Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with author Catherine Marshall

Quick introduction, please.

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I’m Catherine Marshall, born in Birmingham, now living in Lancashire.  Author of two romantic novels, many short stories and three psychological thrillers.  Married, two grown-up children.  Worked largely in education teaching English and Drama.

What first inspired you to start writing?

I’d always written little stories as a child.  Then during the summer holidays when I was eleven, I complained to my mum that I was bored.  She said, Why don’t you write a book?  I did.  It was about a family of seven children and called The Ravenscrofts.  I illustrated it too.  Horrendous.  While I was a teenager I wrote short stories to entertain my friends, then while I was at college I began selling short stories to Jackie magazine.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.  When I’m writing is the only time I really feel like me.  That, and wanting to entertain people with great stories.

Why do you write?

To give voice to the ideas and characters in my head.  Because I love telling stories.

Do you only write one specific genre or are you multi-talented?

I never thought I was writing genre fiction.  I thought I was just writing books.  Then an agent said I was writing ‘suspenseful women’s fiction’, which isn’t much of a leap to psychological thrillers.  I have always preferred that genre as a reader/viewer, so it’s a natural progression, I guess.

What does your writing space look like?

The study at home, a huge old office desk usually stacked with my husband’s Open University course material, photos of our children and my scribbled notes.

Do you ever have writer’s block and what do you do then?

Yes.  Often.  Iron.  Or go for a walk.  It’s usually because I’m approaching something from the wrong angle, so I need to retrace my steps and try to find the right angle.

Do you write full-time or have a day job and write in your spare time?

The latter.  Working in schools has been very useful for all those long holidays!

Are you an Indie or a traditionally published author?

Both.  Years ago I published two novels with Robert Hale and short stories with various magazines.  Now I have three novels available on Amazon Kindle.

Tell us about your new book.


Still Water is set in a small town in Cornwall and is the story of Jem, who earns her living making jewellery and lives in a cottage on the cliffs with her father Alex, a painter.  She becomes entranced by Gil, an attractive and charming visitor to the town, and believes he can save her from her loneliness and grief.  She is unaware, however, of Gil’s link to the secrets of her own past or that she is setting in motion a chain of events which will lead to tragedy.

What are you working on now?

A novel called Hurt, about the damage people can do to each other, and how we deal with those who hurt us.

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

Publication!  A three-book deal would be nice.

What has been your best moment as a writer?

I’m hoping that’s yet to come.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career?

Having two major publishers seriously interested in buying one of my novels and then both of them changing their minds.  Although having come so close does keep me going.

Who would you most like to read your work (a hero/idol)?

Probably writers whose work I enjoy – Julia Couch, Erin Kelly – and pray they enjoyed it!

What are your three favourite books including the authors?

Impossible to choose just three, but – Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson, The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell and Decade by Jacqueline Briskin.

 A bit of triviality now…

What would ‘living the dream’ be to you?

Living in Cornwall, earning a living from writing.

Who would you cast to play the characters in Still Water in a movie?

Well I did have Aidan Turner in mind when I wrote Gil, but that was before he became an international success as Ross Poldark.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Windmills of my Mind, sung by Alison Moyet.

What makes you laugh?

Playing Articulate with my family, ‘Gavin and Stacey’, my comedy writer and actor friend Eric Potts.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

Aidan Turner!  My grandmother, who encouraged me in everything and who died when I was ten.  My good friend and fellow writer Thorne Moore.  Billy Connolly.  David Tennant. The author Julia Crouch, who I’ve met and is lovely. Thinking about it, that’s quite a bizarre combination.

Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.

I have no sense of smell.  I hate rice pudding.

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next? And how much time a day do you spend on social media?

Oh, I don’t know.  An hour?  Not usually in one sitting though. And  I’m not sure I do balance it.  I need to crack the whole marketing lark, I think.  It’s still early days for me.  I did take some leaflets to local bookshops and libraries and gained a lot of interest which I need to follow up.  Actually, balancing marketing and writing is not the problem.  Balancing marketing, writing and the day job is the problem.

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This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by the author via Brook Cottage Books



                                                                                                                                CRADLED DREAMS

                                                                                                                                   By Beverly Hoffman

Cradled Dreams

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: April 2013

Publisher:  Abbott Press

As her family gathers for Thanksgiving, Georgie’s heartbreak is hard to conceal. After years of pursuing her dreams of motherhood, she has recently learned that her last option to conceive has failed. Grim amid the festive holiday celebrations, Georgie feels that she has little reason to give thanks.

Her sister-in-law, Robin, desperate to ease Georgie’s suffering, struggles for a way to help. On loving impulse, she offers a solution-surrogacy.

Flush with excitement, neither woman can predict how her life will change. But each is comforted by the knowledge that her love for the other will guide the way. Soon, after in vitro using a relative’s sperm and her own egg, Robin shares the joyous news that she is pregnant. Every conversation sparkles with her private joy at the gift she could give her sister-in-law. But she encounters unexpected criticism when discussing the plan with others. She must now deal with judgment and questions about ethics. Relationships are strained. Both must pay emotional costs they never anticipated. Soon, questions they never asked begin to haunt them both.

Where do boundaries of possibility meet long-term responsibility? Under what circumstances does science need to pause to consider moral outcomes? When organs and tiny bones grow in spite of circumstances never seen in nature, where does motherhood begin and end?

And most haunting of all is the question Robin couldn’t ask herself on that first day: Will she really be able to give up the child for the sake of Georgie’s dream?


My review: 

Cradled Dreams by Beverly Hoffman is a novel on the theme of surrogacy that turns a family into turmoil. It is the story of an impulsive offer by one sister in law, Robin, to carry a baby for the other, Georgie, who is unable to conceive.

 It’s an interesting story but as usual, I will not give any spoilers except, suffice it to say, things do not run as smoothly as the women hoped.

 For me, in this novel, there were two stories that run parallel to one another. There is the story of a town, immersed in traditions, superstition and religions where the people are split between churches and the women are controlled by a matriarchal figure, Cynthia and her followers. Even though stereotyped, these characters were wonderfully flawed and came to life through their condemnation of the two families involve in the surrogacy.

The second story for me is that of the two women and the families and the surrogacy. It’s an emotive subject and, at times, the emotions from the protagonist, Robin, are written extremely well as she struggles not to bond with the child in her womb.  But I’m afraid I failed to connect with any of the other characters in the families to any depth. For me, they weren’t rounded and didn’t interconnect as much as I wanted them too.

The detailed narration of the town, the actions of the people in them gave a brilliant sense of place and time. I loved these sections of the book even though I felt the religious theme was a little overdone. And, I have to admit, they slowed the pace of the overall story a lot and took away from the main thread, that of the book..

 Most of the dialogue between the main characters of the two families, and the internal dialogue, was well written although, sometimes the point of view were difficult to determine and I needed to read back to catch the drift of conversations. And, at times, the format was erratic, which didn’t help.

Cradled Dreams covers a sensitive subject and I would have liked the story to have tackled it to a greater depth. As a reader I was disappointed that it wasn’t.

