Tuesday, 20 February 2018

#Review 8 of 2018 The Dissolute Rake by Francine Howarth

Those Regency Rakes are definitely a degenerate bunch, though some are entirely able to be saved from a sad and lonely end. The story heats up almost immediately, no coy hanging around for the two main characters in this Regency tale- though it’s perfectly clear from the disclaimer that it is going to be ‘steamy’.  

It’s a quick read, a mix of well known themes intermingled in this tale from Ms Howarth. Well written, the author finds a distinctive voice, the language displaying a real flavour of the era yet some of the themes also seem to be very modern.  

Finding real love, and satisfying lust, isn’t going to happen within the lovely May Thorne’s marriage but it’s amazing how quickly one man, Marcus Fairweather, can overturn all of her guilt. I’m totally glad it is Marcus who can make May stray because the lawyer, Harris, is an objectionable horror and very well portrayed as such!


#Review 7 of 2018 Caledonii by Ian Hall

The title and the date of the book drew my attention immediately. 

Set around the time of my own writing it's interesting to get the perspective of other authors. The intention of this short prologue is to introduce the books which follow. Will go on and buy them? Yes, I probably will because I don't personally focus on the spiritual aspects of the druids but I think I'll enjoy what Ian Hall brings to his novels regarding the functions and special powers of the druids in the lives of the Late Iron age peoples of northern Britannia. 

(If he has any particular verified ancient sources to share on this aspect of druidism I'd be delighted to read them!) 

There are quite a lot of historical themes in this short introduction which display a good knowledge of the era.

The link with the sons of Venutius, King of the Brigantes is an interesting one. 


#Review 6 of 2018 Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy

The thing I liked best about this tale of life at Vindolanda is the fact that the author highlights the fact that there probably were many Roman forts and fortlets along the stretch where Hadrian’s Wall was built some 20 plus years after this story.

The story has plenty of action but the author manages to show that there was also plenty of routine tedium for those stationed on the forts along the wall, so far from their homes and the lives left behind. I wanted to skip past the battle scenes to get onto the next bit of Flavius Ferox's story but didn't dare miss any of the action. 

In this story there’s a bit of know who your friends are and respect your enemies but essentially until proven trust no one.

I felt there was still quite a mystery about Rerox and where his ultimate allegiance might lie - although he was definitely true to Rome in Vindolanda.

One part of the book did make me pause for thought and that was wehn Ferox goes to the settlement/ hillfort of the Iron Age tribes allies. Something about the location of the Vacomagi leader's territory didn't match with what I've learned of the geographical area covered by the Vacomagi. I just might have to resort to reading non-fiction by Goldsworthy- it's not that I've avoided his work it's more that I haven't come across it yet so it hasn't been added to my considerable amount of source material.

Readers who enjoy bloody battle scenes and slicing skirmishes will probably like this one a lot.


Monday, 19 February 2018

#7 #Monday Meanders with #Keira Drummond

Today I’m hogging my #Monday Meanders slot to take you on a little trip with my fictional friend Keira Drummond, to Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.  

I love visiting Edinburgh, thoroughly enjoy the culture, the sights, its history. The streets teem with tourists all year long though there are obvious times when it’s even busier than normal and that would be in August when the Edinburgh Festival is in full swing. Yet Edinburgh also has many other festivals throughout the calendar year, so it’s easy for tourists to tune into what’s on whenever they arrive.

unicorn,  Abbey Strand, Edinburgh
As a born and bred Glaswegian there was a kind of rivalry when I was growing up in the 1960s that meant Glasgow was considered to be the city for the manual labourers and that Edinburgh was the place for the banking and white collar workers. The reality was, of course, something of a mixture in terms of occupations though Glasgow did have the edge on having more of the dirty manual labour jobs in manufacturing, shipbuilding and engineering works. I wasn’t very familiar with Edinburgh when I was a schoolgirl but enjoyed my few trips to the capital. I was in my twenties before Edinburgh became a more regular venue for going to the theatres; museums; eating out and even pub crawling. It was a fabulous city for all of that and more and it still is.

When I planned out my contemporary mystery Topaz Eyes I wanted to add a Scottish dimension to it. In deciding to make my main female character Keira Drummond be from Edinburgh it meant I could add in scenes which take place in the capital city of Scotland as well as all of the other fantastic European and US locations.  

