Carla Acheson

Author/ Reviewer

mikecovell

The Whitechapel Virgin – In the Spotlight with Ripper Experts

Whilst most people have heard of Jack the Ripper, how many truly know his victims? And to what degree are they remembered as humans, as mothers, or were they nothing more than just displaced members of London’s 18th century largely critical and class-obsessed society?

In The Whitechapel Virgin, the Prostitutes of Whitechapel’s streets are given a voice, and as can be expected it’s a sad one. But the author’s vivid and harrowing portrayal of their downtrodden day-to-day lives is much more evocative and realistic than any other media representation that has ever been cast on Whitechapel’s prostitutes to date.

The ‘fictional’ Ripper works his way through the entire story, terrifying the ‘ladies of the night,’ and even though he is not cast as the cunning, sly, bloody-thirsty gentleman that the media love to portray, he is by many reader’s accounts as good and likely a culprit as any.

mikecovellMike Covell is the Hull UK’s leading Jack The Ripper expert, as well as an actor and producer known for TV dramas Mysteries, Myths and Murders (2016), Jack the Ripper: Reality and Myth (2017) and A Study in Red Trilogy (2017) Covell reviewed The Whitechapel novel favourably.

“Carla Acheson’s story takes you down the dark streets of Whitechapel, to a time when all was not as it seems, and an immense shadow was looming over the metropolis. The book is a real page turner, and one that grips the reader until the very end. An excellent addition to any shelf.” – Mike Covell – Actor, TV Producer

Another review of The WhiteChapel Virgin is given by award–winning author Brian Porter who has won many book awards such as Preditors & Editors Best Thriller Novel Award, 2008 for A Study in Red – The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper,  Porter says:

“The Whitechapel Virgin is a thoroughly entertaining fictional rendition of life among Whitechapel’s prostitutes at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. Great empathy in depicting the women as real human beings with their own hopes, fears and aspirations.” Brian Porter – A Study in Red

While Ripperologists mainly deal with fact, Acheson’s novel delves deeper into the emotional and debilitating lives which the women led. In her view the victims were not just victims, but real people with a heart, a soul, and each led a sad life only to experience a devastatingly painful ending, enduring crimes which have been recorded as some of the worst slaughters in history.

Acheson effectively leads you away from the blood and gore for a little while, only to entice you into a warm lodging house where you will find the prostitutes laughing drunkenly by the fireside inn on bitter cold nights, and if you follow them to their quarters you can sit and watch them shed their tears in private.

You can download the ebook at Amazon UK Amazon US

Further reading and related sources:

mikecovellbookJack the Ripper – The Black Magic Myth by Mike Covell

Mike Covell – IMDB – TV Production credits

 

Jack The Ripper Casebook – The Victims and an insight into the murders.

Fifty Shades of Victorian London – An interesting invitation into Whitechapel and the novel by Carla Acheson.

The Whitechapel Virgin – The author discusses her concept and research into the story.

The Victorians and Sex – Yes you may think the Victorians were a particularly prudish bunch – but think again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yin Yang

Yin Yang

She was my mirror image.
My life in reverse.
We were the Moon and Stars. Yin and Yang. Light and Dark. Fire and Ice. Throw any damn cliché you like into the mix and that’s what we were.

Emmy was born two moments after me. This made me her big sister by practically nothing. I came out of my mother’s womb yelling and she came out grabbing my ankle. Apparently.

Mom says we always did everything in turn. When I ate, Emmy puked. When Emmy puked, I shat. When I didn’t cry Emmy bawled.. ad infinitum. We were difficult. No question.

Even when Emmy and I, (Sharlene by the way) grew to our teens we continued on that far flung vein of opposition. I passed English Language, she flunked it and passed Math instead. When I joined the Hockey Team she joined Junior Basketball. When we liked boys? No Problem! Because Emmy never liked the same boy as me. It just seemed like our differences were endless.

When Emmy died a year ago I thought my life would end two minutes later.
It didn’t.

