How to be Dead: A book series by Dave Turner

‘In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?’ – Rainer Maria Rilke

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I’m not a natural when it comes to reading, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can read, i just don’t enjoy it as much as some people seem to. I’m jealous of people who can curl up on a rainy weekend and get lost in a book (ahem Ang, Bev & Ruth), for me it’s binge watching old series of The Challenge! However I did get right into Dave Turner’s How to Be Dead series of novellas (nice and short, kept my attention span!) and now I feel the world needs to know about them!

Dave actually caught my attention on Twitter (it was the naked selfies he used to post back when there were no decency filters – fnar, fnar) – he started a parody  twitter account called @itsdeath which was based around Death as a character (called Steve – obviously) think of that scene from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey when Death follows the old lady round the supermarket and you’re along the right lines.

PhotoGrid_1494753375093It doesn’t hurt that Mr Turner (right) and my hubby Dave, could have been separated at birth!

All the best comedians have the ability to make the strangest subjects seems funny. Tom Stade does a hilarious skit about market meat vans for example. And being a chronic over thinker with previously diagnosed medical hypochondria there’s nothing less funny to me than death. Dave put a face to my worse nightmare and suddenly Steve Death was someone I no longer feared but was someone I wanted to share a bottle of Pinot Grigio with. I also found myself sympathising with him, he would often complain about getting bogged down with paperwork and bureaucracy, when all he wanted to do was get on with his job. He also loves a chocolate biscuit.

So from the Twitter account came the novels, after a small kickstarter campaign (which I proudly sponsored myself) the adventures a Steve, his assistant Anne and reluctant hero, ordinary man (also called Dave) were born. Of course the great thing about social media these days is when you’re planning on a writing a blog about your favourite author, you can reach out to them in the vague hope they may wish to contribute. So, seeing as Dave himself can tell his story was more articulately and funny than I ever could, here he is:

I’d like to say that I had a five-year publishing master plan from the start, but really I started a Twitter account as Death because I was bored in a dull office job.

An outsider looking in would be a good way to make jokes about the human condition, I thought. He’d be bored, befuddled and have an odd sense of humour after hanging around us for so long. People liked it. It was also a very convenient way of making observations that I wouldn’t make myself.

Then I decided I should do something with those jokes. I had an idea for a series of 3 novellas telling the story of Death and the problems he had trying to sort out the undead. “I’ll bash them out over the course of a year,” I thought. “It’ll be a nice little project to keep me out of trouble.”

Four years later, I published the last part of that story. It all started easy enough writing the first novella. It was called How To Be Dead (after a Snow Patrol song). People really liked it. That made me very happy. “I should probably write the second one,” I thought.

Then I was diagnosed with a seriously massive heart condition. You know when a footballer drops dead on the football pitch? That’s the bad boy I’ve got. There were hospital visits. Medication. Implants. Wires stuck into my heart. But I’m now technically a cyborg. Which is actually the childhood dream come true.

I’ll be honest, there were grim days contemplating my own mortality. What would my wife and kids do if I wasn’t around tomorrow? Who’d remove the Billy Joel albums off my iPhone before people discovered them?

Then I thought, “Hang on. I’m writing comedy books about death. I can probably use this.”This may go some way to explaining the number of Billy Joel jokes in the books.

When you stare in to the Abyss, sometimes the Abyss stares back. So you wave to the Abyss. Then you realise the Abyss was actually staring at something over your shoulder and it all gets a little bit awkward. And then you just bloody well get on with it.

An agent got in touch to say that he loved the first novella and did I want to turn it into a novel and be represented by him? “Yes! Of course!” I said. So I signed with the agency with ideas that I would be An Important Novelist. And I wrote a novel. Which I wasn’t

completely happy with. Then the agent decided he didn’t want to be agent anymore.

So I was left agent-less and holding a novel I didn’t knowwhat to do with. So I decided that since I’d had an idea for 3 novellas, I’d better start the second one. That was called Paper Cuts (after songs by Nirvana and The Boy Least Likely To). People seemed to like that a bit more than the first one. “I’d better write a third one,” I thought. So I did.

