My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with AnneMarie Brear #MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!


anne marie brear


Welcome AnneMarie, lovely to have you here today.

 Good to be here, Judith

Could you start by telling us what literary pilgrimages have you gone on or would like to go on, please?

This summer I would like to go to Haworth and visit the Bronte museum.

What is the first book that made you cry?

When I was a child living in Australia, I read a book about a man and his dog walking the roads in the outback looking for work. I remember at one stage they get knocked over and the man gets taken to hospital and the dog is left to roam the roads looking for him. The man recovered and went looking for his dog. One night the man is sitting by a camp fire and thinking his dog is gone, when suddenly the dog sees the campfire and knows it is his master. I cried buckets! I wish I could find that book again.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Writing energises me – promoting exhausts me!


Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

AnneMarie Brear is my pseudonym. It’s my maiden name.

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

I write the stories that are in my head to tell. They might not be the ‘in demand’ genre, or the hottest new thing on the market, but they are stories I wanted to tell. Stories that I’m proud of and hope readers enjoy.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I am friends with a great number of authors (bestsellers and new writers), due to being a member of various organisations such as Romantic Novelist Association and Romance Writers of Australia. I find mixing with other authors help me know the publishing industry better, and my critique group have for years helped me refine my stories into sellable books.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Each book of mine stands on its own. However, Kitty McKenzie has a sequel, Kitty McKenzie’s Land, and I’m currently writing a third book connected to it about Kitty’s grandchildren.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To be patient. I signed with a few very small publishers at the beginning and it was a waste of my time. Those publisher didn’t last long. But I did learn a lot. I learned how to work with an editor and how the publishing process works.


WDH (1)


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

The publishing of my first book taught me to not write such long stories. I didn’t need to write over 100k words and to do so was a little indulgent.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

It’s probably Nicola’s Virtue. It’s a great story. It’s set in Australia in the 1860s and about a governess who left Britain and travelled to Australia to seek work, but on arriving found it very difficult to find work as governess. I based that story on real letters sent by governesses sent back to Britain. Miss Maria Rye, the founder of the Female Middle Class Emigration Society started the scheme to send women out to British colonies to work.

Nicola's-Virtue-final (1)

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

Only the current book I’m writing now. Thankfully, all my older books are published and available for sale, and my new books are in the process of being released.

What does literary success look like to you?

Being able to write for a living. I’ve not achieved that yet but I it’s my dream.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I have researched my eras (Victorian and Edwardian/WWI) for years. So each book is easier for me to write. However, I do more research as I write each novel, because each novel is different and requires different specific knowledge. My sagas tend to have working class and high middle class involved, so I need to research how country houses are run, as well as, a coal mine or farm. I need to create villages and make them real for the era my book is set. My recent books have been set in WWI, so I have done a lot of research about the war and the years of 1914-1918. I love research, so it is no hardship for me to get involved in it.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I like traditional names. I use genealogy a lot. Finding census records is now a lot easier, and I have also researched my family tree so I can see the names of those times. It’s very helpful.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I do read all reviews. The bad ones, which so far are few, thankfully, hurt me, but I can’t let it get me down. The good ones make me smile and feel happy that others have enjoyed my stories too.

What was your hardest scene to write?

A death scene. Actually all death scenes are hard. But one in particular in Kitty McKenzie’s Land was sad to write.


McKenzie (1) (1)

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

My day job!

What is your favourite childhood book?

Enid Blyton – The Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair. But also The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell.

Does your family support your career as a writer?

Yes, my husband supports me very much, as do the rest of my family and friends.

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

I work full time in a day job, so my writing must fit around that and my family. It can take from 8-12 months to write a historical novel.

Links to AnneMarie:

Twitter @annemariebrear

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Janet Gogerty #MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!


Today I’m chatting with Janet Gogerty. Janet has been writing for nearly 10 years and still enjoys being part of two writing groups. She’s inspired by anything and everything and enjoys writing about ordinary people; but usually they find themselves experiencing strange events!
When she was encouraged to tackle a novel her daughter suggested she used her short story ‘Brief Encounters of the Third Kind’ as she wanted to know what happened to Emma, whose fate had been left in the air at the end of the story. The novel became a trilogy, Three Ages of Man and finally Lives of Anna Alsop, published in March 2015. Janet still enjoy writing short stories and these have been published online, on paper and in audio. She’s just published her third collection of short stories and also writes a regular blog .

Welcome, Janet, it’s lovely to see you here today.

Thank you, Judith. glad to be here.

First, please tell us, where your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. came from?

