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Thursday, 9 August 2018


INTERVIEW WITH OUR CHARACTER, FATHER WALLACE WILLOUGHBY.


This last month has been a very exciting time, with the launch of The Bitter End – the first book I’ve co-written with anyone. Sharing the excitement of a book’s release with another author is double the fun – and Robert D. Tysall and I have enjoyed every minute, with still lots of book signings and radio interviews to come.

On Saturday 11th August we will be at Hunt’s Book Shop, High Street, Rugby from 11am-2pm. Then on Thursday 13th September we will be at Kenilworth Books, Talisman Close, Kenilworth from 6.30pm – 8pm. We would love to see you there.

For those who haven’t read The Bitter End, here’s the blurb – and just for fun, an interview with one of the characters. We will be interviewing other character over the coming weeks. Hope you enjoy!




The Bitter End Blurb.
Paul finally has his life back on track. After losing his wife, Helena in a horrific car crash, he has found love with Sally and moves into her country cottage.  

As a former high-ranking Naval Officer, Paul now works as Head of Security at MI5.

Paul has no memories from before he was ten years old. An accident left him in a coma for 9 months.  But was it really an accident?
 
Soon Paul starts to have flashes of childhood memories, all involving his childhood friend, Owen.

Sally introduces him to her friend, Juliet, the owner of a craft shop. Paul is shocked when he is introduced to Juliet’s partner, his old friend Owen.

Flashes of memories continue to haunt Paul, particularly the memory of his first wife Helena burning in the car crash.

As dark things start to happen, and local people begin dying in horrific accidents, Paul must face his past and will end up fighting for his life.




Interview with a character from The Bitter End.
For this blog, I decided to speak to Father Wallace Willoughby, the parish priest and a neighbour of the protagonist, Paul Christian.
Although Father Willoughby is a diminutive little man, he’s something of a fire and brimstone preacher and his loud booming voice can rattle the windows! Even so, I didn’t expect the reaction I got from him.
He glared at me through those small round glasses of his, his voice fairly controlled – for the moment. “I’m afraid this is not a book I approve of,” he said. “In fact, I'm horrified that you could write about such dark and dreadful deeds.”
“It’s just fiction,” I reminded him, but he cut me short.
“The Good Lord did not grant you your writing skills to produce such heinous characters or such odious atrocities… and have you no thought for me?”
“You didn’t like the role then?”
“Well at first yes, I was flattered that you’d created me and it all started so innocently. But I had no idea what you… and that other author fellow – Tysall, Robert Tysall, had concocted.”
“Yes, well, that was the idea,” I tried to explain. “You don’t want the reader to guess what’s coming.”
I didn’t see what was coming!” he bellowed. “How could you? I remember when you used to write nice children’s stories.”
“I like to try different genres,” I said, smiling, hoping he’d understand.
 He shook his head. “Alas, it is done, and the book – what is it called again – Ah yes, The Bitter End, is published and available for the world to read. And read it they will. You mark my words. The devil works in mysterious ways.”
“But it’s a fight for good conquering evil, Father Willoughby,” I reminded him.
He didn’t seem convinced and was actually a little sarcastic. “So, it's a happy ending for all of the characters, is it?”
I sort of hung my head in shame. “Well, no, but...”
He sighed. “I shall be praying for the saving of your soul, my child.”
“Oh! Come on!” I argued. “It’s just a fictional story…”
“I enjoy fiction!” he said in that booming voice. “I, just like the Holy Father in Rome, am extremely fond of television’s Father Ted for instance. But really, The Bitter End goes a step too far.”
There was a grimace on my face. “Er, so you won’t be in book two?”
The disdainful glance he cast me provided the answer.
I nodded and said goodbye, deciding it was probably best not to tell him that while he wouldn’t be in book two, possibly his older, and slightly stranger brother would be.




You can buy The Bitter End from all good bookshops and online. Here’s the Amazon Links:






Published by Bloodhound Books. 


Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Talented Young Writers!





Recently, I launched a short story competition at Sidney Stringer Academy in Coventry, where I'm Patron of Reading. The competition had the theme of 'Miniature'. 

