My Review of The House With Old Furniture by Helen Lewis #FridayReads

The House With Old Furniture by [Lewis, Helen]

 

I gave The House With Old Furniture a well deserved 5*out of 5*

 Book Blurb:

The ghosts of a century’s worth of secrets and betrayals are coming home to Pengarrow…

Evie has lost her eldest son, Jesse, to gang violence. Leaving the house he grew up in is pulling apart the few strings left holding her heart together. Only the desire to be there for her younger boy, Finn, impels Evie to West Wales and the ancient house her husband is sure will heal their wounds.

Days later, Andrew is gone – rushing back to his ‘important’ job in government, abandoning his grieving wife and son. Finn finds solace in the horse his father buys by way of apology. As does his evasive and fearful new friend, Nye, the one who reminds him and Evie of Jesse… Evie loses herself in a dusty 19th century journal and glasses of home-made wine left by the mysterious housekeeper.

As Evie’s grasp on reality slides, Andrew’s parents ride to the rescue. It is clear that this is a house they know. They seem to think they own it, and begin making changes nobody wants, least of all Alys and her son, Nye, the terrified youth who looks so like Jesse.

My Review:

This book hooked me from the start: ” I don’t want to leave. I’m being ripped from the rock I cling to…” Right away i was in the protagonist’s heart and mind. The story of Evie Wolfe, her grief, her bewilderment, her sense of loss is threaded through the whole of The House With Old Furniture. Helen Lewis has a talent for writing phrases that evoke instant images, moods and sensations.This is rich,flowing prose.

Told alternately from the points of view of Evie and her young son, Finn, the contrast in tone is stark, yet the empathy, between the two is palpable.  The author relates many of the same scenes throughout the novel from their different perspectives, with their different voices, allowing each scene to come alive and enabling the reader to ‘see’ the confusion in each character’s mind. Yet also to begin to see the machinations of the other characters surrounding them.

All the characters are multi-layered and convincing in the roles they play, whether they live in the ‘real’ world or are more ephemeral. As a reader I found myself alternately empathetic, saddened, perturbed, intrigued, angry. The House With Old Furniture is not a book that lets the reader go so easily; I discovered it is quite easy to dust, to make a meal one -handed, to iron, with only occasional glances to see what I was doing. And to read.

The spoken dialogue defines each character to their part in the plot, yet it is so subtly written that it is easy, initially, to miss the manipulations that are woven throughout. Only through the internal dialogue of Finn and the gradual slipping of reality with Evie did the unease grow in me.

My review wouldn’t be complete without a word or two about the setting of the novel. The descriptive narrative brings alive the surrounding countryside of Wales; the isolation, the beauty, sometimes the danger, to give a great sense of place. I also love the title; The House With Old Furniture encompasses the descriptions of both Pengarrow and the cottage where Evie finds Nye and Alys.  Ah, Alys, an elusive character that I will leave other readers to discover for themselves, just as Evie ‘discovers’ her.

This is a story where a sense of disbelief has to be, and is, easily suspended. And it’s expertly brought about by Helen Lewis’ writing.

Love the cover by the way…and the wonderful inscriptions and patterns on the pages that divide the chapters.

As you can probably guess,I wholeheartedly recommend.The House With Old Furniture.

Links to buy:

http://www.honno.co.uk/

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2vLv9f1

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2vl4Q21

 

 

new honno_logo

 

My Last Saturday Round-Up Of the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Gathering the last of those authors and poets who joined in with the interviews to  help to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

There is still time to  enter the poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

I must say I’ve enjoyed interviewing all the poets and authors and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. There will still be plenty of news about the book fair over the next few weeks. In the meantime, do think about entering the competition and don’t forget to put your name down for any of the workshops; numbers are limited.
Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Brook Cottage Books Presents Not Thomas by Sara Gethin.

Not Thomas Tour Banner

 

sara brook cottage

ABOUT SARA GETHIN

Sara Gethin is the pen name of Wendy White. She grew up in Llanelli and studied theology and philosophy at Lampeter, the most bijoux of universities. Her working life has revolved around children – she’s been a childminder, an assistant in a children’s library and a primary school teacher. She also writes children’s books as Wendy White, and her first, ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’, won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014. Her own children are grown up now, and while home is still west Wales, she and her husband spend much of their free time across the water in Ireland. ‘Not Thomas’ is her first novel for adults.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaraGethinWriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgethinwriter

Blog: www.saragethin.com

Website: www.saragethin.com

Not tomas brook Cottage

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Honno Press

Tomos lives with his mother. He longs to return to another place, the place he thinks of as home, and the people who lived there, but he’s not allowed to see them again. He is five years old and at school, which he loves. Miss teaches him about all sorts of things, and she listens to him. Sometimes he’s hungry and Miss gives him her extra sandwiches. She gives him a warm coat from Lost Property, too. There are things Tomos cannot talk about – except to Cwtchy – and then, just before Easter, the things come to a head. There are bad men outside who want to come in, and Mammy has said not to answer the door. From behind the big chair, Tomos waits, trying to make himself small and quiet. He doesn’t think it’s Santa Claus this time.

 When the men break in, Tomos’s world is turned on its head and nothing will be the same again.

EXCERPT

The lady’s here. The lady with the big bag. She’s knocking on the front door. She’s knocking and knocking. And knocking and knocking. I’m not opening the door. I’m not letting her in. I’m behind the black chair. I’m very quiet. I’m very very quiet. I’m waiting for her to go away.

I’ve been waiting a long time.

‘Thomas, Thomas.’ She’s saying it through the letter box.

‘Thomas, Thomas.’

I’m not listening to her. I’m not listening at all. She’s been knocking on the door for a long long time. I’m peeping round the black chair. I’m peeping with one of my eyes. She’s

not by the front door now. She’s by the long window. I can see her shoes. They’re very dirty. If Dat saw those shoes he’d say, ‘There’s a job for my polishing brush’.

She’s stopped knocking. She’s stopped saying ‘Thomas’. She’s very quiet. The lady can’t see me. I’m behind the big black chair. And I’ve pulled my feet in tight.

‘Thomas?’ she says. ‘Thomas?’ I’m not answering. ‘I know you’re in there. Just come to the window, sweetheart. So I can see you properly.’

I’m staying still. I’m not going to the window. I’m waiting for her to go back to her car. It’s a green car. With a big dent in it. If I hide for a long time she’ll go. She’ll get back in her car and drive away. She’s knocking. And knocking again.

She’s saying ‘Thomas.’ And knocking and knocking again.

‘Thomas.’ 

That is not my name.

 My Review: 

 Every now and then I read a book that sets all my senses tingling with the brilliance of it.

And this is why I wanted to write my review in a different way than normal.

 I don’t just mean that the characters are so multi-layered and rounded that I can empathise with them. Or that the descriptions give a wonderful sense of place that make the settings easy to envisage.  Or that the plot makes a story that is innovative and original.

