The Covenant and the low heat of technology: Bookish words by Thorne Moore #MondayBlogs

Interesting post here from Thorne Moore, whose new novel, The Covenant, is coming out in August, and is set in West Wales in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. Set a novel in that period in a city, in London or Manchester, and it wouldn’t be difficult to paint a period that everyone with any knowledge of history would recognise.

My characters would be flag-waving for the Empire and possibly their sons would be out there, carrying our trade and accompanying our adventurers around the world, whether the indigenous people wanted us or not. They might be soldiers embroiled in Afghanistan (plus ça change) or crushing rebellions in China and fighting wars in South Africa and the trenches of Europe. They could be participating in administrations that were starving millions in India, or they could be at home working in the clamour of industry, in cotton mills or ironworks, in banks and shops.

Motorised vehicles were appearing and my characters would travelling around on bicycles or in omnibuses. They would be totally at home with the railways that could carry them to every corner of the land. If they were very daring and very rich, they might even be taking to the air. They would have gas lighting in their houses or, if grand enough, might be installing electricity (although my mother, living in Cardiff in the 1920s and early 30s, still had gas lights in the living rooms and candles upstairs). Their world would have been quite recognisable to the reader, industrialised, confident, profiteering and surging forward.

But a novel set in rural West Wales is going to lack most of those markers that would help a reader place it in time. It’s an area that, until recently, has existed in an alternative time zone out of kilter with the rest of the world. It wasn’t surging anywhere. Even when I moved to the area in the early 1980s, I felt I was slipping into somewhere still marooned in the 1950s, if not earlier. Researching for my first novel, A Time For Silence, set in the 1930s and 40s, I read newspaper articles on the introduction of electricity in the 1950s – and that was just in the towns. Official reports had noted the poor housing, hygiene and malnutrition prevalent in rural Wales at the start of the twentieth century and it was still being blamed for the high level of TB in 1939. A diet of potatoes and tea was not uncommon.

In the 1980s we were told about an old lady, in living memory, who used to live a few doors away in what must have been a traditional long house, with cows occupying one half of the building. Each morning the cows would come in, through her front door and hall,  politely tilting their heads so their horns wouldn’t disturb the pictures on the walls, as they made their way into the milking parlour. 

The gentry of the area would not have been troubled by primitive housing or malnutrition and they probably had homes in London as well as their country estates. They would have been au fait with everything fashionable, modern and advanced, but ordinary people, who had never moved far beyond their own parishes, were still living in a world only a very small shuffle removed from the world of their ancestors one or two hundred years before.

West Wales was not totally isolated in world terms. Ships were sailing to America from ports like Cardigan, Newquay and Aberystwyth in the 19th century, but inland the area lagged behind. Railways had been threading through the country, expanding horizons spectacularly since 1825, but branches only extended into North Pembrokeshire towards the end of the century – to Cardigan in 1886, and Fishguard in 1906.

the Cardi Bach

Motor cars began to appear in the 1890s – the first one was driven on British roads in 1895. By 1900, when Prince Bertie acquired one, there were still only a few hundred in Britain. Very few would have made their way to West Wales, especially to isolated villages where roads were still mud tracks.

In the big world, agriculture was becoming ever more mechanised, with mowers, reapers and binders, seed drills, steam engines and, finally in the 20th century, tractors. But these were not for the small-scale farmers with a few acres.


In The Covenant, a relatively wealthy farmer acquires a tractor in the course of the Great War, but the Owens, with their 24 acres, 1 rood and 8 perches, continue to rely on sickles and scythes. Partly poverty and partly an obstinate but pious determination to labour as Adam had done.

By 1919, the wealthy farmer has the luxury of a Ford Model T, but the Owens are still using a horse and trap or taking a daring ride on the charabanc from the nearest market town.

Newspapers were in circulation and, like every other community in Britain, from the largest city to the smallest hamlet, my characters feel the impact of the Great War, the shared patriotism and the private grief. But it is their little patch of land that really matters to them, not the fate of the Empire. It’s their minister’s decision to become a missionary that really opens up their horizons and that’s a matter of the next world, not this one.

The Covenant

published by Honno Press August 20th 2020

available for pre-order now

www.thornemoore.co.uk

Chatting About How to Review (Well my Way of Reviewing!) and Celebrating 6 Years Of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team. #RBRT. #MondayBlogs #Readers

“It’s your review; to write as you want”. I carried  this advice from Rosie Amber (#RBRT) around in my head as I struggled to find a way to put into words what I thought about the first book I’d read and was about to review for her team. I’d never reviewed a book before – or anything, come to think of it

Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT

As a creative writing tutor, I was used to reading essays, stories, poems – but this was different. Five tries later and I decided to break up the parts of the book into sections, as I do for my work: characters, dialogue, settings, points of view, plot etc. A moment of eureka; I didn’t need to tell the story of the book, I could say what I thought were the strong points and what didn’t work for me, because I know any review is subjective, and what I might like or not be so keen on, someone else will always have different thoughts. Writing it that way I could then recommend it to readers who like a book that had a good plot, is character led, told in a certain tense, and so on – or for readers who like particular genres.

One thing I do like with being on the #RBRT team is that if I really can’t get to grips with a book, I’m not expected to finish it; I’ll let Rosie know and that’s the end of the matter. And I don’t give below three stars; I don’t think it’s fair to any writer who has worked hard to produce a book but has probably not used either an editor or a proof-reader. It happens and I always think it’s a shame if the plot/idea is good.

“It’s your review; to write as you want”; something I would say to anyone thinking of joining #RBRT, with the one proviso (which goes unsaid but should be kept in mind) use constructive criticism and be kind. And enjoy the reading. Rosie is approached by many authors of all kinds of genres, eager for the team to review. Their books are put on a list and we can choose the ones we think we might like. I’ve had the chance to read some wonderfully written books of all genres … for free. Although I don’t always manage to review as often as I’d like for Rosie’s Book Review Team, due to other commitments,  I’ve loved being a member since I day  I joined and I’ve made some brilliant and supportive on-line friends in the team.