In my aim to be realistic, as I am with my historical novels, I went sleuthing to find a name for my lead female that would ‘fit’ Edinburgh. The Keira aspect was because I knew of a Keira who came from Edinburgh and Drummond is a name that has historical associations with Edinburgh city- though it's a clan name that's found in the Outer Hebrides and across much of central Scotland and the borders.

(Colinton 19th century engraving - public domain)

I then decided on where Keira would be from, as in which part of Edinburgh. I’m only a little bit familiar with approaches into Edinburgh from the west—the Corstorphine, Newtown, Princes Street and Royal Mile areas— but I wanted somewhere for her to live that was quite old. I chose Colinton.

Colinton dates back to approximately the 11th century and is around six miles south west of the city centre. However, as the centuries progressed the city grew outwards and by the twentieth century it became a suburb of the city. It still has a range of architectural styles reflecting its age, the ruins of Colinton Castle (not available to the general public as far as I know)  being from the 15th century, Oliver Cromwell having destroyed most of it during his occupation of Scotland in 1650. The author Robert Louis Stevenson spent summers at the Manse in Colinton where his grandfather was the parish minister.  

Although more of the action in Topaz Eyes takes place in other gorgeous locations I’m delighted that I also featured Edinburgh. If you go to the city today there are so many recommendations to fit every pocket and every preference.

  • Like castles and historic houses? Edinburgh Castle; Palace of Holyrood House; Holyrood Abbey; the Scott Monument
  • Enjoy outdoor green spaces? Climb Arthur’s Seat; Princes Street Gardens; Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Love Museums? National Museum of Scotland; Scottish National Portrait Gallery (video above-see below for details) ; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
  • Like Visitor Experiences?: Dynamic Earth; the Edinburgh Dungeon; Underground Vaults; the Real Mary King’s Close
These are only a tiny handful of many, many things to see and do!

All of this talk makes me want to pop down to Edinburgh for another visit. ( A 3 hour drive/coach ride, a little shorter by train)

The video above is of the fabulous front foyer area of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The frieze was designed and painted by William Hole c.1897 depicting notable historic figures important to Scotland. It begins with a seated figure of Caledonia then pans left to Stone and Bronze Ages man and then for the Iron Age it's Calgacus, the Caledonian leader named by Tacitus in 'The Agricola'. The helmeted figure next is Agricola, who 'almost' conquered Scotland for the Ancient Roman Empire c. A.D. 84 - **my Celtic Fervour Series of novels.

Meanwhile, Keira and I are off to have a cup of coffee in Princes Street Gardens. 

Saturday, 17 February 2018

#Saturday Shorts – with #Anne-Marie Ormsby

 Saturday has dawned bright and beautiful!

It's wonderful to start a fresh new day with an unblemished blue sky above me - quite rare in my part of the world. It's also lovely to welcome new people to my blog and Anne- Marie Ormsby is one of the newer authors with Crooked Cat Books. 

Without more ado, welcome and please take a pew Anne- Marie. Let's get to know you a little bit better in this Saturday Shorts! 

Please give us a little introduction to you...

In real life I work in administration in a busy secondary school in East London and I live with my husband and our tiny human.

Nancy says: I used to teach in a small primary school and know how much admin staff do to keep the whole place oiled and greased. It's not a job for anyone who wants regular breaks and to file their nails all day!  

When is your best time to write?
I have found that I can write pretty much anywhere these days apart from when my daughter is with me. My favourite way to write is alone, with specific mood setting music and a bottle of wine.
Anne- Marie Ormsby

Which social media platforms do you find most comfortable to use?
I use Facebook, mainly for personal use as I live far away from most of my family and friends, but I do have an author page which is fun, Instagram (a lot because I like taking photos) and more recently got into using Twitter which I wasn’t too interested in before but got into the swing of it during my book promo stuff.

 Aargh! I've still got so much to learn about Twitter after years of joining. 

Please tell us what your latest book is about and its genre.
Purgatory Hotel is about a girl who wakes up dead and cant remember how she died or who she was. She also isn’t sure what she did wrong to end up in Purgatory which is a creepy old Victorian hotel with endless corridors and a library full of books that are the stories of peoples lives.  Our mysterious heroine must dodge the inhabitants of Purgatory and re live her life in order to repent for her crime.
It’s paranormal fiction but I prefer the title Paranormal Whodunnit.

 Oh, that sounds a really interesting read.  

Did anything in particular influence you to write it?
I was inspired by lots of different things, various songs, books and movies played a part in the inspiration, but I think I was deep down inspired to examine what people will do in desperate situations and what bad relationships will do to people.

