My Series of Author Interviews #authors Narberth Book Fair. #bookfairs. Today with Katy Whateva

Over the last couple of weeks and through the next month or so, I’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:

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 : –


Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: 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:  and Thorne Moore: 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: . 

Today it’s the turn of children’s writer, Katy Wateva, sometimes known as Katy Maddison.



Please tell us, Katy, why do you write?

To clear out my head, to try make sense of everything.

What do you love most about the writing process?

It helps me understand the world better.

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

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

Nearly every book has influenced me in some way.

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

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

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

I have written around 15 books. One of my favourites is ‘The Wild Boy’.

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

‘The Brattiest Birthday Girl’ is about Joy, and the big tantrum she has when she doesn’t like the gifts she gets on her birthday.



Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

It’s ok to have a strop every now and again, we all get over it and can laugh at ourselves in the end.

What is your favourite part of the book?

The first page; “This is Joy” accompanied by a close up of Joy looking anything but.

What was the inspiration behind The Brattiest Birthday Girl?

Last year I got really upset when I didn’t like the presents my boyfriend had got me. The first draft was written an hour later.

How long did it take you to write The Brattiest Birthday Girl?

Five minutes.


Image may contain: 1 person

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Not that I’m aware of.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

In the first draft, my characters used to swear a lot, because I knew no one was going to read them.

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

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

I swear so many amusing things have happened to me but I can’t remember one of them!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I can’t hear very well.





My Series of Author & Poet Interviews at the Narberth Book Fair

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:

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: 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:  and Thorne Moore: 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: . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  Our next author is Juliet Greenwood.  Juliet’s is  rather a longer post than the others as I’ve also incorporated her #familysaga interview afterwards. Both  fascinating so I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

Juliet From Trisha Small

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

My most memorable pilgrimage was going to Howarth to the Bronte Museum. I went first as a teenager, when I’d first discovered ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. It was fascinating to see where the sisters lived and worked, and I was amazed at the smallness of their dresses. The things I loved best were the tiny little books they’d written as children. I was creating books myself at the time, not nearly as tiny, and it was great to see that that was how my idols had begun their literary career!

The thing I remember most, though, is the graveyard, and the sounds and the atmosphere. When I was older, I walked the Pennine Way with friends. We reached Top Withens in the morning, swathed in mist, and sat and had breakfast in the ruins. That was definitely one of the most atmospheric mornings I’ve ever experienced.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Writing is the best buzz ever – but also the most exhausting. I find it’s always hard to get into, the temptation to go into the garden instead (or even clean the house) is overwhelming. But once I get into the story, my mind begins to fizz. Ideas come from all over the place and I can hardly keep up with writing them down. I hate stopping. I find the mind keeps on going, racing away, working at knots in the plot, so I’m always grabbing a pen in the middle of cooking, or meeting friends, or even emerging from the shower, to write things down before I forget. Then, just as suddenly, I crash. If I’ve managed to have several hours at the book, the brain goes to mush, just about up to Masterchef (seriously surreal for a life-long vegetarian), but very little else. But I find flickers of ideas are usually still working in the background, as knots in the plot can miraculously be resolved (usually in the middle of the night – I have notebooks all over the place).

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think the most common trap is thinking the book is finished. When I started, I realised the story had to go through several drafts, but it wasn’t until I first worked with an editor that I realised this isn’t just tinkering, and you need to be prepared to throw anything and everything out if it isn’t working. It gets less drastic as you become more experienced, but all books are worked on again and again, and again and again – and then the real editing process begins. I love the editing process, it’s when the book really comes together, but I never would have believed it is such hard work, and that I would loath the sight of the book by the end, as well as loving it for being the best it could possibly be. Like all good things, the art of writing a book is mostly hidden. Finishing a novel is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I think you need a big ego to give you faith that you can write a book and that someone else will want to read it, but also none at all in order to take criticism and, in the end, put your ego aside to work in the best interests of your novel. When it comes to publicity, you need to be generous and help others and not expect them to help you for nothing. There’s nothing worse than someone on Twitter shouting ‘buy my book!’ and nothing else. And even worse is the one who, the moment you follow them, direct messages you to demand you retweet their book, without so much as a hint they might return the favour. That kind of ego is its own worst enemy – especially as most writers are really supportive of each other and great at returning favours.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I do write under a pseudonym as well as under my own name. I really enjoy the freedom ‘Heather Pardoe’ gives me when I’m writing for magazines. She was how I was first published, so I’m very proud of her – even if she does tend to slope off to a beach in Barbados for long periods while Juliet Greenwood is stuck at home working her socks off!