Still, as I’ve said, I loved the whole detailed account of the town and the various story-lines of the characters in it. I have the distinct feeling that there is a whole set of plots here, just waiting to be written.

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Beverly's Book Photo

Beverly Hoffman spent her childhood in Texas eating barbeque and drinking Big Reds. After college, she and her husband, Marty, moved to Panama, where she taught English for twenty-six years. Beverly loved to push her students to realize their full potential. She was able to help her students by taking huge assignments apart and helping them accomplish discrete pieces and then put all of them together into a finished project.

While in Panama, Beverly explored the country. She rode her bike 57 miles in one day from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, paddled the Panama Canal twice, and participated in Green Hell, an obstacle course, which included rappelling out of a 30 foot building.

Beverly and her husband later retired to Sequim, Washington, where they enjoy the bounty of fresh Dungeness crab, Washington wines, and family.

Beverly has a Masters degree in English and has been in a writing group for over six years. Beverly loves writing and hopes that through her books, she can get people to explore new concepts. Join Beverly on Facebook for giveaways, scenic photos, and more information about her books at



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                                       RACING HEART

                                       JUNE MOONBRIDGE                                                

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Desiree Hart in desperate search for her kidnapped son, does everything in her power possible to find him. Due to a letter she receives after official search was closed, she changes everything; her appearance, her hometown and even her name.

When she meets Lorcan Shore, the Five Times F1 World Campion, their encounter is everything but ordinary. Out of pure fear for her life, she loses her temper and spits over everything he is absolutely certain he can do the best; how to drive.

Leaving him alone on Grand Corniche she is certain she would never see him again. But the next morning proves her being totally wrong. He was no quitter and no matter how she tries to run and hide, her heart desires at the end come back to the surface…

Will the man of her dreams be able to fulfil them all? Including the most important will he help her find her missing son?



                                           ABOUT JUNE MOONBRIDGE                                       June Moonbridge

The person behind the name of June Moonbridge, has many names and many faces too. Although living in the same area, she was born and raised in one country  and now living in another.

She studied economics, and quickly realised she hated it. Afterwards, she found herself working in mainly male businesses; at first in automotive and later – steel products productions. She can choose for you the best steel you need, but don’t, please don’t, ask her which lipstick to use.

She started to write in her high school and was negatively criticised by her teacher. Stubborn as she is that didn’t stop her. Under different pen names for her stories she tried to get some independent opinions, which came back as good reviews in magazines and later she published three books.

Giving birth to two children, and learning that her second child has Autism, she married the father of them and continued to work. All that together took all of her free time. But the desire to write didn’t die. When life somehow sorted itself out, she decided to write her novel in English and her first submission to Safkhet was rejected…

For what happened later… read third paragraph, second sentence.



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Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno: Today With Caroline Oakley, Editor for Honno

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Caroline Oakley, Editor for Honno (and,  by the way, Editor of  two of my Pattern trilogy)  Besides letting us learn a little about herself and her career as an editor, Caroline gives us an insight to Honno. It’s fascinating, I promise.  

Please introduce yourself

Hello, I’m Caroline. I’ve been working in publishing since 1985, after studying English and Drama in London. I’m from Staffordshire, originally, and moved to Wales in 1999. I was taught to read by my librarian mum before I went to school at four…which was just as well because when I got there I had learn all over again through ITA, or the initial teaching alphabet, which was an innovative and not wholly successful 1960s initiative supposed to introduce children to reading and writing before moving on to standard spelling. Some of my fellows never quite got the hang of it! However, once we got back to normal English I throve and my nose hasn’t often been out of a book since.

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What brought you into editing as a career?

An advert in one of those freebie magazines they used to give away outside Tube stations in London… I’d been working in Bond Street for a cosmetics company (though one of my tasks was to buy crime novels for the boss’s wife from Hatchards!) when the opportunity came to move on. I was interviewed by one person but offered a job with another. It was a joy to be paid to read books for a living – rather than pay for books and try to find time to read them outside of work!

Life before Honno?

Ten years at the Centre for Alternative Technology as Publisher of their small list of ground-breaking titles on renewable energy, sustainable water provision and treatment, organic growing etc. Before that, 20 years in London culminating in a position as Editorial Director of Orion Paperbacks editing luminaries such as Ian Rankin, Michael Moorcock and writing cover blurbs for Maeve Binchy.

How long have you been Editor for Honno?

I started part-time in 2005 and full time in 2008 – so around ten years overall, including a year out to do an MA in Creative Writing at Cardiff University (which Honno kindly allowed me to take and then return to my job – a literary sabbatical, if you like). I thought I’d better see if I could ‘do’ it myself having spent decades telling others how to ‘do’ it!

Please tell us about the background of Honno. When and how Honno was founded?

Honno is a mutual and provident society – a non-profit organisation – founded by a group of women interested in promoting Welsh women’s writing to a new audience in the mid-eighties. They began by publishing one book at a time and sold £5 shares in the company to fund their publishing activity. After a couple of successful years they got funding for titles on a book by book basis from the Arts Council of Wales and then, with the founding of the Welsh Books Council, a revenue grant to enable the publication of seven books per year and the employment of permanent staff – as opposed to the volunteers that had begun the Press, who continue to manage the company on a voluntary basis today.

What are the philosophies/principles/objectives of Honno?

To publish great writing, by great women born or living in Wales… The ethos of the founders was to provide a publishing space for Welsh women writing in the English language – and of women of previous generations whose published works had fallen out of print. Also to provide work in publishing for women in Wales. Honno publishes genre and literary fiction and non-fiction; its authors have been awarded prizes and shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association, The People’s Book Prize, the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Best Crime Novel of the year and the Wales Book of the Year among others.

Do writers come to you or do you deal with agents only?

We have an open submissions policy – anyone meeting Honno’s criteria (you must be female and born or living in Wales, or writing work of interest to women in Wales) is able to submit work to Honno year round. This means we still source most of our writers and books through the ‘slush pile’, as it’s known in the trade. In this way we are able to spot talent at an early stage and often work with writers on several titles before they receive an offer to publish. You’ll remember this process well, Judith, as that’s how you came to Honno! As did Thorne Moore – who is now reaching the giddy heights of top ten best-seller for eBooks in trade magazine the Bookseller. We also offer workshops and ‘meet the editor’ mentoring sessions which bring new writers to our attention. On occasion literary agents will send us work and we’re always happy to liaise with them, too. Sometimes I or another Honno member will approach a writer with an idea and commission a title that way.

What advice would you give to a writer about to submit her work to Honno?

Read the submission guidelines on the website carefully – this applies to all submissions to any publisher. Also take a look at the range of books we publish – do we have anything similar on the list in terms of genre or tone? Have you read any of our books and, if so, do you think your work will appeal to our readers? These are the questions a writer should ask herself.

How do you decide that a manuscript is one you can work on?