There was a good reason for this theme. Miniatura - the people who bring together the world's best miniature artisans for their shows held every spring and autumn, are keen to encourage young people to read and write more. 

Miniatura very kindly sponsored me with £50 worth of W H Smith vouchers and 5 delightful 1/12th scale miniature books made by Dateman Books. 


Year 7 students took part and had just one week to create their story. I was very impressed by their work. It was a really difficult task in picking the winners from the many entries, but in the end, the prizes were awarded to:

Haneef Bailey.
Maryam Hussain.
Mwanakombo Mohamedi
Sadia Rana
Zaynab Khalifa.




I’m delighted to share their stories with you:


Flight 4590
By Haneef Bailey

Until the crash of Air France Flight 4590 in 2000, the Concorde SST had been considered among the world's safest planes. The crash of the Concorde contributed to the end of the aircraft's career.

I am a miniature Concorde that was witness to the crash of flight 4590. From the time of my creation by a British Aviation company, I prided myself on my very unique and sophisticated design. My design was evolved in collaboration with a French company.

We were a turbojet powered supersonic airliner used to fly passengers at twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.04 equivalent to 1354 mph at cruise altitude.

The aircraft was used mainly by wealthy passengers who could afford to pay a high price in exchange for Concorde's speed and luxury service.

Air France Flight 4590 was carrying 100 passengers and 9 crew members when one of its engines caught fire and it crashed into a hotel 9 minutes into the flight. I heard the cries of the passengers and the chaos among the crew members as the aircraft caught fire. Before this episode, I had nothing but pride in my heart for the sleek design that myself and my Concorde mates were known for. However, having witnessed the destruction and death and agony caused, I felt that nothing is made to last forever and that destiny sometimes overrides all human efforts.

I can still hear the cries of women and children in my mind and the only relief I have is that after this incident in 2003, this majestic aircraft was no longer being manufactured and that I don't have to witness another human tragedy like this.

I have come to learn that no one can overcome the invincible power of destiny and that there's no real compensation for human suffering caused by failures of human technology.

The end

* * *



A Bad Day
By Maryam Hussain.


It was late at night, I’d had a bad day at school and my mom screamed at me. I was just so annoyed. It was the last day of school before the summer holidays started and it was the most horrific day I’ve ever experienced.

I wish I’d just turn into a small person and stay away from everyone and everything. It was just too much for me to handle all at once. Since it was getting pretty late, I decided to go sleep and get rid of all the stress.

One hour later I was still awake because I was just thinking about all the things that had happened. All of the bad things that had happened were just replaying in my head again and again. The worst part of the day was when I fell and dropped my lunch on one of my friends and then I puked and ran.

I decided to watch some Youtube on my laptop thinking that would help me go to sleep. At around 3 am I decided it was actually getting late and I needed to go to sleep. I woke up at around 2 pm and I felt like I was drowning in my bed. Everything was massive.

So many thoughts were running through my mind. Then I realised I’d wished to turn small and it actually happened!

I decided to get out of my bed but I was so high up. And if I needed to get down I would need a ladder. It was like bungee jumping.

After 20 minutes of figuring out how to get off the bed I was finally off it. Then I thought what clothes am I gonna wear because everything was too big for me. So I decided to wear my doll’s dresses. They fitted perfectly.

I went to the bathroom and I went to the sink and had a bath in there as the actual bath would be too big for me. I dried myself with a miniature hand towel. Then off I went to go eat a bean for breakfast. It filled me up as the bean was so big. I could not reach the table, so I had to put a sugar cube down to eat my food. Even though sugar cubes are small, for me it was colossal. I didn’t really know what to do because I was too small to do nearly everything.

It was really hot that day too. I got a sponge and then I filled up a container with water and I surfed in that and it was pretty big. I had so much fun!

 It was 8 o’clock now and I was tired after surfing. I got some supplies and tried to make a miniature bed so I was not drowning in my actual bed. It didn’t work. Then I realised being small wasn’t that good. I wish I could be big again. I went to sleep in my big bed as the small one didn't work.

I woke up and I was big again! I was so happy! I could wear my own clothes, have a proper breakfast and a proper shower. I shouldn’t take things for granted.