I mean a book that holds all these… and more. And this novel does just that

 Not Thomas is narrated through the point of view of the protagonist, Tomas. He’s five years old. And, because of this, the narration and his dialogue are simplistic and poignant; the words jump off the page as those of a five year old child. And it works so well.  

We see his world; his home, his school, the people around him, through his eyes. We learn of his perception of himself, the capabilities of his body; often described in almost a third person, personification kind of way; “my ear is listening “, ” my teeth are hurting my tongue”

 Sara Gethin has an usual talent for seeing through the eyes of a child and I love her style of writing.

 Without giving any spoilers to this superb novel I will say that, despite the simplicity of a lot of the narrative, this is a dark, compelling story with a gripping plot. I could see this as a television drama.

 I thoroughly recommend Not Thomas. I’m not ashamed to say there were moments when I cried reading this story, sometimes in  a sad way but sometimes, as Tomas would say, when “my mouth was laughing”.

BUY LINKS

http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781909983625

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Thomas-Sara-Gethin/dp/1909983624/

https://wordery.com/not-thomas-sara-gethin-9781909983625

 GIVEAWAY

3 e-copies (International) & 3 paperbacks (UK only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017240/

 

new honno_logoNot Thomas Tour Banner

 

My Review of A Mind To Kill  by John Nicholl

A Mind To Kill: A dark psychological thriller packed with suspense by [Nicholl, John]

Book Description:

When Rebecca’s childhood abuser escapes justice, it sets her on a path to revenge, revenge on any man who preys on the innocent.

Twenty-three-year-old Rebecca poses as a child online and sets her trap, luring one sexual predator after another to their deaths. 

When a severed head and other body parts are found washed up on a windswept estuary beach, the police begin their investigation.

If you’re looking for a page-turning book you won’t be able to put down, discover John Nicholl’s stunning new thriller today. 

My Review:

I received an ARC of A Mind To Kill  from the author in return for an honest review. 

This is a deeply disturbing book that deals with child abuse, murder and gruesome scenes. I’ve read and reviewed books by John Nicholl before: Bully Boy Blue  and Portraits of the Dead. Both dark, gripping stories where the author shows his knowledge of police matters and certain kinds of crimes.  For me A Mind To Kill is his most grim yet. It is obvious from the book blurb that it will be macabre in parts; readers are warned. There are graphic scenes that some may want to skim through. But it has to be borne in mind that these have a reason to be there; for revenge against one of the most horrific and vile crimes; child abuse.

That said I will review as usual.

 In the author’s previous books there has always been one character, the protagonist that I have felt some empathy for, some understanding of their actions and their mindset.  I was disappointed that I didn’t have this choice in  A Mind To Kill . Although I grasped the anger and passion for revenge that drives Rebecca, and recognised what happened to her in childhood has coloured her whole outlook on life, for me it is too one dimensional. I would have liked much more background of her previous life inserted somewhere; if only glimpses of her childhood after the abuse, her teenage years. Something that brought her to this point in her life which explains her relationship with her mother especially. I would have liked to have a flashback or two to see where the justice system failed this family and the emotions that the ordinary police must have felt. (I do like flashbacks!)

And, having met Inspector Gravell (Grav) in a previous book, I was disappointed in the change in him. I know, having lost his fellow partner, Detective Sergeant Clive Rankin, he would be a more embittered and cynical character but he is portrayed  as a completely unpleasant man in this book. His previous bluff yet compassionate side is well hidden.

Mostly the dialogue is realistic and plausible and differentiates the characters but every now and then, especially in the conversations between Rebecca and her mother I found it difficult to realise who was speaking. And, in other parts of the book, there is what I call ‘head hopping’ between characters. The spoken and internal dialogue between  characters jumps from the point of view of one of the characters, usually one of the two main characters to the mind of someone else, sometimes even a minor, flat character who adds little to the main plot or only appears once in a short side plot. 

Beyond an internal setting of one room, graphically and frighteningly described, there are few external settings, But these are well written and give a strong sense of place.

A Mind To Kill  is an extremely dark psychological thriller; the strong emotions, the vengeance, the hatred, the evil radiates throughout the story . The boundaries of right and wrong blend and become difficult to  identify with. It’s a book that is both contentious and provocative. I would recommend it for readers who understand that there is true evil in the underworld of vile child abuse… and have a strong stomach.

Links;

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2v1hALh

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2tLDB16

My Series of Authors & Poets Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Sharon Tregenza #MondayBlogs

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our author today is my great friend and children’s writer, Sharon Tregenza

Sharon Tregenza

Tell us, Sharon, why do you write?

I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t write, I’ve been doing it for so long now.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I can’t honestly say there’s been a book that has influenced my life – that sounds a bit grand. There have been a few books that may have influenced my writing.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

‘Holes’ by Louis Sacher. It’s a master class in layering and stitching together bits of myth and magic to create a fascinating whole.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I get something to physically embody the story. For instance, I’m writing another children’s mystery – this time about the trapping of songbirds so I bought myself a pretty glass greenfinch to hang in my study.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Work schedule? Ha. Haha. Hahaha. 

Stop laughing, Hahahaha…  I’m only asking the questions!! 

Tarantula Tide 2008 (Kelpies)

 How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I’ve written five. Three are published one seems to be going by the wayside and the fifth I’m tweaking now. My favourite? Probably ‘The Jewelled Jaguar’ as it’s the most recently published.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

My books are for Middle Grade (8-12). I’m working on a couple of picture books though and if I chose another genre it would be cosy murders – you know, Miss Marple kind of thing. They seem like they’d be fun to write.

 In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Children’s – adventure – mystery.

What is your favourite part of the book?

The ending. I’ve must have read and rewritten it umpteen times but it still makes me well up. How sad is that. Haha.

If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

I’d spend time with Rhodri Tudor because he’s a dude. He’s smart and kind and funny and plays folk guitar.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I do. Because they’re kids they say the sweetest things and it always lifts my heart. They’re the harshest critics too mind. You don’t want to short change them, trust me. 

The Shiver Stone

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

If they’re hidden it’s because I want ‘em to stay that way.  😉

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I like to secretly connect words or characters in some way just for my own entertainment. Often I don’t mention the connections to anyone. For instance in the book I’m working on now (which will be called The Black Peacock) I’ve given all the characters names related to birds (Damn – I’ve told you that secret now. J)

 What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Socialise (preferably with wine) read and listen to stories, exercise.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing?

Oh, good grief. How long have you got? If I had to pick one quickly it might be when I visited Egyptian friends in Cairo and was given a bowl of melted ice cream as the Muezzin called the faithful to prayer from the Minaret outside and Benny Hill blasted out of their TV set.

 Give us a random fact about yourself.

I LOVE quirky properties. I’ve lived in part of a church, an old Mill House and am now in a converted chapel. I’m about to downsize so who knows what’s next? Windmill?