And Rosie is always there for advice and to steer the ship. What more can one ask?

http://amzn.to/2klIJzN

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today With Adrienne Morris #Mondayblogs

 Until the beginning of July I’ll be chatting, as I have been  over the last few months, 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!!

Adrienne

Hi,Adrienne, thanks for joining us here today.

Many thanks for inviting me, Judith.

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

My father was an Irish/German police officer who could entertain crowds for hours with his policing tales. He saw the humor, pathos and hope in every dysfunctional situation he encountered. My mother was the quiet storyteller. She told us about ourselves by retelling (as if things happened only yesterday) all the human events involving our gene pool going back centuries. My mother also loved to read to us. Pride and Prejudice was her favorite.

How long have you been writing?

My 1st grade teacher illustrated a story I wrote about a kitten who loved to take showers before taking tea. I envied writers throughout life but avoided doing it seriously until after a blood clot almost took my life.

What kind of writing do you do?

I’ve wrestled with what to call my writing. Family saga? Historical fiction? Big house story?  I’m obsessed with family dynamics, history and flawed people. Once a reader said he was uncomfortable with how often my characters made the wrong decisions. Welcome to my world!

 Peeling back the layers of my characters’ inner worlds is the most exciting part of writing. Beneath the respectable facades we all present there are mixed emotions and secrets we keep hidden. I find people almost always more lovable for their flaws. If you’re looking for perfect heroes and villains you won’t find them in my books. People are far more interesting than that.

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

The House on Tenafly Road 2

My first novel, The House on Tenafly Road, was inspired by a partial copy of a 19th century missionary woman’s diary. Her husband was in the US military after the Civil War presumably fighting Indians or protecting the newly freed slaves of the South. My plan was to write a short story about the woman’s misguided attempts to “civilize” the Indians, but one day while doing laundry it came to me that her husband, John Weldon, had a secret morphine addiction due to treatment given to him during the war.

This led me to the Army War College where sober and kind old gentleman soldiers served up treat after treat of army memorabilia and precious relics. If I wasn’t writing I was reading (a great many 19th century army wives’ journals and books—back then they traveled in the field with their men). I joined a Civil War re-enacting group and donned corset and hoops to get a taste of the era (playing a nurse and writer (I was jokingly asked to play a prostitute once or twice but demurred). Many researchers at small institutions lent their help for little tidbits to include in the novel which grew and grew.

While my family went to amusement parks, I scribbled away taking notes in libraries anxiously glancing at the clock and not wanting the days to end.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

My love of humanity shines through most, but it is a gritty love. My characters go through the wringer. Each has a burden to carry and scars to prove all they’ve been through. I couldn’t have written my books before going through plenty of trials of my own. My parents instilled in me a sense of compassion but were both crazy enough to give me plenty of dysfunctional material to work with.

What did you enjoy most about writing these books?

My favorite part of writing is when the characters take over and become real. Although I know where I want them to be in the end, I’m often not sure how they’ll get there. When reading a section later I’m sometimes surprised and delighted by a witty or awful thing said by a character. It no longer feels like I wrote any of it at all.

What inspires you?

Anything 19th century inspires me. A Civil War historian gave me an old nib pen and blue/black ink with a copy of the alphabet as it was written in the 1860’s. I wrote my first two novels using that pen and ink. As soon as I picked up the pen (even if it was in the loud classroom where I worked) I was immediately brought back into my story.

I also love old houses, Aaron Copland music and walks in the woods. I’m a people watcher and love hearing (and stealing) stories from friends and family. They don’t mind.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?

My four years of Catholic school education were a huge gift. The nuns and brothers were sticklers about good grammar. They didn’t expect us to magically understand gerunds. I loved grammar.

Writing every day was and is the best teacher.

Are you a full time writer?

I’ve cut out almost every activity in my life that isn’t a necessity so I can write. I do have a family, grow a lot of our food and take care of our dairy goats so my life is very full. Visitors love coming to the peaceful farm but leave feeling exhausted for me. I sometimes think of cutting back this or that thing but I love everything. That’s a good place to be in life.

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

I worked on a number of organic farms where people elevated the organic life to almost religious status. Only certain viewpoints were acceptable if you wanted to be embraced by the other workers. This inspired my character Buck Crenshaw’s trip to a 19th century utopian society where he gets taken in by a charismatic leader who convinces him that God has special plans for him. 

As a teacher I helped my students to become more confident writers as I tried to become one myself. Their enthusiasm and courage inspired me. I also discovered the abandoned house that was the inspiration for The House on Tenafly Road across the street from the school I taught at.

 The Dew That Goes Early Away 2

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

Now that I have a Kindle I enjoy eBooks, but I still prefer to read on paper. As a writer I LOVE eBooks! It’s so fun to be able to play with covers and make changes to your work. It’s great to have control over pricing and marketing. Indie publishing is a great way to go if you love adventure and learning new skills.

Who doesn’t dream of a big book deal? But once I realized how little control you have in conventional publishing and how few books ever make an author a lot of money I was convinced that alternative publishing was for me.

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

Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time. Some people predict books and reading will fall away as people consume visual media, but there will always be readers. If we’re honest, a lot of people weren’t reading even before the digital revolution. There is a trend toward embracing retro things. Books may be part of that trend.

I remember getting an encouraging rejection letter once. The agent loved my book. She told me she put her heart into convincing her co-workers that it should be published but said that they could not get behind a big book that didn’t fit perfectly into a genre. They were afraid of my new author status as well.

Discoverability as an indie author is a challenge, but I was struck recently when prowling the local bookstore by how many books on the shelves probably wouldn’t be purchased or read. As writers we have to figure out how to remain sane despite not being JK Rowling.

I do this by reminding myself that I’m living the dream no matter the number of sales. I also greatly appreciate each review and each friend I make as I live the writer’s life.

What projects are you working on at present?

I’ve just finished editing the next book in The Tenafly Road Series. My cover designer and I met for a photo shoot. Our model was a little hung-over, I suspect, but it was a fun time dressing her in a ball gown I used when doing living history years ago.

Weary of Running 2

Before starting the edit on the final book in the series I’m finishing up designing my author website (my husband gave me the challenge). This has been a scary thing for me. Plugins, security, etc.  Not my strong suit but I’m really proud of the new site: adriennemorris.com.