It’s called Old Haunts (after a song by The Gaslight Anthem).

After I’d dragged a story that’s been banging around my head for half a decade kicking and screaming into the world, I didn’t know what to do next. So I’m writing a fourth story. Simple as that.

Writing. It’s basically about just bloody well getting on with it

I’ve read all 3 books (twice now) and I change my mind every time about which one is my favourite. How To Be Dead is all Steve Death, and that’s what I loved so much about the twitter account, you can see him sitting in his office on Crow Road in London rolling his eyes and talking about the good old days.

In Paper Cuts the story is developed more and we’re introduced to Deaths old mates (the other 3 horsemen of the apocolypse – naturally) who also have their own personalities. The banter between the 4 of them is hilarious and reminds me of my own Dave and his 3 best mates (I won’t go into who i think is who though!)

And I love, love, love Old Haunts. Mostly I think because you learn a bit more about Anne, Death’s loyal PA and how she  came to be Steve’s loyal sidekick. Having worked as a PA myself for doctors, surgeons and professors in the past, working with people who believe the fate of mankind lies solely in their hands is something I can relate to.

Oh, there’s also so zombies and suicide cults thrown in there for good measure too! If you’re looking for something to read this summer, the HTBD series won’t disappoint. All i’M waiting for now is for it to be turned into a TV series then I need never read another book again!

My favourite quote from the series:

Dave: Some people say dreams are visions that you can predict the future or see into the past
Death: Yeah well some people say that a rich tea is a good biscuit. People are stupid

You can buy all three books here

And find out more about Dave here:

Twitter: @MrDaveTurner

Instagram: @MrDaveTurner

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

Locket Library Necklaces

‘There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book’ – Marcel Proust

It can be an age old question can’t it? What do you get the girl/boy/mum/dad/grandparent who has everything? Christmas present givng isn’t the same now as it used to be when I was little. There was always something big I wanted, a new bike, a new hi fi, or a pogo stick (it was the 80s afterall) and even in my teen years there would be a list of CDs as long as my arm I wanted or a kappa tracksuit (it was the 90s afterall).

These days I have a tendency when people ask me what I want for Christmas or my birthday to just to keep it consumable; food or booze never goes to waste and is always well received always in our house. So because I’m pretty much happy to receive anything as a present, It always blows me away when someone thinks outside the box and gets me something super thoughtful.

For my birthday back in July, when i was presented with a gold shiny bottle bag and a little wrapped box from my brother and sister-in-law I was naturally just looking forward to tucking into whatever was in the bottle over ice not realising what was in the box was actually the main present.

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Some child like feeling around the night before had given me the feeling it was a necklace. Now i’ll happily hold my hands up and admit that i’m one of life’s criers. I cry at the whistle of the wind, however due to my issuing a list complete with hyperlinks and sizing instructions at least 6 weeks before any birthday to ensure i get exactly what i want, I very rarely cry over presents. When  opened it up on the morning of my birthday however i bawled my little eyes out to see that they’d had Dave’s book printed into a locket, dedication to me and all. So I could wear it with me whenever I liked. And (most importantly) when people asked me about it  I could say ‘Oh this? It’s my husband’s book, he’s an author dontcha know?’ Modest, I am not.

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Made by a UK based company called The Locket Library, you can have almost any book made up, and your choice of quote (if you want one). They have loads of famous books that they’ve already gained reproduction  copyright for, to reproduce Dave’s book Gary and Ruth had to ask his permission, which of course he gave (only as it’s me of course). The lockets themselves are extremely well made and large enough to see what it is if you look closely, but not too big that they’re gaudy and tacky looking. They’re all made to order and come with their own personalised library card so it’s pretty much a given that your choice of book and choice of quote will be unique to you.