The end

* * *


The Spider
By Mwanakombo Mohamedi

I am a spider. I am a rather small spider. A black spider too. Now that I think about it, I’m a bit different from the other spiders – my webs are more frail, I am a darker shade of black and I’m small compared to the other spiders.

I like to think of myself as a special spider, different from the rest and maybe even better. My webs being frailer doesn’t put me off making them though. I like making my webs – I can customise my home to my style.

My webs gleam and shimmer, they are woven with the utmost care and they catch the most flies. As you may have gathered, I was proud of my webs as though a father would be of his son.

Today, I decided to make my web on a fence; I don’t normally make webs in fences because they don’t catch too many flies but this time I wasn’t after flies; I was after a good view of the sunset – I  was still stuffed from my last meal. I knew I shouldn’t have made a web on the fence. I knew this fence was familiar. I’d forgotten why I hadn’t made a web on this particular garden fence – the mischievous kitten!

Now, normally cats aren’t too much trouble but this specific one was –  too much trouble. It was a black and white kitten – barely a cat – with blue eyes like the dew drops that settled on my webs at dawn. It was especially scary because it was curious – too curious for its own good: I know the humans say, “curiosity killed the cat” but in this case, curiosity almost killed the spider. The point is, this cat is trouble, especially for me.

I was minding my own business, admiring nature’s beauty and when it came out of nowhere. Sniff, sniff, sniffing around near my web. Obviously, my first thought was to run but I couldn’t do that! To abandon one of my finest pieces? No, I had to stay. That was my mistake though – the same mistake that almost got me killed.

I was almost trampled to death, but luckily my attacker stepped on a thorn, a thorn to which I owe my life; it got caught in the kitten’s paw. I wasn’t ready for the cat’s next move: one second, the kitten was padding along silently until it brought out its killer weapon – its claws. It flailed around looking for its attacker but when the cat realised that there wasn’t actually an attacker, it slinked off scowling although it was mewing piteously.

I was saved! But the kitten would be back – it never stayed away for long and so I had to find a new home. And eventually I did: in a cosy little hole with a perfect view of the sunset. The sunset was absolutely stunning with vibrant shades of ruby-red, amber and soft shades of sapphire from the night before. My cat problem was solved, I was saved – for now at least.

The end.

* * *



Under the Bed
By Sadia Rana

“Have a good night, sweetheart,” was all Cassandra heard whilst she trotted up the creaky old wooden stairs. She opened her room’s door and fell onto the comfy bed, tucking herself in.

She would have to wait.

The click of her mother’s heels up the stairs alerted Cassandra; she squeezed her hazel eyes closed, turned her head and stayed still. The door groaned open, illuminating the girly pink room with light. Peering through, her mother checked on the child – she thought Cassie was asleep. Seeming somewhat satisfied, the door gradually shut: she was left in complete darkness.

Tip-toeing out of her bed, Cassie glimpsed at the door, almost expecting her stern parent to be standing there. Steadily, the short girl crawled underneath her bed. The adventure was about to begin.

Instantly, the all too familiar tingling sensation took over her body. The exhilarating feeling coursed through her veins like cold water on a hot day.

She was tiny.

“Hello there,” greeted one of the Tusnas in a nasally voice.

“Hi,” Cassandra smiled back, taking in its features; it had such unique eyes, green like poison ivy; a gorgeous pair of wings like a butterfly; an adorable petite frame and an elegant purple-petalled dress. It was accompanied by a cute little Trivian, which was a bit like a puppy, but with huge eyes and grass as fur.

Skipping past them, trees towered over her as vibrant flowers sang up at her cheerfully – it was music to her ears! This land was so enchanting. Even the community was ever so joyful. Cassie was about to join into their conversation when...

THUD!

What was that? Everyone stopped dead in their tracks.

THUD, THUD, THUD!

Frightened mumbles rippled through the crowd, while some creatures were pointing: pointing behind her. Crossing her fingers, she slowly turned around, eyes bulging out of their sockets when she was face-to-face with a massive ginger cat. Her rat’s nest of auburn danced with the wind as she realised something. She had to run. Fast.