What made you want to become a writer?

It was a calling. For all of my life it was there. I tried to escape it—such is the nature of fear of failure—but it kept coming back, this urge to write. Now I wonder what took so long!

What does your typical day look like?

Milk the goats, feed the sheep and chickens. Drive kid to school. Write. Pick the kid up from school. Milk the goats, feed the sheep and chickens. Make supper. Send kid to bed. Social media stuff or read. Bed.

This changes with the seasons. Some months are spent writing in the field as the animals graze. August is about tomatoes and cucumbers. Visitors usually swamp the farm then too so little writing gets done. Autumn is a good time for research and planting crops that come up in spring—like new books!

What is your writing style?

I’m not sure but my influences are Wallace Stegner, George Eliot and Laura Ingalls Wilder. The toughest criticism is the stuff you know is true. J  When I published my first novel I did it as a dare. When it was reviewed and picked as an Editors’ Choice book for the Historical Novel Society I was thrilled, but I still knew that there were some grammatical and typo errors (I’d paid someone to edit the book but he confessed that he got too into the story to correct much and assured me that a publisher would take care of that—he assured me I’d get an agent easily–lol).

When a review came in saying that the book was “captivating, heartbreaking and inspiring but horribly edited,” I knew I had some more work to do. I revised the manuscript and felt much better about the whole thing.

What has been the best compliment?

I love when people tell me my characters feel like family to them.

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

When writing about flawed humanity there’s no better book to read than the Bible. I thought the book was mainly about judgement until I read it. Now I see that it is about imperfect people being used in a great redemption story. I love happy endings. My characters are reflections of different parts of myself; the good, the bad, the ugly. I love writing redemption stories. We are all so messy, but I like believing that through love we can help to redeem each other.

Links to find Adrienne:

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Jane McCulloch #MondayBlogs

 Over the last few months and into July 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!!

jane mcculloch headshot

Welcome Jane, thank you for being here today.

 Thank you for the chance to chat here, Judith

Tell us, about your writing; does writing energise or exhaust you?                                                                                    

Both!

What are common traps for aspiring writers?  

To think it is easy!

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? 

No, but confidence helps.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?                         Perhaps a bit of both.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?                No.  Emotions and imagination are the tools you can’t do without.

Full Circle: Volume 3 (Three Lives Trilogy)

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

I know several, but one writer in particular has helped me and become my mentor. (Stephen Carver)

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?                                                         

Both – in the family saga there was a link between each of the three books.  My next book stands on its own.

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

Re-write and don’t be afraid of making major changes or cuts.

Triangles in Squares (Three Lives Trilogy Book 2)

What is the first book that made you cry?                                                                                  Jane Eyre – the death of Helen Burns.

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

I came to writing fiction very late after a career of writing and directing in the theatre – so it was difficult to change to fiction.  Once the first book was published I knew I was on the right lines.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?                                                             Paid advice (TLC) 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When reading “The Forsyte Saga” and quickly moved into that world.

Parallel Lines: Book One of the Three Lives Trilogy

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?  

A great deal – but I have been lucky enough to meet some fascinating people.  However –  general observation of people around you is vital to building characters.

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

At this moment, only one.

What does literary success look like to you?        

Interest and appreciation from readers.

What’s the best way to market your books?   

I wish I knew.  I’m hopeless.

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

If the book has a specific background I do a great deal research.  If it from my imagination I don’t need to – except to check facts.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?                                                       Anything creative has a spiritual element.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?           I’m never quite sure I have got into the male head!

How many hours a day do you write?                                                                                           This varies – depending on how the writing is going.

How do you select the names of your  characters?                                                                  This is something I take great trouble with and enjoy.  I try and make the name fit the character.

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

So far I have been lucky and had mainly good reviews.  I try to be fair and if a bad review is valid I want to learn from it.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will   find?                        

Maybe only recognition of traits in a character that a few people will see.

What was your hardest scene to write?    

I think those that were nearest to me emotionally, i.e. someone dying in the last book of the Trilogy.

What is your favourite childhood book?                                                                                      

A little unknown book called “Groundsel and Necklaces” written and illustrated by Cicely Mary Barker.  It still moves me to tears.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?                                                         Making an actual start.  Once the first paragraph is written, I’m off.

Does your family support your career as a writer?  

Yes they do, in that they take an interest.

How long on average does it take you to write a  book?                                                          It really depends on the sort of book but on average about 6 months.

Jane has been quite conservative with her answers so I thought I would add  a little more about her here:

Since leaving the Central School of Speech and Drama – a long time ago – I have worked as a writer, playwright, librettist – and theatre and opera director.
After a long association with London’s famous Old Vic Theatre I formed a company of my own, The English Chamber Theatre. Dame Judi Dench is the President.
Since its formation I have written, devised and directed over thirty works – many of them biographical in content.-and because of the nature of chamber work they had small casts and I have been lucky enough to have worked with some of our greatest actors including Sir Derek Jacobi, Fenella Fielding, James Bolam, Timothy West and many others.
In 2005 I moved from theatre to opera directing and for the company Opera UK I wrote several English versions of the librettos including ‘The Merry Widow’, ‘Carmen’ and ‘La Traviata’.
I also wrote the libretto for an Easter Oratorio ‘The People’s Passion’ which was televised for BBC1 with Jessye Norman and Sir Thomas Allen heading the cast.
I wrote an original opera for children ‘Hello Mr Darwin’ and a Christmas carol, ‘This Christmastide’ which was sung first by Jessye Norman and has since become very popular both in the States and the UK.
My writing work also includes, work for the radio, television and recording studio.
Now I seem to be concentrating on novels. My first, ‘Parallel Lines’ was published in January 2015. It is the first in a family saga trilogy. The second book, ‘Triangles in Squares will be published later this year. The last in the trilogy, ‘Full Circle’ will be published in 2016.

