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Sunday, June 18, 2017

#allthebookreviews and Author Q&A: No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan @tracybuchanan @crookedlanebks

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan
Crooked Lane Books

Another book down for Jess and I and our #allthebookreviews quest! A book any lover of thrillers will breeze through... read below for a synopsis, our thoughts on the book and then continue to scroll down to learn about Tracy Buchanan.  I totally can see Jennifer Connelly as Anna! And omg you guys - if you don't read the whole interview, at least read the final question - HILARITY!

Goodreads Synopsis

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My Thoughts:

Recently split from her husband, Anna Graves takes her daughter out for a normal walk on the beach. A confrontation with a crazed teen ends in Anna killing him to protect her child. Innocent until (media) proven guilty, she mentally starts to lose it. A serial killer lain dormant for two decades, shows up again, taunting her. As more death piles up, the coincidences to her presence make her the prime suspect. Her friends, the police, even her family, start to question her. Her only ally? The brother of the kid she killed. But can she truly trust him? And is the "Ophelia Killer" back?

A true thriller encompassing the question of how far someone would go to protect their own. Fast paced, easy to follow and seen through Anna's perspective for most of the book, we see the emotional toll each horrible instance takes on Anna. There are a few flashback scenes that come into play, but they're so intermittently put in that I actually forget about them until they pop up again. I had a hard time comprehending death by red, long toothed comb. And while I didn't expect that ending, I needed some more. Give me more background in the flashbacks. Really tie it all in so I get a better understanding of where it all came from. That being said, it's a dark, twisted ride that any lover of thrillers will enjoy. 3.5 stars!

Jessica's Thoughts:

I'm definitely guilty of wanting this book for its cover. Have you seen those colors? But the tagline on the cover also had my attention: "How far would you go to protect your child?" Color me intrigued!

Anna Graves has had her entire life turned upside down. A new mother returning to work while trying to get acclimated to her new schedule of late nights and early mornings, and to top it all off, her husband has just left her. The stress is beginning to take over. Then one day, every mother's worst nightmare happens. Anna and her daughter are going for a walk on the beach when she's attacked by a teenager. Letting her instincts kick in, Anna reacts to protect her new baby. 

Everything begins to spiral out of control after the teenager dies from the sustained injuries. While the police believed Anna's story, the autopsy results come back to reveal much more sinister motives. It is discovered that Elliot was poisoned before his death, but there's something significant about this poison, it's the same one that was used by The Ophelia Killer. Twenty years ago, the town was tormented by a murderer that targeted young teenage boys and was known as The Ophelia Killer. After the assault, Anna receives a chilling message from someone signed "TOK" - in the email are details about the poison and what happened to Elliot. 

The police won't help her find The Ophelia Killer, and everyone begins turning on her. The media frenzy turns on her and so do her friends and colleagues. The only person that will help her search for justice, Jamie, Elliot's brother. No one is safe with TOK on the loose. 

Anna's mental state deteriorates throughout this book as she tries to stop The Ophelia Killer and we go on that ride with her. It was a fast paced read and it didn't stop. It grabbed me and kept my attention throughout. Tracy Buchanan did a great job with the characters - very well-developed and relatable. Anna is a mother through and through. While she isn't perfect, her number one priority is her daughter and keeping her safe. 

If you want an easy to read, quick thriller with some intertwining stories, then you'll definitely want to pick this one up! How far would you go to protect those you love?

I give this 4/5 stars!

Let's learn about Tracy Buchanan! (I want this jacket of hers!)

What does your writing process look like?

Before I got published, I used to come up with an idea, then just sit down and write, letting my writing take me where my mind wanted. But now I’m a full-time author and have deadlines, I’m much more organized! I’ll come up with a kernel of an idea and then start thinking about it and the characters casually. I’ll watch films and read books and visit places to inspire me. Once I’m happy with where it’s going, I’ll start planning in, usually (bizarrely enough) in Excel! My publisher will then sign off a synopsis and the really fun bit starts: writing that first draft! Then my novels always go through a revision process after with editors, lots of going back and forth to make it as perfect as possible.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?

I find after about 20k words I down, I sometimes hit a wall. Self-doubt sets in: is this the right idea to be working on? Will my readers like it? Am I taking it in the right direction? And why is there no chocolate in the house?! At times like this, I go for a walk. Or watch a film. Or read a book. It’s best to step away and stop banging your head against a wall. I then find I come back refreshed and the writing continues (while eating the chocolate I bought from the shop).

How many hours a day do you write?

About 5 hours a day. I spend my other working hours doing publicity, replying to emails, procrastinating on Twitter…!