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I try to write the kind of book I know readers love, but put my own slant on it. I write historical family sagas and timeshifts, usually focussed around a big old house and a family secret. I have a fascination with the lives of ordinary women in the past, who were often far more active and in control of their lives than history remembers them (if they are remembered at all). I tend to set an intensely personal story against a historical background. ‘We That are Left’ is set in WW1, but focuses on the experience of women working on the front line, as well as those keeping life going at home, and on the changes that made to their self-conception and expectations, as well as the tragedy of war. In ‘The White Camellia’, the story of one of the first women photojournalists is set against the long struggle of the suffrage movement, and the beginnings of the suffragettes, and the struggle for equal pay and the rights for women to have control over their lives and their money, as well as for the vote.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It made me approach the whole process with much more professionalism. It made me see that if I was going to be serious about this, I wasn’t just writing for myself, but to entertain and move readers. The first draft is always for myself – that’s okay, it’s a total mess and no one is going to read it. But from then on, I need to consider the needs of the reader, how they will see things, and what they need from a book, in order to make it at all publishable. That doesn’t mean compromising – it’s means more skill and more ingenuity, and being able to listen to others’ opinions – especially those with far more experience!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my original computer. A very long time ago. It was a really difficult decision as I didn’t have much money, and it took a month’s wages. You’d fall about laughing at it now, but it changed my writing life. The miracle of not having to use a typewriter! And there were rumours of this strange new thing called the Internet. Little did I know how much that would change my writing life too, as well as allowing me to work freelance to support my writing.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Loads! I read somewhere that an unpublished writer (and more than one ‘overnight success’) has about ten unpublished manuscripts lurking in a drawer. That’s about right for me. They aren’t all languishing. Some have become the basis of other books, and others the basis for serials I’ve written for magazines. Others are waiting for their time to come – while others (usually the early ones) will never, ever, see the light of day!

What does literary success look like to you?

Enchanting your readers, while writing what you love to write. And being able to earn enough money from your writing to live on, so you don’t have to try and squeeze writing and marketing in between the day job. Not zillions. Just enough to concentrate on the writing.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

The day job! Mind you, working as a freelance academic proofreader does help my language skills and makes me super critical of my own manuscripts. I enjoy it, especially seeing the world from the point of view of students as far afield as China and Saudi Arabia, but I’d love to have the time to concentrate on my own work. One day ….

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Approximately a year. I write the first draft in a mad rush, then, once I know my characters and the story, the real work begins. I’m usually thinking about the next one by the time I’m finishing the current one ready to go off to my editor. I spend a couple of weeks making the house look presentable again, then I’m off. It’s a never-ending process, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 Product Details


 The White Camellia

Cornwall 1909

Sybil has fought her way up from nothing to become a successful
businesswoman. It seems she has the world at her feet.

Then, against her better judgement, she buys faded Tressillion House
on the wild Cornish cliffs. A house with a tragic past of greed, folly
and revenge, linked to the goldmine in its grounds. Sybil cannot
forget that the Tressillion family once destroyed everything she held
dear, or the revenge that, in a moment of bitter fury, she took to pay
them back. Her actions have had consequences that have haunted her
ever since, and surround her with secrets that could destroy
everything she has fought so hard to become.

But help comes from the most unexpected places, from the very family
she has destroyed, setting Sybil off on the long, hard road towards

A thrilling story of loss and redemption, of the power of friendship,
and the enduring power of true love.

And now for the Narberth Book Fair Author Questions:

Why do you write?

I write because I have to – I get itchy fingers and can’t settle unless I get my regular ‘fix’ of writing.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love the transformation of the original idea into the final book, and the many stages it goes through to get there. As new characters arise as the story develops, the book so often goes in entirely unexpected directions, so it becomes a voyage of discovery.  I also love the final editing, when it all finally comes together – even though by that time I’m usually sick of the book, and have to fall in love with it all over again when I see it in print!

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

I always think my characters come purely from my imagination, but I think they really tend to come from an amalgamation of many people I have known, which then create a unique individual.

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

It would be Millicent Fawcett, the leader of the suffrage movement in the UK. Although she is being honoured as the first woman to have a statue in Parliament Square, she has been overshadowed by the Pankhursts and the suffragettes. She was an amazing woman, who, despite having no legal existence, successfully out-witted the male politicians. She won many rights we take for granted today and began the fight for equal pay for equal work. We owe her a huge debt, not least for ensuring that the UK parliament voted twice for women to have the vote. It also explains the anger and the violence of the suffragettes, which was due to the democratic process being overturned.

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

I’ve written four books, three for Honno Press, and three magazine serials. My favourite book is always the one I’ve just finished, because with each one I grow as a writer. But I’ll always have a soft spot for my first book for Honno, ‘Eden’s Garden’, because that was where my real journey as a writer began.

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

I write historical fiction, set against the backdrop of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, usually involving a big old house, and family secrets, and women struggling to follow their own paths against the expectations of society. I’ve flirted with writing cosy crime, but I find I always come back to my own kind of book – although I’m always open to trying something new.

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

‘The White Camellia’ is about a fading mansion in Edwardian Cornwall, and two very different women, whose families have been in a conflict that has led to tragedy. Both Bea and Sybil are increasingly haunted by a danger from the past, and have to decide whether to continue the family feud, or join forces. It’s a complex and entwined story about two brave, independent women and the men they love. Although the men are there to support them, it is Bea and Sybil who have to make their own choices, and who finally do the rescuing, in a nail-biting climax, when unexpected truths are revealed.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

That revenge always has unexpected consequences, and self-forgiveness is the hardest lesson of all.

What is your favourite part of the book?

The very last scene, which brings the story together – so I can’t say why!

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

The characters always hijack the story. I’m in control for the first page of the first draft, but the moment the heroine requires a sister, friend, or even random passer-by, they’re off on their own path, and it’s anybody’s guess where we’ll end up. I just follow, bemused, feebly trying to keep them in order (unless they try to wander of into zombie territory, which my readers would not like at all, so then there’s trouble).