Noddy is the first book I can remember having read to me. Apparently I wanted ‘Noddy Goes To The Seaside’ over and over again, so maybe that is also where my love of the sea comes from. Every year at Christmas I was given a Rupert annual; my mother always tried to get away with reading the abridged rhymes under each picture, but I always wanted to hear the full story in the long paragraph.

As for writing, perhaps it started in scripture lessons in junior school. At each lesson we had to write a Bible story in our own words on one page and draw a picture on the other page. I loved doing this, but always felt there was something missing. Reading the gospels as an adult I discovered what was missing, not enough character development, I wanted to know more about the lives of all these people; disciples, Jesus’ family, locals having miracles performed on them…

How long have you been writing?

Seriously for nine years.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Novels, short stories, blogs, book reviews and poetry when pushed.

What are some of the references that you used while researching your first two books?

‘Brief Encounters of the Third Kind’ is pure fiction, but with its mixture of music and medicine I used my own appreciation of music and my GP sister’s medical knowledge. As for the science fiction aspect, the newspapers, television and the internet are full of news about what is happening in the world of science and what could happen.

‘Brief Encounters of the Third Kind’ started as a short story with Emma’s fate left literally hanging in the air. It became my longest novel and evolved into a trilogy. At its heart is my favourite theme, what happens to ordinary people when the extraordinary happens to them? The Dexter family are as ordinary as you can get, but Emma is different. To have a genius in the family is difficult, even without the strange events that her mother has kept secret for so many years.

Brief Encounters of the Third Kind

‘Quarter Acre Block’ was inspired by my family’s experience as Ten Pound Pommies and is written from the point of view of mother and daughter. I used my mother’s memories to imagine what it would have been like for the adults.

‘Quarter Acre Block’ is about a family emigrating to Perth, Western Australia in 1964. Will it be a dream come true or will they be stranded in a strange country knowing they can never return?

Quarter Acre Block

In both novels I used real life experiences to create the fictional families.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

Keeping it grounded in everyday life, even when the most extraordinary things happen to my characters. Liberal doses of dark humour.

What did you enjoy most about writing these books?

My characters taking charge of their lives. Writing without being sure what was going to happen next.

I know that feeling! So, tell us, what inspires you?

Anything, anybody and everywhere. Initially I started writing seriously when I went to a writing group for the first time; we had a given title each week and that triggered ideas as well as the impetus to put words down.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?

Going to the writing group and reading out aloud; getting the immediate reaction of others and then the following week a written appraisal by our tutor.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

Full time in that I don’t have a paid job. I’m sure I would not have found the time or the mental focus to write when I was working and busy with the family.

Dark and Milk

What are some day jobs that you have held?  Have any of them impacted your writing?

I have done many different jobs; career disasters, ordinary jobs, full time mother, voluntary work. The many different people I’ve met are as important as the varied places, but all my experiences are a great resource for ideas.

How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

As a reader I love both. My Kindle was a birthday present a few years ago and I wouldn’t part with it. I did not fill it with free old classics, but made a point of reading other independent writers. But it is also great when you hear about a well known book, look it up and download it in seconds. I still love beautiful new hardbacks from a bookshop or paperbacks from the charity shop to take on the bus or to the beach hut.

As a writer, digital publishing changed my whole approach; from hardly having used a computer, or learned to type when I first started writing, it has been a steep learning curve that I am still on.

Times and Tides

What do you think is the future of reading and writing?

They’re here to stay, they have not been beaten by radio, cinema, television or computers.

What is your role in the writing community?

Locally I am part of and help run writing groups. On line I enjoy exchanging ideas in writers’ forums, reviewing other writers’ books and having stories and articles published.

Lives of Anna Alsop (Brief Encounters Trilogy Book 3)

What projects are you working on at the present?

I am hoping to finish my current novel this year. ‘At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream’ will be different again from my other novels. The lead character is a young private detective who lives in a camper van and specialises in missing persons because his girlfriend Anna is missing. Each case for him is a complete short story, but of course his search for Anna and the strain it puts on his relationship with his own family is threaded through. He also features in a novella which should be finished soon.

I am planning to publish another short story collection.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Yes; writing comes in so many styles I think someone could write with no feeling at all, but it would come across to the reader as cold and remote. Most readers like to feel engaged.

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

I write what I want to write, but my second novel ‘Quarter Acre Block’ lent itself to a genre, a family drama in recent history.

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

One novel, one novella and a collection of short stories waiting to be put between the covers, or behind one digital cover!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Do I know how men really think? I don’t want my male characters to be composites of my father, brother, husband and sons, nor do I want heroes to be the perfect unattainable men of my dreams!

Three Ages of Man (Brief Encounters Trilogy Book 2) by [Gogerty, Janet]

How do you select the names of your characters?

