My New Book – Historical Crime Thriller – Black Danube

I have finished a labour of love. It took me months of exhaustive research to be able to write my new novel, Black Danube. I am trying to get an agent/publisher interested in it, so I am prepared for a long slog of pitching and being rejected. I posted some articles about my research a while ago, you can view them here:

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/forgotten-women-madam-dora-part-one/

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/the-man-behind-the-mug-shot/

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/the-inventor-of-crime-scene-photography/

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A bit of blurb 

To escape an abusive marriage Sophia Jäger becomes Leo Katz, a shy young man with a camera walking the streets of Vienna in 1899. Mingling amongst other immigrants, he successfully passes for a journalist and crime photographer until pathologist in training Lucy Strauss becomes the object of his affections.

When a series of macabre killings thrusts them into Vienna’s sordid underbelly of secret societies and corrupt officials, Leo risks revealing his true identity to save an innocent woman accused of the murders. Now, exposed and in mortal danger, Leo struggles with a choice. Should he confide in Lucy, telling her he is a she, hoping Lucy will love the person behind the disguise? Or, should he keep his dark secret, ending their passionate relationship forever?

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Anyway, I thought I’d post an extract from the first chapter. Hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to comment.

Black Danube

I stood on the platform of the Kaiser Franz Josef Railway station in bare feet. I had no luggage or hat. People ambled past taking side-long looks, shaking their heads as if to say, ‘Ah, another penniless immigrant. Vienna is going to the dogs.’

The top two buttons on my dark brown waistcoat popped open. I clutched at my chest, hunched my shoulders, and pulled my gaberdine tight to hide my defective attire. A high-pitched whistle blew and a cloud of light grey smoke surrounded me. Metal wheels scraping along the track screeched so loud I thought I would never hear again. Gradually, the noise faded. I wiped mist left by the steam train from my face and tried to focus. But my eyes were fuzzy as though I had indulged in an excess of alcohol.

I unfastened my stiff shirt collar to let in some air and scuttled to the exit. Once outside I halted in front of the grand pillared entrance. Not daring to move, in case I loosened more buttons on my constrictive garments, I observed the washed out faces of men and women walking along the street. They stared ahead not looking at anything or anyone. I blinked rapidly. They shimmered and faded becoming nothing more than ghost-like figures floating above the raised wooden pavements.

A swirling wind blew the phantoms away. It caught at my coat-tails, whipping them up and down so fast I almost took to the air. I held onto them until the gusts decreased and glanced down the steps. At the bottom lay my black shoes. Heels broken, soles ripped off halfway, they gaped open like the mouths of dying fish.

I stumbled down the stairs and crouched by my broken footwear. Rain pelted my neck and shoulders. I raised my head, and through the rippling water that slid down my lashes, saw gigantic eyes appear in every window of the massive grey station that loomed over me.

Standing quickly, I ran across the road, tripping over the newly installed tram lines. I stepped into a deep puddle, it splashed my trousers with blood-red water. I tore at the stained fabric with my elongated fingernails and ripped the garment from my legs, revealing white bloomers that flapped in the wind like an injured bird trying to take off. I attempted to cover the girlish underwear with my hands, but my fingers turned into dumplings and melted.

‘Kazab!’ Yelled an old flower seller dressed in a voluminous white high-necked blouse and billowing black skirt. Her face was so wrinkled it caught the water that fell in the deep crevices of her cheeks. She grasped a bunch of dead roses, held them before me and shouted louder than before, ‘Kazab!’ I put my hands over my ears but her cry of, ‘Kazab!’ was deafening. My knees buckled, and I fell to the ground. ‘Kazab!’  She screeched the word over and over. It pounded my head like rocks being thrown. ‘Kazab! Kazab!’

They say the truth hurts, and it does, for I am indeed a liar.