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I can make a pretty mean hand puppet with nothing more than a few bits of cloth and plenty of sequins (I used to do puppet story-telling workshops with children).

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A touch of dry humour in unexpected places. It happens in both books and serials. I can’t help myself.

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

I love gardening, and walking my dog in the Welsh hills where I can also indulge my passion for photography.

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

My day job is as an academic proofreader, mostly for students whose first language is not English. There are sometimes some very inappropriate expressions (usually down to the spellchecker) in the middle of a thesis. I’m afraid they are not repeatable, and the question is always whether to explain why you can’t say that sort of thing in polite society, or quietly brush it under the carpet…

Give us a random fact about yourself.

Before I had a dog, I rode a green lady’s bicycle, with three gears, all over Snowdonia. It didn’t half annoy the proper cyclists (especially as I unashamedly got off and walked at the slightest hill).

 Juliet Bio

Juliet Greenwood is published by Honno Press. Her books are set in Wales, London, and Cornwall in Victorian and Edwardian times, and follow the lives of strong, independently-minded women struggling to find freedom and self-fulfilment. Her novels have reached #4 and #5 in the UK Amazon Kindle store, while ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary. She also writes serials and stories for magazines as ‘Heather Pardoe’.

Juliet’s great grandmother worked as a nail maker in Lye Waste, near Birmingham in the Black Country, hammering nails while rocking the cradle with her foot. Juliet’s grandmother worked her way up to become a cook in a big country house. Their stories have left Juliet with a passion for history, and in particular for the experiences of women, so often overlooked or forgotten.

Juliet lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia, and loves gardening and walking. Despite being halfway up a Welsh mountain, she grows delicious black grapes from a cutting from the Hampton Court vine.


The White Camellia’, Honno Press, 2016

 The White Camellia visual small (1)

‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014

we that are left

‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012

 edens garden





new honno_logo


My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #authors Narberth Book Fair #bookfair Today with me: Judith Barrow

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:

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. Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: 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:  and Thorne Moore: 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; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  I thought I should start by  introducing Thorne. But then realised I should answer a few of the questions I’ll be putting to the authors, myself.


judith, showboat2


Here goes: This is a bit weird but hey-ho.

Me: What do you love most about the writing process?

 Me: The ability to become lost in another world

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

 Me: My characters are a mix of both real and imagined people. It’s the ability to transpose personalities, characteristics and the inevitable ‘oddities’ that we all have in one way or another that rounds out fascinating characters.

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

Me: My sister. After a lifetime of knowing her, I’ve never been able to fathom out what makes her who she is. If I was going to write about her then I’d need to study her. It’s a forlorn hope; she’d not let me in.

Me: What do you think makes a good story?

 Me: A good story grips from the first sentence to the last.  There should be a great plot, good rounded characters, a believable sense of place for them to move around in and evocative phrasing. Not forgetting dialogue that really works for each character and is consistent. Not a lot to ask for, huh?

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

 Me: Eight, three of which will probably never be sent out into the world.


My favourite is Pattern of Shadows for a few reasons: it took me years of research to make sure I had all the facts about the first German POW camp in the UK (based in a disused cotton mill) and the truth about life in that time towards the ending of the WW2, it brought back the memories of my childhood when my mother worked as a winder in a cotton mill and I would go there to wait for her after school. It was in this book that my favourite protagonist was born, Mary Howarth; I’ve now lived alongside her for ten years. And last but not least, it was this book that Honno: accepted. I’d had stories in their anthologies published and I was thrilled when they accepted Pattern of Shadows.

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

 Me: My books are family sagas. I love writing about the intricacies of relationships within families. I have to admit, (and  I suspect most authors are the same) I am a people watcher. I think that the casual acceptance of one another within families can bring the best and the worst out in all of us; it’s fascinating to write about that potential.

 I have written a children’s book for middle grade; it needs a lot of work before it sees the light of day

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


 Me: A Hundred Tiny Threads is the prequel to the trilogy.Once I’d written ‘The End’ on Living in the Shadows, the family wouldn’t leave me alone. I realised I wanted/needed to write about their origins.

As with my other novels it’s been described as a gritty family saga. It’s set in Lancashire in the 1900s and Ireland at the time of the Black and Tans

The protagonist, Winifred, is the mother of Mary Howarth. She’s a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother. When her friend Honora – an Irish girl, with the freedom to do as she pleases – drags Winifred along to a suffragette rally, she realises that there is more to life than the shop and her parents’ humdrum lives of work and grumbling.

Bill Howarth, is Mary’s father, a man with a troubled childhood that echoes through his early adult life and the scars linger, affecting his work, his relationships and his health. The only light in his life comes from a chance meeting with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife. But does he?

It’s an emotive novel set in Lancashire and Ireland during a time of social and political upheaval. I’d like to think it’s a must read for anyone who loves both family sagas and historical fiction.