I borrow shamelessly from my mother’s friends, aunts and uncles, my school class mates and my children’s friends to get the names right for generations. But unusual names are good for characters who are outsiders.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Energise me; staying up too late editing or trying to finish doing something on line is tiring, but aren’t writers supposed to stay up late?

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

If someone ‘gets’ my book I love it; if they have enjoyed a novel as a good story I am delighted. If you read a bad review it should make you feel like a ‘real writer’, of course you just feel depressed, but consoled by the thought of readers who did like it.

Visit my website where the sun is always shining.

My Facebook author page:

I am an author at Goodreads where I have a blog, ‘Sandscript’ and also write regular book reviews:

My other blog, Tidalscribe on WordPress:

Visit me at The Writers’ Room

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Merryn Allingham#MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

Today, I’m chatting with Merryn Allingham. Merryn was born into an army family and spent her childhood on the move. Unsurprisingly, it gave her itchy feet and in her twenties she escaped from an unloved secretarial career to work as cabin crew and see the world. The arrival of marriage, children and cats meant a more settled life in the south of England where she’s lived ever since. It also gave her the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually teach at university.

Merryn has always loved books that bring the past to life, so when she began writing herself the novels had to be historical. She finds the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries fascinating eras to research and her first book, The Crystal Cage, had as its background the London of 1851. The Daisy’s War trilogy followed, set in India and London during the 1930s and 40s.

Her latest novels explore two pivotal moments in the history of Britain. The Buttonmaker’s Daughter is set in Sussex in the summer of 1914 as the First World War looms ever nearer and its sequel, The Secret of Summerhayes, forty years later in the summer of 1944 when D Day led to eventual victory in the Second World War. Along with the history, of course, there is plenty of mystery and romance to keep readers intrigued.




Hi, Merryn, good to see you here, I’m looking forward to our chat. 

Thanks for inviting me, Judith. 

Please tell us How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve needed to put pen to paper. As a small child, I wrote poems, at grammar school there were short stories that I never dared mention – creative writing was definitely not encouraged. Then the long letters home while working as cabin crew (pre internet and mobile phones) and at least two ten year diaries. Deep down, though, I knew it was a novel I had to write. But between family, pets and my job as a lecturer, there was little time to do more than dabble. However, when the pressures eased, I grabbed the chance to do something I’d always promised myself – to write that novel.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I worked for twenty-five years as a university lecturer teaching English Literature and when I came to write, it proved a two-edged sword. I’d spent years analysing how a piece of writing worked (or didn’t) so in theory I knew the basics. But that same background of academic research and teaching was a huge barrier to writing popular fiction and I hadn’t a clue how to begin, although I knew I wanted to. Then one morning I woke up and the idea was there. I would start where I felt most comfortable – in the Regency with a book along the lines of Georgette Heyer, whom I’ve read and reread a hundred times since my teenage years.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

It wasn’t until I’d completed the book, that I thought about a publisher. You can see how naive I was! I discovered that Harlequin Mills and Boon was one of the few who published Regency romances and were happy to accept unsolicited manuscripts. When I read they were willing to help polish my work if the writing showed promise, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

It took a long, long time for them to get back to me and in the meantime I’d made a start on novel number two. When eventually I received their feedback, it was complimentary. They liked my voice, they liked the characters and the plot but – you soon learn there’s always a ‘but’ – there were elements that didn’t fit what they wanted in a Mills and Boon novel. Would I care to revise? I certainly would. I set about getting the manuscript as right as I could before resubmitting. Another long wait followed, six months this time, and then ‘the call’ came (by this time I was half way through a third novel – the bug had truly bitten). I remember I was sitting on the sofa feeling doleful from a bout of December flu when the phone rang. Despite the coughs and splutters, it felt pretty special hearing an editor say I was being offered a two book contract.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I started publishing over six years ago, producing six Regency romances under the name of Isabelle Goddard. Writing category historical romance proved a great apprenticeship, but left me wanting to broaden my scope and move into mainstream women’s fiction. It also left me wanting to create something a little darker. It hadn’t escaped my notice that with each succeeding Regency, the mystery element of the novels had become more pronounced. It seemed a natural progression then to segue into writing suspense, but still with an element of romance. In 2013, I adopted a different writing name – Merryn Allingham – and launched myself into the new genre.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I write historical novels so research is essential, and it’s something I enjoy hugely. Delving into history, I get to live in different houses, wear different clothes, meet different people and confront different choices. For The Buttonmaker’s Daughter, I did several months’ research in addition to what I already knew of the period, reading up on the social history of the country house, for instance, plotting the timeline of the First World War, understanding the pressures that led to emigration, and so on. The book is set in the summer of 1914, a cataclysmic moment for this country, and I feel a deep attachment to the world that was lost then. The First World War affected millions of lives across every class and community, with so few understanding the reality of the war they were called to join.



Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.

It’s interesting how often a place begins the process for me. I mull over possibilities of what might have happened there, and who it might have happened to. The mulling probably goes on for a couple of months. Then I might do some reading around the subject. For example, last year I travelled on the Orient Express to Venice and was blown away by the beauty of its art deco carriages. I wondered what it must have been like to travel on the train the whole way to Constantinople, as Istanbul was once known. That led me to reading about the last days of the Ottoman Empire which in turn led to a fairly detailed plot outline for a new book. The outline will change as I write almost certainly, but I have a structure now to work with. At the least, I know where the story will start and how it will end. The rest should fall into place as I write.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

This is another instance of place playing a significant role. I was on a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, ‘lost’ because they were only rediscovered in 1990 and since that time have been lovingly restored. The gardens’ heyday was the late Victorian/Edwardian period when owners spent a great deal of money, time and effort, in creating a beautiful and exotic paradise. But, when in 1914, war came to England, everything changed. Over half the staff perished in the mud of Flanders and the gardens were left to a slow disintegration.

Our guide that day had a fund of anecdotes and it was a single image from one of his stories that lodged in my mind and set me writing. On one particular day in the summer of 1914, every gardener on the estate downed tools together and walked side by side to Redruth, to enlist at the local recruiting centre. Most of those men never returned. The Day Book, which should have listed every job done on the estate that day, carried only the date and poignantly was never used again. The image of those men, honourable and courageous, walking together to enlist in what they saw as a just cause, stayed in my mind, and I knew I had to record that moment in a novel.

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

I try to do both. There’s a temptation, particularly under pressure from publishers, to repeat what has worked before, but readers can get bored with what is virtually the same story, just a different setting and different characters. I try to vary how I tackle each project. Daisy’s War is a trilogy exploring several themes across the three books but with each a complete story.


The Crystal Cage is a novel with parallel time lines, that interweaves the lives of a modern day heroine and her Victorian counterpart.



And the Summerhayes books (the second novel, The Secret of Summerhayes, is due out in August) are centred on one location but set thirty years apart, during the two World Wars. What remains constant in all the novels, though, is the mix of social history, suspense, and romance.

What do you like to read in your free time?

My choice of reading is fairly wide. I try to keep up with books in my genre – at the moment, I’m looking forward to reading Nicola Cornick’s The Phantom Tree. I also read some of the latest literary fiction and often go back to old favourites such as 19th century novels. Then there are the books I read for my book group. We’re currently into a season of Virago and I’ll be introducing one of my favourites, A Pin to See the Peepshow by F Tennyson Jesse. I read the book years ago and liked it a lot, and found the television series excellent.

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

I’d tell myself to get rid of the censor in my head and allow the words to flow. I’ve learned from experience that some will be rubbish, some will be reasonable and a few will be nuggets of gold. I’d realise that I need to be disciplined and write as regularly as possible. And finally I’d counsel myself to learn patience – it often takes a long time to get anywhere.

About the book

My latest book published on January 12th is The Buttonmaker’s Daughter. It is set in the summer of 1914 in a country mansion called Summerhayes. Nestled in the Sussex countryside, the Summerhayes estate seems the perfect country idyll, but it faces the threat of a war that looms ever closer. It also faces threats nearer to home. The daughter of the house, Elizabeth, is at odds with a society based on rigid gender and class divisions. She has struggled unsuccessfully to become a professional artist and now is forced to fight against her family’s choice of husband. Her adolescent brother, William, already a disappointment to his father, must confront his true sexuality. And a long-running feud with the Summers’ neighbours, fuelled by money and jealousy, intensifies to breaking point. As the sweltering heat builds to a storm, Elizabeth, her family and household, face danger on all sides. The summer of 1914 will change everything for them, as indeed it did for so many.

Find Merryn here:



Twitter: @MerrynWrites


Amazon UK:





Introducing Irene Husk


I first met Irene at the Rhondda Book Fair. An interesting and entertaining person to chat with I was thrilled when she gave me her books to read. I  especially loved  The Valley Beyond, which is why I’ve added a short review in the middle of this interview.


Hi Irene, please introduce yourself to everyone.

Hi Judith, here goes. I was born in my Granny’s house in the Rhondda Valleys and later moved to Pontypridd where I spent the remainder of my childhood.  I lived in Wales for most of my adult life however I spent 5 years living in France running a bed and breakfast before returning to this side of the channel and eventually settling back in South Wales. Before embarking on my overseas adventure, I worked in the health sector both in administrative and practical roles and ran my own private chiropody clinic. I have an amazing husband and beautiful children and grandchildren who give me joy and purpose in life.