Deafening stomps shook the ground as Cassandra ran. Hurriedly, she attempted to retrace her steps. It was hard to concentrate since bellowing meows pained her eardrums. Alas, she reached a realm of nothingness, pitch-black like the night’s sky. Heat rose to her pale face. Would she have to run? She glanced behind her, seeing a shroud of long fur: she’d definitely have to run.

“Ouch!” Cassie muttered, rubbing her sore head. She crawled back out from under her bed. Thank God! She was back home. Sighing, she noticed a large shadow through her blinds – almost like a… paw?

Oh no.

The end.

* * *


Cyberbully
By Zaynab Khalifa


Rosewood was a large town. A large town with secrets lurking in each and every inch of every street. Within the streets lay a mystery in the form of Skye, 14. What a pretty name is the thought that may come. That is true however it belonged to an ugly heart of a cyberbully.

The story with the horrid message that was sent saying that the ‘it’ girl Cheryl Blossom was ‘tiny’. Cheryl had been familiar with despair caused by others; however, this stained her heart.

Then the beautiful day after, terrible terror struck in the form of lightning for Skye. As the lightning bolt hit, her fate was sealed. Her fate being that she would be the size of an almond for eternity.

Just like the wind, the transformed girl ran home weeping. Nobody was at home, so Skye used her little legs to climb up the door and go through the postbox. It was surreal as each crumb provided a full meal. She regained confidence to show herself in school.

She set foot around school with pride and happiness. However, that sense of pride got lost in the staring and muttering. Skye went under doors seeing all her friends and relating how she felt. Lunch came. The horror had came.

Cheryl Blossom picked Skye up with her crimson nails and chucked her around like a rag doll and tossed towards the bin. Her best friend, Sheri, came just in time to save her and took her to her parents. Her parents shared the mindset of keeping shame away from the family. This caused them to freak out!

‘I’m ashamed of you!!’ exclaimed Skye’s mum.

Skye sobbed for hours as she felt lost without the support of her parents. Sheri’s parents were the same. They did not help her. Unfortunately, this meant Skye had to find a find a bed under random bus shelters.

Nights turned to weeks. No one took a second glance at her. No help. Alone. Suddenly, Skye felt a spark rush through her veins. She felt brave to talk to her parents. Her words were coming back to haunt her. She began to feel pain as she was walking to her parents’ place.

The words she taunted others with began to appear on her skin. Everyone who saw her now knew what she was capable of. This is what she carried with her forever. 

Skye began to regret her actions. But was this for the benefit of others or just for herself? No regret could change the impact on others. Skye fled away from the problems she caused thinking they would go away. She was nowhere to be seen.

Later, her parents came to their senses and tried to look for Skye – but it was too late...

The end

* * *

Well done to all the students who entered the competition – every single story was read with pleasure.

 For more details of our sponsors, Miniatura, please go to: www.miniatura.co.uk
Their next show takes place at the Birmingham NEC on 22nd & 23rd September 2018. Tickets available from their website.










Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Thrilled about our new thriller!




It’s a massive day for myself and good pal – and co-author Robert Tysall.  After 4 years of working together on a novel, today, 4th July 2018 is its release day!

The Bitter End is a supernatural thriller, published by the fabulous Bloodhound Books.

It’s the story of Paul Christian who finally has his life back on track after losing his wife, Helena, in a horrific car crash. Now, he has found love with Sally Knightly and is moving into her country cottage – close to where he grew up as a child.

As a former high ranking Naval officer, Paul now works as Head of Security at MI5. He has no memories from before he was ten years old. An accident in the woods left him in a coma for 9 months. 

Soon Paul starts to have flashes of childhood memories, all involving his childhood pal, Owen.

Sally introduces him to her friend, Juliet, the owner of a craft shop. Paul is amazed when he is introduced to Juliet’s partner, noneother than his old friend Owen.

However, dark things start to happen. Local people are dying in horrific accidents. But are they just tragic accidents, or is something more sinister going on here?