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

Me: I always start writing with a clear plan but sooner or later , usually when I’ve plotted exactly what will happen next it dawns on me that a particular character wouldn’t act in that way. It’s strange; they are my invention but they do seem to take on a life of their own. When that happens I nearly always take a couple of days to work out what I’m going to do… or rather what I think they would like to do

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

 Me: It would be Mary Howarth, the protagonist of the trilogy. She takes a bit of a back step in the last book, Living in the Shadows, so I think I’d ask her what she wanted to do (there I go again; letting her take control). Like me she’s not a great fan of shopping so I’m hoping she’d opt for a long walk and talk across the moors of the Pennines. It would be a gloriously sunny day because, when you do get on the tops, it’s always breezy to say the least. I’d like her to tell me how she’s enjoyed her life in the trilogy. At lunchtime we’d find a good pub and stop for a ploughmen’s lunch and a cup of tea(she loves her tea1). In the afternoon we’d wander over to a cinema and watch the film Yanks with Richard Gere


Since Pattern of Shadows was published I’ve been back to my roots to an event called  YANKS ARE BACK IN SADDLEWORTH: This film was made around the group of villages that are known as Saddleworth in 1979. Yanks Back in Saddleworth is great fun. Everyone dresses up in Forties clothes or various uniforms of the British, German, American services of that era and there are so many things going on over the weekend; A Vera Lynne singer, A Churchill lookalike, forties fashion stalls, military memorabilia stalls, a dance, a procession with all kinds of military vehicles, a fly-past of WW2 warplanes.

As Pattern of Shadows  is set during the forties I was invited along when it was first published and have been quite a few times since. I’m there again 6th/7th August this year.

 Oh, I’ve digressed – sorry Mary. After the film we’d have a slap up meal at one of the lovely restaurants around Saddleworth … and then, after such a long day it would be time to sleep for me. Mary would need to hurry to get back into the second of the trilogy,  Changing Patterns.

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

Me:  I was eight. The book was called, The Death of the Teapot. My mother used to say all my childhood stories were gory (wonder what that shows?) The teapot fell off the table, broke its spout…and died.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Nope; I’m an open book as they say. (Whoever they are!!) Though I am a dab hand at making novelty cakes… does that count as a talent… hmmm?

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Well, I don’t know is it’s interesting to anyone (it drives Husband mad!) I sometimes write all through the night.

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

What I would really like to do would be to have a camper van and travel around the country. As it is, I read, walk along the lovely coastal paths around Pembrokeshire, sit and watch Husband gardening (and sometimes joining in with the boring jobs like weeding or mowing the lawns). Given chance I love clearing out clutter (opposed by said Husband – the hoarder). And I enjoy making up different creative writing exercises for my classes.

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

I once went to a book fair held in a primary school. The loos were those miniature types for the little people. I got locked in by a faulty lock and had to climb over the door. One of the buttons on my blouse got stuck around the top hinge and I landed feet first on the floor with my blouse around my neck and showing my rather raunchy new bra. Not amusing to me at the time but hilarious to the two author ‘friends’ who just happened to walk in at that moment

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I hated school. I was well into adulthood before I gained all my qualifications and was brave enough to start sending out my work.

 Well, that was fun… I think!

Book Links:


 My links:








“Judith Barrow has surpassed herself in writing this great family saga… There is such a wealth of fantastic characters to fall in love with and ones to hate!” (Brook Cottage Books)


Front of Secrets

Ashford, home of the Howarth family,is a gritty northern mill town, a community of no-nonsense Lancashire folk, who speak their minds and are quick to judge. But how many of them are hiding secrets that wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of others?
Judith Barrow’s Howarth Family trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, Changing Patterns and Living in the Shadows, along with the prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads, published by Honno Press, is peopled with just such characters. Here are some of their secret stories – the girl who had to relinquish her baby, the boy who went to war too young, the wife who couldn’t take any more…




Pat Cody, Founder of DES Action. My @BBCWomansHour #WHPowerList #charity


Over the last few months Woman’s Hour on Radio Four has been showcasing seventy women who have promoted women’s issues or represented women in some way  through the last seven decades that the programme has run. They presented the final seven last week:

There was one woman who I think was missed; a woman who, around her own kitchen table, started a charity which has gone from strength to strength in most countries, except the UK.

Pat Cody  started DES Action in 1971 (   after she learned that the daughters of women who took the anti-miscarriage drug during pregnancy developed cancer and reproductive problems. Pat had taken the drug while pregnant with her first daughter, Martha. Pat served as program director for the group and edited its newsletter. She passed away in September 2010.

Images of Diethylstilboestrol/ Stilboestrol(DES)


The mission of DES Action groups worldwide is to identify, educate, provide support to, and advocate for DES-exposed individuals as well as educate health care professionals.

Diethylstilboestrol/ Stilboestrol(DES), a drug given to women for 30 years up to 1973, has been found to cause a rare form of vaginal and cervical cancer in some of the daughters of the women who took it, as well as fertility problems. Compensation of an estimated $1.5bn has been paid out in the US. 

In 1938, DES (Stilboestrol/ Diethylstilboestrol) was created by Charles Dodds.  It was expected that his synthetic oestrogen would help prevent miscarriages. At the time it was not known how dangerous this drug would be to developing foetuses. Years later, he raised concerns about DES but by then very few in the medical field were listening. .In the early 1970s cases of a rare vaginal/cervical cancer were being diagnosed in young. Now researchers are investigating whether DES health issues are extending into the next generation, the so-called DES Grandchildren. As study results come in, there is growing evidence that this group has been adversely impacted by a drug prescribed to their grandmothers.

I wrote an article for the UK based DES Action (folded  a few years ago due to lack of funds and support ). Now DES Action USA help and advice anyone who contacts them. They have a website: The charity also has a newsletter, Voice, to which anyone interested can subscribe. 