 Sharon’s Links:

 website
Facebook
Twitter

 

 

My Fifth Saturday Round-Up Of All the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Titleband for Narberth Book FairGathering even more of us all together this week to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

Will be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair for some weeks to come.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Wendy Steele

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our author today is the multi-talented Wendy Steel

 

Wendy Steele

 

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love seeing my characters play out a story that’s been banging around in my head, watching it evolve and develop, often from a single idea. I enjoy editing and finishing less but the joy of completing a draft ready for first readers, makes up for that. Of course, feedback from readers is the greatest joy of all.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I was forty years of age when I read Moon Magic by Dion Fortune. My childhood love of the moon and everything Egyptian and my personal discoveries about paganism, hedge witchery and the Kabbalah were brought together when I read that book. With new confidence, I wrote my first published novel, Destiny of Angels.

Who is your favourite author?

My favourite author is the late, much missed, Sir Terry Pratchett. I read Wyrd Sisters first before devouring every book he had written. I’m a visual reader and writer and Sir Terry conjures up images and scenes in the most beautiful and economical way. His use of language can make me laugh or cry. Magic.

DestinyWrath

 

 

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

An average week will include 16-18 hours of writing plus 7-12 hours of social media/marketing.

I love big chunks of time to write, to immerse myself in the story and characters. My best writing time is if my partner is working away and I don’t need to teach in the evening. I’m happy to write for 12-14 hours in one hit.

The reality is that I rarely get 4 hours at a time but I carry chapters of first draft with me, in case I have the opportunity to read and revise and make notes for the following chapters. Typing them up involves me in the story quickly, often leading to me writing on; I’ll do anything to maximise my writing time.

 

The Standing Stone - The GatheringThe Standing Stone - Silence Is BrokenThe Standing Stone - Home For Christmas

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

The Naked Witch is my first novel in a new and exciting genre, Witchlit. Similar to Chicklit, the female protagonist is a modern woman, juggling work, an ex-husband, a difficult, demanding mother while also the responsible single parent of a teenage daughter. Readers love Lizzie Martin! She’s a woman of courage, beset by the worries and concerns we have but determined to stand up for what she believes in. Being a witch is part of who she is, rather than the label that defines her.

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Compelling, thought-provoking and unique.

the naked witch KINDLE(1)

 

What was the inspiration behind The Naked Witch?

I wanted to write a book for everyone, especially women, whatever their usual choice of genre. Lizzie lives her life in a man’s world, as do we all and I wanted to write a story about a woman making her own rules, willing to defy convention and be successful in her own right.

How long did it take you to write The Naked Witch?

Having penned a few Witchlit short stories at the end of last year, the character of Lizzie Martin emerged and her story unfolded easily. The book took me three months to write and a further month to edit once I’d had feedback from first readers.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote a few children’s books about Willoughby the Hedgehog in my twenties but I was thirty eight when I began my first novel, Hubble Bubble…and forty one when I finished it! I wrote in forty minute time slots while sitting in the car, waiting for my children to come out of school.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I’ve had useful and encouraging feedback from readers in reviews but I also get messages and meet fans at book fairs. I’m delighted to say they find my books inspiring, feeling they can identify with the characters…and more than one of them wants to be Lizzie Martin!

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I’m not sure if it’s a talent but I can recite the alphabet backwards. I taught myself at the age of about twelve…I have no idea why. I learned to read music, when I learned to play the piano, at the age of four, the same age as when I learned to read words.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I lived in a town, I used to have writing trousers, a huge, baggy pair of black tracksuit bottoms which was my preferred attire to write in. Now I write in pjs.

I love beginning a new story with a fresh pad of A4 paper and my Waterman fountain pen.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Apart from renovating my current residence and attempting to tame four acres of land, I dance. I learned belly dance from the age of forty, taught it for four years and, while exploring other dance genres, discovered ATS® Belly dance. I’ve been teaching this style as Tribal Unity Wales since March 2014. Belly dance is a fabulous, full body work out and classes are a great way to make friends and keep fit.

Smiles

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

I can only recall one incident that was amusing to those watching while embarrassing for me at the time…five months pregnant with my daughter, I fell through a garden chair and got stuck…even I laughed as my friends attempted to extract me!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

Belly dance gave me confidence at a time when I was coping with a debilitating illness and struggling with self image. I wanted a tattoo but money was put to more practical use, bringing up three children so at the age of fifty, ten years later, I had my first tattoo, a delicate triskele that I adore. The eight pointed star of the warrior goddess Ishtar soon followed. Last year, I asked the fabulously talented Abi Hack to design a tribal band for my arm, incorporating a thirteen petalled lotus and a mandala that my daughter and I share, both of which adorn my right arm.

 Wendy’s Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Linkedin
Amazon author page
Good Reads
The Phoenix and the Dragon

 

My Review of Bombs and Butterflies: Over the Hill in Laos by Jo Carroll #TravelWriting #FridayReads

bombs

 

I gave this book 5*out of 5*

Book Description:

Did you know that Laos is the most bombed country in the world? If Jo Carroll had spent more time with her guidebooks and less with a physiotherapist preparing her creaking knees for squat toilets she’d have been better prepared when she crossed the Mekong in a long boat and stepped into the chaos of Huay Xai. But bombs still lie hidden in Laos’ jungles, in the rice paddies, and in the playgrounds. While young people open their doors to new ideas and possibilities, memories of war are etched on the faces of the old.
What sort of welcome would they give a western woman, wandering around with her notebook? Would they dare let her peer into their secret corners?

My Review:

 It’s a long time since I read a travel book other than looking for excerpts to use for teaching the genre in a workshop.

Reading Jo Carrol’s Bombs and Butterflies: Over the Hill in Laos made me realise what a wealth of entertainment and knowledge I’ve missed out on. And I would have carried on overlooking this gem if it hadn’t been for a fellow writer who recommended this author’s work to me.

 And what a gem!

 Laos is perhaps a place I will never visit but I now have at least an insight to this country still  afflicted by the devastation of war; the people traumatised, often with permanent life-changing injuries. And yet one of the main threads interwoven in the narrative is the kind courtesy that the author experiences from the Laotians. Alongside the often humorous accounts of her fellow back packers, this is a truly personal, empathetic and compassionate account of the people of Laos as much as of the magnificence and breath-taking ambience of the places Jo Carroll travels through.

 I loved one excerpt, one example of this, that made me smile; the way, in one place where Jo Carroll stayed, that she was exclaimed over and admired just because she was a mature woman of a certain age. And the way the teenage girl in the family carefully escorted her up and down the ladder to the room she stayed in – and even to the family outside WC. 

The author’s descriptions, so full of evocative imagery yet so personal, made me feel as though I was walking alongside her. There are many  contrasting scenes. The visit to the COPE centre where prosthetic limbs are made for those so injured during and in the aftermath of the “horrors of the Khmer Rouge”, together with, the descriptions of the museum. The uncomfortable way she watches a film of the almost casual, yet breath-holding, defusing of an unexploded bomb and the faces of the people in the village, “…lined with dread, with the memory of blood and screaming and the fear of dying.”

