Today I am delighted to welcome Tess Makovesky 🙂
Tess’s short stories have darkened the pages of many magazines and anthologies. Her psychological novella ‘Raise the Blade’ is out now from
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m Liverpool born and bred, but after half a lifetime of bombing around the British countryside I’ve finally settled in the Far North of England (as the weather reporters like to call it), where I roam the fells with a brolly, dreaming up new stories and startling the sheep.
I write psychological crime and noir fiction, often with a thread of dark humour running through it, and almost always in the form short stories. To give you a taster, you can find my most recent short story, ‘Troubled Waters’, at Pulp Metal Magazine. I also have a psychological noir novella, ‘Raise the Blade’, out at Caffeine Nights Publishing. This examines the theory that certain people contribute to their own downfall through the choices they make, whilst referencing Pink Floyd’s brilliant track Brain Damage – and the odd elephant or two.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
Ideas pop out at me from all sorts of sources. Often, it’s an obscure news item in the press that kick starts a story – the very first inspiration for ‘Raise the Blade’, for instance, came from a news report about a body being found in a Birmingham canal. But I also get ideas from books, TV series, music, dreams, and ‘what-if’ conversations with other people.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
To an extent, yes, although I would never simply plonk a real person, unaltered, into one of my books or stories. More typically, elements of several people I know go to make up each character. For instance, Gillian the religion-obsessed dog owner in ‘Raise the Blade’ was loosely based on a neighbour of my parents, but with other characteristics thrown into the mix.
How do you pick your characters names?
I find names are important, and colour the way I perceive the characters, so it’s an important process. Mostly, they come to me on an instinctive level, but if I’m stuck for names for male characters I’ll often scour the squad lists from football (soccer) teams for inspiration.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I get an overall idea first. What if this happened? How would certain characters react? Then I need a title, a feel for where the book or story will end up, and the first few lines. And then I simply plunge in and start writing. It’s a risky approach as I sometimes (often!) end up in a complete muddle, but I can’t do detailed outlines, plots or notes because it sucks up all my creative energy and I have nothing left to actually write the book.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Oh dear, I hate questions like this because I tend not to stick to favourite authors, but devour anything that interests me and love discovering new authors and new genres. However, in modern crime probably Ann Cleeves and Peter May (I love the sense of place they bring to their novels); in classic crime Dorothy L Sayers; and outside of the crime world, Tolkien. And yes, I know that’s only four. But the rest of the list would take up this whole blog!
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’m tempted to list a few here with the question ‘what were you even thinking’! But being serious, I think it would have to be Mark Mills (author of ‘The Savage Garden’ and ‘The Whaleboat House’ amongst others). I’d love to find out more about the inspiration behind ‘The Savage Garden’, a wonderful mix of whodunnit and garden design with a mystery dating back to the sixteenth century.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Always. I had a relatively unhappy childhood and took refuge in books, reading several a week at the very least. I devoured almost anything but from the age of about twelve I developed a taste for classic crime (Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh) which seems to have stayed with me for life. I’d have been happier in a book world than my own half the time – and there are times when that still applies!
When did you start to write?
I wrote my first story at the age of five, and it was always my dream to be a writer. Having to support myself for many years put paid to that, but once I met my husband I was able to give it a go, and have been writing ever since.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
This is a hard one. Like most readers I get frustrated when a book doesn’t end the way I think it should (I’m not usually keen on sudden, perhaps unnecessary deaths of major characters in the final pages). But on the other hand, the author has deliberately chosen to finish their book that way and just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. However, the book that ended with the Archangel Michael rescuing the hero and heroine from an impossible dead-end has to be a strong candidate…
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Loads! Usually to the point of ‘why do I even bother’ if I’ve just read something really good. I’m envious of authors who can write long, beautiful descriptions, or whose characters are so strongly drawn that you feel you could meet them on the local streets in real life. But on a specific level it would have to be ‘The Lord of the Rings’ for the sheer storytelling skill and the ability to keep readers sitting on the edge of their seats for the entire duration of such a long book.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Am I allowed to cheat and specify a real person? I’d love to take Jeremy Clarkson to Birmingham. He’s famous for saying it’s horrible and has nothing on offer but Sixties concrete. I’d like to take him to the Edwardian tea rooms at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, or the café in Cannon Hill Park, or the café in Kings Heath Park, or any one of dozens of fascinating and beautiful venues in what is actually a lovely city. Okay, I’m biased because I lived there for many years and base most of my books there. I’ll stop ranting now.
What are you working on right now?
A re-write of a crime novella called ‘Embers of Bridges’ which is set in Birmingham and involves a bizarre getaway on a canal boat! Like most of my longer works, the title is taken from the lyrics of a Pink Floyd song – in this case High Hopes – and seemed appropriate as the book is about loyalty and the burning of bridges amongst close friends.
Do you have a new release due?
Not immediately, no, but I have a book under consideration with a publisher and new short stories appearing every now and again, so do watch this space!
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I tend to pop up all over the internet with monotonous regularity. I have a web page, blog, Facebook account, Twitter account, and I’m also on Goodreads and Linked-In. Feel free to ‘friend’, ‘follow’ or link to me – I hope to see some of you there.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Only that in spite of the content of some of my stories, I don’t have a criminal record! And if I’ve whetted your appetite for more, you can find my psychological noir novella ‘Raise the Blade’ (Caffeine Nights Publishing) at Amazon.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Tess 🙂
Thank you for the opportunity to witter about myself! There were some really thought-provoking questions in there – I enjoyed the challenge.
Publisher: Caffeine Nights Publishing (25th August 2016)
Like a spider wrapping flies…
When psychopath Duncan leaves a trail of duct-tape-wrapped bodies scattered across the suburbs of Birmingham, there’s nothing to link the victims except his own name and address, carefully placed on each new corpse.Six very different people follow his clues, each convinced they can use Duncan to further their own selfish or naïve ends. Is there a reason Duncan’s driven to target these particular individuals, or does their very nature contribute to their fate?Will any of them be strong enough to break the cycle and escape a painful death? Or will Duncan reel them in and rearrange them to his own insane ideal?
“Raise the Blade is a gloriously gruesome read, riven with the very blackest of humour. And I loved it.”Ian Ayris, author of ‘Abide With Me’ and ‘April Skies’.
Buy your copy HERE