Many women contacted me after the article was published and I heard some heart-breaking accounts of their lives. In an attempt to reach more people I wrote a short story which eventually resulted in Silent Trauma, a family saga based around the facts of the drug: 

Contemplate woman in dark

I did a tremendous amount of research before I wrote the book. Pat Cody was generous enough to send me a copy of her own book: DES Voices, From Anger to Action:  and gave me permission  to quote any part of her  book.


 I was also allowed to quote the words of many of the women I contacted. 

I am constantly made aware of the lack of knowledge of Stilboestrol in this country. Whenever I begin to talk about the drug most people assume I am talking about Thalidomide.  When I explain about the damage the drug has caused the response is almost always amazement and disgust that consecutive UK Government have been reluctant to help – or, I’m afraid, acknowledge, that  the consequences of Stilboestrol continues.

I should also mention that there is a wonderful DES Daughter in the UK who has a website – – which explains a great deal about Diethystilboestrol is constantly updated with the latest news. She also has a Facebook page which can be found by just typing in DES daughter and a Twitter account:

So there we have it; Pat Cody, founder member of DES Action, my choice for #WHPowerList.


Under Slag Tips: A Collection of Short Stories by Wybert Bendall



The Blurb:

Stories of the colourful characters that surrounded me while growing up in Aberfan; a mining village in a South Wales Valley. A social history of a time when the only vehicles in the street were horse drawn carts. Stories filled with affection and humour. For each download £1.00 will be donated to Cancer Research.

My Review:

I have to admit right away that I personally know this author and that I have read many of his stories in the past. And have also enjoyed listening to him read them.

 This is poetic prose at its best, I think. Filled with extraordinary characters living lives we can now only imagine, evocative descriptions and a great sense of place, each story stands alone. Yet  they are connected by the village of  Aberfan, where the author grew up. Set at a time when coal mining was as strong in the Valleys as the people who lived there, each of these tales bring many emotions with them.

 The cover, a black and white photograph, is a true depiction of the place and time, says it all; from the terraced houses to the enormous coal slag heaps looming over Aberfan. A poignant image, bearing in mind  the tragedy that happens to this village decades later 

 But these stories give no hint of that. These are stories of great humour, poignancy and the joy of childhood freedom,  long since lost to the children of today.

I particularly liked the story that carries the title of the anthology, Under Slag Tips. Written somewhat in the style of Dylan Thomas but (I need to whisper here…) much more enjoyable to read, each phrase evokes an image. Whether of a character, a scene, an event or just a stroll through the streets and countryside, the reader is carried along with the author.

And, a nice surprise, there are even a couple of narrative poems.

This book is for anyone who likes rich imaginative prose transported into wonderful vignettes. Or is curious about the history of  past life in the Welsh Valleys. Or just enjoys short stories.

It’s a shame that the formatting between the stories needs attention but this didn’t detract too much from my reading.In the end, for me, it’s the contents, the wealth of detail and the pure pleassure of rolling a lot of the phrases over and over in my mind.

I thoroughly recommend this collection of tales.

And, as it says in the Blurb, for each sale, a £1 will go to Cancer Research. 

I reviewed this book on Amazon as part of #AugustReviews

Buy Links:

Being Anne: The Tenby Book Fair on 24th September.

Our grateful thanks to Anne for featuring us on her page today. I’ve copied the interview below but here’s the link to Anne’s site:

Feature: The Tenby Book Fair on 24th September


I’ve been seeing a lot of mentions recently of the forthcoming Tenby Book Fair. Judith Barrow is running a series of interviews on her excellent blog with some of the authors who are attending. Taking place on 24th September this year, the event has its own website, and is featured on the Tenby Arts Festival website as its first event. 

I’m delighted that the organisers – Judith Barrow, Thorne Moore and Alex Martin – agreed to join me on Being Anne to tell us more about it…

L-R; Alex, Judith and Thorne

Judith, Thorne and Alex, welcome to Being Anne. I already know you all as novelists, but would you like to introduce yourselves?

Judith: Thank you Anne, we’re so pleased to be here. My name is Judith Barrow; I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire but moved in 1978 to live in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. All by Honno. I’m now writing the prequel.

Thorne: My name is Thorne Moore. I was born in Luton but now live on the edge of a village in North Pembrokeshire. I write “domestic noir” crime mysteries and I have had three novels published by Honno: A Time For Silence (2012),Motherlove (2015) and The Unravelling (2016). I am currently working on another novel set in Pembrokeshire.

Alex: My name is Alex Martin. I live on the Gower Peninsula, in south Wales and also spend a lot of time in France, which I also love. I have written The Katherine Wheel Series, currently 3 books, Daffodils, Peace Lily and Speedwell with a fourth planned next year. They are based around WW1 and the social changes it evoked. My first book is based in France on my own grape-picking experience in the 1980’s. The Twisted Vine is more of a mystery story. I hope to publish The Rose Trail, a time slip ghost story, later this year.

Ah, I had the pleasure of reviewing Thorne’s The Unravelling this week – and yours are nearly at the top of my pile, Judith! Mmm, rather like the look of Alex’s too…

But we’re not here to talk about your books. We’re talking about the Tenby Book Fair that takes place on 24th September. How did you get involved in the organisation?