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If you want to know more about my books you can visit my website where you can download a FREE copy of Changeling Fog. A short story from The Song of Forgetfulness Sci-fi/Dystopian series.  http://oddlybooks.moonfruit.com/

Or my amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Nicola-McDonagh/e/B00D4NAH0S/

 

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Author Spotlight – Part two – Kim Forester

Here is part two of my author spotlight on Kim Forester who’s independently published non-fiction book Inside Broadmoor (Secrets of the Criminally Insane – Revealed by the Chief Attendant)  about inmates at Broadmoor Prison in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century, has recently been released. Based on the journals kept by her Great Great Grandfather Charles Bishop Coleman who worked at Broadmoor Prison, it is a truly fascinating account of the plight of inmates interred. Including a section about a prisoner who many believed to be the real Jack the Ripper.

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You can read part one of the interview here: https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/author-spotlight-kim-forester/

Inside Broadmoor Book Cover

I asked Kim what was the best part of writing your book?

The part I enjoyed the most was the research itself. The amateur detective in me enjoyed collating the facts of what happened in each case, bringing them all together and then trying to convey them in a way that was clear, concise and dispassionate. With such evocative events, I did not want my own emotions to cloud the book. Taking a look into the lives of others is always fascinating and often surprising. Everyone has a story, no person is truly alike despite superficial similarities and we all face the same challenges, temptations, and joys. How we deal with those is what gives us the outcome to each story.

What, if anything, have you learned from writing your book?

How lucky I am.
I have a fantastic and loving immediate and extended family; I’ve always been in work and I have a great job and colleagues now; I enjoy good health; I’ve benefitted from an excellent education and I have wonderful friends. I’m generally a positive person and I have been fortunate to have the life and opportunities I have enjoyed so far. The chance to travel and meet so many different people has broadened my outlook and given me empathy towards others. I’m not superhuman, of course, I have my moments, but in the grand scheme of things I really have nothing to moan about and if I had to choose a trait I like best in myself and in others, it would be kindness – the world is cruel enough without unnecessarily hurting those around us.

Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to write non-fiction?

I don’t really think I am qualified to offer advice, but I can offer encouragement – if you want to do something then have a go. You lose nothing in the trying. I originally wrote my book in a completely different format, which didn’t work, but I learned something from that experience and I simply had another crack at it – hopefully more successfully this time. I use a couple of pertinent quotes in my book and I’ll finish my answer here with one of my own favourite quotes from the late Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin….”You are the one who can stretch your own horizon.”

Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?

I would struggle to choose just one author. From a small child, I have been an avid reader and enjoy many different genres. I have a deep interest in history, both fiction, and non-fiction and am particularly fascinated by early Welsh history and the Plantagenet era from King Henry II through to Richard III. A few years ago I found American writer Sharon Kay Penman and eagerly anticipate each new release – she writes extremely good novels about the era in which I am most interested. From the classics my favourite book would have to be non-fiction ‘Goodbye to All That’, the autobiography of Robert Graves, a deeply moving book and less well known than ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. More recently I have discovered ‘Indie’ writer Nathan Dylan Goodwin and his genealogical detective stories about Morton Farrier, which I think are getting better and better as the series moves on. However, the story I find completely unforgettable is ‘The House on the Strand’ by Daphne du Maurier. One of her later books, it is an imaginative mix of mental time-travel, murder, addiction, and temptation – the open ending of the tale is haunting, leaving you to reach your own conclusions.

Do you plan to write more non-fiction, or perhaps, fiction?

I am keeping an open mind on further writing. I am tempted. I would like to have a go at something (maybe something different) in the future, but time is the enemy. Charles wrote over 700 entries in his diaries and I may decide to explore more of those. I took his documents along to the Antiques Roadshow at Audley End House in Saffron Walden recently and their expert considered them a ‘find’, so they were filmed and if I don’t end up on the cutting room floor, I hope you may get to see some of his items for yourself in the forthcoming series in the autumn.

Inside Broadmoor Book Cover

I hope you found Kim’s interview interesting. If you did, you might like to know more and also grab a copy of her book at the contact links below.

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/Kim-Forester-246195889102951/

Website:     http://www.insidebroadmoor.com

Amazon:

UK                 http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1530786428

US                 https://amzn.com/B01F0AY97O

AU                 http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01F0AY97O