I wrote my first novel under the name of Sheila Cooper which was my mother’s maiden name, it is my little tribute to her and the main character Annie is just like her. My other projects are written under my actual name, particularly the ones in the chic lit books, as I think my mum would have been quite disapproving of the language I used in them.

Tell us what were you like at school?

I loved junior school, I was bright and enthusiastic and did really well right up to the start of high school where my academic success plummeted. I wasn’t the best pupil and fiercely resented the fact that the year I was due to sit the 11+ exam, was the year it was scrapped and instead the new assessment plan came into force and I wasn’t chosen to go to grammar school. I couldn’t understand this, I felt cheated and that all my hard work was for nothing so I suppose it stands to reason that from that moment on I hated school. However, older and wiser and with plenty of hindsight, I wish I had realised then what an important part of my life was being frittered away with frustration and dislike of the system. Luckily I realised my wasted youth was a by product of my own despondency and took solace in the propriety of being a successful mature student.

 Were you good at English?

Yes, I was pretty good at English, I loved reading and more particularly writing, it was one of the subjects I enjoyed most at school, together with history and home economics.

 Which writers inspire you

As a small child I read all the Enid Blyton books I could get my hands on, followed by the usual classics like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Kidnapped, which, although mainly written for interest towards boys I found were full of the adventure and historical flavour which I still love today. I love Alexander Cordell’s Rape of the fair country, Hosts of Rebecca and Song of the earth, so full of Welsh history in the iron-making industry in the valleys although some say they are quite political, I love the insight into the generational makeup. I love Catrin Collier’s Hearts of gold as I can relate to life in Pontypridd where I was brought up and Catrin’s obvious love of Wales reflects in her stories. I love Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt’s numerous historical novels, based around our Royal families and giving a great insight into life at that time. I was recently and instantly hooked on the Girl with the dragon tattoo trilogy by Steig Larsson, what an amazing writer he was it is so sad that he died before the films were made of his work, his writing was so committed and the storylines were incredible.

 What genre are you books

My ideas are varied from Historical/romance to Chic lit and Murder mystery

So what have you written

My first published book, The Valley Beyond, is a novel set in the heart of the Rhondda Valleys in the early 1900’s. The story tells of one woman’s struggle and the harsh reality of life in a mining village. The characters are loosely based on members of my own family and the story is a little tribute to my mother who died very young and the protagonist is much the same in temperament as her.


The Blurb

The story is set in the heart of the Rhondda Valleys in the early 1900’s – Her idyllic life is shattered and Annie struggles to make ends meet as her badly injured husband becomes more and more unbearable. Meanwhile, the community already on the brink of revolt, seek someone to blame following a mining accident, which killed several men and boys.

My Review:

Two comments firstly: I love the cover and I don’t think the blurb sells this strong story. That being said I did enjoy reading this book. Writing under the name of Sheila Cooper, Irene Husk writes with a easy-to-read, down to earth style that instantly portrays the characters and the world they live in. The harshness of both the era the book is set in and the existence within a Welsh mining village comes through on every page. The descriptions are detailed and evocative. The characters are mostly all multi-layered (I especially liked the protagonist, Annie, with her pragmatism and practical ‘Welshness’). The dialogue, both internal and spoken, is excellent and identifies whoever is speaking. There is humour, pathos and as a reader I could empathise with a lot of the  rich portrayal of both the lives of the minors and their families. A novel to be recommended.


I have also published a chic lit: Five Nights in Ponty


How much research do you do

I think it’s pretty important to do your research, particularly if you are using factual information and giving information. Also it makes your story more accurate and believable if your research is done well.

 Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand

On anything to hand when I get an idea, I’ve amassed mounds of scraps from sweet packets and parking tickets to loo roll.  But I mainly work on the computer as my typing speed is quite high so my ideas can flow from my brain to my fingers uninterrupted. For The Valley Beyond I already had the storyline from start to finish as the characters are loosely based on my own family. However for my other projects I usually just see where an idea takes me and go with it. The plot for Five Nights in Ponty came from embellishing on overheard gossip.

 What are your thoughts about good or bad reviews

I think constructive criticism is always really helpful, I don’t think there is a need for anyone to be ungracious about other author’s contributions, as everyone has their individual style,  acerbity can be very disheartening and anyway, there are always nice ways to say things even if they have a negative aspect about them. It’s always nice to be complimented on your work, particularly if you have put your heart and soul into it but writing is so diverse, not everything is everyone’s cup of tea and one man’s honey is another man’s salt.