The Bitter End is Rob’s debut novel which makes its release extra special. And we’ve been delighted with the ARC reviews. We’re getting lots of 5 and 4 stars, but even 3 star reviews are saying great things about our book! Here’s a few examples and extracts. We’ve put a selection up on our website too: www.thebitterend.org.uk

“Wow! What a book!  From the very beginning of the story, the reader is immersed in all the action. The storyline was well thought out and fast paced.  You cannot do anything but keep turning the pages until you reach the stunning conclusion.  This is not a book you can pick up, read a few pages and put it down again.  A book of this calibre needs to be read in one sitting. I have no hesitation in recommending this novel, and cannot wait to read more from the authors. Hopefully, that won't be too long!”  Sue B. 5 stars.

“….The Bitter End whilst definitely being a story of the supernatural kind, would definitely make a great horror film. I was literally pinned to the book, on edge, waiting to see what was going to happen next. It reminded me slightly of The Omen with that over bearing sense of evil throughout. A dark and tense read which had me racing towards the end to see what the outcome was going to be.” Sarah H. 4 stars.





“This book was really addictive.  I read it in a day, in fact I couldn’t put it down!! It’s a very different type of book and very enjoyable….”  Carol G.5 stars.

 “This is another one of those books where I’m so happy I signed up for a blog tour. I know that if I’d have heard there was a supernatural thread running through this I’d not have picked it up. However, after reading the blurb I signed up for a blog tour and I’m so glad I did because this is a book I’m glad I didn’t miss out on reading….”  Philomena. 4 stars.

“I really enjoyed the horror/supernatural elements of this story and it definitely gave me the chills as I read under my duvet. I live in the countryside and was avoiding looking out of my window onto the nearby woods as I neared the end. I finished this book in one sitting I was so engrossed in the story. If you’re looking to give yourself the heebie-jeebies go buy The Bitter End!”  Ellen D. 4 stars.




We’ve got a few events coming up and it would be great to see you there. The website and our Facebook pages will be adding new dates, but at present we have a book signing event at Hunt’s Bookshop, 9 High St., Rugby CV21 3BG on Saturday 11th August. Time TBA.

A book launch with free wine and nibbles at Kenilworth Books, 12 Talisman Close, Kenilworth CV8 1JB on Thursday 13th September 6.30pm-8pm.

But this Thursday, 5th July, you’ll find us at The Anker, Nuneaton from 7pm. We’re hoping friends will pop in and join us for a celebratory drink to mark the launch of our book, The Bitter End.

Look out for our trailer too. Link coming soon.






Saturday, 16 June 2018

Welcome non-fiction author Christine Sanderson.



Christine Sanderson at rear of 78 Derngate.
I'm delighted to welcome Christine Sanderson onto my blog today talking about her non-fiction book Bassett-Lowke Art. The Making of an Identity.

Many readers will be familiar with model train sets and model boats from childhood days and may recall that the leading figure in manufacturing these wonderful old models was Mr W.J. Bassett-Lowke.

As the son of an engineer, Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke was born in Northampton in 1877. He grew up with a love of model engineering and steam trains. His model trains and scaled ships became famous the world over.

The first house Bassett-Lowke owned was 78 Derngate in Northampton, today a Grade II* Listed Building and a popular tourist attraction in the town once noted for its shoe industry. However, the building isn’t famous just because of the man who owned it. It’s also renowned for being the only house in England remodelled by the famous Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Incidentally, this year marks the 150th anniversary of his birth. Sadly, he makes headline news today because of the devastating fire at the Glasgow School of Art where so much of his work was displayed.




A visit to 78 Derngate reveals so much about both of these forward-thinking men. And I was fortunate enough to enjoy a conducted tour around 78 Derngate recently with Christine. She has been involved with this house since 2000 and is an expert and enthusiast on Mr Bassett-Lowke.

 As a member of the 78 Derngate committee, and a tour guide, there was no one more qualified than Christine to write this book. It features over 80 colour pages illustrating the work of those artists who were famous in the engineering and art world such as Henry Greenly, Cecil J. Allen, Edward McKnight Kauffer and of course Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Christine explained that it all started with her going on Northampton Radio, hoping to find people who worked for Bassett-Lowke. She explained, “Another renowned figure who worked with him at the time was skilled model maker E.W.Twining; and I was so pleased when his great-grandson’s wife contacted me. We met up and she showed me a Bassett-Lowke catalogue cover that Twining had designed. This started me wondering about all the other catalogues.”


