Blog Tour: Review & Q&A - Play Dead by Angela Marsons

Today on Becca's Books, I'm ridiculously excited to be sharing with you my Q&A with the brilliant Angela Marsons, plus my review of Play Dead for the incredible blog tour that has recently begun. Not only am I a MASSIVE fan of Marsons' bestselling Kim Stone series, but I'm pretty sure that it was this author who lit the fire in me for gritty and compelling crime thrillers. I'd never been much of a reader in this genre until I read the first book in this series, and now? Well, I just can't seem to get enough and have awaited each of the books with baited breath. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to read Play Dead ahead of its publication date and lucky, too, to have been invited to take part in the blog tour.

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Arrives May 20th 2016 (eBook)
Blurb
The dead don't tell secrets... unless you listen.

The girl's smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.

Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A 'body farm' investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.

Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It's clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work - but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?

As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer's secrets - but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim?

- Q&A with Angela Marsons -
Hi Angela, it's absolutely wonderful to have you here with me on Becca's Books today. I have a ton of questions I'm dying to ask you, but before we get onto those, I'd like to congratulate you on the release of your fourth book in the top-notch Kim Stone series Play Dead. 

First of all, following on from my congratulations, how are you feeling about the fact that your fourth book has just been released?

Thank you so much for inviting me. I can honestly say that I am delightfully overwhelmed. The last 18 months have been an absolute whirlwind. I didn't think this level of excitement was achievable without damaging some kind of major body organ.

How did you spend Play Dead's publication day? Did you do anything special to mark the occasion?

I spend each publication day the same way. I make no arrangements and spend the entire day on social media responding to tweets, blogs, reviews and comments. It's the one day I can get away with just chatting and not feeling guilty for doing no work.

In Play Dead, the fourth book in the fantastic Kim Stone series, the mystery Kim is faced with is based around a body farm. Tell us, how did this idea come to you? Have you ever visited a body farm in real life?

I haven't visited one and I'm not sure how well my stomach would cope with it but I am very interested in what can be learned from the body after death especially in the pursuit of aiding crime. I read many books and articles on actual body farms located in America.

There's a truly twisted and evil character to meet within this story. With each book, do you try to make your villain more shocking than the previous, or is it a case of having each of them be unique and terrible in their own way?

I definitely try and make each villain as unique as possible and for me that means exploring in depth their motivation for the crimes they are committing. I have to understand why they are doing what they are so that I can write it with conviction.

I have a feeling that when it comes to research, you end up searching for some pretty gruesome things. In your opinion, what's the worst thing you've had to look up?

I absolutely do some very strange searching and I am convinced my Google history is on some kind of MI5 watch list. I think the worst thing I've had to look up is true stories of childhood abuse. Reading real life accounts was incredibly harrowing but it just made me want to treat the subject with the utmost respect. 

In terms of the epic character that is Kim Stone (and because I'm such a hopeless romantic so apologies for this question), will she ever open up her heart to any romance?

I do take Kim's personal development one book at a time. I don't plan how much she will grow with each journey. I just reflect what feels right in my heart. It is a very slow process and I'm not sure she will ever be ready for romance.

As Kim's series has progressed, we've slowly watched her past be revealed bit by bit. I think she's such a solid character and love how she's still rather mysterious, even now. Was there a reason you chose to give Kim such a tragic past?

Her current voice began twittering in my head many years ago and it seemed to form into a complete identity pretty quickly. Her past was slower to appear but it was necessary to give her a history that explained how closed off and remote she is today.

Angela, how many more books in the Kim Stone series have readers got to look forward to? I really hope Kim's story isn't close to being over yet!

I am currently contracted to write a total of 8 Kim Stone books but I've always said that while people want to read them I'll keep writing them - as long as my publisher lets me, of course.

Would you say that marriage and children could be a part of Kim's future? Or is it completely out of the question?

To be honest it is out of the question while I am writing about her. One of my favourite characters of all time was Jane Rizolli from the Tess Gerritsen books. Her character was initially quite curt and a bit maverick but eventually the author developed her along a route that caused me to lose interest. A settled down Kim doesn't match the voice in my head.

Would you say that there are any similarities between yourself and Kim Stone?