And a teasing taster of Jane’s new book to come; publishing date to follow soon

Image may contain: 2 people, text and close-up

Find Jane here: http://amzn.to/2pLqN8O

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2pjSZOn

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2oYdopG

c392a-tenby2bheaderTenby Book Fair is approaching 24th September (this next Saturday!) and there are six events you can attend.
All three publishers will be giving talks and taking questions —

Honno, which has been publishing Welsh women, classics and contemporary, for thirty years (Happy birthday Honno!)

Firefly, founded in 2013, and already winning prizes, is the only publisher in Wales devoted to children and young adults

Cambria Publishing Co-operative provides all manner of help – editing, graphic design, printing etc – for indie authors.

There will also be talks by three authors.
Colin R Parsons writes very popular fantasy and science fiction for young people and has given many talks and presentations at schools.

Kathy Miles is a prize-winning poet who will be reading some of her work.

Matt Johnson, ex-soldier and police officer, will be talking about how he came to write his thriller, Wicked Game.

Places are limited, so if you would like to reserve a place at any of these talks, email judithbarrow77@gmail.com

Today With John Nicholl

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve cross-examined interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles:  http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin:  http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood:http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams: http://bit.ly/29racfO ,Alys Einion:  http://bit.ly/29l5izl  and Julie McGowan: http://bit.ly/29CHNa9  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  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: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

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

Today I am so pleased to be talking with John Nicholl

john nicholls

Welcome, John, so pleased to be chatting with you here today.

 Thanks, Judith, it’s good to be here.

May I start by asking you why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

I guess that given my career in law enforcement and child protection, psychological thrillers chose me. I’d like to write something light, funny and life affirming, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.

And how long have you been writing?

I wrote a multi agency child protection guide and articles for newspapers and a national social work magazine during my career, but ‘White is the coldest colour’ was my first novel. I began writing fiction about five years ago.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

I wrote ‘White is the coldest colour’ with the primary intention of producing an entertaining and original psychological suspense thriller. However, I also hoped it would play a small part in raising awareness of the risks posed by sexual predators. Reader feedback suggests I went some way towards achieving those ends. ‘When evil calls your name,’  the sequel, addresses domestic physical and psychological violence towards women, within the context of the story. Again, I hope it raises awareness of the problem to some extent.

white

 John hasn’t said a lot about his books so I’m adding the next few lines myself. This is the blurb on Amazon for White is the coldest colour:  “The Mailer family are oblivious to the terrible danger that enters their lives when seven-year-old Anthony is referred to the child guidance service by the family GP following the breakdown of his parents’ marriage.
Fifty-eight year old Dr David Galbraith, a sadistic predatory paedophile employed as a consultant child psychiatrist, has already murdered one child in the soundproofed cellar below the South Wales Georgian town-house he shares with his wife and two young daughters.
Anthony becomes Galbraith’s latest obsession and he will stop at nothing to make his grotesque fantasies reality.

The book includes content that some readers may find disturbing from the start. It is dedicated to survivors everywhere.”

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book? 

I spent twenty years as a social worker, which was all the research I needed. My books are entirely fictional, but they draw heavily on my professional experiences. I worked with some amazing people, some of whom have contributed to the characters I’ve created.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I like to get inside the characters’s heads, and to portray their thoughts and feelings in addition to their actions.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

In many ways, writing ‘White is the coldest colour’ was cathartic, but it brought back some memories which were perhaps best left in the past.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? 

Everyone has the right to live free of the fear of oppression and violence. I think those are the key principles underpinning my novels. Both of my first two books address important social issues, and talk about subjects many in society would prefer to ignore.

And, here again, I add the blurb on John’s second book: When Evil Calls Your Name: 

“When twenty-nine-year-old Cynthia Galbraith struggles to come to terms with her traumatic past and the realities of prison life, a prison counsellor persuades her to write a personal journal exploring the events that led to a life sentence for murder.
Although unconvinced at first, Cynthia finally decides she has all the time in the world and very little, if anything, to lose. She begins writing and holds back nothing: sharing the thoughts she hadn’t dare vocalise, the things that keep her awake at night and haunt her waking hours.”

What inspires you?

Family, spirituality, justice, beauty, travel, art, great writing, yoga and so much more.

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

I’ve been unbelievably lucky, in that the success of my first novel has enabled me to write full time. Now all I have to do is to keep writing books people want to read. I suspect that’s going to prove to be a lot easier said than done.

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

I tarred roads, emptied bins, and worked as a kitchen porter before moving on to police and social work. Once I qualified as a social worker, I worked for two social services departments, the child guidance service, and the NSPCC.  I’ve also lectured on child protection at several colleges and universities. I like to think my woking life has helped introduce an air of realism to my writing.

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

The more reading options open to people the better. Ebooks are relatively cheap and accessible, and that has to be a good thing. The publishing world is changing fast, enabling writers to self publish, if they so wish, and to let potential readers decide if their work is worth buying. I’ve chosen to remain independent despite contact offers from three publishers, and I would encourage anyone considering writing a book to give it a go. It’s never been easier to get your writing out there in front of the public.

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

I believe that reading will always be a major pastime, although the introduction as alternatives like audio books gives people a viable alternative.Both my books were recently produced as audio books, and I have to admit that I was both surprised and impressed by the additional dimensions the narrators brought to the text.

Find John here:

http://bit.ly/29s3BAq

http://amzn.to/29CN2qh

https://twitter.com/nicholl06

http://bit.ly/29BhTAt

Buying Links: Amazon.co.uk:

White is the coldest colour: http://amzn.to/29tXtsO

When evil calls your name: http://amzn.to/29Bfy8G

Amazon.com:

White is the coldest colour: http://amzn.to/29x73Nf

When evil calls your name: http://amzn.to/29sIcfR

 

Today With Nigel Williams

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles:  http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G and Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  and Alex Martin:  http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/29frGPq   and Juliet Greenwood: http://bit.ly/29jylrM And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  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: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

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

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

nigel

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.

Website: http://www.nigel-williams.biz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nigel.williams.14661

Twitter: http://bit.ly/29oF1oQ

Lnkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nigel-williams-baa10b59?trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

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!)