 Whats the hardest thing about writing

Writing is it’s own reward so sometimes when I feel depleted of ideas or not in the mood or perhaps even feel I can’t be bothered, I still do it because as soon as I begin the actual act of writing (you know that thing I had to persuade myself to do) , I usually find I don’t want to stop even if the end product goes nowhere, at least it is a good shot at making a contribution and using your imagination as who knows where it will take you.

 What made you become a writer

I have always been a scribbler and written short stories, most of which went in the bin, However, I have had the entire book of The Valley Beyond inside my head for years wanting to put it in print, I finally plucked up the courage to write and publish it after having it professionally edited and finding that the feedback was unexpectedly good.

How do you organise your writing day

I work full time and I am currently studying to be an accredited counsellor, so it’s pretty hectic and although I have a couple of ongoing projects, I have to fit them in when I have a spare moment. I usually find myself grabbing my computer during my lunch break but the time always to fly by, so the progression is pretty slow. When my course is finished I will write in the evenings, after work and in the company of my uncomplaining husband and a large glass of sparkling white.

 What do you enjoy most about writing

Everything, but it’s really exciting when an idea flows and you find your beginning, your middle and the end of your story. Inspiration is gratifying.

 Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from

I have always been aware of the joy books can bring, I was brought up in a fairly impoverished family, we didn’t have a lot but we always had books, our mum used to get second hand ones from Pontypridd market where they had a book exchange stall. Later when I had my own children, I often made up bedtime stories for them, unfortunately I never wrote any of them down and they are lost forever in the obscurity of my consciousness.

 What are some of the references you used when researching your book

I needed to know what vehicles were around in 1912 and how much things cost, for instance how much a loaf of bread was and the cost of renting a miners cottage etc., so I used my trusted search engines and discovered several historical sites that offered a fantastic insight into the cost of general living during the dates relevant to my story. I also found sites like, for instance The history of electric powered motor cars, I could deduce from this what type of horseless carriages were available by gentry in the period of interest to me.  I also used Mining disasters in the Rhondda Valleys to find out some information and relevant dates which I embodied in my history information when describing a tragic accident in my story. I looked at several pictures of clothing worn in poor communities and found old sewing patterns to show the more elegant garments worn by the affluent which helpfully gave me hem lengths and suggested materials etc.

 What is your favourite motivational phrase

It’s a ten minute walk if you run.

 Which famous person living or dead would you like to meet and why

I would love to have met Sir Walter Raleigh and I would have asked him  – why on earth did you bring tobacco back to this country?

 Do you think giving books away free works and why

Yes it helps to get unbiased feedback from sources that might not read that particular genre and it’s always nice to be generous. Also, it stands to reason, in any case, that not all of us can be the next JK Rowling and become millionaires so if I don’t give some away there’s a pretty good chance that no one would choose to read them as no one knows who I am.

 Do you proof read/edit your books or do you get someone to do it for you

My first offering was professionally edited by Doug Watts at Jaqui Bennet Writers Bureau, but all other projects are proof read and edited harshly by my English Teacher big sis.

What books are you reading at present

I am halfway through Tom Jones Biography

 What are you working on at the minute

I currently have a murder mystery and another chic lit waiting in the wings until I finish my studies.

 What are your ambitions for your writing career

Several people have told me that my book The Valley Beyond would make a great TV play, so obviously, if this ever happened it would make my day.  But be that as it may, I write mainly for the love of it and just to see my work in print and have positive feedback is an amazing achievement for me.

Whats your motto or favourite quote you like to live by

I hope I don’t die while there is still dessert in the fridge.

Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know or would surprise them.

My birthday is the same day as Her Majesty’s and my dad wanted to call me Elizabeth.

What single piece of advice would you give new authors?

Don’t let anyone put you off your writing, have faith in yourself don’t forget that any negative feedback is simply the opinion of that one person. Be true to your work and write about what you know.

How did you get published?

I sent my work to Doug Watts at Jaqui Bennet Writing Bureau for editing, via that source, I found and self published through Createspace.

Find Irene at:

Buying Link:

The Valley Beyond:

Five Nights In Ponty:

Both books also available from

The Rhondda Arts Factory Arts Factory
Unit 11
Highfield Ind Estate
CF43 4SX

Tel: 01443 757 954 Fax: 01443 732 521

Today with Thorne Moore

Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,,  and showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance.   The Book Fair is the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival Last week I  interviewed Rebecca Bryn: . 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Thorne Moore:  fellow organiser of the Tenby Book Fair, brilliant author and a great friend.