 She cries; she’s not the only one;  I cry as  I read of her ” misplaced Western guilt”, her “…collusion with the silence that went with this war” and the naive belief I’d also long ago held of “President Nixon’s assurances that the USA guaranteed Laos’ neutrality”, even as the country was bombed.

 That excerpt contrasts with joyful and wonderful descriptions: of the river in Nong Khiaw from her hammock in a wooden bungalow (one of the places the author stayed in away from a group she travelled with at one point). She watches the man peacefully net fishing in the river, the banks richly green ; the swarms of tiny white butterflies. And later she writes of the riotous colours and chaos of markets, of jumbles of fruit, jewellery, spices. throughout this book there is always the evocative use of all her senses. Great stuff!! 

This is a very individual account of travel writing. And it drew me in; I felt her struggle with having to come to term with so much as she travelled around; tourists having their photos taken with what i presumed were drugged tigers. Elephants giving rides to entertain the visitors (this brought back a memory of a ride I had in a zoo as a child; I hadn’t thought of this for years and it brought back an uncomfortable feeling for my lack of understanding at the time – how things have changed in this country… or have they?)  In Laos Jo Carroll battles with her conscience even while knowing the people nee to make a living to exist.

I could go on and on. This is an easy read that transported me to Laos. It won’t be the last I read of Jo Carroll’s travels. 

 I can’t recommend Bombs and Butterflies: Over the Hill in Laos highly enough.

Links to buy:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2tsIJqE

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2gMkyxJ

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Tracey Warr

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Tracey Warr

 

Tracey Warr. Photo by Tiffany Black cropped

 

Tell us first, please, Tracey, what you love most about the writing process?

Getting to the point with a novel where I have a complete first draft and I can print it out and go, ‘Wow, that is quite a chunk and I made it all up!’

Who is your favourite author?

Penelope Fitzgerald. And George Eliot and Jane Austen and loads of others!

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

My lead characters are real people who I research but since I am writing about the early medieval period, there are often few facts about them to go on so they still come significantly from my imagination. And then many of my other characters around them, such as servants, nuns, and female troubadours, come entirely from imagination.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I am a workaholic so I work all day, everyday, but I have to start writing first thing in the morning. If my morning is disturbed I can’t get any writing done that day, but I can read, research, organise my notes instead.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Almodis: The Peaceweaver

Four historical novels, all set in the early medieval period and one future fiction novella set in the 23rd century on another planet. Hard to say which is my favourite, but if I must, I guess I can say the first, Almodis the Peaceweaver. She was an extraordinary woman, active in the rule of Toulouse and Barcelona in the 11th century, and I’m still obsessed with her. I’m writing a biography about her and her two sisters now.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Conquest: Daughter of the Last King

My latest books, Conquest I: Daughter of the Last King and Conquest II: The Drowned Court, are the first two books in my trilogy on the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, and the Normans. Nest had an extremely colourful life and lived through tumultuous times. She is one of the most famous medieval Welsh women but we don’t know a great deal about her for certain. I took the bare bones of her story in the medieval texts and asked myself questions about why things happened, how they happened, what she thought and felt about the events of her life.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Not a lesson or a moral, but it is about human motivations and purposes. What drives us?

What was the inspiration behind Conquest I: Daughter of the Last King?

Weekly train commutes I made between Pembrokeshire and my teaching job in Oxford, crossing the glorious triple river estuary at Carmarthen Bay and looking at the Norman castle of Llansteffan on the headland. I started imagining my characters moving in that landscape. Then I stayed in Llansteffan and walked along the headlands myself. My initial inspiration often comes from landscapes.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

There is always a point when the characters ‘start to fly by themselves’, when they seem to start making their own decisions based on who they are, their motivations, and their interactions with the other characters.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Increasingly I do, yes, and I really like that. They tell me to hurry up with the next book and they tell me what they felt about some of my characters. It’s fascinating to hear how my stories are playing out in someone else’s head. Recently a reader in Australia told me she and her husband travelled round France with an itinerary based on my second novel, The Viking Hostage. Amazing!

The Viking Hostage

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I am a fanatical swimmer. If I see water, I long to get in it. I used to be a fast backstroke swimmer. Now I take a more leisurely pace and especially enjoy swimming in rivers. I have a waterproof Kindle.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have a muse: my best friend, who lives near Narberth. I’ve known him all my life and he is a great support for everything I do.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read, hang out with family and friends, swim and walk.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing?

Most of those stories involve sex, alcohol, poets, and artists so I’m keeping them to myself. Umm, I travelled for ten days on Greyhound buses in Arizona and New Mexico to meet an artist for an interview in a remote location. We were both in the same tiny one-street town, but managed to miss each other nonetheless. Hmm, when I was a student, someone I had a big crush on asked me out and I was so excited I didn’t listen properly to when this date was going to take place. So I sat waiting, all dressed up, the weekend before, as well as the actual, following weekend, when he turned up.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I was May Queen at my primary school and sat on a floral throne with a floral crown and sceptre, and presided over the maypole dancing.

My social media links:

https://traceywarrwriting.com/

https://www.facebook.com/traceywarrhistoricalwriting/

https://twitter.com/TraceyWarr1

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Catherine Marshall #MondayBlogs

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our author today is  Catherine Marshall

Catherine Marshall

 

Hi Catherine. Could youe start by telling us what the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing is, please?

To engage and entertain readers, and to be published and to make enough of a living not to have to do anything else.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Some of the characters in Excluded were based on real people, or at least composites, because the school was based on a very real place, but everyone else is imaginary.  They also, of course, all have some element of me in them.  Which is a little bit worrying.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes.  Never wanted to be anything else.  Well, except an actress, from when I was about seven until I went to college, did a degree in Drama, and realised I was much better at writing it than performing it.

What do you think makes a good story?

An intriguing plot, believable characters and a sense of suspense, whatever the genre.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I was eleven.  I was bored during the summer holidays and my mother suggested I write a book.  I called it The Ravenscrofts.  It was a story about a family with seven children (think The Waltons transferred to a 1970s Birmingham suburb).  I illustrated it as well.  We unearthed it from my parents’ loft a few years ago and I laughed and cringed in equal measure.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

I didn’t consider them to be any genre, until an agent told me she was going to try to sell them as psychological thrillers.  I would say psychological dramas, but then again there is generally a crime in them somewhere.

What was the inspiration behind Still Water?

I wanted to look at how far we will go if we’re pushed, and what it takes to push us to that extreme.  Still Water is about betrayal, and I think that’s a pretty good incentive.  (That and revenge, which is going to be the theme of my next book.)  And St Ives in Cornwall is its hugely inspiring setting, just because I love it so much.