Judith:  I had the idea of holding a Book Fair five years ago and approached the Tenby Arts Festival Committee to see if there was any room in the programme for me. Initially there wasn’t and I decided to hold the Book Fair in the local library. Then they found me a two hour slot; the first event of the Festival, always held in St Mary’s Church House. Since then Thorne and Alex have worked alongside me at the subsequent Book Fairs. And we’ve been given more time.

Thorne: I joined up, enthusiastically, after attending Judith’s second fair. It was wonderful to find an outlet where authors could get together and meet the public. I’m delighted it’s beginning to feel like a permanent fixture.

Alex: I met Judith through Twitter, strangely enough! And had just published my first book, I was thrilled to attend my first book fair as an author and meet other kindred spirits. I’ve loved being involved in subsequent Book Fairs at Tenby and deepening my friendship with both Thorne and Judith has been a delight.

A little like herding cats though, maybe? What have been the particular challenges?

Judith: For me, at first, it was the sheer amount of work, time and effort it took to arrange; the publicity; getting the word out about the event, finding authors, making sure the authors were happy with their placings in the room. All sorts of little problems. It was a great relief when Thorne and Alex offered their help with future Book Fairs. I made the mistake of offering the public a choice of two free second hand books at the first Book Fair for every one of bought, author-signed new book. The idea didn’t work, either for the public or the authors.  A couple of years ago we also gave the authors the chance to give a talk about their work while the Book Fair was going on.  People who would have come into the event walked away, reluctant to interrupt. We also had a couple of authors who were, shall we say, a little long-winded and the audience became very restless.

Thorne: I think we’re getting the hang of it now. Coming up with creative ideas for the publicity has been good fun. 

Alex: I was in charge of the music and learned just how much classical music swells and ebbs in volume – sometimes downing out constructive conversation so was constantly twiddling knobs behind the stage. We’ve learned a lot too about the flow of customer traffic through the doors and how to manage it. It’s been fascinating but the footfall last year confirmed we’re ironing out the glitches nicely. 

I know this is the fifth Tenby Book Fair – how many publishers and authors will be involved this year?

Judith: We have twenty-five authors and three publishers; two traditional and one a cooperative.

Thorne: Yes, we are just about at capacity in Church House, but it’s great to have such a wide range, covering all genres, from children’s books to thrillers and biographies. The presence of publishers is a new thing this year, as we want the fair to be about books from everyone’s point of view – readers and would-be authors. 

Alex: The increasing size and popularity of the Tenby Book Fair makes the hard work very worthwhile and is increasingly satisfying. 

And what can people expect on the day?

Judith: Besides the authors signing their books and chatting about their work, we have a few talks by authors, a poetry reading and the publishers will be talking about themselves and the kind of submissions they are looking for. The cooperative publishers will be talking about the services they offer. We’ll have a separate room for these talks etc.

I notice there are a few competitions too…

Judith: Three competitions in all. A little bit of advertising here:

Children’s Competition
For entrants aged 7 – 12, an essay (one page) entitled: My Favourite Character.

Write about a character in a book that you like. Is he or she clever? Brave? Funny? Or just get to do all the things you’d like to do.

Include your name and age on the sheet and a way of contacting you – it can be your address, or your school, or a phone number – so we can tell you if you’ve won.

Hand your entry in to any library in Pembrokeshire, or post it to:
Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX

Send it by August 13th, 2016

Collections of books are very generously being donated as prizes by Firefly Press.
 A winner and a runner-up will be chosen from each of two age groups: 7-9 and 10-12. Prizes will be presented at the Book Fair in St Mary’s Church House.


Young Adult Flash Fiction Competition
For entrants aged 12 – 18, a 100 word Creepy Tale.

You could write “A Creepy Tale,” about ghosts, vampires, zombies, the supernatural or anything that might give you the shivers. But can you write it in 100 words or less? That’s the challenge in this competition. A full story, in 100 words or less.

Include your name, age and contact details (address, phone number or email address) with the entry, and post it to: Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX OR paste it into the body of an email to with “Flash Fiction” in the subject line. 

The closing date is August 13th 2016. 

First Prize £15 book token. 2 runners-up: £5 book token. 
Prizes sponsored by Cambria Publishing Co-operative

Short Story Competition
For entrants 18 and over: a short story, “The Bag Lady.”

Entry Fee £3. Send cheque, made payable to “Tenby Book Fair” with your entry, or pay on-line, via PayPal (link on Tenby Book Fair website).

Write a short story of 2000 words or less, entitled “The Bag Lady”. How you interpret the title is up to you.

Include name and preferred contact details (address, phone number or email address) and post to: Tenby Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX  or send as a Word or Rich Text Format document, attached to an email including “Short Story” in the subject line.

Closing date: 13th August 2016.

First Prize £25 Second prize £10 Third Prize £5.
The prizes are donated by Cambria Publishing Co-operative

All three winning stories will be published on the Tenby Book Fair website and on

People particularly mention the good vibe and great buzz of previous years – that must be something you’re proud of…

Judith: We all are, I think. We delegate the work between us. I find the authors mainly, keep in touch with them all, let them know how we’re progressing and interview them for the website. Thorne works on the leaflets, posters and website and Alex manages the press and other publicity. On the day we set up and generally share anything that crops up. It’s a friendly and hugely satisfying partnership.

Alex: I can second that. Although commitments mean I can’t attend on the actual day this year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the preparation.