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Hi Thorne, good to see you here

Glad to be here, Judith.

Let’s start with what were you like at school?

Academically bright, socially hopeless. It wasn’t my happiest time.

Were you good at English?

Yes, great at English Language, which involved grammar and what would now be called creative writing. My best O level grade was English Language. However, I very nearly failed English Literature, since it seemed to be about expressing the correct opinions about other people’s writing. I have never been short of my own opinions.

Which writers inspire you?

Iris Murdoch, Barbara Vine, Kate Atkinson – and Jane Austen in a very humble, kneeling-at-her-feet sort of way. I used to use milestones in her life to encourage me not to give up. She was 36 when she first got published. That encouraged me until I was 37. She died at 42, so I gave myself till 42. Seriously annoying when I turned 43. Now I reconcile myself with thinking that she took her time to get going.

So, what have you written?

Well, apart from the 20,000 novels written and discarded since I was about 14, I have two novels published by Honno – A Time For Silence and Motherlove, and a third, The Unravelling, will be published on July 21st. My first published work was a short story, in a magazine, in 2010, which was voted 1st prize by the readers. It gave me the push I really needed to get over the finishing line.

Where can we buy or see the books? (* include American, European and any other relevant links. Free, free promotions or prices can be included)

At all good bookshops, as they say, and online:

A Time For Silence: (, (, (Kobo books) (Waterstones) and from the publisher, Honno:

Motherlove (, (, (Kobo books), (Waterstones) and from the publisher:  


The Unravelling is now available to pre-order on Amazon:


What genre are your books?

A difficult question. Crime, but not whodunits. I am not interested in crime as a puzzle, with clues to be followed in order to reach a triumphant conclusion. I am not interested in a duel between goody and baddy, with a clever criminal carefully planning a crime and determined to mislead an even more brilliant detective. The crimes I am interested in are the unintended ones, the ones committed on the spur of the moment by people pushed into a corner, crimes that are just the fatally wrong choice at the wrong moment. The crimes they didn’t mean to commit and wish they hadn’t.  It’s the psychological impact that interests me, and the long-term consequences. Even if I write about psychopaths, I am really interested in how it all came about and how people would cope with having a psychopath in their midst. Would they recognise the phenomenon or try to pretend it’s not true? And how would they cope with the aftermath? I could call my genre Psychological Mystery, but I quite like Domestic Noir.

How much research do you do?

Enough to make sure I get details right when necessary. I don’t want any reader to start screaming ‘She’s got that wrong!’although I expect some will, but I try to get dates, procedures, little details right. I don’t want to make any research too obvious, though. Sometimes, research uncovers details that I itch to include, because they are so astonishing and interesting, but if they are irrelevant to the theme or characters, I have to be firm with myself and put them to one side. So I put aside all the fascinating information I discovered about a local POW camp, when I was writing A Time For Silence, because it didn’t add to my theme, but I did read local newspapers and talk to local people in order to get the general background right. In my latest book, The Unravelling, I needed to check small things like the weather on very specific days, or TV schedules from years ago. The internet really is a godsend for that sort of research. Instant answers found at the click of a mouse. How did I manage before? On the other hand, it is about a girl who was 10 in 1966, and I didn’t have to research that. I just had to remember it.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Any author worth her salt is supposed to say, ‘Oh I always write in longhand with my trusty Parker fountain pen,’ or ‘Call me old fashioned, but I still tap with two fingers on the Remington Standard 2 I inherited from my great-great-grandmother.’ Rubbish. The word processor, on my laptop, is the best thing since unsliced Granary bread. No more throwing reams of paper in the bin, no more illegible corrections scribbled in margins, and extra bits sellotaped in. No more realising that you’ve used the wrong name and wondering how many times you’ve done it in the previous 300 pages. Cut, paste, find and replace – brilliant.’

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

I have a loose outline and yes, I see where it takes me. I usually have very definite images of the locations, and of most of the characters but sometimes I think I know what they’re going to do and they surprise me. If they have developed in a realistic enough manner, who am I to argue with their choices?

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing isn’t hard. Deleting half of what you’ve written because it shouldn’t be there is the hard bit. All the editing – and the endless waiting. “Writer” is only one letter removed from “Waiter.” That’s the most agonising part of the process.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I’ve never wanted to in the past, but a carrot has been dangled before my nose and I’m seriously thinking about it. I can see the appeal.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

My thoughts on bad reviews don’t bear repeating. But mostly, really bad reviews are by bad tempered people who got out of bed the wrong side, or who are simply the wrong audience for the book. I don’t write bad reviews, because if I think a book is really bad, I can’t be bothered to review it. If someone can be bothered, he or she is probably prompted by hidden issues. Good reviews, on the other hand, really lift the spirits. They don’t have to be five star reviews to be good. A good review, for me, is one that show the reader has read my book and thought hard about it. That is very flattering.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?