I’m not a massive reader as it happens, but I am, of course a massive fan of my husband, so not only is it amazing that he’s written and published a book, but it’s even more amazing that I can now proudly combine that with my love of fashion jewellery. So this really is the perfect gift for the bookworm in your life (or indeed the jewellery fan) just make sure you wrap up a pack of tissues in with it, if they’re anything like me they’re likely to need it!

Visit the Locket Library’s Esty store here

or buy Dave’s book here: Mongolia or Bust 

 

 

10 of the Best: Book Quotes

‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body’ – Joseph Addison

I’ve always joked that my favourite book is one about the life and time of celebrities with a new volume released every week called ‘Heat’. I usually only ever read actual books on  holiday and even then it’s not exactly War & Peace.

I do have a list of books that I have read which are faves of mine; To Kill a Mocking Bird, We Need to Talk about Kevin, The Storyteller which I could happily read over and over again but in terms of searching out the next literally favourite to add to the list, I’m just not that bothered.

I’ve always been quite jealous of people who like to read, it’s seen as a very noble, respective, intelligent hobby and all my friends who read are very, very smart, articulate women. One of those people is my sister in law Ruth, who’s recently started her own blog posting quotes from the books she reads on Tumblr. The thing I love most about Ruth’s blog is that they’re quotes that sh’es read and have spoken to her, she hasn’t asked other people to submit them and do the hard work for her or pinched them from Goodreads and that, I think is her USP.

So mix Ruth passion for books and my passion for inspirational quotes it was only a matter of time before we would join forces to create the top 10 book quotes for me to included in my ’10 of the Best’ series. I hope you enjoy!

I’m not exactly an Internet virgin but I’m pretty naive about social media. A year ago I decided to start a blog. I’m fairly shy about my own thoughts and I read constantly so a quotes blog appealed. It was somewhere I could share the bits I’d enjoyed in the books I was reading. I rarely reblog and I don’t take contributions from others so my quotes are all just from the material I read myself. It’s a roller coaster ride. Sometimes a quote I love will have no response and other times a quote I almost didn’t list will generate multiple likes and reblogs. At the end of the day, if one or two people see a quote I’ve listed and it speaks to them or introduces them to a book or an author they haven’t heard of before, then I’m happy – Ruth

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“If you scan my brain’s hard drive, stay away from the Internet search history. You won’t like what you find.”  – Code (Virals 3) by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

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“I want you to make a list of all of your favorite things, and I want to be on it.” – Ignite Me (Shatter Me 3) by Tahereh Mafi.

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“He laughed a quick tired laugh, reminding us all what our sisters have known for centuries – that men will always underestimate girls.” – I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You (Gallagher Girls 01) by Ally Carter

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“The best way to get even with anyone is to put them in the rearview mirror on your way to something better.” – Horns – Joe Hill

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“We are free to choose. We are even free to choose the wrong thing” – Requiem (Delirium 3) by Lauren Oliver

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“You don’t get to judge me. My choices are mine” – Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

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“He just got lost in trying to be the man his family wanted him to be, when all along his friends loved the man he already was.” – Golden Son (Red Rising 2) by Pierce Brown

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“Just because you think you know what you’re doing doesn’t mean you actually know what you’re doing.” – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

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“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” – Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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“You could rattle the stars”, she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you the most.” – Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

You can follow Ruth’s blog, The Cat & The Kindle here

Mongolia or Bust: A round-the-world motorcycle misadventure

‘The most important thing is passion for the bike’ – Valentino Rossi

Anthony Hopkins was once quoted as saying ‘I don’t like nepotism’ well unfortunately us at Newman Towers are not multi gabillionnaire’s and can’t afford principles, so I’m taking this opportunity to plug my husband’s utterly brilliant first book about the time he packed in his job, I moved back home with my parents, and he went round the world on his motorbike for 4 months with his friend in 2009.