Christine went on a year-long quest to source these rare catalogues and acquire the necessary copyright permissions to use them in her book. Christine said, “I was really lucky as everyone was so helpful and these people have been acknowledged at the end of the book. Only one museum insisted on payment for the rights to use their images – so we were very fortunate.


“The curator of 78 Derngate, Liz Jansson assisted with the editing and Friends of 78 Derngate paid for the publishing. All the proceeds from the book go straight to 78 to help with the upkeep of this wonderful property. The book is available exclusively from 78 Derngate’s shop and online. It’s a book that will appeal to lots of train people and graphic design people.”

Christine is already working on her second book which will be about the advertisements that Bassett-Lowke placed in hundreds of publications. Its title will be Bassett-Lowke Advertisements. The making of an Identity.
 



Pics of Christine and trains courtesy of Rob Tysall.



Saturday, 21 April 2018

Welcome Author Karen King!



I’m delighted to welcome my good friend, Karen King back onto my blog today. Karen and I have shared many a school visit, talking about our books to assembly halls full of primary school children and encouraging youngsters to read and write.  Our KAT visits (Kids and Authors Together) are legendary – to us anyway!

With an incredible 120 children’s books to her name, Karen is now expanding her writing prowess into other genres.

One genre being more edgy young adult books. Her first YA, Perfect Summer, was runner up in the Red Telephone Books 2011 YA Novel Competition and her second YA, Sapphire Blue, now republished as Rise of the Soul Catchers by Littwitz Press, was called ‘the best YA book out there right now’ by a reviewer for Ind’Tale magazine.

Having read Rise of the Soul Catchers, I have to agree it’s a great read, and a fascinating, thought provoking look at what the afterlife could be like.

She is also writing sassy, heart-warming romance. She currently has four romcoms published by Accent Press, and a fifth one is due out in June this year. Her latest romcom, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, was #3 in the Amazon bestseller holiday reads, and she has recently signed a two book-contract with Bookouture for more romance novels. 

If that’s not enough, she has also written several short stories for women’s magazines. Well done, Karen!

We are both members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) and plan on attending their conference again this summer. Looking forward to that very much.

I have pleasure in sharing the blurb and an extract from Rise of the Soul Catchers for you to enjoy…



Blurb
Can love survive anything – even death?
Sapphire and Will vow to love each other forever. But when a car crash ends that dream all too soon, they find themselves separated in an afterlife with zones named after the colours of the rainbow. Determined to find each other, they start an adventurous journey alongside a cast of characters they don't know whether to trust. They finally meet again in the terror-fuelled Red Zone where the dreaded Soul Catchers are planning on taking over the entire afterworld and are plunged into a dangerous battle. Is their love strong enough to survive against the odds? 
 (Previously published as Sapphire Blue)

Rise of the Soul Catchers – Extract – Sapphire’s Viewpoint.

My mind is a mess. I can’t leave Will. I’ve got to help him. But how can I? I don’t know this world. If I don’t go with Grandpa and my family, I’ll be on my own. The Soul Catchers might get me too.
Soul Catchers. The very name makes me shudder. Have they got Will? What are they doing to him?
Will and I promised to love each other forever. How can I go without knowing he’s safe? I can’t leave him. But if I stay, how can I help him? My head is such a mish-mash of thoughts and fears I’m hardly aware of Grandpa leading me over to the silver bus, of climbing up the steps to board it.
It’s crowded so we have to go right at the back to find a seat. Grandpa gently pushes me into the seat by the window. I look out and see the guy still waiting on the steps. He’s not giving up on his sister. How can I give up on Will so easily?
That guy belongs here. He knows his way around, I remind myself. I’m new. I need to stay with Grandpa. Besides, the zone guides will find Will.
What if they don’t? I might never see him again.
The realization smacks me like a punch to the stomach, momentarily winding me.
I can’t go. Going with Grandpa might mean leaving Will forever and I can’t do that.
I can get another bus and meet up with Grandpa later, when I find Will. He could be on his way here, right now. I think of him walking in alone and confused like I was, of running to greet him, hugging him, letting him know that even though we’re here we still have each other. I have to wait for him.
I get up from my seat, almost jumping over Grandpa in my haste to get off.
“I’m waiting for Will,” I shout as I race down the aisle toward the closing door.
I can hear Grandpa and Aunt May calling me to come back but I ignore them. The doors are closing. With a final burst I reach them, slip through the narrowing gap and leap out, landing sprawled out on the ground. I hear the doors slide shut behind me and a loud whoosh. Scrambling to my knees I swivel around just in time to see the silver bus rise up and soar off into the sky, swiftly disappearing behind the clouds. Okay, so that’s why it’s called a sky-bus. Now what the hell do I do?