That’s a tricky question – it depends on the material. I would usually read all of the fifty pages asked for before making a decision. It’s not often I reject something after a glance at only a page or two. I always try to include a tip or two on how to improve the work when I return it, or give a reason for not taking it further. If I like the material, I will either write and ask to see the balance of the book, or perhaps call the author and ask them to meet for a chat about the book and how we might work together. Very rarely I might write with an offer of publication after reading a full manuscript and then discussing it with my colleagues and the Honno Committee.

In the main, I’m looking for a genuine feel for the genre the book is written in, a winning voice, a great sense of place, a twist in the tale; something that makes me want to read on, whether that’s a character, a plot line or beautiful writing – which of those makes it a winner will depend on the sort of story it is.

How do you feel when you first discover a talented author?

Excited! And interested. I want to know how they got here and what motivates them.

Has there ever been a writer whose work you had to reject but who later found great success elsewhere.

Lots of them. There won’t be an editor who can honestly say no to this questions. J K Rowling was turned down many times before a junior editor at Bloomsbury took a punt on her. The same is true for all of us. There are lots of books I offered for and didn’t win, too. You have to concentrate on the ones you won not the ones who got away. I wanted to offer for Lesley Pearse’s first novel, but was told no by my bosses at the time. She didn’t do too shabbily. Another one that got away was Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow.

Does Honno deal only in hard copies of authors’ novel or are they produced in different forms? For example, eBooks, audio books, large print?

Honno publishes across all formats, but some of them, such as large print and audio, are not produced by Honno but by specialist companies who purchase from us the right to publish in that format. All our titles are now published simultaneously as print and digital (or eBook) editions. Our titles are distributed in Wales, the rest of the UK and internationally by a range of established companies in print and eBook. So wherever you are in the world you should have access to Honno titles and great Welsh women’s writing.

How do you see the publishing world progressing?

That’s interesting. I wish I knew…that way we could make a fortune! I don’t think the book as ‘big papery thing’ (to quote Blackadder) will disappear, but the formats might change. It could be that the paperback is priced out by the eBook, but that the hardback remains and becomes much more of an elaborate gift object or beautiful self-purchase. Something like the leather-bound editions the Folio Society has been printing for eons. You might read the ebook, love it and the author and then move to buying beautiful, enhanced hard-cover editions to keep on your shelves and admire, reread. Collector’s editions if you will… After all, lots of people said DVD and video would kill the cinema, but in fact more people now watch films at home and at the cinema than used to when the new formats were released. Perhaps the children growing up today will become a generation of avid short story and serialised fiction readers on their phones and notebooks (don’t forget that Dickens’ classic works of literature began life as serials in the London Daily News). Short fiction has languished in the sales doldrums for some time, as has poetry, but there are now new and growing markets for these genres on-line and for download; their time to shine may be coming round again.

How do you see Honno progressing in the future?

I’d like to see the organisation become financially sustainable – funding can never be truly guaranteed – and growing eBook sales are helping us towards that target. I’d also like to see Honno grow its commissioned non-fiction list: so if any of you out there have a fascinating untold story of a forgotten woman, town or trade from, in or relating to Wales do get in touch! We’re after great stories that demand to be read rather than celebrity biogs. What have you heard about that’s incredible and little known? Honno has just published the amazing story of Lily Tobias, a little known Welsh-Jewish writer who took an active role in some of the most famous movements of the 20th century from women’s suffrage, to supporting conscientious objectors in WW1 and the setting up of a Jewish state in Palestine in the 1930s; she lived through a momentous time writing political polemic and gripping fiction. She deserves to be read and known about, and not just for being the aunt of more famous men (her nephews Danny and Leo Abse are known for their writing and politics, why not Lily?)…

Thank you for your time, Caroline. Is there anything you’d like to add?

 No, not really, just that Honno is the only remaining UK independent women’s press in existence and that we aim to stick around for at least another 30 years publishing great writing from women in Wales. If you can help us do that – either by writing for us or joining Honno Friends ( – please do get in touch! You can find us at

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Another Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno authors – today with Caroline Ross

Today, I’m thrilled to be talking to Honno’s Caroline Ross, the author of one of my favourite books, The War Before Mine


Who or what inspires you?”

A lot of things. Historical events, in the case of ‘The War Before Mine’, when I had the good fortune to ‘bump into’ history through meeting survivors of the WW2 raid on St Nazaire. I love history – especially medieval history, though I have never written about it. I’m also inspired by what happens to me and who I meet. ‘Small Scale Tour’ was inspired by living with members of a touring theatre company in the 1970s early 1980s.



Why do you write?

 I think my best writing comes from strongly held feelings – so my desire to set down my own ‘truths’, usually based on my experiences.

Do you have to plan to write or are you constantly jotting ideas down?


The best plans fall apart quite often! I try to jot things down and sometimes succeed.

What does your writing space look like?

It’s a converted outside loo, but much nicer than that sounds! It’s at the bottom of the garden, has a heater, a kettle, computer, a battered Roget’s Thesaurus. It’s lovely. You can see it on my website:

Tell us about your next/new book,


My last book ‘Small Scale Tour’ was about a touring theatre company in 1970s Newcastle. I am now writing a novel set mainly in the 1950s and 1960s on the Isle of Wight. It starts with a plane crash that actually happened in 1957.

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What keeps you writing?

To be honest, a need to make myself a bit more interesting to myself! To have something else besides work and family (fulfilling as they are)

What do you think it takes to stand out from the crowd?

 A brilliant idea – one that someone else has not had – or at least not had for a good while.

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

 I suppose having my work read by as large an audience as possible.

What are your three favourite books including the authors?

The Inheritors by William Golding, Middlemarch by George Eliot – either Catch 22 by Joseph Heller or Persuasion by Jane Austen

Is being an author your dream job? If so, how long have you been chasing the dream?

It sounds lovely but I’m not sure it’s good for your writing. Better to do something else as well. I’ve been writing, as a journalist and then as a writer of fiction, for 30 years.

What has been your best moment as a writer?

Hearing people laugh at the funny bits.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career?

Greatest challenge is getting down to it.

How do you find the promotional aspect of being an author?

I think, like most writers, I feel ‘I’ve written the bloody book; why do I have to do all this stuff?’ But I accept that it is now an essential part of being a writer.

How much time a day do you spend on social media

Maybe 20 minutes

What is your preferred genre to read?

I’m an English teacher so I am into what is called ‘literary fiction’ and aspire to write it – but I have had a great time reading in other genres, science fiction, for example. Lots of people writing so-called genre fiction are very great writers – John Le Carre for instance, who is seen as a writer of spy thrillers, and Cormac McCarthy, who writes what are sometimes called Westerns. Both of these are brilliant, superior to most in the ‘literary’ category.

Do you read your reviews and if so, how do you cope with a bad one.

Certainly I read them. If I recognise a critic has a point, I just have to suck it up. If it feels unfair the result is rage!

Please give us a random fact about yourself.

 I’m married to a Vietnam vet.

Links to Caroline’s books:

You can link up with Caroline on Twitter

Twitter –

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Indie author Rosaline Riley

Please introduce yourself and your books.

My name is Rosaline Riley and I am the author of two books – The End of the Road and Clad in Armour of Radiant White.


I was born, grew up and went to school in Wigan, Lancashire. Since then I have lived and worked as a student and a teacher in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Solihull. I now live in Streatham in South London.

All my life, I have considered myself to be a writer. But the writing was almost always in my head, only making its way on to paper on rare occasions, until, late in life(!) I took myself in hand and began to take it much more seriously.

Why this reluctance to put pen to paper?

Well, as a child, I wanted to be a novelist – to write a whole book, not just short stories. But the problem was paper. Where would I get enough for a whole novel? I knew that my mother would buy me an exercise book (one of those red Silvine ones with the multiplication tables on the back) but they only had about forty pages in them. Even with the smallest handwriting I could manage, one wouldn’t have been enough and I felt sure that she would have refused my demand for . . . how many? . . . twenty at the very least!

So I contented myself with ‘writing’ in my head. I found that the best way to do this was if I was doing something else with my hands, and I spent many childhood hours batting tennis balls against walls whilst composing my stories. (As a consequence, my ball skills are excellent – even to this day!)

What was I ‘writing’ back then? Well, not anything that I had personal experience of, that’s for sure. There were lots of boarding school stories, I remember, all heavily dependent on whatever I happened to be reading at the time. I even had my very own Chalet School series! (Goodness knows how many exercise books would have been needed for that.)

 When did you start writing your stories down?

Over the years I made several attempts to write a novel but I never came anywhere near to finishing them. I always let life and family get in the way.

For many years I worked as a literature tutor in the Lifelong Learning Department at Warwick University, teaching the novel to mature students. The longer I did this – reading and studying other people’s novels – the more I knew that I really ought to write one of my own, before it was too late. Then we moved to London in 2006 and I had to give up this teaching. So, without a job, I had no excuses left. I’d already started Clad in Armour of Radiant White. Now I had to finish it.

radiant white

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

Clad in Armour of Radiant White is a coming-of-age novel that tells the story of Ellen, growing up in Lancashire in the nineteen-sixties. It is set in two towns which are fictionalised versions of the towns where I grew up and where I went to school. A lot of the details – places, events, situations, etc. – are very autobiographically based. The story is fictional.

I had always wanted to write this novel and I think one of the reasons it took me a long time to do so was because I needed to find a story/stories on which to hang my autobiographical details and not to make my autobiography (albeit disguised) the story itself. If that makes sense. Once I had the outline of the plot, I was away.

The End of the Road is set in Solihull and Streatham, and this time the places are ‘real’ and named. There are lots of personal details in this novel too, although yet again the story is pure fiction. And as the plot hinges around an abduction, I think this is very apparent.

end of road

There are two objects in this one – a green cagoule and an IKEA high-chair – which caused my family much amusement when they read about them. This kind of recognition is fine. But I do strive to make it difficult for fundamental comparisons to be drawn between ‘real’ people and the characters in the book. Creating original characters should be the aim of the novelist, I think.


You are a self published author. Why?

When I’d finished Clad in Armour of Radiant White I tried to get an agent, but with no success. It wasn’t consider ‘commercial’ enough. So I put it aside and started on a second novel. I did a Creative Writing course at Birkbeck and then a six-month Novel Writing course at the Faber Academy. At the end of this, I did have a couple of agents interested in The End of the Road but (at the end of the day) they didn’t take it further. I sent it out to a bunch of other agents but it soon became clear that I was wasting my time. Times were hard in the publishing industry; no-one wanted to take on first-time novelists.

So I could either give up or self publish. And, as I felt that both books were good enough, I chose to do the latter. And I have to say that I’ve been very pleased with my decision. The feeling of being in control is gratifying, and my (albeit modest) expectations have been more than met.


What’s next on the horizon for you?

Now that I’ve finally launched both books into the world, I can start writing my next one. I’ve been thinking about this for some time and have lots of ideas floating around in my head. It’s going to be set in Australia – a country my husband and I fell in love with several years ago. And we might even have to make another trip there – for research purposes!


What single piece of advice would you give new authors?

The words of Nigel Watts (Writing a Novel):   ‘. . . a writer is someone who writes, not someone who thinks about writing.’ Which is what I keep telling myself every time I reach for my bat and ball.

Both of Rosaline’s books are available from Amazon.





A round up of #honno Interviews:

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I thought I’d revisit a few weeks of chats I’ve had with my fellow Honno authors. I hope you enjoy reading them again as much as I do. All these authors’ books are available at

 And, for a bit of fun, I’ve included a list of random facts about me from an old post.about-judith

1) I was once a swimming teacher.

2) I make novelty cakes

3) I like painting and I’m not bad at it.

4) I failed Maths GCSE. I hated Maths and would often hide at the back of the class and read.

5)  I zip – wired over  the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, near the historic slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. 

6) I’ve walked on the Great Wall of China, stood on top of Mount Cook in New Zealand and flown in a helicopter over the Banff and Jasper National Park

7) I took an A level in English Literature as a mature student and was one of the top twelve in Wales – me and eleven seventeen year olds. Quite embarrassing. I was voted Learner of the Year in my area of Pembrokeshire and my three children went around telling everyone I’d learned to read and write

8) I gained a BA degree and a Masters in creative writing following the A level.

9) I love watching snooker.

 10) I support Wigan Warriors in  Rugby League

11) I need silence when I’m writing – so often use earplugs.

12) I don’t need much sleep and have been known to write all night.

13)   I tutor creative writing.

My Books

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First Thorne Moore:


Clawr | Cover of MotherloveTFSweb

Hilary Shepherd

Hilary Shepherd

Animated BaggageIn a Foreign Country

Lindsay Ashford


Product DetailsProduct Details

Sarah Todd Taylor

Sarah Todd Taylor

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Mannon Steffan Ros


Margaret Redfern


Carly Holmes  

Carly Holmes cover photo

Alys Einion


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Jacqueline Jacques

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The Colours of CorruptionLazy EyeSomeone To Watch Over Me

Juliet Greenwood

Juliet Greenwood

Eden's Garden

Jo Verity

Jo Verity

Left and LeavingSweets from MoroccoEverything in the Garden

Alison Layland


Product DetailsThe Colour of Dawn

Editor for Honno & Firefly Press, Janet Thomas


Marketing Manager for Honno, Helena Earnshaw

Helena headshot (1)

By Helena Earnshaw and Angharad Penrhyn Jones

Product Details


Rosie's Book Review team 1

My review of Death in a Dacron Sail by N.A.Granger

My rating 4 out of 5 stars 


I wish I’d realised that Death in a Dacron Sail is the second book in the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series; I think I would have enjoyed getting to know the characters and their history by reading the first book, rather than picking up hints of past action from the dialogue or the internal thoughts of the characters in Death in a Dacron Sail.

Nevertheless I liked the style of N.A.Granger’s writing, despite the irritation of faulty erratic, formatting (the author’s name kept popping up at the end of paragraphs, together with mysterious addition of the letters ef and random sets of numbers at the start of sentences) and some editing issues. This was a shame because these problems took me out of the story so many times, just as I was beginning to become absorbed.