Still Water

 

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Still Water is the story of Jem, who lives with her father Alex in a Cornish seaside town, and who is in search of a hero to help her through a recent trauma.  It’s also the story of Gil, who is charming and attractive but as it turns out the most flawed of heroes, and of Cecily, who links them in an entirely unexpected way.  I hope it’s a must read due to the strength of the characters and the twists and turns of the plot.  It’s hard to say more without spoilers!

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Emotional suspense drama

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

A bit of both, really.  I start telling them what to do and as the story develops they tell me what they’re going to do.  And from then on it’s a dual enterprise.

 ExcludedMasquerade

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I can walk on my toes for quite a distance.  I walked that way all the time when I was a small child.  Everyone thought I was going to be a ballerina.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Most if it happens in my head when I’m ironing.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read!  Watch tv drama, go to the theatre, plan interior design projects.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

I was twenty, on holiday with my friend in what was then Yugoslavia.  We were sitting outside on the terrace of a restaurant, enjoying the April sunshine and the sea view.  I went to the loo, which meant going back across the terrace and through the depths of the dark and crowded restaurant.  The key broke off in my cubicle door.  The only voices outside were those of German tourists.  So I shouted in German, Help!  The door is locked!  which made no sense because of course the door was locked, so I banged on it and rattled the handle in a panicky manner.  After a torrent of words I couldn’t understand, a few minutes later a hefty German guy came hurtling over the top of the cubicle, landed almost on top of me and proceeded to break the door down from the inside.  I walked back out to applause from the entire dark and crowded restaurant and onto to the sunny terrace to my friend, who had been completely oblivious throughout.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I have no sense of smell.

Catherine’s links:

Facebook
Twitter
Publisher

 

The Question asks; “Are You a ProActive and Optimistic Senior” Hmmm… #MondayBlogs

oapschat

Well, I thought about this… a lot! Yes, I think, mostly, I’m optimistic. And sometimes, I’m even proactive. It was the ‘senior ‘ that I needed to think long and hard about. What constitutes a’senior’ You see, for years I’ve always thought some people were quite senior; at least to me. Until I realised I’d caught up with them. I was fifty-nine for quite some time. Then I moved up to sixty-two.  I’ve been sixty-two for a bit as well.

 So I thought I would investigate this group. And, oh, had I underestimated my peers. The members of  www.OAPSchat.co.uk are, as founder of the site Janice Rosser says: “… looking at the website from far and wide.” Ever courteous  she welcomes visitors to  the site  from countries as far away and diverse as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada, India, Venezuela, Irish Republic, Spain, France, China, Japan, Greece, Mexico, The Bahamas, Indonesia and Switzerland and cheerfully says, ” a BIG hello from the UK to you all and thank you for visiting. I hope you are enjoying the huge and varied content that is here.”

 I bet they are, as well. This is a place where the over 55s can share  news from all over the UK: local and holiday news (there’s a lovely piece written by Juliet Greenwood:  on visiting:  Portmeirion  in North Wales ), and I was recently chuffed to see a piece of my own from last year again on, Ciovo, Croatia . There are topical issues ( Top 5 UK Airports To Fly From), financial and health advice. On a personal level members can promote their talents, chat and share their interests and hobbies, giving encouragement to others to join in with their hobbies.  I was particularly interested in Chris Lovell’s piece about launching  her small boat, the Blue Nun, from Neyland in Pembrokeshire  as that’s local news for me, as well as learning about a hobby. And then there’s Tracy Burton talking about how it’s Never Too Old To Backpack! ; quite a consoling thought as I struggle along the narrow rugged Pembrokeshire  coastal path sometimes!

Portmeirion1smallCroatia JB

Portmerion                                                                     Ciovo

As you can see I’ve picked out the items that are of particular interest to me  but there are similar and constantly changing  items from all over the UK and abroad that will be of interest to many. The OAPSchat  net is spread far and wide. 

Members also give an insight to their lifestyles, share memoirs and occasions. I loved the story  written by Georgia Hill, In Remembrance – and a Mystery

Most importantly for me, when I first came across OAPSchat were the books I saw to buy there. And there is often a wealth of talent to be found. For instance, in the present issue,  Jane Lovering is being interviewed with her book: Can’t Buy Me Love  Margaret James discusses her new book; Girl in Red Velvet and Sheryl Brown, one of my favourite authors,is talking about her latest book, Learning to Love

Then there is the scope for authors to promote their own work! When I first explored the site; after I’d looked at all the different topics, read articles, noted places I’d liked to visit (one day) I saw Advertise with OAPSchat … yes I do know I’m a bit slow sometimes!! I realised that all the books on the left hand side bar of the site were advertisements/promotions of books placed by the authors. Would Janice take mine? Of course! Rates are so reasonable. More importantly the readers are there; ready and waiting; people who have so many interests must have so many preferences for genres. Some one might like mine. And they did! I had great sales.

So, for me, OAPSchat  has given me so much: new friends, new interests, new ideas, new readers. Do I mind being a ‘senior’?  Well no… as long as I’m also mostly “optimistic”. And sometimes, even “proactive”. I can cope with being sixty-two… for a few more years!

For more information on OAPSchat  check out About Us

janice

Of course I couldn’t finish without giving Janice a little space (well, she is the founder) The floor is yours, Janice.

Thanks Judith.

OAPSchat was born in April 2013 as a Facebook page. It was in November 2013 that I decided I had enough material and confidence to launch the website.

Since that day, I have been writing articles on all kinds of topics, ranging from hobbies, holidays, food and drink, memories, families, finance and much much more. I now have over one hundred and thirty seven wonderful contributors to date and articles on all different subjects are posted on a daily basis. Over 1400 articles can be read now! Members can comment via disqus, FB and Twitter.

Raffles are held monthly, sometimes more often. A newsletter goes out once a month with my plans for the coming weeks. I am an Independent Happy List Winner 2014 for founding the website.

janice cheers

   Janice celebrating at the ceremomies

Loneliness is a big scourge on our society worldwide and the website helps combat this awful isolation by coming together and sharing our thoughts and ideas. OAPSchat is well and truly born now and I hope it will continue to thrive. With your support, I’m confident it will!

OAPSchat FaceBook Link: http://bit.ly/2vnZYGh

omline hit oapschatoapschatposter

 

 

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Hugh Roberts

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our author today is the lovely author, prolific blogger and all round good guy … Hugh Roberts.

Hugh Roberts

Let’s’ start, Hugh, by you telling us what you love most about the writing process?

Being able to go into worlds that do not exist and creating characters and worlds that I have the power over and which readers enjoy reading about. As a writer, you can do anything you want to the people in your worlds, so it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to living life as an emperor.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

I would love to write for a TV show such as Doctor Who, or even a well-known soap-opera. I admire the writers in the world of TV and movies and think it such a shame that many of them do not get the recognition they deserve. We need to ensure that these people walk along the red-carpet to loud cheers, as much as the actors do.

