This is the blog of Samie Sands, author of Lockdown. There will be many great books and projects reviewed here. For more, check out

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Tall Oaks: A gripping tale of a small town gone wrong by Chris Whitaker

For fans of Twin Peaks and The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair,this brilliant debut is dark yet hilarious, gripping and ultimately heartbreaking.

Everyone has a secret in Tall Oaks . . .

When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town.

Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.

Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.

Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake.

Photographer Jerry, who's determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.

And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own . . .

My Do’s and Don’ts of Writing


Make time to write. It sounds so obvious but it’s really easy to let life get in the way. There’s lots of times when I’d rather be doing something other than writing. Especially in the summer, when I find myself sitting alone in my office with the blinds closed. Now whilst I’d much rather strip naked and head to my local swimming pool (providing they lift the ban of course), I know my book won’t write itself.  
Neglect your family to meet your deadline. It sounds harsh, but you have to be a bit selfish if you want to succeed. There’s just not enough hours in the day. My kids sometimes do a double take when they pass me on the stairs.
Read. A lot. I read everything I can get my hands on, all different genres, from debuts to the big guns. There’s nothing that inspires me to write/ plagiarise more than reading a brilliant book. I often send a message to the author after I’ve finished. I still get excited when they respond, and I’ve learnt lots about them in the process. Nathan Filer is particularly lovely, Kazuo Ishiguro doesn’t like to be referred to as ‘Ishi.’
Practice. I’ve written all kinds of stuff over the years, and kept tons of my notes. I’m hoping one day it will be catalogued and displayed in a museum (much like Ishi’s). I sometimes look back at my earlier work and can see that I’ve progressed as a writer.
Be a shameless self promoter. Do the social media thing (even if each selfie causes you to die a little inside). Lots of authors/publisher/agents post very interesting and helpful articles.


Try and write to trends. You need to find your own ‘voice.’ I tried, many times, to be something I’m not. It’s natural. I read The Book Thief and I want to write something hugely ambitious and epic, I read The Given Day and want to write something sweeping and jaw-droppingly researched. I want to win The Booker Prize. I want to be lauded by critics. It’s unlikely to ever happen. But if it does (assuming I can find the right people to bribe) it will be for something I’ve written in my own style. It’s a style it took me years to find, and a style I hope people find entertaining. It certainly won’t happen if I try and borrow someone else’s voice. It doesn’t work. Simple as that.
Give up. Winners never quit and all that crap. It’s true. Rejection is par for the course. You’ll find your own way of dealing with it. I went back to the drawing board. I told myself if it gets rejected it’s not good enough. I need to write something better. So that’s what I did.
Go it alone. You need support. If you don’t know any writers then join a group, or follow me on Twitter (see earlier note on shameless self promotion).

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