Did it require any specialised research?
No, not really as most of it is pure imagination. I did spend a bit of time reading old newspaper stories about a series of murders called The Babes in the Woods murders which I tied in with one of my less savoury characters.

I confess to being a research junkie and I'm sure if I chose to write something purely imaginative I'd still find something I'd need to research just for the thrill of it. 

Who is your main character?
Her name is Dakota Crow and shes in her early 20’s

What’s your main character’s greatest weakness?
A man called Jackson Shade.

Now that's an evocative name!

What does the character do to overcome this?
I cant say……


Do you enjoy editing your work?
Not at all…I read and re read the book so many times I was blind to it all eventually. I was very grateful when my editor Miriam stepped in and took over!

What’s your favourite occupation? (apart from writing!)
Working in a bookshop.

Do you have a favourite place to ‘hide’ out from life?
I have a toddler. There is no hiding place.

Too true! I've been a regular grandchild minder these last few years and not even the bathroom is private. It's even worse with two! 

Favourite food and drink?
Cava, olives and cheese.

 I can definitely identify with all  of that!

Find Anne -Marie at the following : 

Thank you for being a great guest today, Anne- Marie. Best wishes with Purgatory Hotel. I've still got some Crooked Cat Books to catch up with reading, yours being one of them, but I will! Also best wishes for your future writing. 


Friday, 16 February 2018

# Someone to #Lean on- #Felipe from Revolution Day

Friday means it's time to give those supporting secondary characters a bit of the limelight!

Today, I'm joined by Tim Taylor, a brilliantly versatile author of contemporary novels, historical novels and poetry, who has chosen to feature an accomplished character from his novel Revolution Day. It's a little while since I read this fantastic 5* novel  so it's brilliant to be reminded of what a sensible, steady and calm character Felipe is, at least that's how I read him to be. Though  Revolution Day is a contemporary novel it has a historical novel feel to it as various memories are interwoven as the story progresses.

Welcome to my Friday series, Tim I'll let you explain a bit about Felipe so that my readers can get to know him better!16th Feb

T. E. Taylor 
Hello, Nancy, it’s lovely to be visiting you again!  I have to say that when you said you were inviting guest posts about supportive secondary characters I jumped at the chance. It is always the way with supporting characters that they don’t get a fair crack of the whip whenever we’ve only got a few words in which to talk about a novel (in the blurb, for example). They often play an important part that is not easily summarised in half a sentence.

Nancy says: I totally agree and you put that so much better than I have!   
So it is with Felipe, private secretary to ageing dictator Carlos Almanzor in Revolution Day. Because the main storyline of the novel revolves around Carlos, his estranged wife Juanita and ambitious vice-president Manuel (who is plotting to seize the presidency for himself), Felipe tends not to get mentioned in straplines and soundbites. I have often felt this to be unfair to him, and am glad of this opportunity to give him his moment in the sun!  
It’s lonely at the top, and Carlos is increasingly depressed and insecure. He is a deeply flawed man who has done many bad things in his long career, but he is not a monster. Felipe sees this, and does his best to steer Carlos towards the light. By doing so he will come to have a significant influence on the events of the novel (though I’m not going to reveal exactly how!) But how does a lowly, gay secretary in his mid-20s influence an elderly, irascible autocrat? Not overtly, for sure, but indirectly, by understanding his boss, earning his trust and knowing what buttons to press.  
Here is an example of how Felipe operates. He has been trying to get Carlos to show a more human face to the world via an informal video blog. However, on discovering an obscene parody of his blog, Carlos angrily threw away his laptop. This passage shows us Felipe’s first step towards getting him to change his mind.    

