Sunday, October 6, 2019

On the Virtual Road – Blog Touring

Zoë Sharp

For the past ten days since the new Charlie Fox novel, BAD TURN, came out, I’ve been on the road—virtually speaking. I’ve travelled halfway around the world without ever leaving my desk. I’ve been Blog Touring—or perhaps that should be Tour Blogging?—rather than the physical kind of touring. And it’s been fun.

Of course, in the past I’ve travelled all over the place to libraries and bookstores for the publication of various books in the series, quite often using a trip to the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention to kick things off. As Bouchercon is held in a different city/state every year (even making it over to the UK several times) it means that the starting point has also always been different.

with apologies to Q and 007
But, this time around I knew I wasn’t going over to Bouchercon and work-in-progress projects are beginning to pile up. So, doing another blog tour, ably organised by the fearsomely efficient Ayo Onatade, seemed like a good choice.

I’m told that sometimes authors rely on their blogger hosts doing a series of reviews but I hesitate over this way of doing things. What happens if one of the reviewers involved really doesn’t like the book? After all, I would have thought they have far too many books on their teetering TBR piles to read it first, just to make sure.

So, I prefer to do guest posts and articles on topics related to the book, mixed in with a few reviews where blogger/reviewers are happy to do them.

For the BAD TURN blog tour, I wrote six guest posts. Some of them were to the blog host’s suggested topic and others were of my own devising. I tried to make them relevant to the book without being outright BSP. (For anyone who may not know, BSP stands for Blatant Self-Promotion.)

For Shotsmag Confidential, Ayo asked me to write something about the European setting I used for much of the book, so I explained why I’d chosen to take Charlie to Italy and rural France, and how I researched those locations.

French chateau that caught my eye

For Anne Bonny Book Reviews, I wrote a piece for Abby Slater-Fairbrother about ‘borrowing’ characteristics or mannerisms from real people to create fictional characters. And also using names of people who have volunteered or bid to be included. There were more than usual in this book and integrating them was a challenge I really enjoyed.

Judith Baxter at Growing Younger Each Day wanted to know about the couple Charlie ends up working for—Eric and Helena Kincaid. So, I explored the nature of their somewhat dysfunctional crime family and looked at what made them tick.

Another location piece was on New Jersey for Tina Hartas at TripFiction as part of her ‘Talking Location With’ feature. I explained why I chose to set the start—and end—of the book in New Jersey, and even where the idea for the cover image came from.
Rural New Jersey (Jeff may well recognise this one...)
Sarah Hardy at By The Letter Book Reviews wanted to know about the changes that had taken place between Charlie’s first outing as a teacher of self-defence in a northern English city, to the later books where she’s working in close-protection for a top New York agency. Charlie’s certainly evolved through the thirteen books so far. And I hope she has a way to go yet!

Finally, I was asked to write a piece about HEroes vs SHEroes in crime thrillers for Sharon Bairden at Chapter In My Life. The way women were portrayed in the early thrillers I read frustrated me enough to want to write my own. Sharon also recalled the practical workshop I taught at Crime & Publishment earlier this year. I demonstrated how to defend yourself using a table fork and evidently it made quite a lasting impression…

The tour ends today but it seems a shame not to gather all these extras together and offer them to my readers as Bonus Features. Rather like the ‘Making-Of’ and ‘Behind the Scenes’ documentaries I used to love when I bought lots of movies on DVD. Hm, now that’s got me thinking…

I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks, firstly to Ayo, who organised the tour for me, and to all the bloggers mentioned above, who invited me to contribute to their blog sites. And I’m hugely grateful to the other bloggers who very kindly reviewed BAD TURN: Liz Barnsley at Liz Loves Books; Judith Baxter who, as well as the guest post, also did a review on her other blog, Books And More Books; Karen Cole at Hair Past A Freckle Book Reviews; Jen Lucas at Jen Med’s Book Reviews; and Noelle Holten at Crime Book Junkie. (You are all goddesses of the literary world.)

This week’s Word of the Week comes courtesy of EvKa, a regular in the Comments section. It is aibohphobia, meaning an irrational fear of palindromes. It was deliberately constructed to be one, but is a rather splendid word regardless.

Upcoming Events
I will be appearing with fellow crime author Martin Edwards at the Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival. We’re presenting ‘A Brief History Of Crime’ at The Royal Toby Hotel in Rochdale, at 6pm on Thursday, October 17.


  1. Well BSP'd without BPS'ing. :-) The first time I saw 'BSP' (and didn't know what it was), from context I came up with "Back Self-Patting."

    1. Ooh, that's a much better definition, EvKa, although I think too much of it would give one a bad neck...