So, to give fair weight to what is a well-told story, I’ll concentrate on the positives: it is an excellent example of both mystery and crime genres and I enjoyed following the clues (and sometimes being caught out by guessing ‘who done it’ and getting it wrong! The characters are well rounded and believable; I identified immediately, and liked the ones who were the good guys and was in no doubt who were the antagonists, both in Rhe’s professional and personal life. The dialogue is good and it’s possible to differentiate between the characters by their speech. And the settings throughout the novel give a good sense of place. The plot is tightly woven and moves, generally, at a fast but steady pace, with plenty of interesting forensic and investigative details, mixed with action and suspense. Personally, I did think the ending was a little sudden and, for me, a little disappointing. Perhaps more detail, earlier in the book, of the antagonist, may have given the denouement more suspense. But there again, perhaps I just misread the clues.

If there is one aspect of the story that began to grate slightly, it’s the amount of detail to food: to recipes made by Rhe’s friend, Paulette, to the anticipation of meals, the eating of meals, the frequency that food is mentioned. Small point but these things did tend to slow the action and sometimes it felt a little contrived; just to bolster up an aspect of the protagonist’s domestic situation. Or perhaps I’m just jealous that I don’t have a friend who will supply all my meals for me!

As usual no spoilers from me but I think I’ve said enough to show that, despite the formatting, loose editing, and all that eating, I enjoyed the read. To be fair the author did tell me she’d had problems getting the novel to me through the ether as an eBook.  I think I might try to find the first book of the Rhe Brewster series and the one after Death in a Dacron Sail, in paperback versions. Anyway, the top and bottom of this review is that I would recommend this author. I do like her style and, on the whole, liked Death in a Dacron Sail.

Copies available at:

Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno authors – today with Manon Steffan Ros

Time for another Wednesday interviews with one of my fellow Honno authors. And today I’m pleased to be chatting with Manon Steffan Ros

Displaying tHE Seasoning- Manon.JPG

Tell us a little bit about yourself as a writer and as a person.

I started writing when I was pregnant with my first child, who’s almost ten now. I had to give up my job as an actress because I was quite unwell, and needed something to fill my time and take my mind off the daunting prospect of impending parenthood! I had some success in the National Eisteddfod, which gave me the confidence to go for it.

I’m now fortunate enough to be working full-time as a writer, and the jobs I take on are varied- novels, plays, scriptwriting, game story-lining. I can’t quite believe how lucky I am to be doing this. When people ask me what I do, I’m always faintly embarrassed when I answer – saying “I’m a writer” sounds a bit like “I’m an astronaut” or “I’m a rock star”!

Tell us about the concept behind your book.

The Seasoning is a novel with recipes. I love food, and have always found cooking to be very therapeutic. In the novel, we are told the life story of Peggy, and the recipes which form parts of her memory. Taste is so evocative- who forgets the flavours of long-ago school dinners? Also, I wanted to explore the complex relationship people have with food, especially the generation which have gone from rationing and undernourishment to being faced with endless amounts of cheap, mass-produced food.

The Seasoning is a Welsh novel at its heart-I wanted to portray what it’s really like to live in a small rural village, with its comforts and claustrophobia. It is set in the small (and very real) village of Llanegryn, which is a few miles from Tywyn on the Meirionnydd coast.


How much research went into sculpting the manuscript?

I am a bit of a history buff, and so I knew a lot of the historical context of that area anyway. For me, the story comes before historical accuracy. However, I did have to test the recipes over and over again. They are mostly my own, though a few have been passed down by my grandmother, and another is based on a Staffordshire oatcake recipe (a nod to my grandparents in Stoke-on-Trent!)

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

I think one process feeds the other. Writing is, of course, lonely work, which suits me fine- but I do sometimes think that more social interaction would be good for the development of the characters which I’m writing. So when I go and talk to various groups of societies about what I do, it gives me that opportunity to meet new people and observe them. I know that makes me sound a bit odd, but the truth is that I’m not very gregarious- when I’m observing people and the way they behave, I admire, respect and love them, but I do feel like an outsider looking in.

Can you tell us about your writing process? What’s a typical writing day for you?

I have two young sons (5 and 9) and so my working day starts when they’re at school. I try to write from 9-3 every day, with an hour off at lunchtime to go for a walk. I visit the library every other day, as I don’t have an internet connection in my home and so rely on the library to send work and do any research. I work again when the boys are in bed, from eight to around ten. I have my lazy days, but I find that I feel flat and a bit down if I go a few days without writing. It has become my way of processing the world.

Which novelists do you admire?

I am a voracious reader, and I love all kinds of books- I tend to read 2 or 3 books a week. I adore Kate Atkinson, Sue Monk Kidd and Fannie Flagg. I collect and chain-read books by Judy Blume, Paula Danziger and Ruth Thomas- the young adults’ genre appeals to me.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I ADORE Lego. Honestly. I play with it until my fingers get stiff. My children and I have pyjama days where we play with Lego all day. It’s fantastic stuff.

What would you like to take to a lonely island?

A radio. It’s my constant companion- I flit between different stations depending on the time of day, but generally find that the sound of radio is very comforting.

Hope you don’t mind Manon – I thought I’d add a little extra here. This is the write up for your book which is published 21st May 2015 – Oh!!! That’s tomorrow!

“Peggy is eighty and the family are having a birthday party. Her son’s gift of a beautifully crafted notebook comes with a request…

Peggy’s not so keen on telling her own story, but each of her family and neighbours has a story to tell, revealing not just Peggy’s life but that of her village, tucked beneath Cader Idris on the southern fringes of Snowdownia. Bookended by Peggy’s own shocking testimony, each chapter has a different voice and a different take on events, from the jolly fat woman who is feeding not just Peggy but her own sense of emptiness, to the generous shopkeeper and his young son, who has had his eye on Peggy for a long time, and Peggy’s best friend, who’s not sure she’s cut out for marriage to the church and its curator. As the village voices fill out the picture of life in Llanegryn, slowly the reader realises that all is not well, and that Peggy’s eccentricities have a terrible dark secret hidden behind them – and not just that she was a neglected child.”

Buy a copy here:


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My review of Motherlove by Thorne Moore

9781909983205_bach (1)I can’t remember the last time I read the final paragraph of a novel and then immediately turned back to the first chapter and started reading all over again. But that’s what I did with Motherlove by Thorne Moore. I loved this book – I mean I really loved it!