It didn’t even end a week, or a month later. I continued to breathe whilst Emmy was buried in dirt where her lungs must have dried up and collapsed like crumbling rock. There are times I wish that I had died instead, or with her. I know that’s morbid, but Emmy and me, we belong together even though we are two separate people.

If I told you the whole story about Emmy and me, you’d think we were two peas in a different pod. I’ll let you decide on that anyway. I just need to get it down, out, where it doesn’t hurt me anymore.

In 2004 Emmy and I were watching different shows in different rooms on two different TV’s. See? We couldn’t even agree on watching the same show together. Then I heard a bang through the wall which sounded too much like skull knocking on hard floor. I jumped off my bed and ran from my olive bedroom to her deep purple one.

She was lying there, twisted, like someone had picked her up and dropped her from the ceiling. I can’t really remember what happened next but there was a lot of noise and just a few hours later Emmy was in the ITU fighting to live.
Whilst inside I was fighting to die.

She had contracted Meningitis. The disease went straight to her brain and we were told that the next twelve hours would be critical.

Well one decent thing I can say is that Emmy ‘mentally’ died watching her favourite stupid reality show. She also died in clean underwear which is something she used to worry about. The following morning after her death she was due to receive a badge of honour for helping primary care children with ‘special needs’ learn to read. Her badge was collected anyway and placed inside her coffin. I remember how much I wanted to tear out my heart and put it inside with her.

The most horrible thing about Emmy’s death is that I am still alive. And those things she left behind? Boy they really sting! Maybe you don’t need to know about them but I’m telling you anyway because it’s Emmy’s most final mark on the planet.

It’s a long long list that reads like ‘The Ending of Emmy.’

A half sucked lolly pop stuck to her pillow. Two paranormal books, dog-eared, scattered on her bed (subjects I hate, but finished for her.) A pair of new heels to collect for the prom. A prom dress to collect from the laundromat. A boy who can’t take her to the prom. (I’d go with him but, meh, he’s not my type.) A promise to me that she’d pay me back $5 (I forgave her for skipping out on that.) A half finished sketch of a horse (why did she love those stinky animals so much anyway?)

The one that hurts me most is that promise! Crazy?
A promise that we would never leave each other alone.
God, Emmy, you failed that one miserably.

So a few times over the course of that year I tried to end my life, but each time I tried I was saved or I was too freakin’ scared to go through with it. Then came the pills, they kept me awake and shivering at night and helped me to forget how to live during the day. But that wasn’t exactly kosher in the real world because the world only responds when you sit up and pay attention to it.
Live by the rules.

Anyway, I couldn’t get my act together afterwards, and fourteen months after Emmy’s death Mom had a nervous breakdown. Dad had an affair.
In the end I was a complete basket case, written off as Emmy’s ‘poor disturbed twin.’ Could I blame Emmy for all of that? Well, I could, but I don’t. I too kinda lost my life in a tragic way, but you know what really stings me the most?
The fact that I can’t join my sister.

And why?

Because Emmy would kick my ass on the other side. I couldn’t die because that would make us the same, and we never ever were. I would do anything to swap seats with Emmy. To leave her a damn list called ‘The Ending of Sharlene.’ She could finish my books, suck on my lolly pop and leave FIVE GODDAM DOLLARS INSIDE MY COFFIN!

But that wasn’t the script. And I know I shouldn’t be mad with her because she didn’t write it.

Emmy you suck but I love you from the bottom of my soul to the furthermost galaxy.

Let’s face it. We were always going to be opposites, she and I. Always. And perhaps my ending will be her new beginning.

I figured that the life of a twin is strange, but nothing can change that we are yin, we are yang.
We are fire and ice.
Light and dark.

My twin Emmy.

yinyang

10 QUESTIONS WITH THE AUTHOR OF “GIRL FORGOTTEN”

TEN QUESTIONS WITH THE AUTHOR OF “GIRL FORGOTTEN”

By Louis Chapman –
Journalist (Time to Tell a Story)

Mediasource: L Chapman 2016

IT’S SET IN TWO TIME PERIODS ISN’T IT. WHY?
Leah is a young fourteen year old girl abandoned by her father in an orphanage. She cares for the younger orphans and most particularly the new five year old arrival Miss Pixie. A quarter of a century later Miss Pixie’s twin sister Annie returns to find out why her late sister had been abandoned there by her parents.