Facebook: thornemoorenovelist


Amazon Author Page: 

Oh, and find me at the Tenby Book Fair on September 24th.

Today I’m Really Pleased to be Chatting with author, Kristina Stanley

KS 75 High Res

Please introduce yourself:

Judith, Thank you for hosting me today. I’m the author of The Stone Mountain Mystery Series. DESCENT was published July 2015 by Imajin Books ( BLAZE is scheduled for publication this fall. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be offered a contract for AVALANCHE in 2016.

What first inspired you to start writing?

My degree is Computer Mathematics. I love adventure and am a very social person. So writing a novel, where you spend hours upon hours indoors, alone…I have no idea what I was thinking. If I had to pinpoint one moment of inspiration, I would say when I read MOONLIGHT BECOMES YOU by Mary Higgins Clark. My thought was I’d like to make people forget about their troubles for a while and be immersed in a story, just like this book did for me.

Tell us about your new book.

Death on the slopes can happen at any moment and still, speed is everything to an alpine racer. Olympic skiers attack a run at speeds in excess of 80 mph. The characters in DESCENT demand speed, and this demand causes injury and death.

Racers have specialized technicians who follow them on the World Cup circuit, striving to give each skier an advantage, to squeeze out that extra bit of speed from the equipment. The technicians file and wax multiple skis for each skier, always busy trying to give their athlete an edge over others. Resorts inject a run to turn the slope into a skating rink. Everyone wants to cross the finish line first. But at what cost?

You’ll have to read DESCENT to find out.


What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any? 

One day, my heart broke. My beautiful Labrador Retriever, Chica, was diagnosed with cancer. She died three weeks later. I had no idea how much losing her would hurt. So as a tribute to her, she has a key role in all three Stone Mountain mysteries.

My grandmother died before I met her. She had one green and one brown eye. To make her part of my life, I gave my protagonist, Kalin Thompson, the same eyes.

Those are the only two real facets of my life included in the novels.

I worked as the director of security, human resources and guest services at a ski resort in British Columbia, Canada. I used the expertise I gained from that job as research for my novels. The stories are made up, as in a racer was not murdered while I was the director of security, but I did use the ski resort as my muse.

You’re a fly on the wall when readers are discussing your book.  What would you hope to hear them say about it?

I would love it if people said, “I couldn’t put it down.”

What single piece of advice would you give new authors?

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to write. This is a long and hard journey, but so worth it. Someone once told me it’s the persistent authors who make it. I believe that.

 Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?

You would see me sitting on my couch, legs stretched out in front of me, computer on my lap, and Farley tucked between me and the back of the couch. Farley is my wheaten terrier, and he loves to put his head on my keyboard if I don’t pay enough attention to him. I’ve learned to type and pet him at the same time.

My view is of the ski hill. Sometimes a deer will walk passed my side door. The 8-point buck is my favourite.

I never write at a desk because I feel like I’m at work and my imagination won’t flow.

What’s your motto or favourite quote you like to live by?

Time’s fun when you’re having flies – Kermit the Frog.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us in closing such as your website, an imminent book launch or what you’re working on presently?

DESCENT is the first in the Stone Mountain Mystery series. The series takes place in an isolated mountain resort in the depths of the Purcell mountain range in British Columbia.

With all the forest fires this season, BLAZE, the second in the Stone Mountain Series deals with a current Canadian and American issue. Of course, BLAZE is a mystery and arson is the crime, but this time it looks like Kalin Thompson is the target. BLAZE is scheduled for release before the end of 2015 by Imajin Books.

The third in the series, AVALANCHE, has Kalin Thompson searching for a thief, struggling to prove her brother is innocent of a major theft. Unfortunately for Kalin, her brother disappears hours after the theft and is the prime suspect.

REQUEST FOR READER ASSISTANCE: I’m writing the fourth in the series. A business partner of Kalin’s is murdered while driving his ATV on a mountain trail. He’s forced into a frothing river… My problem with the fourth is I have to stop calling it “the fourth.” I need a title. If you have any suggestions for a title that fits with DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE, please leave a comment below.

I’m sure someone will contact you with a brilliant idea for a title, Kirstina. But for now, I’d like to say thank you so much for chatting with me today. Now, where can people find you?

I love to connect with people on-line. I can be found at:

Follow me on twitter, let me know you read this blog and I’ll follow you back.

Or comment on my Facebook page

If you’re interested you can buy DESCENT or download a sample at: