The Hunt (2020)

The Hunt

The Hunt

Flicking through Netflix looking for a shortish film to watch and I came across The Hunt which has such a silly premise it sounded like it would be a fun, easy watch.

Twelve strangers are kidnapped and taken to The Manor to be hunted for sport, they all have one thing in common though.

The liberal elite hate them.

I really liked The Hunger Game nod at the start of the action sequences, it was also good that the film kept playing with your expectation of who was going to be the main protagonist, knocking them off just as you thought ‘Them! It must be them.’ Including some regular big horror film names.

Some really good action sequences throughout, not as bloody as I thought it was going to be from the main poster and the fact that it was labelled as horror but still really enjoyable.

Betty Gilpin was excellent in the action role, the character was cartoonish but at times that’s all you need, especially late at night.

The end fight was well choreographed with some really funny bits peppered into it.

Well worth a bit of a brain-free watch, high on action low on blood.

The Hunt | March 13, 2020 (United States) 6.5

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Laura Laakso – Q&A

Laura Laakso

Laura Laakso

Laura is a Finn who has spent most of her adult life in England. She is currently living in Hertfordshire with her two dogs. Books and storytelling have always been a big part of her life, be it in the form of writing fanfiction, running tabletop roleplaying games or, more recently, writing original fiction. When she is not writing, editing or plotting, she works as an accountant. With two degrees in archaeology, she possesses useful skills for disposing of or digging up bodies, and if her internet search history is anything to go by, she is on several international watch lists.

Her debut novel, Fallible Justice, was published in November 2018 by Louise Walters Books and the next three instalments in the Wilde Investigations series, Echo Murder, Roots of Corruption, and The Doves in the Dining Room came out in 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively. They are paranormal crime novels set in modern day London, but with magic, murder and general mayhem.

Laura can be found at:
Website: https://lauralaaksobooks.com/
Twitter: @LLaaksoWriter
Facebook: @lauralaaksowriter
Instagram: @lauralaaksowriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17986279.Laura_Laakso

Tell me what inspired you to write your (debut) novel?

Fallible Justice began with a question: if a justice system was built on celestial beings looking into a person’s soul to determine guilt or innocence, how could such a justice system be fooled? As soon as I had figured that out, I knew it was a story I had to write.

What came first the characters or the world?

Beyond the basic premise of the story, the first image I had of a woman running on a beach, channelling nature. What began as a character study for my narrator later became the opening scene of the novel. Once I’d met Yannia, I built the rest of the story in a fairly mechanical fashion (victim, suspect, red herring etc.) and moulded the world to suit the needs of the story. Because I needed both magic and modern technology for the plot, the idea slotted neatly into urban fantasy.

How hard was it to get your first (debut) book published?

I got extremely lucky and skipped several steps in the traditional publishing journey. Fallible Justice was chosen as a runner up in a first chapter competition back in 2017. Unbeknownst to me, Louise was reading for that competition and when I later sent in a submission for her new imprint, she recognised my name and asked to see Fallible Justice. It didn’t meet any of her submission guidelines, but Louise loved the story regardless, and thus began an incredible journey.

How long did it take to write?

I think Fallible Justice took about 15 months to write, which is a relatively long time for me (the sequel, Echo Murder, only took 5 months), but I was struggling with some health issues at the time. As a general rule, writing for me is very much a juggling act between work, my dogs, and doing just enough housework to maintain the appearance that I don’t live in a cave.

Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?

I don’t have a writing playlist per se, though for the Fey sections of Roots of Corruption, I did listen to a lot of Celtic heavy metal. My taste in music is wildly eclectic, so I tend to have some quite random YouTube mixes on the go. I do prefer to listen to music while I write, but I’m less bothered about what the music is. However, I will say that if my main character Yannia had to choose a theme song, it would be Rachel Platten’s ‘Fight Song’.

How many publishers turned you down?

Technically none. Louise did turn down another novel I submitted to her before she asked to see Fallible Justice, but I never submitted my Wilde Investigations series to anyone but Louise. I have had a couple of agent rejections and I expect to receive many more in the near future.

What kind of reactions have you had to your book?

Overall, the reception to the series has been very positive. I’ve built something of a fan base, especially on Twitter, and I love nothing better than seeing how invested readers are in the development of the characters and the various story lines. I play several hashtag WIP games on Twitter, so my followers get glimpses of what I’m working on and occasionally it leads to howls of outrage. I have had some negative comments about writing lesbian sex scenes, but instead of being upset by them, I view them as a badge of honour.

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?

