I finally had some time to update the trailer for Killing A Vampire! Well, I had to as it was in my pre-order form for the Darker Side of Fiction book fair, and I had to hand the form in 😀 . I still haven’t finalized the form as I need to figure out what the price for the Prequel and my Short Shockers books are. For this, I need to upload them on IngramSpark first. So I’m working my ass off to get this done! In the meantime, enjoy the trailer again!
Excuses for my lateness of posting my weekly What to Watch? I was still travelling from Holland to Scotland yesterday (driving from Newcastle to Aberdeen), and I can tell you that typing on a laptop in a driving car isn’t easy 😀 . So, why Shooter (the TV series and not the film)? Because my son recommended it to me.
The Netflix TV series is based on the film Shooter, with Mark Wahlberg as the main character, which is based on the book Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter which again is loosely based on the US sniper Carlos Hathcock (but none of the story in the TV series has anything to do with Hathcock).
The retired US sniper veteran, Bob Lee Swagger, is played by Ryan Phillipe. He’s not a new kid on the block as he’s been in front of the camera since 1992. His wife Julie is played by Shantel VanSanten, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson plays Nadine Memphis, the investigating FBI agent. Omar Epps, also know from his doctor role in House, plays the Secret Service agent and ex-commander of Swagger, Isaac Johnson. I need to mention Eddie McClintock, who plays Jack Payne, and David Marciano as Memphis’s boss, Howard Utey.
Bob Lee Swagger is a retired US sniper, now spending time with his wife and daughter. His ex-commander, Isaac Johnson, seeks him out and asks for his help. There are rumors that a sniper is going to take out the US President during a visit to Seattle. Swagger reluctantly agrees and tries to figure out where the sniper could shoot from. All angles seem to be covered, until Swagger figures out something is wrong and tries to prevent the shooting. Unfortunately, Swagger is too late, and the visiting Ukrainian President is killed. As Swagger is on the spot of the crime, he’s arrested for suspicion of being the murderer. Swagger must prove he’s set up for a crime he didn’t commit.
What I liked about Shooter
As you may know, I’m not a fan of senseless violence. So, why did I like Shooter? Because the first few episodes were very suspenseful and were (somewhat) believable.
Someone, in a review on Rotten Tomatoes, mentioned there was no humor in the series at all. They are wrong. I loved the character of Jack Payne. He was so funny. Intentionally or not, he made me laugh out loud and care for him more than for Swagger. Same goes for Howard Utey. His character was less believable, but still gave it a less dramatic twist for me.
What I didn’t like about Shooter
As I said, I don’t like senseless violence. This series is supposed to be realistic, but people are being killed left, right, and center without any remorse. I don’t mind if this happens in fantasy movies with non-existant creatures but not in a series about humans and by someone who’s supposedly the good guy. Besides this, Ryan Phillipe reminds me of a pouting school boy, not a seasoned veteran. Maybe it’s just my age…
The further you get into the series, the more unbelievable it becomes. We finished the first season, but I doubt we’re going to watch the following two.
Shooter is a good show to get away from it all and have you on the edge of your seat for a couple of evenings but don’t expect it to be too realistic or see fantastic performances.
I haven’t seen the movie with Mark Wahlberg as the sniper, but I’m dying to see it now.
Ever since I saw The Boat That Rocked/Pirate Radio in 2009, I’ve been a fan of Bill Nighy’s work. Obviously, I like him best in Underworld, but he also plays in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, another two of my favorites. He didn’t disappoint in the movie I’m about to talk about in this post.
The Limehouse Golem
Bill Nighy plays Inspector John Kildare, the main character who has to solve the murders. Originally, Alan Rickman was given the role of the inspector, but he had to withdraw due to declining health. I would have liked to have seen Rickman in the role as I think his appearance and voice would have suited the role better, but Nighy does a great job as well.
The second main character, Lizzy Cree-charged with murdering her husband, is played by Olivia Cooke. She puts down a very good performance, reminding me a bit of Helena Bonham Carter. Douglas Booth plays Dan Leno, the actor/cross-dresser, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him on the screen. Acting, of course. Daniel Mays was a very convincing constable George Flood, Sam Reid the weird and creepy John Cree, and Maria Valverde the jealous Aveline Ortega.