I plotted the story specifically to mirror the lives of the two women in a parallel voice, so yes. One character is set in the late Victorian period and the other in the Edwardian, so just after. I think there wasn’t a huge amount of difference in the writing aside from the obvious social, moral and economic development, oh and one was able to use the newly invented telephone whilst the other couldn’t!

WHAT DID YOU FOCUS ON THE MOST, OR TRY TO CAPTURE IN THIS TALE?
Even though I enjoyed putting together the murder twist at the very end, my purpose in the story was to explore the idea of looking back in the past and unfolding harrowing truths which often family members die without ever finding out. When Annie is old enough to pursue the subject of her sister’s abandonment she faces some shocking discoveries. There are things she learns about herself, her difficult relationship with her mother, and the reasons for decisions made when she was a child that she had no control over but affected her into adulthood. It is only by going through that journey that the character is able to make peace with herself and others, which is probably the most important outcome and the conclusive element of the book.

YOUR PREVIOUS BOOKS FOCUSES ON THE LIVES OF PROSTITUTES AND SLUM OCCUPANTS, WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE ON A MURDER MYSTERY?
I think “Girl Forgotten” is much more than just a murder mystery. It’s also a book about relationships, personal suffering, and survival, which I do tend to focus on quite heavily in my writing. Annie’s dysfunctional relationship with her mother is very commonplace in reality and just one facet of the whole story, as is her own desire to seek the truth about why her sister was sent away.

To keep a true perspective on my characters I like to look deeply into their mindset, quirks and personalities. Often people’s lives and experiences are much more complex than they seem and if that is explored well, it produces a much deeper visceral and evolving story.

WHO, OF ANY OF YOUR BOOKS, IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER.
It would have to be Edward Cross from The Whitechapel Virgin, simply because he is the most three-dimensional character I have ever created. An intelligent and ambitious young bachelor, but also an ego-centric nymphomaniac. I didn’t really know him that well until his unique personality began to slowly emerge in the story and he revealed a very dark and twisted mind.

It actually highlights how people can start with a simple desire for something out of the ordinary, which can then become an extreme inner infatuation or obsession that can ultimately turn them into their own enemy.

I LOVE HOW YOU WEAVE SO MUCH INTO YOUR STORIES, HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK FOR YOU?
It depends. With Girl Forgotten, I had a seed of an idea in my head after reading The Thirteenth Tale  by Diane Setterfield. The story focuses on an old woman who wishes to recount her life before her death. Growing up with her twin sister in a crumbling manor house, she recalls dark family secrets.

After a while I laid the story to rest and began to weave my own tale about twin sisters. Usually I gather a mountain of research, notes, then begin to write snippets of scenes that I think will work in the story, laying out a plot sequence, synopsis and character spreadsheet as each character appears in the book. I would say 50% of the story is spontaneous whilst the rest is pre-scripted.

DO YOU KNOW THE BEGINNING, MIDDLE AND END BEFORE ACTUALLY WRITING?

Not at all. I know the general plot and where I am heading but I like to surprise myself and be somewhat spontaneous with my characters. That works for me, and usually all falls into place, and if it doesn’t, I cut out or re-do certain scenes. I didn’t know the twist of this story until I was at least half way through.

IS THAT A NORMAL WAY TO WRITE A PLOT TWIST? (LAUGHS)
There is no normal way to write anything. Everyone works at it differently. Some might need to have every single angle of the story figured out in advance, whilst others produce better results approaching it organically. The most important thing is that in the end it is readable, makes sense and is generally classified as a good read. (The proof is in the pudding as they say.)

ARE ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS LIKE YOU, AND DO YOU CARE ABOUT THEM?
That’s interesting. I have never really thought about it. I suppose some are, yes. In fact I probably have a few traits such as Edward Cross’s ambitious streak, Maggie Tanner’s strong will and Annie Reinhart’s independent and free-thinking approach to things.