Buy Links
Rise of the Soul Catchers is available for pre-order from Amazon and will be published on 25th April.

Author links
Twitter: @karen_king


Thursday, 12 April 2018

Welcome Author Marilyn Pemberton!



I’m delighted to welcome author Marilyn Pemberton onto my blog today to talk about her beautifully written debut novel, The Jewel Garden.

Marilyn is one of my Monday Night writing students, and it’s been my pleasure over the last few years to hear extracts of Marilyn’s book and to follow her journey from just an idea right through to publication.

Marilyn has always worked in IT and is still a full-time project manager. However, at the age of 40 she decided she wanted to exercise the right side of her brain and so commenced a part-time BA in English literature at Warwick University. This progressed to an MA and then to a PhD on the utopian & dystopian aspects of Victorian fairy tales.

After giving a paper at a conference she was approached by a publisher who suggested she gather together some lesser known fairy tales and as a result Enchanted Ideologies: A Collection of Rediscovered Nineteenth-Century English Moral Fairy Tales was published by The True Bill Press in 2010.

During her research Marilyn “discovered” Mary De Morgan, a Victorian writer of fairy tales. She  became somewhat obsessed with De Morgan and in order to share her research she wrote Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan, which was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2012.





Despite her intensive research there were still many gaps in her knowledge and because she just could not let De Morgan, or the act of writing, go, she decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life - the result being The Jewel Garden.






Here’s the blurb for The Jewel Garden

It was a time when women were starting to rebel against Victorian conventions and to strive for their independence. This is a story of Hannah Russell’s physical, emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of the East End of London to the noisy souks and sandy wastes of Egypt; from the labyrinthine canals of Venice to the lonely corridors of Russell Hall in Kent. Hannah thinks she has found love with Mary De Morgan, a writer of fairy tales and one of William Morris’s circle of friends. But where there is devotion there can also be deceit and where there is hope there also dwells despair.


Enjoy this extract from The Jewel Garden by Marilyn Pemberton as Hannah sails out to Egypt from England.

The next morning I awoke early. The sun was only just rising and had not yet warmed the air, but I decided to wrap myself up well and to sit on the upper deck and to savour the birth of the day. There were already a few passengers already on deck, but I managed to find a deck chair that offered protection from the cool breeze, but provided a wonderful view out to sea.

When I first looked out I thought that there was nothing to see but the vast flat expanse of blue that stretched to infinity. But the longer I looked the more I saw: the smudge of smoke from another ship on the horizon; a flock of black cormorants skimming the surface of the ocean, coming from goodness knows where, going to goodness knows where; a single small white cloud marring the otherwise clear azure dome.

And the sea itself, not flat after all, but just like blue icing on a Christmas cake that the cook had patted with a spatula and then brushed with sugar. I imagined rather than saw the brightly coloured shoals of fish that darted hither and thither in the dark depths. The surface was suddenly, joyfully, broken by five shiny porpoises, arching in synchrony through the air. I saw them for but a few seconds, then no more and I wondered if I had imagined them.


Marilyn is a member of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists and has just won first prize in one of their short story competitions. She is also a member of the Historical Novel Society and The Society of Authors.



She is currently working on a new historical novel, set in 18th century Italy that tells of two young boys who are bought from their families, castrated and then trained to be singers. This was something that was actually done at the time, though this story is purely fictional. It follows the boys’ careers, one who becomes a successful singer and the other who does not.

I would like to thank Marilyn for being on my blog – and I can’t wait to read her next novel.

The Jewel Garden by Marilyn Pemberton, published by Williams & Whiting.