Nighy plays Inspector John Kildare, a man appointed to investigate seemingly unsolvable Limehouse Golem murders. These murders, graphically depicted, are so gruesome that people think no human being could have committed them. Lizzy Cree is the wife of John Cree, found dead in his bed. When the maid, Aveline Ortega, hands the police officer a vial with poison she found in the kitchen, Lizzy is taken into custody on the suspicion of murdering her husband. Kildare links the murder of John Cree to the Limehouse Golem murders. Throughout the story, the interrogation of Lizzy by Kildare is interrupted by flashbacks of what has happened to Lizzy in the past. Only at the very end does Kildare figure out who has committed the murders.
What I liked about The Limehouse Golem
It is a wonderfully done period drama, mixing a whodunnit with horror (says who you can’t cross genre in one story?). I loved the women’s hairdos, the clothing, the setting. It was all very convincingly done.
The story starts slow, picking up the pace and keeping you on the edge of your seat as more as more red herrings are thrown into the story. You keep on guessing until the very end when the revelation is made.
It was nice to see some new faces on the screen.
What I didn’t like about The Limehouse Golem
Toward the end it became increasingly clear who had done it. There just wasn’t any evidence yet.
Overall, I thought it was a most enjoyable story, taking you back to Victorian London (a favorite time of mine). It is a nice way to spend an evening, trying to guess who the perpetrator is and seeing the elimination process develop. Performances are great, enhancing the enjoyment. I recommend this movie to those with a strong stomach due to the graphic depictions of the murders.
I’d like to introduce you to Christine Anne Asbrey, author of The Innocents, a historical mystery novel that will be available tomorrow. She did an amazing amount of homework before writing her book, and it’s a tantalizing tale of mystery, history, and romance.
Christine Anne Asbrey
Did you always want to be a writer?
I was always a voracious reader, my mother teaching me with flashcards at the age of two, and graduating to the adult section of the library about the age of ten. I easily finished three books a week for years and was lost without one. Mysteries were a real love, and I consumed the works of writers old and new constantly. The one thing I always wanted to do was to write but never had the confidence or time to do more than dream about it.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
That would be in my work as a young police officer. I learned that talking people down from spiraling emotions is a powerful tool in keeping people safe, and more potent than violence. I also learned that listening to detail is vital too. Noting the small things helped to push cases along in gathering evidence. I also learned the complex and intricate ways people use language to put you down and grab power in a situation. Understanding that really helps you stay in control of a situation.
Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
That would be either the Pope of the Queen – on a protection duty. When the Pope visited Scotland I was the police officer at the bottom of the aircraft steps. We then moved with him into the city. As a fun aside, the glass-covered vehicle he used was nicknamed the Pope Mobile by the press. The crowds were all still there when we returned to the airport in the Pope mobile without him. We stood in full uniform waving flowers out the top to cheering crowds as we drove the full length of Prince’s Street in Edinburgh (the big main street in Scotland’s capital city). The crowd cheered us and waved flags as we passed. Only a Scottish crowd could hail a car full of police officers like that. Great fun.
What inspires you?
Often fact is stranger than fiction, so I’ll start with real crime or criminals. I‘ll then change it to ensure that even people familiar with that particular crime can’t guess whodunit. The stories are inspired by real crimes and people but they are not a memoir. They are stories where everything is historically possible. It either happened or could have happened.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been playing with the characters for about ten years, but work and life got in the way. I started writing seriously about two years ago and spent about a year being turned down by everyone. I acted on every bit of feedback and continually got my work reviewed and improved until it was polished enough to be accepted.
Do you write under a pseudonym?
I kinda do. I write under my married name and feature on social media under my maiden name for social interactions. I also write under initials. I don’t hide my gender, but it’s not immediately obvious when you look at the book cover.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
That would have to be ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins. Not only is it considered the first proper detective novel in the English language, it also shows working class females as rounded characters instead of foils for male attention. It also is the first to introduce many of the elements we take for granted in mysteries such as red herrings, false suspects, the skilled investigator, and a final twist. Collins was actually vastly more popular than Dickens in his day, but is now largely forgotten in comparison.
How did you come to write The Innocents?
My grasp on the methodologies used by law enforcement, when applied the law in day to day enquiries in the days before technology was available, as well as historic weaknesses and blind spots in the both the legal and court systems, make for an authentic backdrop to the characters.
I first became interested in the female pioneers in law enforcement when I joined the police in Scotland. History has always held a draw and the colorful stories of the older officers piqued my interest, making me look even further back.
The very first women in law enforcement had been in France, working for the Sûreté in the early 19th century. They were, however, no more than a network of spies and prostitutes, the most infamous being the notorious ‘Violette’. Now there’s another story which needs to be told!