Without a doubt it’s people contacting me to say how much enjoy the chronic illness representation in the series. Yannia shares my chronic pain condition, but like her sexuality, the colour of her eyes, or her favourite biscuit, it doesn’t define her, being only one small part of what makes her who she is. To have readers contact me to say they hadn’t realised they needed this kind of representation until they saw themselves on the pages of my book is amazing. I gave Yannia my pain as a way of explaining my world, but I’m so pleased that my words are resonating in others too.

What can you tell us about your next book?

The fourth novel in the Wilde Investigations series is called Wildest Hunger, and it will be published on 31 October. In the book Yannia is hunting one of her kind, while being drawn deeper into the political machinations of Old London.

Do you take notice of online reviews?

I do have a look at reviews in the run up to a publication date and if I’m tagged on social media, but I rarely look at them for books that have been out for a while. At the end of the day, they’re not there for me. But I do love it that many of the regular reviewers and bloggers have become good friends.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

I have and will continue writing outside of urban fantasy. My first two novels, which shall forever remain in the digital desk drawer, were a psychological drama and a sci-fi novel. My wild imagination takes me in all manner of directions, and I see no reason to confine myself to a single genre.

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I’m an accountant by day and also do some dog training in the evenings and weekends.

Which author(s) inspire you?
Joanne Harris, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman for their extraordinary imagination and amazing use of language. Agatha Christie for being the queen of the detective story. Nicholas Evans for his incredible ability to evoke deep emotions.

Which genres do you read yourself?

While I have a particular liking for speculative fiction, I read widely. If a book’s premise intrigues me, it doesn’t matter if it’s literary fiction, horror, or a middle grade adventure novel.

What is your biggest motivator?

Taking one of my mad ideas and running with it. I also love sharing all aspects of the writing and publication process with my first reader.

What will always distract you?

One of my dogs being sick in the other room.

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

Louise and I are lucky to work with Jennie Rawlings of Serifim, who absolutely gets my books. So while we may suggest a few minor tweaks to the covers, the concepts are all Jennie’s and she’s never yet failed to amaze us. I love all of my book covers.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Very much so. My parents once threatened to ground me for the summer holidays over some long-forgotten infringement, and my only thought on the matter was that as long as they’d still let me go to the library, it could turn out to be a very nice summer indeed. I also seem to remember being absolutely disgusted when I discovered that my local library had a lending limit of 50 books.

What were your favourite childhood books?

I adored Elina Karjalainen’s Uppo Nalle series and Astrid Lindgren’s books, with Pippi Longstocking and The Brothers Lionheart being my particular favourites. But if I had to pick one book that had a profound effect on me as a child, it would have to be Jostein Gaardner’s extraordinary The Solitaire Mystery.

What books can you not resist buying?

Anything by Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris, Nicholas Evans, and Jodi Taylor.

Do you have any rituals when writing?

Not really, though during the winter months I like to curl under a blanket with my laptop and a mug of hot chocolate. I’m also strangely prolific on public transport, so all train or plane journeys are a perfect opportunity for writing.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

Far too many to count… Though having said that, since getting into audiobooks, I’ve been consuming books at a far faster rate than I have for some years.

What is your current or latest read?

At the moment, I’m listening to Hannah Gadsby’s autobiography Ten Steps to Nannette, which is wonderful, and I recently listened to all of Jodi Taylor’s The Chronicles of St Mary books published so far.

Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?

I’m about two chapters from finishing the fifth Wilde Investigations instalment and I think it might be the darkest story in the series to date. That cliché about writers enjoying torturing their characters is absolutely true. I have also written two MG novels that I’m getting ready for agent submissions. Hopefully they will find a home somewhere as I adore both of the stories.

And finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

I never sit down with the express intention of writing an urban fantasy or a steampunk novel. Rather it’s the idea that comes first and that’s what dictates the genre. One of the greatest parts about being a writer is the freedom to explore any idea or story I choose. Everything else comes later.


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Ivy Ngeow – Q&A

Ivy Ngeow

Ivy Ngeow

Ivy Ngeow was born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. A graduate of the Middlesex University Writing MA programme, Ivy won the 2005 Middlesex University Literary Prize out of almost 1500 entrants worldwide. Her debut Cry of the Flying Rhino won the 2016 International Proverse Prize. She has written non-fiction for Marie Claire, The Star, The New Straits Times, South London Society of Architects’ Newsletter and Wimbledon magazine. Her short stories have appeared in Silverfish New Writing anthologies twice, The New Writer and on the BBC World Service, Fixi Novo’s ‘Hungry in Ipoh’ anthology and most recently the Fixi 2020 Anthology. Ivy won first prize in the Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition 1994, first prize in the Barnes and Noble Career Essay Writing competition 1998 and was shortlisted for the David T K Wong Fellowship 1998 and the Ian St James Award 1999.

