Blog Tour: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window is a psychological thriller taking the book charts by storm. It’s being raved about by bloggers and, after receiving & reading my own review copy, it’s easy to see why. You can read my review here.

To celebrate the release, read on for a Q&A with author A.J. Finn.

The Woman in the Window

  1. How long did you take to write The Woman in the Window?

 It took me exactly twelve months to write. I had the idea for the story in September of 2015, and submitted a 7500-word outline to my friend Jennifer, a well-regarded literary agent in New York. She encouraged me to proceed, so a year later, the finished novel was on submission, thanks to Jennifer and my equally well-regarded UK agent Felicity (also a friend—I like to work with friends).

I hadn’t dabbled in fiction since my school days, but I’ve written plenty of academic papers and book reviews. So I assumed that the ins and outs of sentence-level composition—the writing—would pose no problem; it was the characterization and plot-work that spooked me. To my surprise, Anna took shape very quickly, like a figure approaching through mist, dragging her story with her pretty much intact. And it was the writing that proved challenging!

  1. We’ve heard there might be a film The Woman in the Window, what can you tell us about it? Could you tell us who you would love to play Anna Fox?

The film rights were pre-empted by Fox 2000, the studio that made Gone Girl and Life of Pi, and the movie will be produced by Oscar winner Scott Rudin, who made No Country for Old MenThe Social NetworkThe Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, among other movies.

As for casting, I suspect that I could name six actresses only to see the filmmakers cast a seventh! So instead, I’ll tell you whom I would have cast were Hitchcock making the film sixty or seventy years ago: Gene Tierney. She wasn’t a ‘Hitchcock blonde’, or indeed any kind of blonde, and perhaps that’s why he never worked with her; but her life was marked by a series of traumas that would have helped to prepare her for the lead role. And she radiated both steeliness and vulnerability.

  1. How did you create your pen name?

Because I work in publishing, I needed to submit my novel to editors under a pen name, as I didn’t want anyone to buy (or not buy!) the book because they knew me; and I chose a gender-neutral name in order to discourage speculation about my identity. A. J. is the nickname of my cousin Alice Jane, a well-regarded banker on Wall Street; and Finn is the name of another cousin’s French bulldog. I like the name A. J. Finn for the same reasons I like the name Anna Fox: It’s short, memorable, and easy to pronounce.

  1. Do you have any hobbies you could tell us about?

My three great passions are books, films, and dogs. I read voraciously, I love watching old movies (as well as newer ones). I keep active swimming, sailing, and spending time in the gym. I enjoy traveling abroad whenever possible, particularly here in the UK, where many of my friends live.

Unlike the heroine of my novel, I don’t drink much, but I like to cook.

The Woman in the Window is available to buy on Amazon.

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Author Spotlight: Siobhan Clark

The Bandwagon presents Siobhan Clark, author of The Children of Midgard, an historical fiction novel based in the Viking era, and described as “a Norse saga by a woman for women”.

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The year is 961 and King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark has his gaze firmly set on the Western Kingdoms of Norway where his nephew Harald Greycloak reigns.  Bluetooth has declared Greycloak as his vassal King of Norway and will claim the establishment of the Jomsvikings.  In doing so he will solidify the order, building a keep for the warriors he intends to use to create a fleet of men who will rule the seas under his command.

However, the order is older than one man’s claim and consists of many who have their own destinies separate from the feuding monarchs.  There are men of honour and worth and there are those who seek naught but power and privilege, searching only to prosper from the misery of others.  There are tales of a legendary ring and a child who is said to be the progeny of the All-Father.

The Children of Midgard is available to buy on Amazon. To find out more, visit Siobhan’s website here.

About The Author

scSiobhan Clark is an historical fiction writer based in Glasgow, Scotland, where she lives with her husband.

From a young age, she was introduced to many fictional works by family who encouraged her interest in history, not only of her Scottish/Irish roots, but that of her wider heritage, stretching as far back as the Viking era.

