I've got another blog tour for you today in honour of new release Who's Afraid?
It's a cracking debut that you can't put down. Who's Afraid is a brand new paranormal fiction book of the werewolf variety, and it's all about Tommi. Tommi is a young Scottish woman living a rather ordinary life, but when her mother dies, she sets out to find the only parent she has left. Her father. But not everything she's been told is true, and she finds herself stumbling violently in to her birthright as a werewolf. Tommi returns home hoping to put everything behind her, but the dark, mysterious and rather handsome Lorcan, her Guardian, makes that rather hard. Her powers are developing and she needs to learn to control them, and Lorcan is the only one who can help her. It's not long before Tommi realises things can never be the same again, especially when a rogue werewolf starts killing people....but is it really a rogue? Or did Tommi bring danger back home with her to stalk her loved ones?
I'll be getting to the review in a minute, buuttt first I have a feature from the author of Who's Afraid, Maria Lewis! Considering everyone on my feed right now is involved in NaNo, I thought you'd like to hear from the author about her writing process/journey...
I never envisioned myself as a writer. It was not a career path I actively pursued growing up, despite writing being something that I always thoroughly enjoyed and succeeded in on school report cards. My job goals for myself proceeded as follows: rock star, photographer, detective, song writer, art curator, coroner, professional surfer, Batgirl, archaeologist, forensic psychologist. Writer was not on the list and the fact I ended up as not only a professional journalist but a published author is somewhat of a happy accident. Financially, university was always going to be a bit of a stretch so I found myself furiously applying for every scholarship going in my final years of high school. I landed two: one to study forensic psychology and the other to study journalism by correspondence while working full time as a cadet reporter at a local newspaper. On a whim, I went with the journalism one and it proved to be the best decision I ever made. That, as it turns out, was a career I was made for. Suddenly being curious was a thing I was paid to do. Talking to people and engaging with them was a thing I was paid to do. And yes, being nosy was something I was paid to do and a trait that was professionally valued.
I spent the first three and bit years of my time in a newsroom covering crime, which wasn’t unusual for many reporters starting out at a paper. You see, they like to throw you in the deep and watch who can handle the long hours, the high pressure, the sources and yes, the bodies. Depending on whether you sink or swim, you either get shuffled off the police beat within a few months or stuck there for a few years. It took me some time to realise crime reporting wasn’t necessarily for me, both personally and professionally, and I moved on to writing about film, television and pop culture as a whole – something I report on to this day; presenting, writing and producing segments on nightly television show The Feed on SBS in Australia. Yet my 11 years and counting as a journalist have proved endlessly valuable to me as an author.
First and foremost, it has given me an understanding of the importance of primary sources. Often when researching a novel, secondary sources can become the most relied upon location for information. You can fall into this trap of reading only what other people have written or surmised on a particular topic. Journalism trained me to have ‘lady balls’, if you will, and to not be afraid to seek information out directly. For instance, when writing my debut novel Who’s Afraid? – where the central protagonist is a werewolf – I needed information on moon cycles and exact specifics on the full moon. The internet had a lot of information to sift through from countless reliable and questionable sources, so I did a quick Google search and came up with a list of Australia’s foremost moon experts – who I then proceeded to call and ask questions of. Although that approach may be too direct for some, for me it meant I had an unfiltered primary source that could provide me with facts. And yes, I do realise this is in the context of writing a flippin’ werewolf novel but some of the best supernatural novels – in my opinion – are grounded in elements of realism. Think True Blood or Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. Sometimes attempting to get the little things right can make a big difference.