Ivy can be contacted at:
Website: http://www.writengeow.com
Twitter: @ivyngeow
Instagram: @ivyngeow
Facebook: facebook.com/ivyngeowwriter

Tell me what inspired you to write your (debut) novel?

My debut novel was inspired by a dream, which took place in a Borneo longhouse. I saw a girl with huge hollow eyes and she was just about to run away from something. I have since written 4 more novels.

What came first the characters or the world?

Always the world for me. Then I fill it with characters.

How hard was it to get your first (debut) book published?

It took 12 years.

Ivy Ngeow

Ivy Ngeow

How long did it take to write?

About 2 years. I rewrote for another year. My latest and fifth novel took 38 days.

How many publishers turned you down?

More than 80.

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?

“I will read anything from Ivy without checking the back blurb. I know I will love it.”

What can you tell us about your next book?

My next book will be an Asian thriller with a female protagonist.

Do you take notice of online reviews?

Yes and no. Occasionally I do check but I am more resilient now to one stars and trolls.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

Ivy Ngeow

Ivy Ngeow

My current genres are literary fiction and psychological crime thrillers. When I do stray outside these, I tend to do it in short stories. Short stories are a great form to experiment in genres out of our expertise, and to exercise creative freedom. So for example, I have written romance, historical, paranormal, dystopian, speculative or women’s fiction short stories. They are also less rigid when it comes to mixed genres.

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I have a 30 year profession in architecture and interior design.

Which author(s) inspire you?
David Szalay, Flannery O’Connor, Carl Hiaasen, Sarah Waters, Daphne du Maurier.

Which genres do you read yourself?

I read crime, psychological thrillers and literary fiction.

What is your biggest motivator?

Reader engagement

What will always distract you?

Work

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

Most of the say. I am a designer myself. I do all the graphics already in my interior design and architecture practice.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Yes. I started late. I read to myself at around 8.

What were your favourite childhood books?

I read all the Enid Blyton books and later the Nancy Drew series. Hence the interest in adventure stories.

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

I love little indie bookshops, eg Nomad Books in Fulham and South Kensington Books in South Kensington.

What books can you not resist buying?

Short story collections.

Do you have any rituals when writing?

I tend to write in the early mornings, first thing. That is the only criteria.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

5.

What is your current or latest read?

I am reading a thriller for an author now, coming out soon, to give him a cover quote.

Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?

My 4th and 5th novels are coming out this year but I can’t say when yet as they are still being edited. However, what I can say is that I will be doing a cover reveal very soon for my 4th novel, White Crane Strikes, a suspense thriller set in Chicago’s Chinatown.

and finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

I enjoy the dark psychological side of human nature with its surprises and twists, and inventing characters to reflect that unpredictability in humanity. Therefore literary fiction, noir and thrillers are my subject interests.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Lizzy Barber – Q&A

Lizzy Barber

Lizzy Barber

Lizzy Barber studied English at Corpus Christ College, Cambridge University. After ‘previous lives’ acting and working in film development, she is now the Head of Brand and Marketing for a restaurant group, working with her brother, a restaurateur.

Her debut novel, MY NAME IS ANNA, was the winner of the Daily Mail crime writing competition.

She is currently hard at work on her next thriller. Lizzy lives in London with her husband, George, food writer and strategy consultant.

Twitter: @ByLizzyBarber
Instagram: @ByLizzyBarber
TikTok: @ByLizzyBarber

Tell me what inspired you to write your (debut) novel?

I had been working on a literary fiction novel for a long time which was based on my grandmother’s life in Tel Aviv, Cairo and London, but I became increasingly stuck with it. This sounds a bit bizarre, but around the time there seemed to be a rash of news stories about women who had been kidnapped and escaped – Natasha Kampusch, Elizabeth Smart, Josef Fritzl – and of course there was the looming disappearance of Madeleine McCann. It made me wonder what it would be like if a child had been kidnapped at a very young age – so young that they had forgotten who they really were – and only began uncovering their true identity as a young adult. The idea became ‘My Name Is Anna.’

What came first the characters or the world?

Absolutely the characters. I have a background in theatre, and love getting under a character’s skin.

How hard was it to get your first (debut) book published?

I took quite an unusual route to publication! I had mentioned the idea for My Name Is Anna to my mum, and had began to write it when she mentioned that she’d seen a competition in the newspaper searching for the next crime writer. I’d sent short stories to competitions before and never won anything, but I took a chance, and a few months later I heard the news that I had won the Daily Mail / Penguin Random House First Novel Competition! The prize included publication of my novel by Penguin Random House and representation by my now agent, Luigi Bonomi. It was an absolute fluke and a bit of a dream come true.

How long did it take to write?

Having a publisher lit a fire under me – I’d only written about 25 thousand words when I won the competition – so I finished it in about 6 months. The next ones have been a fair bit slower…

Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?