EDEN RELICS

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Relics-Woods-action-adventure-novel-ebook/dp/B008NWT6L6

http://www.amazon.com/Eden-Relics-N-Williams/dp/1291867384

http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=11614

WELSH GOLD

https://www.amazon.co.uk/WELSH-GOLD-Royalties-British-Foundation-ebook/dp/B00B1UOCGG/

FAKE BAKED

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fake-Baked-You-cant-innocent-ebook/dp/B00CB1OOPI

UNETHICAL CONDUCT

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01B6KXV0I

http://www.amazon.com/Unethical-Conduct-Arthur-Cole/dp/1523724129

NO STEP BACK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Step-Back-Policemans-Different-ebook/dp/B018XOXZ7E

A HARD PLACE

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hard-Place-Book-Frank-Thrillers-ebook/dp/B019IRFF2I

 

 

Today With Graham Watkins

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore:  http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr  and Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci. and Wendy Steele:  http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i   And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me today: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

Today I’m with Graham Watkins, a delightful chap to talk to. I had to chuckle at his answer to “What one thing did you wish you’d known before you started writing?” Look out for it!

Graham Watkins's profile photo

How and when did you first become published?

My first book was a business help book called ‘Exit Strategy’ based on my experiences of selling a family business to a PLC.

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I still get letters and emails from business owners saying how useful they found it. 

Did you have any surprises or hiccups along the way during the  book writing and/or publishing process?

My mistake and a very good lesson for me was to deal with the wrong publisher, one who made no effort to promote my book. Although, since then, I have published another six books through traditional publishers I now prefer to go the indie route and publish my own work. Unless it’s a blockbuster, the returns for the author are better as an indie and I keep control of my work.

What was the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part of writing for me is returning to a manuscript to edit and refine it into a more polished product. I know it’s a mistake but I always want to rush to the finish line and see the book in print. They say, ‘Never go into business with an inventor because an inventor will never admit his device is ready to show the world.’ I’m the opposite. I like the inventing bit, that is to say creating the story, but after that I lose interest.

What one thing did you wish you’d known before you started writing?

That’s an easy question to answer. How to write properly. I didn’t. My grammar and spelling were awful. Not only that but my style was stilted and to make matter worse I was conceited enough to think I was good. I wasn’t and it’s been a long road to improve. Truth is. . . I’m still learning and have a considerable way to go. The lesson, I suppose, is that it doesn’t matter as long as you are willing to learn as you go and stick at it.

Do you outline and plan your stories before you write them or did these stories develop on their own.

Yes I do. In fact, in my view it’s essential. Take for example my historical novel ‘The Iron Masters.’

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Set over a turbulent fifty year period during the Napoleonic Wars, the plot has to be historically correct. You can’t do that in your head. I started with a two page synopsis followed by main character profiles. From there I fleshed out the story using an excel spreadsheet split into yearly columns. Beneath each year I added the characters ages to keep track of how old they were and below the ages each column detailed key points in the story together with the dates of real events together with links to external resources. It was a reference work that grew like Topsy as the story was written and I could not have kept control or remembered where I was without it.

What’s your favourite book? Why?

There are two that stand out. by one of my favourite, David Howard. His treatment of the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo are superb. Having said that, my tastes are eclectic. I belong to a book club that meets once a month and find myself introduced to a wide range of authors. I am continuously surprised and entertained by unexpected gems.

What’s your favourite book you’ve written? Why?

I suppose my favourite is ‘A White Man’s War’ because of the story; the plight of the native Africans during the siege of Mafeking.

Cover image 3small

The idea came to me during a tour of Boer and Zulu War battlefields. My muse for the plot was a picture of a terrified black youth, stood in front of white army officers who had just sentenced him to death for stealing a goat. Hardly surprising when his family was starving to death because of the seige. At the same time the boy scouts movement was being invented. The hero, for the British of course, was Colonel Baden-Powell, commanding officer of Mafeking but my novel is written from the African perspective. It isn’t always nice but I’m rather proud of it.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing ‘The Sicilian Defence’. It’s a story of two centuries. Part in the 19th Century during which a Sicilian noble family loses and regains its fortune through deceit and murder and the second part in the present day when an American heiress marries into the same family unaware she is in mortal danger. The idea came to me during a holiday to Sicily when we visited a royal palazzo in Palermo.

One Final question. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write about what you enjoy would be my personal advice to any aspiring writer. If you do, writing is never a chore.

Links to find Graham:

https://www.facebook.com/graham.watkins.311?ref=br_rs

https://twitter.com/GrahamWriter

Buying Links:

The Iron Masters; Amazon.co.uk: http://getbook.at/iron_masters

A White Man’s WarAmazon.co.uk: http://viewbook.at/AWMW

Exit Strategy: Amazon.co.uk: http://viewbook.at/ExitStrategy

Today With Christoph Fischer

bittersweet

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been be chatting with authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months. 

So far I’ve interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore:  http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh  and Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg  . Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing them all and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

Today’s guest need little introduction.  I’m really pleased to be chatting with my  friend, Christoph Fisher. Christoph organised the first Llandeilo Book Fair this year and is now in the process of setting up another: http://llandeilobookfair.blogspot.co.uk/

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Hi Christoph and welcome. Let’s start by asking you what books have most influenced your life?
I’m not sure which ones influenced me the most but here are some books that triggered big events in my life:
After reading “The Idiot” by Dostoevsky I became a true literary addict. Before then I liked reading, now I was hooked. I read all of his work and decided to find a way of living by working with books. I became a librarian.
I switched over to the travel industry after reading “Backpack” by Emily Barr. It is a thriller set in Asia but it is as much about finding yourself as ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – only with more bite.

  1. How do you develop your plots and characters?

I have basic plans for the story and the characters but I allow them to change as the story moves along. I often find that the great scene in Chapter 13, which I had built up to from the start, doesn’t feel right any more. I allow chaos during the first drafts and then iron things out in the re-writes.

  1. Tell us about your latest book?

Ludwika is about a Polish woman forced to work in Germany to fill the labour shortage during WW2. Although she is better off than other victims of the Nazi regime, her life gets disrupted beyond repair.