Secondly, one of the side effects of being a journalist is having an innate ability to pump out a hefty word count. After over a decade as a reporter, my day job is to roll out words at a rapid rate and to be able to meet multiple daily deadlines (as well as weekly and monthly ones for larger projects). So when I eventually sat down to write a novel, I was comfortable and relaxed with the idea of powering through a few thousand words at a time. It’s what I’d been paid to do since I was 16. Thirdly, you lose all concepts of preciousness. A newsroom is a cutthroat environment, with a lot of skilled professionals working within tight restraints to put out the best project they can by a specific time. The result of that is, editors, sub-editors and lay out eds tend to be ruthless: they have to be. An element in a story that may seem crucial to you, is 10cms of space they have to cut now that a last minute ad has landed on page three. There’s no pleading or begging: the story has to be cut and you either make it work or you don’t. Journalism has taught me not to be precious. There are naturally aspects to a story or characters you get attached to when writing your manuscript. When you get returned notes from an editor that suggest some of them have to go, that can be tough to hear but nine times out of ten it’s also necessary. They’re making this suggestion to improve the story and there comes a time when you not only have to understand that but you have to let it go.
What's the book like? I hear you all cry, well I rated it...
Buy or Borrow: Buy!
Does that give you an indication? Who's Afraid is all go from the first page, the opening is adrenalin fuelled and fills you with intrigue so you want to know what led Tommi to that point. In my case it also gave me a couple of ideas of how I thought this book was going to go...but I was wrong. The main thing I loved about this book was how surprising it was. It went in completely different directions to what I expected and it kept me guessing right up until the end. The twists where mind blowing. The bad guys weren't who I was expecting them to be for starters! Then there was the truly shocking plot twist towards the end and I had to put the book down and kind of just...process because I was like "There's now way that'll happen....okay...well...they'll be saved right? There's a way?" But nope. Didn't see it coming. Lewis isn't afraid to give you a character and make you love them and then rip them away from you cruelly!
I loved Tommi, she's the kind of character I adore, she's snarky, she's badass and she's completely brilliant. I loved watching her struggle with her new role as werewolf. In a lot of books the characters are kind of like, "Oh I'm a werewolf...okay cool" and off they go, but I liked seeing Tommi come to the realisation that things where different now, and she goes on such a journey in this book, I'm interested to see how she's going to develop and change in the next book after the aftermath of this book! The one thing about Tommi is that her reactions to things are very genuine, and very realistic, so Tommi is a very believable and relatable character.
There's a brilliant supporting cast of characters alongside Tommi, Mari, Kane and Joss where hilarious, I loved the scenes with all of them and the banter they had, it made you laugh and it helped you get to see a more laid back side of Tommi. I'm excited to see more of Joss next book I hope! We also had Ennis who cracked me up, like, taking a shine to Tommi after she casually murders a couple of people! Dr Kikuchi I also really liked, she made me chuckle and I'm hoping to see more of her in the future. And then there's Lorcan. I freaking love Lorcan. He intrigued me from the start but I was a bit wary of him because I was kind of expecting him to be one of the bad guys or something and I was on edge for a while, but then I ended up really liking his character and I'm so intrigued by him and curious to know more about him!
Tommi and Lorcan have such an interesting relationship, the romance between them develops slowly and isn't the main focus of the plot, but it's one of the points. There's obstacles, and towards the end there is a pretty huge one and while it was kind of adorable of Lorcan at the same time it was like "What the hell did you think you where doing!?" so i'm interested to see where the romance is going to go, I think they make an interesting pair!
I loved both settings of the books both New Zealand which I'd love to see more of! And Dundee, which was a nice vibrant setting, I thought! To be honest I've read exactly one book of this genre set in the UK and none set in New Zealand so I actually really enjoyed the change from the usual US setting, and seeing the werewolf legend play out in NZ, with the Maori wolves and so on. I'm actually hoping to see more Maori elements in the future in the books! I have a feeling her family aren't going to give up on her so easily! There's a lot of culture packed in to this book, and it's clear Lewis has done her research to another level!
Who's Afraid is an original, funny and entertaining, debut which veers away from the path so many books of the genre take, and is like a breath of fresh air. There's plenty of pop culture references that aren't over done and add plenty of humour, the language is brilliant as is the writing, and the settings are intriguing. The characters are a lively bunch, and the plot keeps you guessing until the very end. I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes next!