As for caring about them.. I suppose I care about how I depict them. Even though they aren’t real people I’m very fussy about making sure my main character’s all end up content, issues resolved, or free from the burden of whatever dilemma the story engaged them in. Unless there is a sequel everything needs to be wrapped up.

I also care that they are written as true to actual real life people as I can get away with in a fictional context, without boring the reader. I look for individualism but also like to pad my characters with very human feelings, fears and desires.

HOW IS YOUR MAIN AUDIENCE RECEIVING YOUR WORK?
I am always humbly grateful towards my readers because I know they can always just go and choose ‘another book.’ I have received so many good reviews and so much praise too with my work. My main readership is in the United Kingdom where sales continue to build. It’s a brilliant experience and one I am glad I bravely undertook.

WHATS NEXT FOR YOU, AND WHAT ADVICE TO YOU HAVE FOR NEW WRITER’S?
I tell new writers to be themselves in thought, word and action. Don’t copy other writing styles, just scribble away until you find your own voice. Each of us has a unique voice and it comes out eventually. It is that uniqueness which is attractive to a reader. I used to hope I would write like certain famous authors. I’m sure we’ve all had that dream, but now I most definitely am happy to be writing as me and no-one else.

I always come to the end of a book and say ‘NEVER AGAIN’ because its mentally exhausting and takes me up to a year to complete from beginning to end, but deep inside I know a writer usually writes because he/she wants to and I almost always reach a point where I’m dying to take up the pen again. I just love the spontaneity of never knowing when, and the reader anticipation is good.

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Download Girl Forgotten at Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Mystery Novel on Kindle – Girl Forgotten

girlforgottencover1_800

Today marks the release of “Girl Forgotten,” my third historical fiction title available on Amazon.

It’s been an interesting writing journey in the last year with many stops and starts and highs and lows, but as a writer, I never like to leave important projects unfinished so even though I emerge with a bit less hair and additional back pain, it’s totally been worth the effort.

Girl Forgotten – is a mystery thriller written in a dual narrative viewpoint which spans over two separate eras. It focuses on the life of a five year old orphaned girl named Pixie who was removed from her home and placed in an orphanage following a grave accident.

Independently-minded Annie, a private art tutor in her late twenties, decides to un-earth archived information from staff at the orphanage in order to piece together what happened to her twin sister a quarter of a century ago. Strangely, Annie’s parents refused to speak about Pixie once she had been sent away, but a few years after her father’s death, Annie attempts to extract the truth from her bed-ridden and mentally unstable mother with whom she possesses a volatile and estranged relationship. But things are not as they seem when she probes more deeply into her sister’s circumstances, and old and tragic buried secrets begin to surface.

The second viewpoint is given by a fourteen year old girl named Leah Cunningham. Leah works as an assistant at the orphanage during the time Pixie was admitted. Having just suffered the death of her own mother and subsequent abandonment by her father, it is through her voice and diary entries that we get to view how she bonded and helped the young orphan through her tragic ordeal.

Ultimately, Annie and Leah’s voices will lead the reader to a heart-breaking conclusion and a harrowing, unexpected twist.

Girl Forgotten is currently available on Amazon KINDLE as an e-book download currently priced at £3.32 / $4.50

Buy on Amazon UK

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Giveaway – The Whitechapel Virgin

The very popular book site Goodreads.com is hosting a ‘giveaway’ of The Whitechapel Virgin. To enter all you need to do is click on the ‘Enter’ button and add your delivery details. The contest runs for a month so you can enter anytime up to June 20th when Goodreads will pick one winner, the competition ends, and they will receive a free paperback.

I want to thank to Goodreads for their continued great work with publishers and authors, and also to the amazing people who have enjoyed my work and continue to support me.

Goodreads Giveaway Link below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Whitechapel Virgin by Carla Acheson

The Whitechapel Virgin

by Carla Acheson

Giveaway ends June 20, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

 

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