Ludwika: A Polish Woman's Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany by [Fischer, Christoph]

  1. We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist(s)? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?

In Ludwika’s case there is real-life inspiration. She was the mother of a friend of mine and I started writing her story after helping them find out more about their mother’s time in Germany.

  1. A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

I usually have a real villain in mind. One in particular found her way into two of my books. I imagine what they would say or do and then the writing comes to me very easily. In the re-writing process I make sure I change enough not to get sued.

  1. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the world-building within your book?

I used my grandparents as inspiration for two of my books. Their marriage was difficult for various reasons. In “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” I focus on the political circumstances and their life in Slovakia during WW2. In “Sebastian” I write about my grandfather and his disability.

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Did you research for your book?

Yes. I think especially in historical fiction you need to get your facts right. In many cases the research came long before I had the idea for the book, so it wasn’t too arduous during the writing.

  1. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Letting Ludwika go through her ordeals, knowing she was a real person and only in part product of my imagination.

  1. What was your favourite part to write and why?

One chapter in which Ludwika makes a new friend. I wanted to show how even in the darkest hours there can be hope, friendly encounters and a little joy.

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  1. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Yes, I learned that odd choices can make a lot of sense when you look at them closely and know the context. There are often good reasons for what appears irrational or risky.

  1. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?

I hope people will see that there were many heart-breaking tragedies and stories during that time. In comparison they may pale but for the individual they were still catastrophic.

  1. What are your future project(s)?

I am currently working on the sequel to my medical thriller “The Healer” and also on a humorous murder mystery.

Product Details

  1. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

Film and book critic.

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  1. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

Website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

Blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

Amazon: http://ow.ly/BtveY

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CFFBooks

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/christophffisch/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106213860775307052243

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241333846

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers/ new writers

Yes. Readers, please leave reviews for the books and recommend them to your friends. Your support is very important.
To new writers: Be true to yourself and don’t let yourself be discouraged.

Today with Thorne Moore

Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh,  and showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance.   The Book Fair is the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival  http://bit.ly/24eOVtl Last week I  interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF . 

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: http://amzn.to/1xaosB2 (Amazon.co.uk), http://amzn.to/1OCC9vQ (Amazon.com),  http://bit.ly/1rDhEMr (Kobo books) http://bit.ly/20ucFsk (Waterstones) and from the publisher, Honno: http://bit.ly/1WLMO0A

Motherlovehttp://amzn.to/1rMv9ts (Amazon.co.uk), http://amzn.to/1LLq6MO (Amazon.com),  http://bit.ly/1XzvTLE (Kobo books), http://bit.ly/27R4pby (Waterstones) and from the publisher: http://bit.ly/1HNXdAj  

Thornemoorebooks

The Unravelling is now available to pre-order on Amazon: http://amzn.to/23JiCYx

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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?

Website: www.thornemoore.co.uk

Facebook: thornemoorenovelist

Twitter:@ThorneMoore

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1Ruu9m1 

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

The Maid’s Account

A post from Maggie, one of my adult students.  I think this is a great idea. See what you think. Of course you’ll know the play … won’t you!

shakespeare

There is so much being talked about Shakespeare at the moment that it encouraged me to go back and read some of my favourite plays. I started thinking about the role of some of the minor characters in his plays, and wondering what their story might have been. This is a short piece written from the perspective of a lady’s maid, who is gossiping with a friend. It will soon become clear which lady she’s talking about.

Maggie

The Maid’s Account

I’ve lasted a long time as her serving woman, longer than all the others put together. She’s not easy of course, very beautiful women often aren’t, and she is a beauty. Headstrong though. I’ve always thought that she’s the boss, he’s always been willing to do anything for her. Besotted with her and she’s obsessed with him, at it all the time. Children have to fend for themselves, poor little devils. That’s the trouble with the higher ups, they get someone else to do all that for them, and they haven’t worked out what they’re missing. She wasn’t as bad as some though, she nursed her babies herself, which was a surprise to everyone by all accounts.

That night though, something was going on. I’m not a superstitious person but the wind was howling and birds were calling, in the middle of the night when they should have been silent. I could hear the two of them creeping around and her voice telling him to be a man. Well he was a man afterwards all right. My God, they excelled that night in the bed department, even for them.

She told me later, much later, when she had started walking and  talking  in her sleep, that she always thought her husband was a good man, but he didn’t have the edge that would make him a powerful man.

‘And you know Elspeth, powerful men are very virile. Don’t you think so?’

Well, I didn’t know how to answer that one. I hardly get to see my Bert, I’m stuck in the bloody castle all the time at her Ladyship’s beck and call. It’s a wonder to me we’ve got any children at all. My Bert’s not like his Lordship though. He’s a gentle soul, not the brightest, but he’ll do me.

Anyway, I was telling you about that night. He came on ahead of the rest of them. You could see she was made up about something, she’d had a letter from him, sent on ahead. Turns out he’d had a promotion, and then the king himself was coming to visit. The kitchen staff were all of a flurry, preparing a big feast. Not everyone seemed pleased though. One in particular, the one who disappeared the following night, he was doing a lot of muttering to himself. Then of course the king’s two sons ran off early hours of the morning, after their father had been found with his throat cut. Everyone started saying that they must have killed him, but I never believed that. It’s surprising what you see and hear when no one thinks you’re important.

I saw her, my Lady that is, washing his Lordship’s face and hands, telling him to change quickly in to his nightclothes. I hardly dare tell you what happened, or what I believe happened, but he’s gone off now anyway, left her to her own devices, which she hasn’t been very happy about.

She talks to me when I do her hair. Tells me all sorts. After she’d told me about her wanting him to be a powerful man, she said that she’d lost him like that. He’d overtaken her, turned in to something she wasn’t expecting. I’m not that clever but it sounded to me as if she was sorry she’d encouraged him, because now he couldn’t stop and she’d gone to bits.

‘Look after your children Elspeth’ she’d said.

‘I’ve said some terrible things about mine and now I’m sorry.’

I overheard that too, all that business about dashing their brains out if she had to. All talk probably.

The country’s gone to the dogs of course, his Lordship seems to be creating chaos and mayhem wherever he goes. I heard a terrible story about someone’s wife and children all being killed, a good man he was too. Did you hear about it? It was all the talk here, but then that’s to be expected with him being the culprit more than likely.