 

Author Spotlight: Tam May

The Bandwagon presents Tam May, author of The Order of Actaeon, described as a “classic psychological family drama”.

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Sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted.

Jake is heir to the fortune and name of the prominent San Francisco Alderdice family. Although dearly loved by his sister Vivian, his passion for art and his contemplative temperament make him a pariah in the eyes of his bitter, tyrannical mother Larissa.

Eight months after his grandfather dies, Larissa announces the family is going to Waxwood, an exclusive resort town in Northern California, for the summer. At first, Jake’s life seems as aimless in Waxwood as it was in the city. Then Jake meets Stevens. With paternal authority and an obsession for power and leadership, Stevens is the epitome of Larissa’s idea of a family patriarch. Jake develops a hero worship for Stevens who in turn is intrigued by Jake’s artistic talent and philosophical nature. Stevens introduces him to the Order Of Actaeon, a group of misanthropes who reject commercial and conventional luxuries for a “pure” life in the wild.

But behind the potent charms of his new friend and seductive simplicity of the Actaeon lifestyle lies something more brutal and sinister than Jake could have anticipated.

To read an excerpt of The Order of Acteon, click here. It’s available to buy on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

About The Author

Tam May Author HeadshotTam May was born in Israel but grew up in the United States. She earned her B.A. and M.A in English and worked as an English college instructor and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher before she became a full-time writer. She started writing when she was fourteen and writing became her voice. She writes psychological fiction, exploring characters’ emotional realities as informed by their past experiences and dreams, feelings, fantasies, nightmares, imagination, and self-reflection.

Her first work, a short story collection titled Gnarled Bones And Other Stories was published in 2017 and was nominated for a Summer Indie Book Award. She is currently working on a family drama series, The Waxwood Series. Set in a Northern California resort town, the series explores the crumbling relationships among the wealthy San Francisco Alderdice family. Book 1, The Order of Actaeon, is out now in paperback and will be out in ebook on January 18, 2018. In the book, the Alderdice son and heir falls into the hands of a charismatic older man obsessed with power and leadership during a summer in the resort town of Waxwood, California. The second book, The Claustrophobic Heart, brings in Gena Flax, a young woman who must cope with her aunt’s mental deterioration during a summer vacation in Waxwood. In the last book of the series, Dandelion Children, Daisy, the daughter of the Alderdice family is drawn into the disturbed life of the man who ruined her brother one rainy summer in Waxwood.

She is also working on a psychological women’s fiction book titled House of Masks about a woman mourning the death of her father who is drawn into the lives of her eccentric and embittered neighbors.

She lives in Texas but calls San Francisco and the Bay Area home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading classic literature and watching classic films.

Website: www.tammayauthor.com

Blog: https://thedreambook.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammayauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tammayauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tammayauthor/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tam-May/e/B01N7BQZ9Y/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16111197.Tam_May

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tam-may

Introducing Christopher Joyce, winner of the Cornish Writing Challenge 2017

It is my great pleasure to introduce Christopher Joyce, whose short story Mama’s Gonna Float The Gypsum won the very first Cornish Writing Challenge! You can read his story on Frost Magazine here.

Christopher Joyce, from Chichester in West Sussex, has been a teacher, waiter, once made Venetian blinds, and has worked in a steel works. He is best known for his series of children’s books, ‘The Creatures of Chichester’, where the city’s animals solve the problems created by the Twolegs living there. You can find out more on his website.

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To celebrate his win, Chris has given an interview to us here at The Bandwagon. Read on to find out more about the winner of the Cornish Writing Challenge 2017!

What inspired you to start writing?

Moving to Chichester, which has such an iconic Cross at the centre of the city. It seemed the obvious place for secret liaisons to take place. As I had been a teacher of 8 to 12 year olds, it seemed sensible to write for that age group. Hence ‘The Creatures of Chichester’ were born.

As an independent author, what do you wish you’d known about the process before publishing your own books?

The need to spend so much time on marketing your book. The great thing is you have complete control and can run price promotions, change the covers, run targeted advertising through Facebook or Amazon, and tweet away to your heart’s content. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there is a lot of help out there for people starting out.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read before you write. Once I had decided to write for children, I spent a lot of time reading kids’ books. Not the ones I remember from years ago, but current stories. The same applies to any genre. I made notes about the fonts used, word count and vocabulary used. I also decided to make my printed books dyslexic friendly by using a large sans-serif font and left justifying the text.

Tell us more about Mama’s Gonna Float The Gypsum. Where did the inspiration come from?

After viewing the picture prompts, I slept on it and woke up with this bizarre sentence in my head. I googled if there were gypsum mines in Cornwall and was amazed to see there were, so I decided to go with the flow. Once I looked again at the picture of the books in the phone box I had the idea for how the story would end. So I wrote it backwards, in effect.

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Picture prompt

What is your connection to Cornwall?

I was born in South Wales, so Cornwall was always a favourite holiday destination. My brother met his wife and got married in Newquay. They had an anniversary party there recently where you had to come representing a decade. My partner and I chose to go as punks, so I have fond memories of trying on dog collars to the astonishment of the pet shop owners of Newquay.

What’s next for you? 

I’ve just finished editing the last book in ‘The Creatures of Chichester’ series. I plan to publish a children’s recipe book at Christmas. It’s called ‘The Alien Cookbook’ which features Nanaberry Rockets and Slime Dogs. I’ve also been asked to present some ideas to an editor of a leading publisher at the end of the year for another series of books for children. Nothing promised, but it could be very exciting.

What are you currently reading?

Kid’s books, mostly aimed at 10 to 13. I would love to write something that could reach boys in particular who tend to switch off at that age. I’ve also got Stephen King’s The Dead Zone as an audiobook ready for my holidays. I’m a big fan of audiobooks. Apparently it’s the biggest growing sector, with 29% growth last year. I’ve converted all my books to audio too.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m also a garden designer so I enjoy that. Chichester has a great theatre and we’re close to Goodwood too. This year our local authors’ group CHINDI ran a series of events as part of the Festival of Chichester. We had a Crime Writers Panel, workshops on creative writing and self-publishing, a ghost tour with stories written by local authors, and a sold out Words and Wine quiz.

Lastly, and most importantly, jam or cream first?

I went to teacher training college in Exmouth, so cream first for me.

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I think we can let Christopher off that last comment, even though jam first is most certainly the right way. Congratulations to Christopher and to all of our Cornish Writing Challenge entrants! Keep your eyes peeled for further interviews with the runners-up, and for the return of the Cornish Writing Challenge next year!

Ask The Author: Patricia Bossano

Award-winning author Patricia Bossano grew up in Ecuador, South America and moved to the United States in the mid 1980’s to pursue a career in International Sales, as well as work as a translator, interpreter and instructor in Spanish.

PBossano_HeadshotOver the years, writing continued to be Patricia’s main passion whether journaling, writing letters, short stories, and eventually, composing full-length novels.  Patricia published the first of the Fairie books in 2009, starting with Faery Sight (winner of the 2010 Golden Quill Award of Excellence from the League of Utah Writers), followed by Cradle Gift in 2009. In 2016, Patricia left the corporate world to follow her dream of being a full-time writer, allowing her to complete the third installation of the Faerie Series with the 2017 release of Nahia. The trilogy chronicles the history of a matriarchal faery family and serves as “a celebration of the relationships between mothers, daughters and sisters” within Patricia’s family.   Patricia is a full-time writer residing in Southern California.

What inspired you to start writing?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had issues with excessive blushing. Even though I thought I had a lot to say, speaking in front of my classmates turned me into a Gossamer lookalike—you know, the hairy red monster on Bugs Bunny and various other Looney Tunes shows. I’d heat up until my chest and face were covered in red blotches and everyone would point, laugh, and ask “why”, which only added to my anxiety.

Around the time I was in the 4th grade, a light went on for me about the importance of language, and that’s when my affinity with the written word began to unfold. Inspired by a desire to communicate without becoming a blotchy, uncomfortable, bright-red mess, I began writing in journals and in letters to my family when I was in elementary school. By the time I was a teenager, I had moved on to write short stories and essays, after which I began tackling full-length novels in my twenties.

What do you wish you’d known about the publishing process?

Whether you go the traditional route or independent, the publishing process is an overall complex industry filled with limitations and flexibility. What I hadn’t known or expected was that becoming a published writer would make me confront my fears on a daily basis, force me to define my dreams, and challenge me not just to believe in them, but to also follow through with making those dreams come true.

The publishing process is the daily battle of the spiritual warrior, and although I might lose a battle here and there, I’m aiming to win the war by creating a body of work that—in the end—reflects my overall transformation in style, language, experience, and personal growth throughout the various stages of my life.

Tell us more about your book.

My Faerie Trilogy chronicles the lives of key matriarchs in a hybrid (faery-human) family. Nahia is the third installment in the series, and it is the story of a rebellious faery princess who struggles with satisfying her own desires over what’s best for her loved ones.

Following her heart in pursuit of the human she loves, Nahia hides her true identity as a faery in order to enter the human dimension. After giving birth to a daughter, Nahia’s true identity is revealed, as is the realization that she has forever altered the genetic human footprint. Faced with death, Nahia returns to the faery realm only to have its weight thrust upon her. In the aftermath of the vicious attack that made her an orphan and deprived them of the magical Keeper of the Forest, the faerie realm enters a dormant state.

To save her home and renew ties with both her human and faerie family, Nahia finds a way to reawaken the realm, become the new Faery Queen, and provide a royal descendant for the new Keeper of the Forest.

nahiafrontcover

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Plan: Out of respect for the reader, I begin a new project with three paragraphs detailing the beginning, middle, and ending of the novel. From there, I outline each chapter, establishing the structure of the book while looking for timeline issues or plot gaps. When I feel comfortable with the flow, I begin fleshing out the chapters.

Prioritize: Create a reasonable work timeline and stick to it out of respect for your craft and for the people you love. Respect your writing hours so the people who love you will too, and give them the assurance that when your daily writing hours are finished, your time is theirs.

Persist: Give it your best and never give up on your dreams.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently gathering information and interviewing family members for my grandpa’s biography, which I’m thinking of writing from my grandmother’s point of view (to keep to the matriarchal theme). I’m also evaluating the next steps for my publishing imprint, WaterBearer Press, whose initial projects include a collection of ghost/paranormal stories, and other works by talented merry faeries in my family.

What are you reading right now?

I must confess, during these weeks leading up to the launch of Nahia on June 20th, I’ve been re-reading the entire trilogy from start to finish! But the next book I plan to read once my nerves settle down is Anne Rice’s, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis.

Nahia will be released on June 20th 2017, and the rest of the trilogy is available on Amazon now.

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Cornish Reading Challenge: Jane Johnson describes her Cornish roots

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for over 30 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer. She was responsible for publishing the works of J. R. R. Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew.

In 2005 she was researching in Morocco for The Tenth Gift, the bestselling novel that went on to sell in 26 countries, when a near-fatal climbing incident caused her to rethink her future. She returned home, gave up her office job in London, sold her flat, shipped the contents to Morocco and six months later married a Berber chef, Abdellatif. The couple live in Cornwall and winter in a village in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, where Abdel runs a restaurant. Jane still works, remotely, as a publishing director for HarperCollins, where she is responsible for publishing George RR Martin, Robin Hobb, Dean Koontz, Jonathan Freedland, Michael Marshall Smith, Mark Lawrence, and SK Tremayne. Her own novels include The Tenth Gift, The Salt Road, The Sultan’s Wife, Pillars of Light and Court of Lions (July 2017). In 2012, Jane was made an honorary cultural ambassador between Morocco and the UK by HRH Princess Lalla Joumala of Morocco (currently Morocco’s ambassador to the US).

Jane Johnson.jpg

During the first Cornish Reading Challenge in 2015, you told us about your family ties to West Penwith. Would you like to tell us more about your family history?

I researched our family history back in 2004 when I was working on the book that would become THE TENTH GIFT. I knew our Cornish family had deep roots here, and so it turned out, with parish records taking us back into the early seventeenth century. There were a couple of different branches – Kittos and Martins – but I wanted to trace the Tregenna family, since that’s a name that has all but died out in Cornwall, though there are Tregunnas and Tregenzas to be found, and we all know how fluid spelling could be in bygone times. I already knew that the Tregenna family originated in the Penwith and Roseland areas; but on my second genealogical foray last year I turned up another arm of the Tregenna family in the area outside Looe, in southeast Cornwall, where I grew up: around Duloe and Pelynt. The earliest of these ancestors turned out to be the rather gorgeously named Valentin Tregenna, born in 1608 – so a contemporary cousin of Catherine Tregenna, the heroine of THE TENTH GIFT, whose parish records logged her birth in 1606 (and no marriage or death records anywhere: hence the surmise that she was one of those taken out of the Mount’s Bay church by the Barbary raiders). I also turned up the fascinating fact that my father (who wasn’t Cornish at all!) owned and ran the bookshop in Falmouth just after the war: and my first event for THE TENTH GIFT just so happened to be at the Falmouth Bookseller. Life is indeed stranger than fiction.

Which book(s) would you recommend?

I read so much for work (I’m a publishing director at HarperCollins, responsible for several authors there) that reading time for pure pleasure is very limited (mainly to the 10 minutes before I go to sleep!). This year I have been immersed in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, a truly phenomenal tour de force of characterization: you grow with the two central characters from early childhood till they are elderly women, through broken hearts, broken marriages, broken bodies, through childbirth and tragedy, careers and political upheaval. While you’re reading these books, you live in them, and the people in them feel like your own family. You find yourself wondering about them during the day; I’ve dreamed of Naples at night. So I’d heartily recommend these books: Naples, like Cornwall, is a poor area of the country where people do whatever they can to get by: I found I could draw lots of small parallels.

Beyond that, can I recommend to anyone who hasn’t read her the magnificent Robin Hobb? Again, characters are the key to her success: this is not fantasy of the sword and sorcery tradition but deeply rooted in the human experience and condition: you laugh and cry with her central characters – both abandoned/cast-off children trying to survive in a cut-throat world. As with the Ferrantes you watch the pair grow from childhood to late middle-age, their loves and losses, bonds and betrayals, disguises and deceptions. The series started with ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE and I’ve edited every single word of the 17 books that make up the series, which completes itself with ASSASSIN’S FATE, publishing this May. She’s in the UK for publication – I can’t wait to see her! – like her characters we too have grown older together in the very nearly 30 years we’ve worked together.

What are you currently working on? Anything interesting going on?

I’m in the interesting phase of thinking about two possible book projects, both set in Cornwall: one in Elizabethan times, one rather more recent. It’s been a busy year: I have two novels out in the UK this year after a bit of a dearth (slow researching and writing!). COURT OF LIONS is published in hardback in July. Here’s the description from the publishers:

Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma in her life, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, ancient capital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping a living in a busy bar.

Sometimes at the lowest points in your life, fate will slip you a magical gift. One day in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra, once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, also known as Boabdil, Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbols, has been inscribed a message, or a poem, from another age. It has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever.

Worlds collide as two unusual love stories arc towards one another from the fifteenth and twenty-first centuries. COURT OF LIONS brings one of the great hinge-points in human history to vivid life, telling the story of the last Moorish sultan of Granada as he moves towards his cataclysmic destiny.

I’ll be doing a number of events in Cornwall and the rest of the country to promote it, including a launch in Central London and an evening at Waterstones Truro with some Moroccan food, clothes and jewellery, and a talk and reading.