Available in print and as an ebook:

Discover more about Marilyn:  https://marilynpemberton.wixsite.com/author
Blog: writingtokeepsane.wordpress.com


Thursday, 29 March 2018

Teamwork!




Writing can be a lonely old business, so it’s great when you find yourself working with a good friend on a writing project. My pal of 26 years, Rob Tysall and I have been collaborating on a supernatural thriller for the last four years, and I’m delighted to say that it’s been accepted by Bloodhound Books and will be published in early July 2018.

Collaborating with Rob isn’t a new thing. We’ve been working on non-fiction articles as a team for many, many years. Giving ourselves a working title, we are Words & Images UK, my words, his images and we generally work anywhere in the UK. Although we have travelled abroad for some articles.

However, creating articles for publication involves two different skills – photography and journalism. But, writing a novel is a combination of both of our imaginations, visions and writing skills. The only images are those in our heads – and the skill is in getting the pair of us imagining the same thing!

Although our book has only just been accepted, and we’ve only just settled on what its title should be, which is:  The Bitter End, people are already asking, “So how does collaborative writing actually work?”

For myself and Rob it’s been a sort of evolving situation. Neither of us could have made a deliberate decision such as, “Hey, let’s write a book together!” It was nothing that straight forward. We’ve simply found ourselves chatting about story ideas over the years. If ever I was stuck for a plot, or written myself into a corner, I could chat it over with Rob and he’d always come up with a great twist or a new idea. In fact, I’ve dubbed him my Ideas Man.

One day about four years ago, he came up with an idea for a book that he thought I should write. I listened and then said, “I can’t write that! It’s too dark. It’s too deep. I don’t think along those lines!”
But would he let the matter drop? No! His idea was growing and growing in his head and he wouldn’t let up.

For a while we didn’t make any actual progress, but we did a lot of talking, and plotting and planning, until finally, I relented and drafted out the beginnings of a story. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t how he had envisaged it. But it was a start and we decided not to scrap what was written but began working on it together. As any writer will tell you, editing something is a lot easier than editing a blank page!

Admittedly, his first suggestion that I change a paragraph sent me into spasms! Someone telling me what I should or shouldn’t write! Unheard of! But that’s where a solid friendship comes into play. We listened to each other’s ideas and reasoning, discussed every scene and sentence, and didn’t fall out! In fact. Some of the most tragic and intense scenes would reduce us to fits of laughter as words and ideas ran away with us.

There are dark sections in this book, especially from the viewpoint of one particular character (no spoilers here) where Rob was in his element and waxed lyrical while I typed. The practicalities of a collaboration, at least in our case, is that just one person does the typing, that keeps the style ‘uniform’. And I’m a much better speller, and faster typist – which I really need to be, as once his imagination is let loose, I’m hard pressed to keep up with his dictation!


So, imagine if you will, a male Barbara Cartland lounging on the sofa dictating his latest masterpiece to his secretary! 
It wasn’t quite like that, but you get the picture.

Creating the characters and their backgrounds has been great as a collaboration especially having someone of the opposite sex putting the male point of view over, and I think this shows in the dialogue and actions.

And discussing the plot with someone else provides a stack of events and dramas, that one person alone would not have thought of. For example, when halfway through the book, Rob says, “You know (character) has to die, don’t you?” And I scream: “What? No! You can’t kill (character)!” And Rob just nods and says, “Yes you do.” I admit I was reminded of the famous Stephen King quote: “Kill your darlings.”  (Don’t worry it’s not the dog…)

Now our book is finished, I think the proof of the pudding as to whether the collaboration worked or not, is the realisation that without each other, the book would not have been written. And we’re still friends! And making a start on a sequel!


Q. So, collaborating with a friend, is it something you’ve done or tried to do? And did it work for you?

The Bitter End by Ann Evans & Robert D. Tysall. Published by Bloodhound Books, July 2018.

More on Rob Tysall: https://www.facebook.com/robert.tysall   https://twitter.com/TYSALLSPHOTOS

 Have you read crime novel: Kill or Die, also published by Bloodhound Books. 

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kill-Die-Ann-Evans-ebook/dp/B06Y55N625


 Have you read time slip thriller for YA, Celeste, published by Clean Reads.