Last night I found her wandering about again, all that beautiful red hair flowing down her back, her feet bare, in her nightdress, wringing and rubbing her hands as if she was trying to scrub them clean. Poor soul. They sent word to him and the doctor came out, but there’s nothing to be done for her. He asked me to take away everything that she might do herself a mischief with, so there’s not much left in her room. I had an aunt like that, but no matter how careful we were she managed to do herself in eventually. People with very troubled minds usually find a way.

Did you hear that noise? Sounds as if she’s creeping about again. I’d better check that she’s all right. Don’t go, I’ll be back in a minute and then you can give me all your news.

© Maggie Himsworth 2016

Image result for images of the globe theatre

And the answer: ? printed in 1623 after Shakespeare’s death.

globe

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!

Well, yes it is worth it – we love it, despite the unexpected. Having a holiday apartment attached to our house has brought us many friends; visitors who return year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We love seeing them again. And we are fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there have been downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the two elderly sisters …

I watched Husband walk past the kitchen window and waved. He didn’t wave back. Because of the goggles and the scarf around his nose and mouth  I couldn’t tell if he smiled or not. I thought – probably not. He wore a helmet over a balaclava on his head, navy overalls, elbow length gloves and thigh waders. He looked ridiculous but I didn’t dare laugh. This was serious. He was on a mission… a clearing the sewers mission…

Sewer Contractor New Rochelle Husband in a hole!

The story of the sewers began  a fortnight earlier in the shape of the two ladies. They arrived late on the Saturday evening; it was already getting dark.  Despite our assurances that it didn’t matter; that we were home anyway, they  continued to apologize profusely as we showed them to the apartment. There’d been traffic hold-ups, one of them suffered from car sickness so they’d had to stop often, they’d lost their way; gone off at the wrong junction of the M4 and ended up in Swansea.

We calmed them down, Husband offered to carry their luggage in.

‘No,’ they said, ‘we’ll be fine. You leave us to it. We haven’t much.’

They were ideal guests; the type we’d  hoped for when we started this venture.

old lady twoold lady

They were quiet, friendly, pleasant to have around.. Ever ready for a chat they sat with us in the garden a couple of the evenings enjoying a glass of wine, some nibbles. They didn’t go out much; just for one or two hours each day. Most of the time they sat on the guest patio, reading. Aged around eighty, we discovered they were twins; obviously both retired; one an ex school teacher, they other a librarian. They called us Mr and Mrs Barrow and we  called them both Miss Smith (obviously not their real name!!) They wore almost identical clothes and shoes, had the same hairstyle, finished one another’s sentences  in the same refined tones. 

When we asked if everything was all right,did they need anything , we were told all was perfect. On the middle weekend they insisted I hand over the clean  bedding and towels and changed the bed themselves. 

On the last evening we invited them in for a meal. They only stayed a couple of hours; we were told they had an early start in the morning.  Later we heard them hoovering. I knocked on the door and told them not to bother, they had a long day in front of them the following day.. Despite my protestations, they persisted for another hour.

 They must have gone very early, they’d left before we got up at seven the next day.

 Which I thought was great; it meant I could get on with the cleaning before the next visitors arrived.

It was halfway through the following week when we noticed the problem. Our new visitors complained that the loo wasn’t working properly and the bathroom was smelling. By the end of the day the kitchen sink in the apartment was backing up with unpleasant water and the lavatories in the main part of the house weren’t flushing efficiently. In fact they were overflowing!

At this point I’m wondering if I should have put a health warning on this post. Hmm?

 Trying to be as delicate as possible here!!!loo

And so to the beginning of this sorry tale… 

I watched Husband walk past the kitchen window and waved …

He stopped, came back to the window and motioned (sorry!) for me to open it. ‘I don’t suppose you want to help?’ he shouted through the scarf. I closed the window – the smell was bad. Besides I thought we should have sent for the local drains/ sewage clearing people. Being a ‘careful  with money’ man, Husband thought he could “do it himself” 

 The new visitors went out for the day with a donation from us for meals.

Without going into any more graphic detail all I can say is that the blockage was… cat litter (with the evidence!). Our two little old ladies had apparently smuggled brought their cat on holiday with them (into our “no smoking, no pets” apartment) and flushed the contents of the litter tray down the loo. Which was washed by the water along the pipes only so far before setting like cement in the drains.

Six hours later – and after much shovelling and swearing – Husband conceded defeat and we sent for the specialists. 

I connected the garden hose to the outside tap on the garage and hosed him down. Before he was allowed back into the house, he stripped off.

Which reminds me. Have I told you about the Naturists who came to stay…?

Hey-Ho!! – Glorious Pembrokeshire – a County of Contrasting Weather

Two weeks ago we walked along the coastal path from Bosherston Lily Ponds, Broadhaven Beach and then on to Castlemartin. A glorious day.

bosherston and castlemartin 001

So calm …

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So warm …

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Wait for it ...

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View from the window of St Govan’s Chapel – well worth a visit

bosherston and castlemartin 044

Lovely isn’t it?

bosherston and castlemartin 058

Yesterday we had a High Tide

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 Cold and windy

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Roiling seas

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Who’d have thought it?

david - april sixteen 3981

 Oh, I do love Pembrokeshire!!

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!

Well, yes it is worth it – we love it, despite the unexpected. Having a holiday apartment attached to our house has brought us many friends; visitors who return year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We love seeing them again. And we are fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there have been downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the Hippies.

old hippie

One of the first lot of visitors in our first year (nearly our last!) I’d almost forgotten about them until Husband dug up a string of bells in one of the flower beds the other day. Here I must hasten to add that, no, we didn’t do away with one of them and bury  the body in the garden. In fact I’ve no idea how the bells got there and so can offer no explanation. Which is all besides the point.