In some ways we do share a directness. In a previous life I managed a team of 70+ security officers and that is not a job for the faint hearted. But I do like to think I have better social skills than my character has.

If you had to pick only 3 words to use to describe Play Dead, which words would they be?

Macabre. Chilling. Twisted.

Let's say Play Dead was put onto the big screen. Which song would you pick for the opening credits?

Anything by Delerium. I love haunting tunes with unusual vocals.

When it comes to your writing, do you set yourself daily word goals? Is there a target you aim to reach by the end of the day or week?

Oh, I wish I was that organized.  Once I start a new project I probably try for 1000 words a day for a week or two until it bites.  Once the idea has taken on a life of its own I just go for it and write as many words as I can before my hand collapses in a heap on the desk.

In Play Dead, reporter Tracy Frost, really steps forward and we learn more about her as a character. What did you hope to show the reader about Kim by including Tracy and giving her a more forward role?

I wanted to show that Kim is open to changing her opinion on someone.  Her attitude to Tracy at the beginning of the book appears set in Stone but I wanted to show Tracy’s motivation for the kind of person she is and for Kim to change her mind and realise she isn’t always right.

Was there a particular scene you enjoyed writing within Play Dead?

Oh yes.  It involves Kim, Bryant, Woody and a fist exercise!!

In regards to your incredible success so far with your fantastic series, what has been the most memorable moment for you?

OMG – there have been so many.  I think that an absolute highlight for me was when my fabulous publisher told me we had sold 1 million books.  It was a number I couldn’t comprehend.  Or it could have been when Silent Scream reached the #1 position on Amazon or…… okay I’d probably better stop now.

As we understand, you are now able to write full-time which has always been a dream of yours. How does it differ from fitting in your writing around a day job?

I still pinch myself every single day and appreciate how truly lucky I am because my job doesn’t feel like work.  I would still be doing this if I was working full time.  I adore the freedom of being able to choose what time of day or night I want to write and am no longer governed by my shift rota.  If I want to stay up until 3am because I have to finish a chapter I can.  If I want to get up at 4am because I can’t stop thinking about a plot line I can do it without then falling asleep at my job.

We know you have tons of support from fans, loved ones and friends and it’s such a beautiful thing to see. Do you think you would feel as confident if you didn’t have such support?

Not at all.  My partner Julie has been there every step of the way and has been my cheerleader for 30 years.  Every rejection was met with a response of ‘their loss’.  She would never allow me to give up, even during the darkest days she would find a way for me to maintain my love of words and making a story.

From the first draft to completion, how long did it take you to finish writing Play Dead?

In my head I have a loose schedule for each book of 3 months to write the first draft. Two months to complete the second draft and then a final month to do third draft and polish.

If you had to pick one, which of the books in the Kim Stone series so far is your favourite? Or is that impossible decision to make?

Oooh, I really gave this question a great deal of thought and hoped that I could answer it but I honestly can’t.  I love each book for a different reason but they all include something which either fascinates or intrigues me.

Are you working on the next book already? I’m already highly anticipating it! (No pressure, of course!)

I am most definitely working on book 5 right now.  I felt it was time to bring back the character of Alexandra Thorne as I felt there was much more to explore between her and Kim Stone.

And lastly, if someone was to say to you that they wanted to be a writer, how would you reply?


I would reply to just do it as long as its because of your love of words.  No other motivation will carry you through the rejection and comments that you receive along the way.  Only a deep passion for making a story will prepare you for how personal a book becomes during the journey.

Angela, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer my questions. I am so looking forward to see what is in store next for your readers, and will be keeping my eyes peeled for any news! It’s been a pleasure having you here with me today, and I wish you every success with the chilling Play Dead.

Thank you for asking me over.  It has been a pleasure to spend time here at your fabulous blog.  

Review -
I always get a little (okay, a big) thrill when I know that we're nearing the arrival date of Angela Marsons' next book in the Kim Stone series. My mind runs away with itself as it begins to imagine the numerous possibilities of what lies in store for Kim Stone in her next adventure. The options, of course, have no boundaries and Angela Marsons, without fail, delivers a twisted, evil but nevertheless addictive case for her readers to unravel. Being back with Kim Stone and the incredible team felt a bit like stepping into a room full of old, much-loved friends and I really couldn't wait for this story to begin.