If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

The Time Traveller in The Time Machine. I know there have been hundreds (if not thousands) of other time travelling stories since H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine, but I would have loved to have asked Mr Wells if I could write a sequel to his book. I’m not a huge lover of sequels, but The Time Traveller in The Time Machine is one of my all-time favourite fictional characters.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes, ever since I can remember. It has always been one of my two lifetime goals. Unfortunately, for many years, I allowed being dyslexic get in my way. I’m so grateful to have discovered the world of blogging, as it was the gateway for me to finally conquer the monster I called ‘Dyslexia’. 

 What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

As a writer of short stories, I’ve written in many genres. My favourites tend to be science fiction, horror, and suspense. However, I was recently challenged to write a rom-com, after saying it was a genre I would find difficult to write. It took me a while to write a story, but I’m pleased to say that I wrote one, although it’s yet to be read by anyone.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

So far, I’ve only published one book. It’s called Glimpses and is a collection of 28 short stories I’ve wrote over three years. If you enjoy shows as such The Twilight Zone, Tales Of The Unexpected, The Outer Limits, or Tales From The Dark Side, then Glimpses is a must read. All the stories are full of twists and turns that take the reader on an unexpected journey and an ending they probably never saw coming.

Glimpses by [Roberts, Hugh W.]

What was the inspiration behind Glimpses?

My love of The Twilight Zone and its creator, Rod Serling. When I first watched The Twilight Zone, I wanted to find out more about its creator. Serling is the master when it comes to writing stories with twists that nobody will have guessed, along with his thoughts about the situations people find themselves in, in each of the stories. He gave me the inspiration to write stories the way he did and to marvel in the delight when people say that they didn’t see that ending coming. It’s one of the biggest compliments a reader can pay me.

How long did it take you to write Glimpses?

I wrote the first story in April 2014. However, at the time, I had no intension of publishing it in a book. Then, as I wrote more and more short stories and published them on my blog, my readers started asking me to put them into a collection and publish them. Glimpses was published in December 2016.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

No, I always have the reins of a story. In fact, the ending will come to me first, and I then tend to work backwards to the beginning. I’ve never found myself in a situation where a character has hijacked the story…not yet, anyway.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Yes, as many of them follow my blog. One of the best things about blogging is the interaction between my readers and myself. If it wasn’t for my readers leaving comments on my blog, Glimpses would never have been published. I’m very lucky in that my blog seems to attract a lot of comments. I’ve had huge compliments paid to me, as well as great constructive criticism about what I publish. I also enjoy seeing my readers interact with each other on my blog. When I’ve asked people why they leave me comments on my blog, many say it’s because of the friendliness I show everyone who comments. I treat anyone who visits my blog as a guest and always ensure I respond to all the comments.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Not that I’m aware of, although I have been told that I have a talent of writing stories with an unexpected ending that many never guess is coming.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That most of my writing is done in the morning. I rarely write after lunchtime, although one story I wrote during the middle of the night did end up in Glimpses.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Walking with my partner, John and our Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Toby. Watching television, cycling, and meeting up with friends and family for meals and drinks.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

I got knocked out by an electric potato peeler at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I now laugh about it.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I have a collection of 24 foot dated Harrods Christmas Teddy bears and over 50 Christmas themed mugs.

Hugh’s Links:

Blog
Twitter
Amazon

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews at Narberth Book Fair #MondayBlogs. Today with Colin R Parsons.

Over the next few weeks I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Colin Parsons

Our author today is Colin R Parson who writes Children’s and Young Adult fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy

Hi Colin, Please tell us first, why you write?

Because it makes me happy, and that is precious.

What do you love most about the writing process?

That moment… the part of writing, that lights you up like a firework. Nothing else quite compares. It’s when you’re in a writing frenzy, and nothing else matters.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

To be recognised and appreciated for what I do. Everyone wants to be famous – and… so do I, but, I want to make a mark too. I don’t know if I am supposed to do this, but I enjoy it and want to get as high, as I possibly can in this field.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. And, because it got me reading when I was a kid. I think it was ingenious of someone to write about a piece of furniture that became a time portal. Also, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Just because of chapter 5 Danse Macabre: where humans and ghosts danced together in the town square – that… blew me away.

Who is your favourite author?

Kenneth Oppel, a Canadian children’s author, but hold on Neil Gaiman, oops, Derek Landy, sorry, there are so many.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

A bit of both I think. Recently, from people I know, but in the past my imagination.

Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?

I almost did once, but it never came to fruition. There are obvious artistic problems that can pop up, so not sure if I’d actually do it.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

I think JRR Tolkien. He eventually took the world by storm with his amazing series. No one was doing it, and he took the bull by the horns, and never looked back.

If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

I don’t know who he is, but the guy who invented the fridge. That appliance changed the world. As a guy, he must have been really cool!

Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes, I have to have a writing pad in my bag, and a gel pen. Batteries die, but paper and pen don’t, and they don’t glitch out either. Also, when starting a novel – I will set up twenty or thirty word files, with a title, and then fill them up, with a 1000 words each. I also never know where I’m going in a plot.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

It varies. I run a lot of school visits, and can only write, when and where I am on that particular day. When I’m not doing schools, I’ll walk to my local library and spend the morning writing there. Or, pop into my study and try and keep off Facebook, and just write.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I don’t think so. I’ve always written stuff as a kid, but didn’t get into being an author until my early thirties.

What do you think makes a good story?

I think something that grabs your attention, right from the start. Plenty of fast-paced action, with a large dollop of danger, and situations that are almost impossible to escape, but you just manage to get out of.

  How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Eleven books to date. None are my favourites, as each one was as exciting to write as the next.

Killian Spooks and the Ghosted Children

 

 

 

 

 

Wizards' KingdomProduct Details

 

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

D.I.S.C. Direct Interface Shadow Control is about Joseph Lanes. He’s bright, funny and scared. He leaves school at the end of each day, only to be bullied by the Mackenzie Brothers. They beat him up, and throw him in the mud. Lying in the mud one sunny day, he discovers a disk. This changes him forever. It takes him to Ether World where he meets other emotionally and physically bullied kids. They have to save the earth, and he has to confront the bullies in the end. This book has everything you need to enjoy a good adventure.

D.I.S.C.: Direct-Interface-Shadow-Control

 

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Warriors, robots and friendships.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

The characters define the story. They take over me. I write the story around them. I could have an idea for a character, but the protagonist will reveal how he or she will behave.

 If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Zade – from House of Darke. He’s really cool, but also vulnerable. I think we’d explore deep in the depths of somewhere, battling wild creatures and menacing robots.

House of Darke

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I get emails sometimes, and messages from excited readers. They tell me how much my work, makes them happy, and inspires them to write themselves. I get tons of feedback after a workshop in a school. They are enthused.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I can make myself invisible when its time to do the garden.