And in the autumn, the University of Central Lancashire are publishing my Siege of Acre novel, PILLARS OF LIGHT, with a beautiful cover by Sancreed artist Noel Betowski: there will be a launch in Penzance.

What’s the best thing about living in Cornwall?

Cornwall is home for me. I lived here till I was 18 (in Fowey, then Looe) and went from school in Liskeard up to university in London, followed by 20 years working in the book industry in the capital, before my Moroccan adventure. Cornwall is where we all come back to, because it nourishes the soul. I can live an outdoor life here – walking the coast path, walking to shops in Newlyn and Penzance, writing outside in all sorts of beautiful hidden places (the subject of my blog) in a way I can’t anywhere else in the world. It’s also the place I feel drawn back to wherever I am in the world and it’s where I find my spiritual ease, as well as practising tai chi and kung fu at local classes, the discipline of which I love. It’s always good for the soul to be told you’re doing it all wrong and be taught with great care and attention how to do it right!

What are you reading right now?

I’m coming up on the very end of the final Ferrante and I can’t bear for it to end. I have a pile of about 15 books beside the bed into which to dive next. Which one I choose – thriller or historical, literary memoir or travel book – will depend on what mood Ferrante leaves me in. I hope it’s not too dark and desperate…

Jane Johnson | Facebook | @janejohnsonbakr

 

Ask The Author: K. M. Baginski

Author K. M. Baginski drops by The Bandwagon to talk about her writing process.

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Kisa Baginski is a middle school science teacher and author of the Windstalker Series. Rehumanized Drew (May 7, 2017) is a spinoff novella from Baginski’s debut novel, Windstalker: Awareness, and follows the plight of a man in his early 20s, Drew Royce. After turning into a “Windstalker”—a Nephilim subspecies who can transform into air/wind in order to feed on human organs for survival—Drew has managed to become human again, which forces him into hiding. Haunted by his disturbing actions as a Windstalker, Drew must decide between causing more harm to the human world or hiding out until death finds him.

What inspired you to start writing?

I just realized one day I loved stories enough to contribute in any way I could. I cherish so many sci-fi, mystery, horror and dark fantasy stories about the multifaceted nature of humanity. There are also what I consider “many rooms” in my own imagination that I hope may help entertain more than just my family.

What do you wish you’d known about the publishing process?

If anything, I wish I understood more about the art of editing. Finding a great editor is like finding a lifeline. My editor for Rehumanized Drew taught me so much about good storytelling. I felt I had a mentor in her, that I wouldn’t have to guess at conveying meaning as much as I did when writing my first book. Also marketing is its own universe. I wish I understood the value of launching with a complete marketing plan and team of amazing professionals, before releasing the first book.

Tell us more about your book.

In Rehumanized Drew, Drew Royce is a criminal, kept ward by an Evolved Nephilim race (Windstalkers) and used as a weapon against their enemy. But the victims he’s left behind have a way of finding him and make living, in the meantime, a nightmare.

This book is a spin off of my developing Windstalker series. Windstalkers are a supernatural Evolved Nephilim species which survives by feasting on human energy. Drew Royce is a key character from Windstalker: Awareness. Rehumanized Drew picks up exactly where Awareness left him.

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What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

At risk of blurting a cliche, anyone who loves stories should probably just write one! Or more. I don’t think you could ever make a mistake investing time and energy when you’re doing what you love.

What are you currently working on?

I’m writing the next Windstalker novel, Windstalker: Prophecy, the actual sequel in the Windstalker series. What’s interesting about Prophecy (book 2 of the series) is it also picks up right where the first book, Awareness, leaves the readers. But instead of following Drew, it follows the lives of the other characters just after a major event (Drew’s re-humanization procedure, returning he and the girl he sired to human again).

What are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m reading a great epic fantasy/drama called Phoenix 2.0 by Daccari Buchelli. It boasts lyrical prose, a powerful tale of magic and betrayal on the scale of the Golden Compass and Royal territories known as the Four Realms call forth George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Its quite the filling bedtime story!

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