“What the hell is this nonsense?”
            On the previous half dozen occasions when the President had confronted him at his desk, Felipe’s face had turned red and he had almost lost the power of speech, such words as did emerge being rendered unrecognisable by the return of a stammer that had been largely eliminated in his childhood. Today, however, his face remained its usual agreeable shade of light amber and his reply was measured and clear.
            “I am sorry, Presidente, I should have put a label on the cover of the folder. It is a digest of material about you that has appeared on the internet during the last few days. I thought that, since you have decided not to use a computer, you would wish me to monitor the relevant sites on your behalf.”
            “Do you think that I have time to read through pages and pages of scurrilous drivel every week?”
            “I do appreciate, of course, that your time is heavily committed, Presidente. So I have prepared the digest in such a way that it is not necessary to read it all. See, there is a two-page executive summary here at the front that highlights the main themes. It gives page numbers, in case you want to see more detail on any particular item.”
            Unsure what to say in response, the President expressed his continuing anger in the form of a succession of grunts and growls, allowing his secretary to maintain momentum.
            “Do you not recall, Presidente, that in our discussion last month, you expressed your concern about defamatory material that was appearing on the internet, and your dissatisfaction that neither I nor the Ministry of Information had kept you informed about this? I was merely seeking to rectify that omission. Was I wrong to do so?”
            “I…I am not sure that I recall the discussion.”
            “If I may refresh your memory, Presidente, you were upset when you discovered a parody of your blog. When I said that parodies and other uncomplimentary material about public figures such as yourself were not unusual, you enquired whether the Ministry of Information monitored the internet for such material, and asked me why I had not informed you about it before.”
            The President did not yet look convinced, but he did not challenge what had been said. Felipe took this as an invitation to continue.
            “So the digest is, as I have said, my attempt to find an appropriate way of keeping you informed. Of course, if it does not meet your needs, or if you have decided that you do not require this information after all, I will not trouble you with such a document again…”
            Carlos opened his mouth to speak, but unusually, Felipe did not give way until he had finished what he was going to say.
            “…But might I be so impertinent as to suggest that, before you decide, you at least take a brief look at the executive summary. It will only take a few minutes, and there is no urgent business in your calendar for the day. Then I will be happy either to continue with the digest or to discontinue it, or to modify it in any way you wish.”
            The President opened his mouth once more, left if open for a couple of seconds, then closed it again. He snatched the purple folder off the desk, turned, and walked away, closing the oak door behind him.

If your readers are intrigued, they can find out more about Revolution Day here: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/revday

Links for Buying and reading about Tim's work: 

Revolution Day on Amazon: http://authl.it/4yo

A bit about Tim: 

Tim ‘T.E.’ Taylor was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960 and now lives in Meltham, near Huddersfield, with his wife Rosa. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford, and some years later did a PhD in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. He spent a number of years in the civil service before leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing. Tim now divides his time between creative writing, academic research (he has published a book, Knowing What is Good for You, on the philosophy of well-being), and part-time teaching in ethics at Leeds University.

Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, is set in Ancient Greece and follows the real-life struggle of the Messenian people to free themselves from Sparta. His second, Revolution Day, is about an ageing Latin American dictator who is clinging to power as his vice-president plots against him. As well as fiction, Tim writes poetry: he won the 2016 National Association of Writers Groups open poetry prize. He also plays electric and acoustic guitar, occasionally in public, and likes to walk up hills.

(You can also find more about Tim's previous visits to this blog by using the 'Search' facility on the right sidebar to access my review and posts where Tim's been my guest.) 

I remember Felipe a lot better now (I read so many novels every year that the details tend to get lost in my memory banks, although I always remember when I loved reading the book as with Revolution Day). 

Thank you for coming today and sharing him with us, Tim. My best wishes for the next steps in your writing, whichever genre that might be in. 


Monday, 12 February 2018

#6 #Monday Meanders with Alice Castle

Good Morning Monday!

That means it's time for some more #Monday Meanders. Today, I welcome back my lovely author friend Alice Castle who is going to tell us about her favourite places. Having read her wonderful writing, I can see why she chooses to base her novels where she does. I'm getting to know the locations quite well indeed, and should I ever be in the vicinity I'll definitely be looking over both shoulders and sideways as well, but I'll let her tell you where it is and why.

Welcome again Alice! 

(An early p.s. of sorts - I'm so glad the hunky policeman Harry York gets a look-in again! )

Thanks so much, Nancy, for having me on your blog today for a Monday Meander and giving me a chance to explain why I set my books in south east London.

Alice Castle
There’s a simple explanation. I was walking through Dulwich Village one day, passing the white picket fences, bustling cafes and stunning Georgian houses, when it suddenly struck me that this was the perfect spot for a murder.

(Oh, Alice- how true! I went looking for a lovely image of Dulwich and I found the perfect one which I've tagged on at the end) 

This isn’t a confession to a crime. It’s a declaration of my intent to commit a whole series of shocking killings. But, before you dial 999, I’m just a writer. While I hope you’ll be on the edge of your seat, you’ll definitely live to tell the tale.