The first truly professional women in law enforcement worked for the Pinkerton Agency, and they were trained by the first female agent Kate Warne, an ex-actress and an expert in working undercover. Kate Warne was an expert at disguise, adopting roles, and accents. She was said to be daring and able to pass her characters off, even in close quarters. In the only known photograph of her she is dressed as a man.
These women were fully-fledged agents, with their skills being held in high regard by Alan Pinkerton who once said, “In my service you will serve your country better than on the field. I have several female operatives. If you agree to come aboard you will go in training with the head of my female detectives, Kate Warne. She has never let me down.”
I started to wonder why one of the female agents couldn’t be a Scottish Immigrant. After all, Alan Pinkerton was one. He came from Glasgow. Being a Scot in another land is something I know well. They do say you should write what you know.
The topic for ‘The Innocents Mystery Series’ simmered in the background for years, and all the time I was researching more and more deeply into the period. I love the rapid pace of innovation and invention in the 19th century. Nothing pleases me more than finding spy gadgets available at the time which were invented far earlier than most people would think possible.
Work and life got in the way of the books being anything more than an idea until I was suddenly grounded by a serious accident. The enforced leisure time of recuperation focused my mind and the old dream of writing resurfaced. It started as a short story which took on a life of its own when it grew and grew—then grew some more.
Eventually, ‘The Innocents Mysteries’ evolved and I found the perfect home for it at Prairie Rose. This is my first foray into fiction. I have produced magazine and newspaper articles based on consumer law and written guides for the Consumer Direct Website. I was Media Trained by The Rank Organization, and acted as a consultant to the BBC’s One Show and Watchdog. I have also been interviewed on BBC radio answering questions on consumer law to the public.
How long did you spend researching before beginning your book The Innocents?
Copious amounts. The Innocents has taken years of research into the work of the early Pinkertons, especially the female agents and the kind of work they did, including their methodologies. My work has taken me all over the world, but working in the USA and visiting the places where these women worked deepened my passion for finding out more about how they lived. I also researched the tools and equipment available to them at the time. Connections to police and Home Office experts allowed me to research the birth of forensics with people who knew their subject intimately.
I research everything, even the stationary which was in use and the correct codes for the telegraph stations mentioned in the books. The theatrical make up used as disguises in the book began to flourish right around the period the books are set in as lighting improved and people could see the flaws in the rudimentary stuff previously only lit by candles. The forensics are fascinating to dig into too. You name it I researched it.
How did you select the names of your characters?
As I write 19th century characters I try to keep them in period and maintain a sense of place. I’ll research popular or unusual names as well as using names of people I know if they’re appropriate. I’ve also been known to add really unusual names to my note as I come across them. Some are too good not to use.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The interrogation scene. I had to inject a sense of menace into it to make it work. I know it’s not usual to make your hero do bad things, but he’s a professional criminal and he has to find out who this mysterious woman is and how much danger the heroine poses to him.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
‘The Innocents’ is most definitely part of a larger body of work. It’s the first of a trilogy, but if people like them there’s plenty of scope to keep them going. I would still continue with each book being a self-contained mystery with the larger universe of the characters providing an over-arching connection between the books. The third book is written and at editing stage, but there are plenty of trials I can still put the characters through yet.
Thanks, Christine, for sharing your writing journey of The Innocents with us.
If you like to follow Christine’s writing journey, you can find her on the following media:
You’re probably wondering what happened as there haven’t been any posts this week. That’s because I’ve been working day and night to get my book finished. I started writing in October last year, and I feel like I haven’t stopped since. It took me about a month to write the story, but then the editing process took forever. Like with my second book, the editor of my first book didn’t have the time to help me out, so I did it on my own with all the help I could get. I felt confident I could pull it off this way as I learned a lot since writing Book 2 (in 2015). I still have a lot to learn, but I’m getting better at it all the time. Hopefully, it shows in this book.
I’ve now got to organize the promotion for the launch next. I’ve never had a good launch for a book. The first time I was such a noob and had no idea about launches. I put it on Amazon and watched its ranking plummet into the depths. The second time, I did try to promote it, but everything went wrong. The person I hired to advertise on Twitter didn’t do it, and instead of buying a FreeBooksy ad, I bought a BargainBooksy ad. By the time I realized this, it was too late to change, so there was no ad at all. This time, I’m hoping to do it right 🙂 . Keep your fingers crossed for me!
PS: This means I’ll also be too busy to post a weight loss update or a new short story. Sorry guys!