 Hahahaha!! I bet! What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I always use my Fisher Space Pen (manufactured by NASA) to sign books.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love walking. I love watching movies, and go to the cinema whenever I can. Also, tennis and rugby and formula one are my favourite sports.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

I went up the mountain and built a house out of ferns, when I was a kid. Not actually realising that when it started to pour down with rain, that my friends and I would get wet (we thought the ferns were water proof). We all ran down the mountain, laughing out heads off, until mam saw us soaking wet, and made us have a bath, while she washed our clothes.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I don’t like the furry outside of peaches. It goes through me when I eat them, so I don’t.

 Links to Colin:

Website
Facebook

 

 

My Series of Interviews of the Authors and Poets appearing at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair #FridayReads. Today with Judith Arnopp.

Throughout July I’ll be posting more interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

Books and Reading.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our author today is the prolific and popular author Judith Arnopp

Judith Arnopp

Let’s start by you telling us what you love most about the writing process, please, Judith?

I love the escape from the present, especially when the plot is really flowing and the characters are speaking to me. It is like stepping away from the troubles of the present day and into the past – usually, although not so often lately, it puts our own woes into perspective. Sometimes I become so engrossed in the Tudor world that I forget to stop for lunch!

Who is your favourite author?

Hilary Mantel, I particularly loved Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. She took a traditionally unloved stock Tudor villain and made him human, although I don’t think she did Anne Boleyn many favours.

I think, these days, the bulk of my reading is non-fiction relating to my current project. Although it is my favourite genre, while I am writing I try not to read historical fiction for fear of tainting my own voice. Instead I read contemporary crime, or something set much later in history. Thorne Moore is one of my favourites. I am always on the lookout for a new release from her. I also read a lot of indie authors. I enjoy Anna Belfrage’s time slip novels, M.M Bennetts, Of Honest Fame, and May 1812, oh, and so many more, it would take too long!

Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?

I’ve never thought of it for fiction but have been involved with other authors in non-fiction anthologies. Castles, Customs and Kings Vol I and II is a compilation of authors specialising in different historical eras and makes for great coffee time reading. It was fun to do and sells very well, particularly in America where readers are often far more passionate about British history than we are. I am currently involved with another anthology (title yet to be decided) due to be published in 2018 by Pen and Sword Books. My chapter is about a possible relationship between Anne Boleyn and Thomas Wyatt – since I researched so heavily for my novel about Anne, The Kiss of the Concubine, I had a lot of material to hand and I was glad to put it to use. Time will tell if it is successful or not but the publisher is already putting out feelers for a second volume.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I have always been an author. Since I was really young I’ve written stories and have continued to do so all through my adult life. I never thought they were good enough for anyone else to want to read them though, so I never showed anyone apart from sharing kids stories with my children. It wasn’t until I went to university as a mature student and my tutors suggested I write something for publication that it even occurred to me that I could make a career from it. I had dreamed of course, of being a fabulously successful author with floaty scarves and heaps of confidence – ha ha. I have managed the author part but I am still me, usually in gardening clothes with muddy marks where I’ve wiped my hands on my trousers. As to confidence – no, I have none of that. I still think I am going to be exposed as a fraud sometime soon.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

The King’s Mother: Book three of The Beaufort Chronicles will be my tenth book!

The Beaufort Woman: Book Two of The Beaufort ChroniclesThe Beaufort Bride: The Life of Margaret Beaufort (The Beaufort Chronicles Book 1)

Ooh, I hadn’t realised that, I think it calls for a celebration of some sort. Asking which is my favourite is rather like asking me to choose a favourite child, I love them all for different reasons. My best sellers are The Winchester Goose and The Beaufort Chronicles so I love them for that reason.

The Winchester Goose: at the Court of Henry VIII

The main character in The Winchester Goose is fictional but based on research. Joanie Toogood was a great character to write, she was a prostitute from Southwark during the reign of Henry VIII – she appeared in my head so easily yet I had no idea she was there.

A Song of Sixpence: The Story of Elizabeth of York and Perkin Warbeck

A Song of Sixpence was great to write, I really lost myself in that one and the persona of Elizabeth of York was really strong; she remained in my head even when I was away from the keyboard. I know it is a cliche to say so but sometimes it is as if I am channelling them. I have researched the Tudors for years, written blogs and articles about them but it isn’t until I have written about them in my fiction that they assume human qualities and become ‘real’. Peaceweaver was my first published novel, so I have a soft spot for it even though, if I was to write it now, it would be very different.

Peaceweaver

My early books were set in the Anglo-Saxon/medieval era, The Forest Dwellers just after the conquest illustrating the social conflict between Saxon and Normans. 

The Forest DwellersThe Song of Heledd even earlier in the 7th century against the backdrop of the pagan-Christian conflict between kings Penda and Oswiu, and the king of Pengwern, an ancient kingdom in what is now Wales. I love this one for the wild, passionate, flawed character of Heledd. I suppose a short answer to your question should be that I can’t choose a favourite.The Song of Heledd

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

All my books are Historical Fiction. I studied for a master’s degree in medieval history at university and when I began to write seriously historical fiction was my instinctive choice. I am far more at home in the middle ages than in the modern world. There is nothing I like more than dressing up in my 16th century style gown for the Tudor Weekend at Raglan Castle where I meet readers old and new and sign books, discuss history and generally have a great time.

Judith at Raglan Castle

You should come. It is on August Bank Holiday this year. I have written short contemporary stories but I am far more at home in a historical setting. This might sound strange but the world I access when I write is a place inside my head, a place I retreat to when this world becomes too trying. Writing is a great healer for the soul.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

I am on book three of The Beaufort Chronicles. It is the hardest thing I have attempted so far. Margaret’s life was long and very eventful so it was necessary to split it into three volumes.

Poor Margaret not only suffered some dreadful life experiences but now suffers a really bad reputation. Because she has been portrayed in fiction and on screen in a negative light, people think they know Margaret but in my books she is telling her own story, providing the reader with insight into why she made certain actions, took some brave, often rash decisions. By the way, in my books, she does not kill the princes, or sleep with Jasper Tudor.

People in Margaret’s position had to make choices to preserve both themselves and the people they loved. When she makes a harsh decision, she provides reasons for her actions, and emerges very differently to the overly pious harridan previously described. The response to the first two books of The Beaufort Chronicles has been great. Every day I have a pile of emails to go through asking when book three will be available. Readers can be very demanding but I love that, it keeps me motivated, although sometimes I panic that I won’t get it done, or they won’t like it.

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Margaret Beaufort Redeemed.

What is your favourite part of the book?

Henry VIII appears in several of my books as a small child or a young man and I love spending time with him. His very name evokes the pictures we are all familiar with: a huge brooding oppressor, the bestial despoiler of the church, the wife killer, the autocratic monster; but he wasn’t always so. Early historic descriptions show a precocious child, endearingly sociable and confident and later a golden prince, loved by all and eager to step into his dead brother’s shoes to become a noble and gracious king. Something went wrong for Henry and the jury is still out on the reason for the decline in his personality. Whether it was disease, a medical condition or the result of his failure to achieve all he had been schooled to do we will never know.

