Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows #giveaway

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Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows ~ Genre: Mystery

Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell’s last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It’s a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who’s caught his eye, and it’s a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot. And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town.

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Brandon Barrows is the award-nominated authors of the novels Burn Me Out and This Rough Old World as well as over fifty published stories, selected of which have been collected into the books The Altar in the Hills and The Castle-Town Tragedy.

He is also the writer of nearly one-hundred individual comic book issues.

He is an active member of both the Private Eye Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

Website * Twitter * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Would you like a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Hi. I’m Brandon Barrows. Maybe we’ve met before. Maybe you know me from my previous novel Burn Me Out, or from stories of mine that have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Burn Me Out and many of those stories are lodged firmly in the noir category of crime fiction, so Strangers’ Kingdom is something a little different for me: a true mystery. It’s also a police procedural set in rural Vermont, which was harder to write than it sounds.

So it’s something different for me as a writer. So what, you might think. Well, I’ll tell you: because it’s a novel I put a tremendous amount of effort, heart, and hopefully you’ll agree, soul into that I know you’ll enjoy.

Let’s start with the basics – the blurb.

Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell’s last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It’s a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who’s caught his eye, and it’s a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot. And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town…

How does that grab you? Interested in knowing a little more, hopefully?

Well, the setting came first. While the town of Granton is fictional, the area where the book is set, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, is very real. In fact, it’s where my mother grew up and a place I still have family. Being in a sort of triangle between two states and Canada, there’s a lot that goes on up there, probably more than we’ll ever know. Despite everything that can happen in such a setting, though, for most people, a rural town is a very small world and that’s certainly true of the main character, Luke Campbell. Luke grew up in Vermont, but lived most of his adult life in Albany, New York before coming to Granton. Because of that, it’s less a homecoming for him than it is a brand-new world, something both he as the protagonist and I, as the writer, were continually discovering while I wrote it.

So why a police procedural mystery? Truthfully, it didn’t start out that way. It began as a rural noir, like many of my short stories, but I discovered early on that it just wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t tell the story the way it needed to be told if I stuck to that and I liked the ideas I had for this book so much, I wasn’t willing to create something I felt inferior, so I played around with the format, switched it up, and ended up creating an entirely new protagonist to go along with the new format.

And you know, I really liked Luke Campbell, right from the start. He’s had a rough go of it, and he’s still trying to make the best of it, while going out of his way to help people—like a lonely, bullied little boy and his mother, both of him Luke comes to care about deeply—even though he’s got every right to be bitter about his situation.

Of course, he’s just one of the characters, but he is the main character and I like to think he both embodies the central theme of the novel and recognizes it for himself in the course of the work: that there are no “bad guys” or “good guys” out there, just people. Everyone does terrible things at some point in their life—whether intentionally or not—and not one of us is completely “bad”. Everyone is just trying to get along and do the best they can. Sometimes we fail at that. There are certainly criminals in this novel, but everyone in it is guilty to some extent and everyone has their good qualities, too. I always try to infuse my work with emotion, and this is something that really hit me as I was writing Strangers’ Kingdom, so I hope it’s something that comes across to you, the readers.

As I said, this is a book I put a lot of effort into. It took me nearly three years, off and on, to write – longer than any of my other novels, by far. But it was worth it. I’m very happy with it and I hope you will be, too. So do us both a favor and give it a read, will you? If you like mysteries, crime, and small-town stories about people doing their best I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows.

Writer’s Block by Brandon Barrows

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An authors thoughts on Writer’s Block

by Brandon Barrows

Hi. I’m Brandon Barrows. Maybe we’ve met before. Maybe you’ve read my previous novel Burn Me Out, or the one before that, This Rough Old World or possibly a story of mine in various magazines and anthologies. Maybe you’ve already ordered my next novel, Strangers’ Kingdom are eagerly awaiting the chance to dive into it. If so, my sincerest thanks.

But I’m here today to talk about something else, something all three of those novels—and honestly, most of my work, has been afflicted by at some point in the past: writer’s block.

Some people don’t believe writer’s block is real. I believe those people either have never tried writing anything or are just really, really insanely lucky to have never experienced it. All three of my published novels mentioned above have suffered from it at some point or another in the writing process.

This Rough Old World took two years and more than a dozen drafts, beginning as a twenty-five-thousand-word novella and ending up as an eighty-three-thousand-word novel before it was done. In between drafts, I often went weeks or even months without touching it simply because I had no idea what came next. The same is true of Strangers’ Kingdom, but it was even longer: three years. I got stalled at around the seventy-thousand-word mark and realized I had no idea how to end the book. It sat, completely untouched, for a year and a half before I was able to beat it into submission.

It’s frustrating. It makes you doubt yourself, your ability, the worthiness of this pursuit. You wonder, could I be doing something better with my time? But I never quit. Even when I wasn’t working on this books, I was working on something else, because I just had to. Not writing is pretty unthinkable and to be perfectly honest, the times when I can’t write hurt. It’s a kind of ache that’s almost physical, knowing you should be producing but not being able to. And eventually, you just find a way to get going again because there’s no other choice.

A lot of people say they think they have a novel in them, or they want to write a book someday, and just never get around to it. A lot use writer’s block as an excuse. That’s okay, if you’re okay with it. Absolutely no judgment.

But that’s what separates writers from regular folks: no matter how hard it is, no matter how much it hurts, you keep going, because you have to. To do anything else is unthinkable.

That’s what it was like writing Strangers’ Kingdom. I knew how the story started, but had no idea how it ended and it took me a lot of brain-wracking and soul-searching and just plain forcing myself to get it done. But I did it. And when it was done, I felt great, even though I knew there were parts I would need to rewrite. But that’s part of the process, too. The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. The guts of writing comes later, in the revising and the editing stage. It doesn’t really matter what goes into that first draft, so long as there is a first draft. That’s what I kept telling myself and that’s how I learned to break through the writer’s block.

Writer’s block still happens, of course, but learning how to deal with it is something you just have to do if you want to write. And once you do, trust me, you’ll feel great.