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Not really, though I’ve always been able to write anywhere and anyhow. I don’t need a desk or complete silence. At the moment, I’m lounging on my chair with my puppy lying on my lap, my laptop precariously balancing on a pulled up chair as I listen to the UK’s prime minister announce she’s holding a snap general election!

What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process? Favorite part?

My least favourite part is finishing a book! Sounds strange, I know, but I really miss it and the characters and usually have a real slump after. My favourite part, as well as starting a novel, is getting messages from my readers. They really make me smile! I’m already seeing some early reviews and getting some contact from reviewers for No Turning Back which I’m just loving.

Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Not really, I’m open to writing about anything and not scared to tackle difficult subjects. Like with No Turning Back, the idea of a mother killing a teenage boy might be difficult for some. But I felt it was an important taboo to write about.

Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?

I used to detest writing ‘in-between scenes’, those scenes that link the major ones. Now I just don’t write them! My view is, if I get bored writing them, then my readers will get bored reading them. I now focus on big main scenes and avoid ‘filler’ stuff, every word playing a part.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

It certainly helps to have thick skin and self-confidence as this writing business can be full of hurt and rejection. But equally, a lot of getting ahead in writing is making connections with people. And if you’re arrogant and difficult to work with, that can have a negative impact.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Seeing my mum curled up with a book in her lap, a smile on her face. When you’re young, your parents are so important, you watch them for every emotional response. So to see my mum experience happiness while reading showed me the power of the word.

How many unpublished/half-finished books do you have?

About three! I used to love writing young adult fiction and actually had a teen book published in Germany years ago. My other attempts weren’t so successful so they’re lying on my laptop somewhere. Maybe I’ll dig them out again…

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

A first draft can take me about six months, maybe less. But then there are always numerous rounds of revision, which adds another few months on. In all, from start to finish, a year.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

I’m working on a brand new novel, so watch this space! I’d love to tell you more but then I’d have to lock you up in my office until the novel idea is announced. I’d supply lots of chocolate and tea so it might not be too bad.


If you could cast the characters of No Turning Back for a movie, who would play your characters?

I think someone like Jennifer Connelly would be interesting for Anna, and maybe Stephen Amell from The Arrow could be quite interesting for Jamie.

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I have a review-reading frenzy around book release. But then I calm down and just dip in every now and again. If someone messages me a review they’ve written then I always try to reply, thanking them. But I never respond to a bad review! I’d only do that if someone was questioning my personal character. As for advice for dealing with bad reviews, find your favourite author, and click on all the two and one star reviews. There are bound to be a few and you’ll discover you’re not alone! It also helps to know the more you sell, the more negative reviews you get! Go figure.

If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

I’d go back to what I used to do: either journalism or PR / social media consulting. I used to enjoy it.

What's the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Writer retreats! I go to a wonderful one here in the UK in Devon, in a lovely farmhouse where all my food is cooked for me, I get to chat to other writers… and best of all, there’s cake o’clock at 4pm!

Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it? (and yes, I meant reader's) 😃

Yes! I have a Kindle so download lots of samples of books and I’ll go through phases of not being able to find anything I like. It’s so frustrating. Then suddenly, a whole plethora of books will crop up that are wonderful!

Do you google yourself?

Of course not (yes, I totally do, don’t tell anyone)

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A cute King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy, just like my gorgeous puppy Bronte!

What literary character is most like you?

I’ve always felt an affinity with Cathy from Wuthering Heights. Just that romantic heart of hers, and the British windsweptness of it all.

What authors have inspired you?

I love Anita Shreve, she has this amazing ability to conjure intensity of feeling while maintaining the most beautiful, subtle prose. I met her a couple of years ago and she was just lovely.

What's one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?

When writing, stick to the core of a novel. So the main theme and focus. Don’t go off course. In life? Fight. Fight. Fight. Don’t give up! Many years ago, a doctor told me I’d never have children. In the same week, I got a bunch of rejection letters from agents for one of my novels. Several years later, I’m onto my fourth published book and I have a daughter. You just have to get those boxing gloves on and fight for what you want.

What's the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

I was out shopping with my little girl and she got all grumpy as she had mud on her shoes. So I said to her: ‘I don't think you could ever be a farmer, you don't like muck. You'll probably end up being a fashion designer or something’. In response, she stamped her foot and crossed her arms and shouted out: I don't want to be a FASHION VAGINA!!!!’ Cue amused looks from fellow shoppers and one embarrassed but giggly me!

Huge thanks to Crooked Lane Books for these copies in return for our honest reviews!

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