There were just the two of them when they arrived in a small battered car, decorated with brightly coloured swirly shapes. Having always yearned to be ‘one of the beautiful people’ , and knowing I’d no chance, I thought they both looked wonderful in their colourful clothes and long flowing locks ( him and her). Our three children were very young at the time and were mesmerised, especially when, before even unpacking, the man sat cross-legged on the front lawn playing his guitar and she sat alongside banging on a tambourine. Being a conventional type of chap Husband was wary. ‘Hope they don’t stay in every day making that racket.’ (obviously seeing his quiet weekend and evenings pottering in the garden quickly disappearing). ‘Oh, live and let live,’ said I, wistfully.

 Words I needed to remember later that day.

Thinking discretion was the better part of valour I persuaded Husband to take us to the beach; giving the couple a chance to settle in.

Five hours later we piled three weary kids into the car and went home.

We could hear the noise as we drove up the lane to our house. ‘What the …! Husband, looking forward to a quiet beer after his strenuous Family Day of playing football, keeping three kids from drowning in the sea and being being buried in the sand, stared at me with horror.  It was extremely loud. ‘It’s actually music,’I said. ‘It’s coming from our garden and it’s actually too bloody loud,’ said he.

hippies dancing

As we turned onto the drive we were faced by a large camper van. We parked the car next to it and got out. There were half a dozen dancers on the lawn. One of them waved to us. I half raised my hand in reply before I heard Husband’s sigh. (I think I should add here that when we moved into the house the acre of land around it was a field and it had taken three years to get it anything like a garden. He’d worked hard on transforming it and it’s the only thing he’s precious about )  Two of the women were holding small bunches of flowers; Dianthus, I realised (and hoped Husband didn’t)  from around the edges of the garden. No such luck; I watched with interest as his face turned puce. ‘Oh dear,’ I said, suddenly aware that I was tapping my feet to the beat.  The kids, ecstatic, joined in with the dancing. One woman picked up our daughter and twirled her around. Seeing Husband looking at his churned-up grass, and seeing our original woman holiday-maker amongst the others, I thought I should say something.  ‘They’ve got visitor… our visitors.’ ‘We’ve got trouble,’ he growled, pointing to the back of the van where  a pile of rucksacks and sleeping bags lay on the ground

van

Just then four men appeared from around the corner of the house and gathered up the bags. They walked away from us. For the second time Husband said,’what the …’. And followed them. I followed him. I wasn’t too worried, after all their van had ‘Peace’ written along the side. We knocked on the door of the apartment. The man who answered wasn’t our visitor. He looked to be around forty-five; an original hippie. ‘Hey, man,’ he said, holding up a hand. He actually said ‘Hey, man,’ like someone out of a third rate film.

‘Who are you? ‘ said Husband. I noticed his ears were bright red, a sure sign of an impending explosion. (oh, dear, I always make him to be so angry in these posts)

‘Friends are staying here,’ the man said. ‘We’re going to kip down for a couple of days with them.’ The other men looked on from inside the kitchen, bottles of beer in their hands. There was no sign of ‘our’ visitor.

‘Just going to stay a couple of days,’ said one of the others.

‘Got a problem with that?’ said another.

‘You got a problem?’ The first man again..

 I felt the first tremor of trepidation. ‘Should I call the police?’ I whispered, poking Husband in the back.

He didn’t answer. What he did say to them was, ‘No,I’ve not got a problem. Because what you’re going to do is…you’re going to leave.’There was a long silence, then some mutterings. The men bunched up behind the older man. I was really worried by this time, Husband was no match for them.

Then one said,’ we come in peace.’ He did! He really did say that!

‘Then… in peace, you’ll leave,’ said Husband. I had the urge to giggle; I think it was nerves. ‘From my count,’ continued Husband, ‘there are ten of you. Eight too many. Eight have to leave.’ 

‘No way, we’re doing no harm.’

 It was a stand-off. We all stared at one another. Then Husband said,’okay, then that’ll be fifty pounds each.’ I knew he didn’t mean it; we’re only insured to take two people in the apartment and he’s not one for  flouting the law. It was a gamble.

 I’ve never seen people move so fast! They last we saw of them was the billowing of smoke from the exhaust of the camper van.

 Until, that is, Husband dug up the string of bells the other day 

The Aftermath of the Floods – a Look at One Community

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about a bookshop badly affected by the recent floods: http://bit.ly/1nrGltk And so many of your kindly shared the blog; some of you even donated your own books to the bookshop. And I’ll keep you informed about the situation of http://www.bookcase.co.uk/.

The floods affected many areas, many lives, many business. But then I began to wonder about communities as a whole; the way that communities  have met over the years; the buildings they gathered in,the relationships formed through common interests. At first I cast around, looking at churches, village halls, sports clubs. It was the latter that I settled on, mainly because there is a sports club at the centre of our village, and at the hub of a lot of the villages around us. But here in Pembrokeshire, as I’ve said before, we were lucky; few places were affected, none badly.

So I turned to the North of England again and asked a friend who has family that belongs to Sowerby Cricket Club  I was able to obtain some photographs. I’ll let them mostly speak for themselves.

Happier times: Winning the Crossley Shield and the future teams of the club

cricket club 8presenting the Crossing Shield
cricket club 1the teamthe next generation

 

After the floods:  

cricket club 6cricket club1

The destruction was devastating. But the way the club members came together to repair something dear to their hearts, is a remarkable story that must be going on in villages and towns all over Britain after the dreadful weather we had in December and earlier this month.

cricket club pitch after the floods

cricket club3

cricket club 9

cricket club 4

 

As my friend said it looked more like a scene from Silent Witness!

 

Embedded image permalinkEmbedded image permalinkEmbedded image permalinkEmbedded image permalinkclearing the mud

Each barrow-load, each rake-full taking rubbish away helps.

I discovered that, not only did this community physically pull together to restore the club. They also formed an action group to raise funds to cover the massive cost of restoration.

I think this is a tale of great optimism – and I couldn’t resist sharing.

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sowerby-Bridge-Cricket-Club/406073226111295?fref=tshttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Sowerby-Bridge-Cricket-Club/406073226111295?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/sowerbybridgecchttps://twitter.com/sowerbybridgecc

https://localgiving.com/fundraising/sammellorsbccfloodshttps://localgiving.com/fundraising/sammellorsbccfloods