I can’t write to music, weirdly, I find it too distracting. Conversely, I like to have chatter or general noise around me, and I’ve always worked in coffee shops, even when I was doing my degree. If I’m at home, I’ll listen to podcasts, or put something familiar on like The Gilmore Girls.

What kind of reactions have you had to your book?

I had some lovely reviews for My Name Is Anna, in particular the late Times reviewer, Marcel Berlins, who called it ‘splendid.’ I was very proud of that. I know some readers were disappointed with the epilogue though, which I made deliberately open-ended, and that’s something I’ve taken on board for future novels.

Out of Her Depth isn’t out until the 28th April but it’s brilliant to already see it getting a lot of enthusiasm from advanced readers, who seem to love the Tuscan setting and unlikeable characters.

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?

A 1 star Amazon review from ‘golfie’. Subject line: Never judge a book by its cover, that’s my motto. book was purchased by my husband.

What can you tell us about your next book?

Out of Her Depth is published on the 28th April. It’s the story of Rachel, an unassuming young woman who gets a Summer job in a luxurious pensione in the Florentine hills, and finds herself thrust into a world of privilege. The book touches on desire, lust and toxic friendships… and, of course, because it’s thriller, what happens when these things collide, and everything goes wrong…

Do you take notice of online reviews?

Absolutely. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

Like many other authors, I have a draw of unfinished manuscripts and would definitely like to flex my muscles elsewhere in the future, but at the moment I still feel I am learning and growing as a thriller writer.

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I’ve dabbled in acting and film development, but for the past eleven years I’ve worked with my brother overseeing the Brand and Marketing for our restaurant group, The Hush Collection. I think what I realised when I made the move into writing is that what I really love doing is telling stories, and all of these roles have that in common.

Which author(s) inspire you?

Emily Bronte, Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith. More current names are Taylor Jenkins Reid, Emily St. John Mandel and Lisa Jewell.

Which genres do you read yourself?

I’m a completely itinerant reader – anything with an exciting plot and intriguing characters

What is your biggest motivator?

Hearing people have enjoyed my books

What will always distract you?

A-ny-thing. I am very easily distracted. Right now I am supposed to be finishing a structural edit, but this seemed way more fun

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

To be honest, I was quite surprised when I published My Name Is Anna that I had so little say. I think I had assumed, rather naively, that it would be a collaborative process, but as I have learned more about the publishing industry I have realised how much more there is to selling a book than an author’s preferences. Having said that, both my agent and I raised queries about the first cover proposal for Out of Her Depth, and I’m so glad we did because I’m very much in love with the revised, final result. I think it’s about picking your battles, and raising concerns if there’s a real reason to.

Were you a big reader as a child?

The biggest. When we’d go on holiday, half my suitcase would be taken up with books. I’m the youngest child in my family with a huge gap, but they’d always cart me along to restaurants because I’d just sit in the corner reading.

What were your favourite childhood books?

I loved Goosebumps, Christopher Pike and the Point Horror series (you could tell where that was going…). I was also a huge fan of Jacqueline Wilson, and I was ten I wrote my first ‘novel’ in the vein of her books. It was sixty pages with illustrations and I was incredibly proud of it.

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

I think BookBar, near where I live in Islington, is an incredible business. They are so passionate about books and authors, and have really raised the bar for what a bookshop can be.

What books can you not resist buying?

Dystopian fiction – particularly ones with a feminist angle. I’m a sucker for a ‘not so distant future’

Do you have any rituals when writing?

…Apart from procrastinating? I work for the restaurants Monday – Wednesday and I write Thursdays and Fridays, so I have to be quite strict with myself. I like to go for a long run on Thursday mornings to clear my head and getting into ‘writing mode’ for the next couple of days, then I’ll shower and take my laptop down to the coffee shop (Redemption Roasters in Camden Passage – thank you for all the caffeine) for the rest of the day.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

Too many to contemplate. I keep a list on my phone and I’m constantly updating it

What is your current or latest read?

I’m about to go on holiday, so I have a few on my list, starting with The Sanctuary by Charlotte Duckworth, which looks fab.

Any books that you’re looking forward to in the next 12 months?

This is Gonna End in Tears, by Liza Klaussmann. I just loved her last two books.

Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?

I’m just finishing off the edits for A Girl Like That, my next book, which is out in 2023. And then it’s on to the next one, which is very early days, but is going to touch upon modern day cults…

Any events in the near future?

Nothing finalised, but there should hopefully be some events for Out of Her Depth…watch this space.

and finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

I love unravelling a mystery. It doesn’t have to have a mind-blowing or shocking ‘twist,’ but I just enjoy getting to the bottom of something, the satisfaction of finally having uncovered a secret…


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.