Where do I start? I suppose, firstly, I should say how much I admired the author’s style of writing: the pace is fast but steady, moving seamlessly from one scene to the next. The language, the metaphors, the clever mix of sentence lengths, all draw out the tension of this heart-breaking story. And keep the reader gripped and having empathy for each of the characters
My favourite genres are family sagas and thrillers/ mystery novels. Motherlove is contemporary fiction but holds both these genres within its pages, together with a psychological theme cleverly woven throughout. The title says it all; there are many ways to be a mother, a myriad of ways to show the love that comes with that label. I think this novel reveals the diversity of those ways.
Best of all, for me, the story is written from various points of views, each chapter, subtly and gradually revealing each of the characters; three mothers and two daughters, whose lives are initially inexplicably linked by a dreadful incident in the past.
An incident I won’t reveal here; I don’t like giving spoils in my reviews. And, anyway, the reader is plunged in straight from the beginning, so why spoil things?
But I can speak, briefly, from a constructive criticism point of view.
The intricate plot is skilfully threaded with a number of sub-plots, all intriguing, all necessary to the story..
The descriptions of the settings, from rural Wales to the streets and buildings of a run-down town to a soulless council estate, are subtly drawn and provide a poignant backdrop throughout the two decades that the book travels through, and reveals the social and cultural milieu of these eras.
The characters are strongly drawn to elicit emotions in the reader; from sympathy to fear, to distress, to hatred, to horror, to empathetic understanding.
Both the internal and spoken dialogue cleverly reveals each character, with their different nuances. There is never any doubt whose perspective we are reading.
Anyone who has read Thorne Moore’s first novel A Time For Silence and have been waiting with anticipation for her next, won’t be disappointed; Motherlove is a brilliant successor and if I could give more than five stars for this novel, I would.
I don’t only want to recommend Motherlove; I urge all those who enjoy excellent contemporary fiction to find a copy of this novel. And submerge themselves in it.

Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno authors – today with Carly Holmes

Today I’m chatting with multi-talented Carly Holmes.:-

Carly Holmes cover photo

Please tell us about your writing background and history


My path to becoming a writer is so common as to be a stereotype: I was an introverted child, painfully shy and insecure. My favourite pastime from about age 5 was curling up with my cat in my bedroom and reading books. I lived mainly inside my own head, creating rich and fantastical worlds; I still do, which may be why I’m at my most content when I’m at home. Unlike the rest of my family, who gad about the globe, eager to explore the world, I get anxious if I’m away from home for any length of time. My deepest fulfilment comes from having the time and space to be, either in my garden or at my writing desk. With or without a gin and tonic.

I started writing excruciating poems and implausibly plotted short stories when I was in primary school, copying my idols (fairy tales and Enid Blyton through to Georgette Heyer and then the Brontes), and I continued to write creatively through my teens. After completing my first degree (in English Lit) I went straight on to a Masters in Creative Writing. I focused on writing short stories and was thrilled to start getting them published. I then, for reasons I’m still struggling to understand, stopped writing creatively for over a decade. There was no impulse to. I didn’t even miss it.

Now  I fear that happening again. I have a very conflicted relationship to writing. It’s an unhealthy mix of dread and need. If I’m not writing then I’m thinking about it, fearing it, missing it, worrying about not being able to do it. In writing I experience a concentrated peace and contentment that I’m unable to reproduce in any other area of my life. You’d think that alone would mean I make it a daily occupation, but as strong as the desire is the desire to resist it.

Having my début novel, The Scrapbook, published last year was, in my view, the biggest achievement of my life so far. Actually, writing it was the biggest achievement but having it signed by Parthian was incredible. It gave me, my very existence, a validation I think I’d always been looking for.

What are you working on now?


I’m currently writing a collection of ghost stories. I was lucky enough to receive a bursary from Literature Wales last year to work on these, which range from traditional chillers to inversions of the standard ‘ghost story’ trope. It’s great fun. Hauntings are as much a construction of human loss and longing as of actual apparitions so there’s a lot of room within the genre for the imagination to rove.

I’ve also started writing poetry over the last few months, for the first time in nearly 30 years. After my novel was published I found myself unable to write anything lengthy for a long time, I think because I wasn’t ready to let the book go. I tend to self-edit as I write so the manuscript was largely in a finished state by the time it reached Parthian and I didn’t have months of tearful wrestling with it. I suspect the re-writing process eases the writer away from their creation and allows them to turn from it, towards something new. Or maybe I just need to learn to overcome my separation anxieties!

In the last month I’ve started writing a new novel. It’s very early days and I’m still looking at it out of the corner of my eye rather than straight on, in case it takes fear and runs away, but I’m excited and hopeful.

What do you do when you don’t write?


It seems that all of my non-writing life revolves around writing to some degree. I pay the bills by editing and case-managing other writers’ books from manuscript through to publication, which is incredibly creatively fulfilling. I’m also on the editorial board for the Lampeter Review which is (for the acting editor of an issue) a huge amount of work but rewarding with it. I’m currently in the hot seat for issue 12 so I don’t expect to get out in the garden a great deal this summer.

My novel is due out in paperback in May so I’ll be promoting it as much as I can via readings etc over the next few months. Marketing and self promotion are necessary evils for any writer who isn’t a bestseller. If you don’t push your book then it won’t get noticed.

I host and manage The Cellar Bards, a group of writers who meet monthly in Cardigan, usually with a guest reader, for an evening of spoken word. We’re a thriving group and the evenings are very popular.

When I’m not doing any of the above I’m likely to be reading, sleeping, walking the hound or eating. I discovered the gruelling joys of rowing a Celtic longboat last year and loved it. The season should be starting again this month so I’ll be back to doing that a couple of times a week in the evenings.

What would you like to take to a lonely island?


I would take a king size bed with a good mattress, because I can handle most adversity if I’ve had a comfortable night’s sleep. Something to write with and on. An unlimited supply of good coffee (and a kettle/coffee machine). Insect repellent. Books. The ridiculously out-sized sun hat I bought once and have never had the courage to wear.

Find Carly’s website here:


Rosie's Book Review team 1

My review of Last Child by Terry Tyler

 My rating 5 out of 5 stars 


aa last child

I love being part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team #RBRT. I wish I had more time to read the books. I wish I wasn’t such a slow reader. I wish I’d discovered Terry Tyler’s books sooner. I wonder why she hasn’t got an agent (she doesn’t need one, probably doesn’t want one – still, I wonder why hasn’t she been snapped up?) I want to shout out, to ask why my local library hasn’t shelves displaying her brilliant covers. Am I being too effusive? Yes, but that doesn’t stop me; I am a huge fan of her work.

Last Child is both a brilliant stand-alone novel, and a sequel. I would advise anyone to read the first of (what I hope) is a trilogy. No pressure on the author there then! I would suggest reading Kings and Queens initially because, if you don’t you will not only miss out on a brilliant read but you won’t discover the wonderful beginnings of this cast of characters.

Told you I can go over the top when I’m enthusiastic.

Now I’ve got that off my chest – the serious stuff:

The plot follows the lives of the Lanchester family in much the same way that history records the (almost) parallel lives of Henry VIII and his wives and family (no chopping off of heads here though – but still plenty of intrigue). This contemporary take is hugely enjoyable and a balanced page- turner from the beginning.

The characters continue to evolve in a style that is unique to this author. They are rounded, they change, they grow, they are revealed – sometimes slowly, sometimes more subtly. But in the end I felt I knew each and every one of them as they share their own viewpoints to the narrative. And both the internal voices and the dialogue (so well written, I think), is individualistic to each of them.