Play Dead follows Kim Stone as she stumbles across a dead body, found at Westerley Research Facility. Westerley is a body farm used to study the decomposition of human remains in a number of different ways, some gruesome and some just some plain strange. What follows on from the discovery of this first body is a shocking and compelling case needing to be solved before the killer takes another victim down. Along the way, Kim is faced with challenges that not only put her abilities up to the test but also her own assumptions of those around her who she thinks she knows.

Before the reader is reunited with Kim Stone and her team in the Black Country, the author provides the reader with a prologue that really gets your imagination, and intrigue, going. Marsons takes us back to 1996 and as the unidentified person behind the first person narration gets going, it immediately becomes clear that something strange and chilling is taking place. I believe this was the perfect way to begin Play Dead, summoning up all sorts of questions in my mind and it had me wondering (getting ahead of myself, as per) how this nameless person would later find themselves mixed up in Kim Stone's world. It set up the tone for the rest of the novel fantastically, ensuring there was a hint of something evil, something stale in the air as the story progressed. Goosebumps prickled my skin and I couldn't wait to see how this person and Kim Stone's worlds would collide.

There's a cleverness about Marsons' writing. It's as sharp as a blade and has me constantly kept on my toes. The author knows exactly how much to hand to the reader at exactly the right time, never giving too much nor too less away. Right the way through Play Dead, I found myself lapping up every single word Marsons gave. There's always just enough description of setting but it's the dialogue that always captures my attention and makes me feel as if I'm right there in the room with Kim and the rest of the team, or beside Kim as she steps into unknown territory. It's thrilling, and the way Marsons has me involved within the book itself is phenomenal.

When the case began to take those twists and turns, and different characters stepped back and forth from the limelight, my suspicions began to mount up which is something else I just love about the Kim Stone series. The best thing about this, though, is that I never know for sure whether I'm right or wrong. Without fail, I always end up being wrong and Marsons delivers the truth in a delicious way that has me shaking my head in wonder. With so many things to consider, characters and their actions, it's a complete guessing game of a book that I really can't bear to put down once I begin. With the snippets from the nameless person's past mingling with Kim Stone in the present day, I found myself waiting with baited breath for the moment when it would all click into place. When it did, I couldn't believe it. It was shocking and powerful, but made complete sense to me.

As always, Angela Marsons has crafted a spectacularly gripping and chilling novel in Play Dead. We see Kim face challenges she didn't expect, characters who really aren't all that they seem, and a twisted, sick serial killer who doesn't seem to want to stop in their game of who's next. It's all down to Kim to finally catch up with the killer and put a stop to the rally of revenge and justice. This was compelling and addictive, and an absolutely brilliant fourth novel in the bestselling Kim Stone series. If you enjoy tense, taut and spine-tingling crime thrillers, you cannot go wrong with a Kim Stone book. I do believe it's impossible.

Becca's Books is awarding Play Dead by Angela Marsons with five of my bookish stars. The cases Kim Stone is faced with seem to get more and more chilling as each book comes out, and I do believe I'm going to be a firm Kim Stone fan for as long as Angela writes these fantastic books. I'd like to thank Angela Marsons and her publisher Bookouture for providing me with a review copy of Play Dead in exchange for a fair and honest review, and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.
- About the Author -
Angela Marsons is the author of Amazon #1 Bestseller SILENT SCREAM.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their bouncy Labrador and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read "Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people's".

After years of writing relationship based stories (My Name Is and The Middle Child) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 8 books. The second and third books in the Kim Stone series, EVIL GAMES and LOST GIRLS are also now available.

You can find Angela Marsons on Facebook | Twitter | angelamarsons-books.com

Be sure to keep up with the rest of the #PlayDead blog tour!






  






3 comments :

  1. Thank you so much you lovely lady for such a wonderful review that has put the biggest smile on my face. It means a lot ❤️❤️❤️

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  2. This is a fantastic read and it sums Kim her team and the book up brilliantly.Really enjoyed reading your blog.You always make them interesting and enjoyable

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  3. What a fabulous review, you hit the nail on the head about feeling like you know the characters, that Angie is one clever lady!

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