Tenby was where I spent my childhood holidays – I had no idea it had such a thriving arts scene, or the popular Arts Festival that the book fair is part of. Where does the Book Fair audience come from? Mainly local people, or visitors?

Judith: The Tenby Arts Festival in September has been going for a long time. They mainly cover all forms of music; choirs, soloists, instrumental. They hold talks on local history and artists and have an open mic poetry session. Various things like that. They also have a children’s sandcastle competition. And, of course the Book Fair. There are also a few musical events, film-showings in a local hotel and there are always events happening at the local Tenby Museum in the summer months. We have a lot of local visitors who come to our book fair and have it marked in their diaries, but we also have many visitors from round the country, visiting Tenby for the Arts Festival.

I’m a little out of touch with the Welsh book scene too, although I do (of course) know about the wonderfulHonno Welsh Women’s Press. Tell me a little more about the publishers involved in the fair.

Judith: There are two other publishers besides Honno Welsh Women’s Press at this year’s Book Fair. Firefly is a press for children’s and young adults’ books, which started up in 2013 and is already winning awards. Cambria is a publishing co-operative, offering a range of services and help for those preferring to go it alone.

And some of the more well-known authors?

Judith: We have such a range and many of them are well-known within their own genres, like Sally Spedding, author of seriously chilling thrillers, or Colin Parsons, the children’s writer. Phil Carradice has written over fifty books. Others are new arrivals on the scene, but sure to be rising stars, like Matt Johnson, whose first novel, Wicked Game, is already soaring.

Other than the moment when the doors close on a perfect day, what are you particularly looking forward to on the day?

Judith: Meeting the authors. Some of them have been coming to the Book Fairs from the beginning and are old friends. Meeting new faces and potential friends. The buzz when people start to come in. Watching the faces of readers as they interact with the authors. It’s a great atmosphere. And seeing the video and photos of the Book Fair, taken by, friends of ours who always film the Book Fairs.

Alex: I shall be there in spirit with only my books to represent me, but will be willing everyone on and am confident it will be more popular than ever.

And you’ll be doing it again, next year…?  

Judith: Ah, well… next year will be different for us. The Book Fair will be part of a new venture. A group of us, including Thorne and Alex, will be forming the TenbyLitFest in June for three days 16th – 18th, and the book fair will be held on the Saturday (17th), in a larger venue, with even more authors attending. There will be a host of other events, including aMeet the Publishers day, poetry readings, plays, literary trails, children’s events etc. The motto is Everything about Words.

Alex: A new challenge will be very exciting. It’s a good feeling to bring writers, publishers but most importantly, readers together to discuss books.

It sounds like a wonderful day, ladies – and I hope it will be in every way. I’m gutted I can’t be there this year, but the dates for next year’s TenbyLitFest are already in my diary… see you there!

Today With Nigel Williams

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: and Lisa Shambrook:  and Alex Martin: ,  Judith Arnopp: , Sharon Tregenza:   and Juliet Greenwood: And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me:  Over the next week or two I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: ,   and ,

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of who, as usual, will be filming the event.

Today I’m talking to Nigel Williams; an interesting and generous chap as you will see.


Welcome to our author interviews, Nigel. It’s great to see you here… finally!

 It’s good to be here… finally. (He’s grinning!!)

So… my favourite question, what were you like at school?

I loved school, for the most part. I looked forward to the summer and the athletics season. I was a keen long jump and high jump competitor and made up the numbers in the 4×100 relay for the school. Academically, I was lazy. I did what had to be done to scrape through but never really applied myself. I realised, even back then in the 70’s, that school measured and valued only a very limited range of skills.

Were you good at English?

I managed to pass my O’level in English but certainly didn’t shine. That was because I sat next to Ed Thomas (author, poet and producer of television programmes such as Hinterland). Ed played wing for the school rugby team and was a good player, fast and elusive. I played inside him at centre. In the same team were Steve Alexander (drummer for Brother Beyond and session musician for Jeff beck and Duran Duran) and there was also Wyndham Price – another writer and director and producer with Spinning Head films in Cardiff.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I would love to write to pay my bills and retire from teaching. I’ve had two big careers and have worked for over thirty years. I’d like to retire somewhere nice and warm, with a sea view and write full-time.

Which writers inspire you?

I’ve never really been interested in literary novelists. I suppose my ‘action’ background as a police firearms officer has coloured my taste.

So, what have you written?

My first novel – EDEN RELICS, was the result of a mid-life crisis. I was rapidly approaching fifty and writing a novel was at the top of my bucket list. I had always written throughout my life but never finished anything. I was determined to complete this action-adventure book before my fiftieth birthday. I did get 100,000 words written within that deadline but it took several more months to re-write and edit.

Set in the Swansea Valley, EDEN RELICS featured a retired police officer drawn into the search for ancient relics discovered a century earlier by the opera diva Adelina Patti. I managed to sell over 3,500 downloads and paperback copies of that book in the first month or so and even had interest from a major publisher. Nothing came of that interest but it was flattering.

My father-in-law passed away from Mesothelioma (asbestos lung cancer) and I decided to donate all the subsequent royalties for the book to this charity.