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Here’s what the blurb says:

David Newman is a former computer programmer who decides to leave behind his career, home and family to take on an epic motorcycle travel adventure. Arriving at the end of his twenties still working in the north east of England he gambles on finding a new perspective from the seat of a bike. Expecting the experience of a lifetime, with route planned he sets off into the unknown with a fellow rider. Everything doesn’t go to plan for David though, the problems come right from the start of his journey and get bigger from there. Mechanical disasters, corrupt officials and armed bandits all threaten to derail the journey, but even greater threats to the adventure are still to come.
Follow the progress as the unlikely adventure unfolds across Europe, Central Asia, China and the USA. ‘Mongolia or Bust’ is a warts and all account of one man’s adventure motorcycle experience, minus the TV glamour and sponsorship money!

Being married to a published author has it’s perks, (secondary bragging rights for one, he’s far too modest to even mention to anyone he’s written a book, I on the other hand have no such modesty or discretion) but mainly I get chance to ask him anything I want about and he can’t really say no! So here’s an interview I did with my own husband (which is weirder than you might imagine!)

How did the trip come about?
I’m not sure really. I’m always liked to travel and when you’re into bikes riding all day for months on end sounds like the best thing ever. I’m a bit of a dreamer and it doesn’t take much to tempt me away from an office job.

How did you plan your route?
Mongolia was always going to be a highlight, so it was a case of making an interesting route to get there and a vague plan after. I wanted to take in as many new countries as possible on the trip.

Which country was the biggest surprise?
Maybe Kyrgyzstan, its a really stunning country.

Where would you have liked to have gone but didn’t/couldn’t?
Everywhere else! I can think of no greater luxury than having the time and money to travel indefinitely.

Which country gave you the biggest ‘oh shit’ moment?
Well, right on the Afghanistan border feels like a long way from home when things start to go wrong and the locals and their massive machine guns are far from friendly.

How did you overcome the language barriers?
With a lot of hand waving and gesturing. Making yourself understood definitely gets a lot harder when the local language isn’t even based on the same alphabet as yours. A lot of the time success is more about how willing the other person is to help. Some people will just stand and stare at the crazy Westerners, better to try someone else in that case. Most people are incredibly helpful though.

Who was the most interesting person you met?
Staying with Igor the crazy Kazakh who put us up for a few nights was pretty interesting. Still slightly surprised to get away in one piece.

Amidst all the drama how did you relax while you were away?
Drank, a lot. Other than that at night my little tent was something of a private sanctuary, I would listen to music play-lists Helen put together for me until I went to sleep

What music reminds you most of the trip?
Weirdly its I Hope You Dance by Leanne Womack. It might sound cheesy, and is usually used as graduation songs or people going off to university for the first time but the lyrics about overcoming your fears and grabbing hold of everything life has to offer seems to fit my mantra of the trip.

What inspired you to keep on going on the tough days?
Sometimes there was no choice! You’re so far from home, you’re so far from anywhere, there’s no other option than but keep on. You’ve just got to look around and appreciate how privileged you are to be able to do something like that. Most of the world’s population don’t have the opportunity.

Made it to Mongolia in the end!

Made it to Mongolia in the end!

If you did it again, what would you do differently?
Loads of things! It’s a difficult question to pick one thing, it would probably depend if I was advising someone else, doing it again in 2009 or doing it now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if I did the trip again it wouldn’t be my story anymore. It’s all the things that went so horribly wrong that make it unique to me.

Will there be another adventure?
Right now I’m having adventures of a different kind, I’ve discovered that extreme endurance running allows to to go through a range of emotions that might take weeks on the road. I’ve never rule out another travel or overland adventure though!

How did the trip change you?
Well I got a wife out of it so you don’t get much more life changing than that!

What advice would you give to something thinking of doing a similar trip?
There’s lots of detailed advice in the book, and its good to do plenty of research and gather advice. But in the end if the idea of overlanding has become something you can’t ignore then you’ll just have to accept you’ll learn as you go and set a date to set off. Sooner is better, the world is changing and not usually for the good as far as overlanding goes.

Any regrets?
These days I think of everything that might be seen as a regret as just a lesson learned. I lived to write the book so its all good!

If you’re interested in reading more about Dave’s adventure you can buy is book on kindle or hard copy from Amazon here
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