During his infancy Henry was surrounded by women. His mother, having been obliged to see her eldest son move to his own household at a very tender age, concentrated her attention on her remaining children. There is some evidence to suggest it was Elizabeth who taught them to write. I love to spend time in the nursery, explore Henry’s possible relationships with his sisters, Margaret and Mary and, for a short time, Elizabeth – the sister closest to him in age who died at the age of three years. There were many influences on Henry, most of them likely to cause detriment in later life. His sudden propulsion from second son to heir to the throne must have rocked his world. He was kept close to his father, refused the sporting activities he loved and required to focus entirely on his future role as king. Henry Tudor made his son aware that every king’s imperative duty was to provide heirs; as many legitimate male children as could be managed. In my opinion it was that failure that was the root cause of all the subsequent failings of Henry VIII.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Usually they say how much they enjoyed The Beaufort Bride and The Beaufort Woman and when will the next one be published! I hear from my readers a lot and I am surprised and pleased that they bother to contact me. I always reply, make it a priority before I begin the business of my writing day. There are some who write to me every few months, asking me questions about historical characters or if I can recommend any non-fiction. It is always very gratifying when my novels make readers curious enough to learn more about the era or the character, some of my readers have even gone to university to study the subject. My work is very accessible and lots of them say they have never liked the genre of historical fiction before but now read it almost exclusively. I wish I could write faster, I know their pain for I have been waiting ages for Hilary Mantel to finish her third volume of her Thomas Cromwell series and also David Starkey to complete his biography of Henry VIII – get your finger out guys, if you’re reading this.

I write five days a week, even if it is only for an hour. A few hundred words on the page each day moves things forward even when things become difficult but mostly I manage at least three hours writing and then spend the afternoon researching for the next part.

One of the most surprising and touching communication I had was from a couple who read Peaceweaver and thanked me because it had helped them come to terms with the loss of their teenage son. They mentioned a passage from the end of the book that I could not even recall writing. At the end of the telephone call, I flicked through to find the part they referred to near the end of the book.

‘How things change,’ I say. ‘How strange that, even when all is lost, we still find beauty in simple things.’

He stands behind me with his hands upon my shoulders, both of us looking up at the sky; a sky that reminds me of the night Harold returned from Normandy and asked me to be his wife.

‘Resilience is what keeps us all from madness,’ Godwin says. ‘If we didn’t have the power to heal, to move on and overcome our grief, the human race would not survive.’

I was astounded that a few throwaway lines I had written had somehow given them the strength to move on. I don’t think anyone can make a more rewarding comment about my work than that.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

No, I don’t think so, my only real talent is writing. I have a lot of hobbies though. I love gardening, reading of course, and I crochet blankets and baby clothes. Sometimes I do embroidery, make historic linen coifs embroidered with blackwork. I have made some French hoods but they are fiddly and not easy to do while watching or listening to the television. My dad was a talented artist, specialising in acrylic and watercolour and I would love to be able to say I share his talent but, although I have tried, the results are not pleasing. It is better to stick to writing, I think.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Judging from reader comments, I would say the thing that makes my writing stand out is the fact that I write in the first person, present tense, providing first hand insight into the lives and emotions of my characters.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

It depends on the season. Gardening is my main hobby. We used to have about an acre on a smallholding in the Welsh hills which was very difficult to tame but we downsized to the coast about eighteen months ago. I now have a manageable garden in a mild (if rather salty and blowy) clifftop. My roses are thriving and I am enjoying discovering new plants that I could never grow before. At sea level everything is thriving. I have a small gardening blog that I try to keep up to date with. It is rather like a diary helping me to catalogue our activities and record what works and what doesn’t.

Links to Judith:

Website
Blog

 

 

My Series of Author and Poet Interviews. #poetry Narberth Book Fair. #BookFairs. Today with Poet Jackie Biggs  

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Over the last few weeks and through July I’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Today I’m pleased to be talking to the poet Jackie Biggs.

 

Jackie Biggs

 

Tell us, please, Jackie, why do you write?

It’s as much part of my life as eating, something you have to do.

What do you love most about the writing process? 

The excitement of working with An idea and creating something new – what is created is not always what we expect.

Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?

I love the idea of creating new poetry through collaboration with others. As poets, we don’t usually set out to write a book. The poems come first, then we collect them together for publication. I would like to work with other poets on projects though and see where we go with it.  My work isn’t all about publication, my poetry is written for performance and spoken word events and I already work with others on that. I am one of four women in the Rockhoppers poetry group, which goes out and performs work. We have some collaborative work already, and I’d like to do more, although it’s difficult getting four busy writers together in one place at one time.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I spent most of my working life in print journalism, so I have always been a writer, and an editor too, but it’s only since ‘retiring’ from that work, just over five years ago, that I have found the time and creative energy to write poetry.  I guess I went into journalism in the first place because it was the only way I could see that I could earn a living from some kind of writing.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I have one collection of poetry out – The Spaces in Between, published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press. There are many new poems waiting to be collected into the next book, which I am currently working on. I am not sure yet whether there will be another full collection next, or two or three shorter poetry pamphlets. The favourite, I think, will always be the latest.

spaces in between

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

I have thought about doing creative writing other than poetry, but I am not drawn to writing fiction either in novel, short story or even flash fiction form, although I enjoy reading them all. I have a few short stories from years ago hiding in a drawer, but I think they’ll stay there!

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Poetry for now.

What is your favourite part of the book?

There is a sort of arc of a personal journey in my poetry collection, although I haven’t made it obvious. I guess my favourite part is the last few poems, if only because they are leading to the next part of the journey for me.

How long did it take you to write The Spaces in Between?

As far as poetry publishing goes, this debut collection was out quite quickly, just three years after I started writing poetry seriously in 2012. I found I had a great deal to say in poetry after I retired from my journalism career. There is plenty more on the way too…

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I love getting feedback. Of course, at poetry readings that often happens one-to-one at the events. I do get reactions to the poetry on my blog too. A number of my poems have been picked up from there by people and read out at public events. For example the poem I wrote after Jo Cox MP was killed was read at a couple of memorials for her in 2016, and at Great Get Together events in 2017.  I also sometimes get requests from people to use poems from my book in various ways, such as by teachers who want to use them with their classes in school.  I love it when people want to use my work in this way. Poetry is not meant to sit on the page.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

No idea! I don’t think I hide much.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?  

I really have no idea. I think it is for readers to say what is of interest in my writing, and what they see as quirky …

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read a lot. I think it’s important to read if you want to write, especially to read all kinds of poetry if you want to write poetry. I also love contemporary novels, film, theatre and music. I also love to walk, swim, practice yoga, and enjoy our beautiful coast and countryside here in west Wales.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

I fell asleep on the train home from work and after going around the Waterloo loop a few times ended up in a siding at Twickenham. I didn’t think it was amusing, but the train guard did, and I am sure other people will!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I am allergic to mushrooms.

 Links to Jackie:

Blog
Twitter
Facebook