Next up came WELSH GOLD. This started off as a screenplay entitled “GILT.” I had written it entirely just prior to the mine disaster in the Gleision Colliery in the Swansea Valley in 2011. Spookily, it was set in the same mine system and also featured a similar disaster that left the owner bankrupt and without a family home. The protagonist ends up moving to a dilapidated cottage in Dolaucothi and discovers the house sits above an ancient Roman gold mine. Torn between his promise to his wife that he’ll never return underground and the temptation of the gold, Gwyn becomes involved in events that threaten the safety of the whole family.

The screenplay is currently with a production company but whether it will ever see the small screen is another matter. Royalties from this book are donated to the British Heart Foundation.  

FAKE BAKED was my first attempt at writing a crime comedy about a small-time Cardiff con man dreaming of pulling the ultimate scam. The story was based on the cons of a real hustler called Victor Lustig. Lustig sold the Eifel Tower to Parisian scrap dealers, not once but twice. He somehow managed to convince them the tower was due for demolition at the turn of the last century and got away with it. My protagonist uses the same con by trying to sell the old Severn Bridge.

I was drawn back to the crime genre through Facebook. A former colleague – Alan Lloyd MBE -contacted me and said he was writing his ‘disguised’ memoirs of his time in the South Wales Police. I offered to provide advice and guidance but before Alan could complete the book he died suddenly. With permission of his family, I completed the book and NO STEP BACK was published last Christmas. This book triggered events that became frantic over the next few months.

I wanted Alan’s main character to continue his adventures in the police service of the nineteen sixties and took an unresolved plot point from NO STEP BACK and wrote A HARD PLACE. This led on to A COLD PLACE and was to be followed by A DEAD PLACE but that was put on the back burner due to a new series of books I became involved with.

Another former colleague – Arthur Cole (a former detective sergeant) also contacted me through Facebook and asked if I could collaborate on a story he had in mind about police corruption. He wanted to write one book and donate the royalties to Marie Curie. I agreed and UNETHICAL CONDUCT was published in January this year.


Although it was only a novella, the story line had a main character that simply didn’t want it to end there, and so EDGE OF INTEGRITY quickly followed.

We were able to keep some common threads running through the books and DEATH AND DEPRAVITY allowed us to tie up a few of the loose threads from the earlier books. ANGEL of DEATH came next in the series and NEST OF VIPERS will be due out in the next month or so.









All royalties for these books will be donated to Marie Curie Cancer Trust.

How much research do you do?

I spend a lot of time on research, though much of it never makes the finished page. Research is essential for any novel and forms a crucial link between the author and the characters living within the story.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?

I write every day, at some point. I write quickly and can complete 10,000 ‘rough’ words a day with ease. My collaborator on the Terry McGuire stories, Arthur Cole, can do the same. It provides us with a huge amount of material in a short time for editing.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I always have a rough idea but only really plan things after the first draft is written. I like to get the body of the book down and then add or subtract chapters as necessary. It’s probably not the best way to write efficiently but it seems to work okay for me.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

I don’t tend to get writer’s block because I always have someone I can bounce ideas off. That’s the great benefit of collaboration.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Let someone read your words. Even if they aren’t interested in your story they will be able to pick out things that work or don’t work. Rectifying these problems keeps you writing and will open the door to new directions.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series.

I never thought I’d get involved in writing a series but I’ve found the experience enlightening. It’s great to let a character develop far beyond the initial pages of the first book, to deal with new issues and to discover how he or she will handle them.

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.

I love to read the action and adventure books, books that keep me turning the page. A little horror now and again is okay too. The first book I ever read was THE TIME MACHINE by HG Wells. I love the way Bernard Cornwell uses incredible research to weave fiction within historical events.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

As an art teacher, I can create the covers myself but through a stroke of great good fortune, Arthur Cole’s daughter, Karen, is a graphic designer and produced the covers for the Terry McGuire series. A professional touch is invaluable. Makes a big difference to the finished product.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I only ever submitted one book to a traditional publisher and that was EDEN RELICS. It did get some really good feedback from one of the big houses (Harper Collins) and I was offered the chance to try again with them. To be honest, I really can’t be bothered. The idea of sitting down and condensing a novel into a one-page synopsis fills me with dread. I have never wanted to be taken that seriously. I just love to tell the odd tale. If people enjoy them then that’s all that really matters.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Some negative reviews are invaluable, they keep you striving to improve, but it’s true that one or two people out there are perhaps over zealous with their criticism. As a teacher I’m always aware of the need to provide positive criticism, to highlight issues that need improving but to do it with care. We’re all different and the odd troll will delight in destroying those with delicate natures. Ignore them. Take the good with the bad, learn from it and move on. Not everyone will love your story.

What’s your views on social media for marketing?

Facebook and Twitter etc are great for letting friends and family know about your next release but it’ll never compete with the financial power of traditional publishing. I’m disheartened by the growing trend of ‘self-help experts’ that offer marketing and advice for authors at a price. Many are exploiting new writers and some have little or no experience to justify their self-proclaimed expertise. Be careful with these. You could end up losing a lot of money.

Thanks for the great chat, Nigel. I ‘m sure we all wish you luck with the sales of your books to raise money for these brilliant charities. So, tell us, how can readers discover more about you and you work?

It was good to be here… finally (he’s still smiling, folks!) And here are all the links to find Nigel and his books.





Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)

I’ve just included a few of the books – the first in the series etc to keep it a little shorter. (Sure we’ll find the rest!)