Welcome to the For The Love of Grace blog tour, first up is a Q&A with Andy and then my thoughts on the book. Over to Andy….
Hello Andy, Thanks for stopping by. What was your inspiration behind For The Love of Grace?
My inspiration for writing “For the Love of Grace”, was twofold, firstly, as an avid book reader since an early age, I have always wondered if I could possibly write a book, so my second was, quite by chance, after reading a really bad boring book, and feeling quite let down by it, I decided to see if I could write a book, surely I can do better than the book I had just read, so I finally decided to take up my own challenge and write a book.
Why did you choose Russia as Tom’s escape from London?
While writing the book I decided to have Grace working in a London hospital during the War, I knew that Russian convoys were coming to the UK during the war, so I decided to have Grace meet a Russian sailor who she befriends and can help her when she needed Tom to escape.
Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
When I first started writing, I found I had a lot of ideas but the hardest part was placing them in a logical order. I finished the first draft in little over a week, and was feeling pretty good about myself, but looking at the word count was not sure how long a good novel should be so I went onto trusty Google and asked the question “how long is a standard book”, and was shocked by the answer of “over 74 thousand words”, this made my paltry 2000 words seem pitiful, , so the finished book was nothing like the first draft, I decided to embellish parts and change parts, which took me nearly a year to complete.
What is your writing process, are you a planner? Pen and paper or straight onto the computer? Where do you like to write?
I must admit I am a thinker first, I can go days thinking about a plot or a character, I do a lot of thinking whist relaxing especially in bed, once I have a character forming or a plot, I eventually sit down at my computer on a blank word page and go for it,! When I know I am ready to commit to paper, I start that process, which could be any time of day or night, once inspiration hit’s off you go!
Finally, are you working on your next project? Any clues you can share with us?
Once I started “for the Love of Grace”, I realised early on that the plot and characters could be used for a trilogy, so I decided to have this as my driving forces, so the next book is called “the Second son”, and it is basically about Grenville the future Duke of Hampshire, who Tom befriends in the first book, but Tom and Grace still appear in the second book, but it is about Grenville rise to becoming the Duke and taking over Tom’s company. “The Second Son”, is near completion apart from a few tweaks and alterations, but the basic concept is done.
About the book
Published: 27th September 2016 (Clink Street Publishing)
A nurse during World War Two, Grace Backer had an early life full of tragedy. But despite everything, she had her young son Tom whom she raised with her dark secrets intact. So when the police come knocking on her door, telling her that Tom has been accused of murder, she refuses to believe it and instead helps her teenage boy escape from East London on a cargo ship bound for Russia. Heartbroken, Grace fears she will never see her son again, but she knows that she’s done all she can to help him embark on a new and prosperous life.
After meeting an ambitious Russian called Sebastian on the journey East, Tom quickly becomes embroiled in his new friend’s family haulage business, even falling for the charms of his sister Natasha. As years pass, and with memories of his mother and childhood fading, Tom feels like he’s finally building a secure new life in Odessa, enjoying success, marriage and even welcoming a young daughter. But all that comes crashing down after a bomb explosion at one of their factories which sets of a sequence of events that expose Tom to the unscrupulous side of the “family business”. Under the guidance of Uncle Vlad, Tom is dragged down a violent path of revenge which has devastating consequences; after an assassination goes wrong his family become the unintended, tragic victims.
From Odessa to Belize, Tom’s thirst for revenge cannot be quenched, and he gains a reputation amongst top intelligence agencies as a cold-blooded assassin. Only through an unlikely new friendship is he able to slip back into London to carry out his last hit, reunite with his mother and fight to put the past behind him. But keeping secrets has never been easy.
Explosive, fast-paced and with vivid and complex characters, the first in Blackman’s series, For the Love of Grace, is the perfect next read for modern crime thriller fans.
I’ll be honest, this isn’t a book I would ordinarily choose to read if I was perusing Amazon as it’s premise is not really for me. However, when I was approached to read and review, there was something about the concept which piqued my interest enough to say yes – and I am glad I did! This is an enjoyable read about family honour and revenge.
Tom finds himself on a cargo ship bound for Russia after he is accused of the murder of his best friend, his mother Grace knows that he will go down for Sally’s murder regardless of his innocence therefore calls in a favour from Ivor Sharapova, a Russian sailor she nursed back to health during the war. It is on this journey that Tom bonds with Ivor’s son, Sebastian and they form a lifelong friendship and business together. He also falls in love with Sebastian’s sister, Natalie therefore truly becomes one of the Sharapova’s.
I don’t wish to ruin the plot by sharing the events that lead to Tom to seek revenge however it’s fair to say that the criminal undertone of the Sharapova family comes to light with some horrendous consequences which results in Tom showing that he is now one of them and will do anything protect their name.
This book spans a vast amount of time – although I’m not truly sure as to how much time – to basically tell Tom’s life story. This happens midway through chapters where a new paragraph will start with, for example ‘Years later….’. Whilst there was vast amounts of time omitted from the story, it was easy to follow as long as you had picked up on the time shift.
The passion of Tom certainly comes through in his quest for revenge, however I feel that he accepted the illegal activities of the family as bit to easily. Also, his character changed so much from when he was the kind, intelligent boy in East London to the man he ended up being in Russia.
I did enjoy this story, some elements were a little too convenient but a good read nonetheless with a wonderful ending.
About Andy Blackman
After serving in the British Army for over twenty-five years in the Parachute Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within in the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren.