so, though Heck has investigated sex crimes before, and will do again, I try, whenever possible, to move a little bit away from that – more into the realms of macabre craziness, dealing with horrible but baffling crimes and with criminals who in normal circumstances would be classifiable as insane.

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Competitions: May’s Which Book is This Anyway?

rp_Mystery-Competition-300x1931-300x193.jpgIt’s May’s Which Book is This Anyway?

Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our competition adds a little mystery.

The prize for this competition is a book but the identity of that book will not be revealed until the lucky winner receives it. It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We won’t even reveal the genre. It’s a surprise. If you feel like having a guess in the meantime though, that’s OK, just comment below.

All we will reveal about May’s choice is this: ‘A book that’s been a part of Richard & Judy’s book club. A story that asks us how well do we know our children?’ 

How to enter:

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May’s Book Club: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

TheBookThiefBook Corner is our monthly online book club.

How it works…

We love books and we love chatting about them even more. Every month, we pick a new book for discussion. We will post a question to kick things off and then you can talk about any of your thoughts about the book in the comments box below. The best thing about our book club is that EVERYONE CAN TAKE PART. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.

This month, our pick is: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

About the book:

HERE IS A SMALL FACT – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

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Competitions: April’s Winner – Which Book is This Anyway?

rp_Mystery-Competition-300x193.jpgA little late but it’s time to announce the winner of April’s Which Book is This Anyway? Did you guess which book it was?

All we said about it was that ‘this story includes a loveable, quirky character who likes order and making lists.’

Well done to Martin Turner who is our winner this month. The competition for May will be open soon.

About ‘Which Book is This Anyway?’

Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our competition adds a little mystery.

The prize for this competition is a book but the identity of that book will not be revealed until the lucky winner receives it. It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We won’t even reveal the genre.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Short Story

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111.pngFriday 1st May 2015: Short Story

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: Write a story based around the following prompt: ‘Able to hear others’ thoughts, a TV presenter goes on a blind date.’ What happens? Try to aim for at least five hundred words.

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Competitions: April’s Which Book is This Anyway?

Mystery CompetitionIt’s April’s Which Book is This Anyway?

Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our competition adds a little mystery.

The prize for this competition is a book but the identity of that book will not be revealed until the lucky winner receives it. It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We won’t even reveal the genre. It’s a surprise. If you feel like having a guess in the meantime though, that’s OK, just comment below.

All we will reveal about April’s choice is this: ‘this story includes a loveable, quirky character who likes order and making lists.’

How to enter:

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Blog Tour: His Other Life by Beth Thomas

beth thomas bethpictureWe’re pleased to be welcoming Beth Thomas to Novel Kicks. She is the author of Carry You. Her latest novel, His Other Life has just been released by Avon. We’ve reviewed it below. As part of the blog tour for her new book, Beth has shared an extract. Enjoy.

 

CHAPTER TWO

Twenty minutes after Adam has left finds me pacing the living room. I’ve put plates in the oven, got some wine ready and selected a few DVDs for Adam to choose from, but that only took a minute or two. Now I’m walking from the back window to the front, lifting up the curtain, peering out at the street then turning and walking to the back again. There must be a long queue in the Indian. And of course we never actually got round to ordering the food so he will have to wait while it’s prepared and cooked. It could take, ooh, at least, I don’t know, half an hour. But it’s already been… Never mind, never mind, if there’s a queue he could wait fifty minutes, easily. An hour, even. It’s possible. Maybe he’s had to try a few different places. Maybe he’s bumped into someone he knows and has lost all track of time. Maybe he’s bumped into Leon.

After about two hours, I’ve stopped pacing and am now sitting on the edge of the sofa, rocking backwards and forwards and occasionally biting the hard skin around my fingernails. I’ve got my own mobile phone loose in my hand but it’s as good as useless when the one, the only person I want to contact has apparently switched his phone off. That sodding phone of his, full of mysteries and unknowns, always always with him, constantly lighting up and vibrating all over the place; but now, when I really need to use it, when it will be of more use than it ever has before – to me, anyway – in his pocket in complete darkness. Oh my God, why would he do that? Why would anyone? What’s the arsing point of having an arsing mobile if it’s arsing switched off, for arse’s sake?

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Review: All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

rp_All-my-friends-201x300.jpgAll Tom’s friends really are superheroes. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding the Perfectionist is hypnotized by her ex, Hypno, to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. Six months later, the Perfectionist is sure that Tom has abandoned her, so she’s moving to Vancouver. She’ll use her superpowers to leave all the heartbreak behind. With no idea that Tom’s beside her, she boards the plane. Tom has, until they touch down, to convince her he’s there, or he loses her forever.

I had seen this book recommended a few times by various people on You Tube. I had also read The Tiny Wife (also by Kaufman ) and loved it so I was excited to read this one. It is only about eighty pages long so it is perfect if you’re looking for a quick read through a train journey or before going to sleep. I read it in pretty much one sitting. This book is quirky and it has a lovely idea behind it.

The writing style makes the story engaging in my opinion and it is easy to read.

Looking at some of the other reviews, I feel that perhaps it is a little bit of a marmite book. You are either going to love it or hate it – you get it or you don’t. Personally, I loved it. Tom is an Continue reading

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April’s Book Club: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Serpent's Tail, June 2014.

Serpent’s Tail, June 2014.

Book Corner is our monthly online book club.

How it works…

We love books and we love chatting about them even more. Every month, we pick a new book for discussion. We will post a question to kick things off and then you can talk about any of your thoughts about the book in the comments box below. The best thing about our book club is that EVERYONE CAN TAKE PART. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.

This month, our pick is: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.

About the book:

Rosemary doesn’t talk very much, and about certain things she’s silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it’s been ten years since she last saw her beloved older brother Lowell. 

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Competitions: March’s Winner for Which Book is This Anyway?

IMG_5711March’s Which Book is This Anyway?

The prize is a book but we’ve not revealed the title and won’t until the winner receives it.

Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our competition adds a little mystery.

It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We’ve not even revealed the genre. It’s a surprise.

All we did say about this book is that ‘A young girl’s tale about her strange family. This story has been described as clever, moving, fascinating and funny.’

Thank you to every one who entered and well done to Carol Peace who has been drawn out of the hat this month. Your book will be on its way to you soon.

Keep your eye out for April’s competition.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Reversing

rp_friday-300x164111111111111.pngFriday 27th March 2015: Reversing

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: What would happen if you woke up one day to find that you were ageing in reverse? You weren’t getting older, you were getting younger. What would you do first? What would happen? How would it end? Can you stop it and would you want to?

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Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

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