I’ll mention just a few of the characters: Will: An understated character but one threaded throughout both novels, giving his own insight to the others and the lives they lead. Erin: (a contemporary Elizabeth I), energetic, determined to do the right thing, a little flawed but loyal. Isabella: (portrayed as a modern day Mary), vulnerable, yet embittered to such a degree her decisions are underlined with an unstable revenge. Jaz, Harry’s son, complex as any teenager, with an ability to evolve into an equally complex adult but…  Hannah, the nanny and short- time lover of Harry Lanchester, the founder of this dynasty; shown as the sustaining carer of this younger generation, competent, motherly, non- judgemental. Then there’s Jim Dudley, ruthless yet ultimately helpless; Raine Grey with her own devastating story; the dependable Robert Dudley, and his shallow wife, Amy.

I could go on and on – but I won’t. I think it only fair for readers to discover the characters and the story for themselves. Suffice it to say, all of them run the gamut of trials and tribulations that is life – with so much more than most of us, thankfully, avoid.

The settings, the fashion, the attitudes, the domestic lives and the world of business provide a solid backdrop to this book and truly reflect the epochs the novel is set in.

All in all a brilliant family saga, brilliantly written. I can’t recommend Terry Tyler’s work highly enough. Looking forward to the next book.

Find a copy here:


My Interview with the Talented and Successful Best Selling Children’s Author Sharon Tregenza.

 Today, I’m pleased to be talking to best selling children’s author Sharon Tregenza.

Quick introduction, Sharon; tell us who you are.




I’m a Children’s author and a proud Cornish woman living in a converted chapel in Box near Bath.


 Why do you write and when did you start writing?


I write because I simply love writing. I started over 20 years ago when I lived in the Middle East. I wrote articles, stories and poetry for the newspapers. I started off writing anything and everything they asked me to but soon realised it was the children’s stuff I loved. I wrote the children’s section of the inflight magazine for Emirates Airlines too.



What is your most memorable moment when writing?


Winning the Kelpies Prize. The three short-listed entries were presented at the Edinburgh Book Festival. I won a big cash prize and instant publication for my MG Mystery “Tarantula Tide”. Friends and family had travelled with me so there was a lot of partying that night. Brilliant moment. 


Please describe your latest book.

The Shiver Stone” is another MG Mystery set in beautiful Pembrokeshire. It involves mysterious strangers, hunting accidents and a stolen dog – there’s plenty of mystery and danger and a sprinkle of humour too.


What are you currently working on?

I’ve just sent my latest children’s book to my agent. That one is called “The Jewelled Jaguar” and set in Cornwall. There are dangerous sinkholes, Aztec knives and some very nasty characters for my young heros to catch.

I shall now work on two books simultaneously. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out. J

Sharon’s book,“The Shiver Stone”  can be found on:


You can see more of Sharon on her website:


And contact her on:



Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno authors – today with Alys Einion

Today, on my Wednesday interviews with fellow Honno authors, I’m chatting with the fascinating Alys Einion

alys pic (1)

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

I am a woman with a complex identity, and I find it hard to put it into words – which is odd, for a writer! I have always seen myself as a writer, even  before betting published. I have a deeply spiritual nature, vivid dreams, and a vast imagination. I love deeply and faithfully and I am tolerant, open-minded and non-judgemental. But if you cross me I don’t forgive easily. I love nature, and find faith, spirituality and religion fascinating. I am also somewhat fixated on the idea of fate and of choice. My novels reflect this. I love to sing, listen to music and drum with my friends. Music helps me write – the right pieces will drive me through crucial parts of my writing. For example, one section of Inshallah was written with Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black playing over and over again. I just needed the song to make me feel what was necessary to write that particular section of the work. I will put music on to enter into the story space, get the flow going, and then choose specific music to achieve the right flow. I couldn’t write without music.


I have always been self-driven and very determined to achieve my goals, but I have also had to balance home life, family life and working in a very rewarding job with being a writer. Everything I have achieved has been because I set my mind to it, but I have been lucky in finding love and support along the way.

Inshallah, published by Honno, took seven years to write. Seven is a significant number for me. It is the culmination of years of ambition and the result of finally learning both the craft and the discipline of writing. My current work in progress is also the result of years of thought and reflection, and is more personal than Inshallah was, derived more from my own experience. It is based on something which happened in my 21st year (3 x 7) and which was the pivotal experience of my life. I think I focus a lot on ‘watershed moments’ in my writing and in the way I see the world.

I love the physical act of writing, putting pen to paper. I like to use a fountain pen, and have several lovely ones that are perfect. I like nice notebooks and my novels are written on yellow legal pads. Don’t know why.

Ultimately, if I could have all my wishes, I’d live in a bookshop/library/restaurant/stationery shop in a wood in the middle of nowhere next to the sea on a smallholding full of fresh vegetables and herbs with gardeners and plenty of supplies of food and champagne and my partner next door. That about sums me up.


How did you come to writing?

I was always an avid reader. As a small child, books were my greatest pleasure and comfort, and I would spend hours reading each day, when I was allowed. I learned to read earlier than my peers, and to write as well.  My mother was a book-lover and a librarian, and we discussed writing books. One day, seven years old, I had a true epiphany. I wanted to be an author, a novelist. I wanted to write books like the ones that I loved. So I started writing, little stories, and when I was eleven years old, started keeping a diary. But it didn’t last. Then, on my thirteenth birthday, my mother bought me a red notebook cover, for a reporter’s notebook. I started a diary again, and I have kept one ever since. I always saw myself as a writer, trying to be published. I wrote a novella when I was 16, a terrible, angst-ridden story which nevertheless has some merit. I wrote short stories and started many novels but never really progressed, until I was in my twenties, when I wrote two novellas in six months, unpublishable but very powerful for me.  I kept on writing and trying to get published, and in my thirties , took it so far as to study an MA in Creative Writing, and later a PhD. That helped me to achieve the discipline I needed to get published.

 graduation Alys

You have created great characters. Which one is your favourite?

My favourite character is Amanda, the narrator. I think she is a very flawed person, but someone who is capable of truly loving her children and her friends. She is a survivor. She isn’t very likeable initially, but she finds her strength and is unwavering in her devotion to her children. And she believes in something outside of herself, that she has some kind of path and purpose in life. I relate to that.


Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?

I would have Angelina Jolie play Amanda, not sure about the others.


Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

Like Amanda, I have faced personal tragedy and survived. I believe we are here for a purpose, that we are faced with choices and all that matters is how we respond.  Like Grace, I have been a loving friend and support to a woman suffering domestic violence.

Were the plot and sub-plots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

The plot was planned from the start, but right up until the end I was still unsure about how I would end it. I knew that I wanted to give real closure to the story, but a part of me wanted a shocking, sad ending, because so many women experience what Amanda experiences. However, I also grew to love Amanda and just had to have the ending I chose. I had a set of incidents that I wanted to include in the story, but everything in between came during the writing process.

book cover (2)

What is your main reason for writing?

I absolutely love writing, and feel like I am myself when I am writing. It relaxes me, makes me feel good, and allows me to explore the boundaries of my imagination. It also allows me to explore my personal experiences from different perspectives, and to feel as if I am connecting to others as they read the work.  I enjoy it so much, even the boring bits, and I love being an author. Meeting people who have enjoyed my book makes it all worthwhile.


What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The best aspects are the ‘flow state’ when I am writing the first draft, when I feel the characters speaking to me, when I simply can’t write fast enough. And then, the experience of writing a really good bit – my hair stands on end, I start to cry, because I am moved by the prose and the power of words, and I can’t believe I did that. It’s an act of creation and I stand in awe of it sometimes.

The worst aspect of writing is not having enough time to write, and having to balance working in a ‘real job’ with writing. I get frustrated because I just want to say ‘sod it’ some days. And getting inspiration for an amazing story during the drive to work, only to have it disappear completely by the time I get to my desk.


How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

Not very well! I try to think of them as entirely separate entities, but the awareness of one novel impinges on the other a little. But each book seems to occupy its own psychic space, and once I enter that space, then it is all about that particular work. My work in progress is in its final stage of editing, and I feel now, as I did with Inshallah, that it is an entity in its own right, almost as if it is a child ready to leave home.


What do you do when you don’t write?

I work, cook, eat, and read a lot. I watch films, visit friends, spend time in nature. Sometimes I meditate. I spend time with my lovely son. I spend time with my partner and go out for meals, or to the pub. But most of the time I still feel as if I want to be writing, and I always carry a notebook and pen with me. I write in the spaces around things – in the few minutes when the person I am with has gone to the bar or the loo, when waiting for a train, or waiting for an appointment. I often write whilst watching television, so I’m writing a lot of the time. And if I’m not writing, I’m reading.


Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.

I am a junior black belt in a martial art.

I have a weakness for pot noodles and trashy fiction (often both at the same time).


What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

I truly believe that women have rich inner lives that we know little about. I write to express my own inner life, my feelings, my world view, the dreams and imagination that give depth and colour to my life. My books are truly written for and about women but are not exclusively for women. But they are deeply personal as well, and are always inspired by something I have experienced which I feel needs to be explored. I believe that plot and structure is really important to keep the reader interested, but that every writer pours some part of themselves into the work. It is all made up, but it still has to be real.

Given the chance, I would spend more time writing.



What is your advice to new writers?

Write. Write some more. Read widely. Keep writing. Then edit. Don’t listen to anyone but a professional editor or teacher. Edit, shape, then leave the work for a while. Come back to it a few weeks later with fresh eyes. Then fix the obvious flaws. But don’t ever believe it is done until your editor says so.


Who are your favourite authors?

Alice Walker. Starhawk. Maya Angelou. Margaret Attwood. Sarah Dreher. Scarlett Thomas. Fiona Cooper. JRR Tolkein. CS Lewis. Stephen King. Terry Pratchett. Anne McCaffrey. Sarah Waters. Phil Rickman. Barbara Erskine. Jean M Auel.  Karin Kallmaker. JK Rowling (yes, I know!) And many more . . . .


What is your favourite book?

That’s a difficult question. I have so many. My favourite books are:

Starhawk – the Fifth Sacred Thing.

Margaret Attwood – The Handmaid’s Tale.

JRR Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings.

Stephen King – On Writing


 What makes you laugh?

Champagne. Simon’s Cat. My son, when he is being funny. I laugh with pleasure at beautiful sunsets, flowers, books and children.


What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?

Pens, ink, lots of notebooks and my ipod (and a solar charger). A crate of champagne, a fridge, and a decent pillow.

And some more pens. And obviously, a box of books. A very big box. Maybe a crate. Or a mobile library van full of books. Yes, that sounds about right.

And some pot noodles.

And a fork.

Would there be nice veggies on this island? Being vegan, I might have to take extra supplies, such as tofu and garlic and onions and peppers and mushrooms. And really good curry powder. And a good pan to cook in.

And spare pens and spare notebooks, just in case. You can never have too many . . .

And maybe a backup library van. How long am I going to be there?

Hmm. Difficult. Can I just go and spend a month in a library instead? Then I won’t need the vans, just the other stuff.


How do you handle criticism of your work?

I think about it. I take on board the comments and think about whether I need to change anything for future work. If the criticism is unfounded I simply ignore it. Truly good criticism is a tool – anything else is just someone having a rant.

Alys’ book can be found at:


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Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno authors – today with Lindsay Ashford

The seventh of my Wednesday interviews with fellow Honno authors. And today I’m thrilled to be chatting with the talented and prolific writer Lindsay Ashford.


Tell me a little about your writing history/background. What inspired you to write?

It was meeting PD James twenty-five years ago that inspired me to write. I was living in Brussels at the time and the British Council brought her to Belgium to give a talk. She was a spellbinding speaker and I just thought, that’s what I want to be. I was thrilled to meet her again two years ago at a writers’ event in Winchester. I was able to tell her that she had inspired me and that I had gone on to become a published writer. She was lovely – so kind and genuinely interested to hear what I had to say -and we had our photo taken together.

How did you come up with the title of your novel?

I’d just read the Suspicions of Mr Whicher and wanted something similar.

Who is your favourite/least favourite character in your novel?

My favourite is the main character, Anne Sharp. It took me a long time to get inside her skin. I had to ask myself what sort of person Jane Austen would want as a best friend; what qualities she would admire in another woman, and why she would go out of her way to befriend someone who was actually a servant, and therefore her social inferior. The relationship between Anne and Jane is at the heart of the novel, so it was very important to get Anne right.

My least favourite character is Mary Austen – but to say why would be giving too much away!

What was the hardest part of writing for you? Were there any particular issues or hiccups when writing your novel?’

The hardest part was making it historically authentic without making the dialogue inaccessible to the reader.

What are you working on now?

Another historical, this time set in the 1920s. It’s not a murder mystery – more a family secrets story. I’ve veered away from crime writing with my latest novel, The Colour of Secrets, which is published by Amazon’s Lake Union Imprint next month (April 14th is publication day). I would say that I’m what I’m writing now would be classed as ‘women’s interest’ fiction.

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Do you have any advice for other writers?

I think that you need to be able to take constructive criticism from people who know what they’re talking about. Don’t be too precious about your work – be prepared to rewrite a novel several times in order to get it right. But most of all you need determination. You will get rejection but if you have been told your writing shows promise, stick at it and don’t let anyone put you off.

Which writer would you choose as a mentor (alive or dead)?

PD James. I really admired her work ethic – when she started she had a full-time job and young children to support (her husband was an invalid after the war) but she got up at 5am every morning and wrote before leaving for work. Amazing. And at 93 she could still hold an audience spellbound for nearly an hour.

Who is your favourite author and what is it that you love about their work?

I don’t really have one favourite. My top three would be Emily Bronte, Daphne Du Maurier and Sarah Waters. I like writing that explores the dark side of human nature.

Tell me something unusual about yourself.

Stephen Fry once smacked my bottom. It was during a scene change at a Footlights performance. He was acting and I was doing props. During a blackout I had to lean over and clear a table. That’s when he did it!

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Lindsay’s books may be found on:

And on Honno:

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