In Dulwich, you have the closed circle of suspects, the affluent lifestyle and the beautiful surroundings that made Agatha Christie’s St Mary Mead such a promising hotbed of turbulent emotions. A murder in an apparently tranquil setting is a seismic shock, a blow against the natural order of things that cries out to be solved by a gifted amateur sleuth. The twist is that Dulwich, for all its village feel, is also firmly part of contemporary London, not far from the meaner streets of Catford and Peckham. So as well as the sort of motives Miss Marple would recognise, I’ve introduced modern themes like incest, anorexia, cyberbullying and white collar fraud.

Dulwich College -  Wikimedia Commons
Once I’d had the idea of updating Golden Age crime for a new audience, writing Death in Dulwich and its sequel, The Girl in the Gallery, has been pure pleasure. The books reflect my love for the area, thanks to years living in Dulwich, with my children at schools rather like the ones which play such a large part in the stories. The books are stuffed with characters that I hope fellow Dulwich devotees will recognise affectionately, and either wish they could share a cappuccino with in Gail’s, or would swerve to avoid outside Tomlinson’s.

My single mum detective, Beth Haldane, is the sort of person you might well see at the gates of a school like, say, the Dulwich Hamlet. But, though at first sight Beth seems a typical Dulwich yummy mummy, it’s not just her precarious financial situation that keeps her aloof from the pack. Her love of puzzles, insatiable curiosity and a fair dash of reckless bravery lead her into situations from which I would certainly hang back. Luckily, she has Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Harry York dogging her footsteps, keeping her safe and failing to act on the developing spark between them.

My first book, Death in Dulwich, centres on Beth’s new job as archivist at Wyatt’s, the most prestigious of the (fictitious) Endowment Schools set up by the swashbuckling Sir Thomas Wyatt in the seventeenth century and still going from strength to glossy strength today.

The second instalment, The Girl in the Gallery, is inspired by the extraordinary Dulwich Picture Gallery, one of my favourite places in the world. As well as the wonderful art collection, I’ve always found the building itself fascinating. It was Sir John Soane’s favourite creation, and it doesn’t take much to see why. The mausoleum at the centre of the Gallery has always exerted a morbid fascination for me, seeming to cry out for a starring role in a whodunit, and I’ve been happy to oblige.

My third mystery, Calamity in Camberwell, features Beth battling against the world again. One of her friends has disappeared. Why does no one else take her absence seriously? It’s down to Beth to sort the situation out. If you want a job done, ask a single mother with a million things on her plate. Though the book ventures over to the magnificent Georgian terraces of Camberwell Grove,  Dulwich, as ever, remains at the heart of the book. For her fourth outing, Beth will be venturing down Half Moon Lane into Herne Hill but she’ll be slipping back to the village for the school Nativity play – and the inevitable cappuccinos with friends.

It’s been a joy to plot these books and to weave in the local landmarks I know and love so well. I hope Dulwich residents will forgive the mounting body count, kick off their shoes, get snuggly on their sofas and have fun too, reading about the sort of things that couldn’t possibly happen in Dulwich, darling.

You can BUY  Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery from Village Books, Dulwich Books, Herne Hill Books, Clapham Books and Amazon, via www.MyBook.to/1DeathinDulwich and www.MyBook.to/GirlintheGallery

Alice - Dulwich is indeed a place of inestimable history and for many residents it was mostly a happy one. However, there was one poor guy who loved living there...but... (it's easy to google his story.) 
err...my excuse is that I've been fascinated recently by all sorts of historical engravings. 

Thank you for popping in today, Alice. I do have The Girl in the Gallery in my Kindle queue and I'm truly looking forward to reading it.  It's looking like I'll have to get my skates on (or maybe a new pair of reading glasses and more hours in the day) if number 3 is in the offing. Best wishes with your future writing. 



Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sundays are for...Bellona

Sunday is almost over and I intended this to be posted a lot earlier today but as they say- time and tide- wait for no man.

I've been doing further writing and editing of 'Agricola's Bane', the current title of the fourth book in my Celtic Fervour Series, that's been a long time in the creation process.

My tiny research slot of yesterday and today was spent finding a goddess to whom Agricola could plead to make his 'warring' with the unpredictable Caledon allies be an easier task. Things aren't going well for him in the bleak northern territories of Britannia after his confrontation with the amassed Celtic tribes at Beinn na Ciche (my version of Mons Graupius). He's a superstitious man so I had to go sleuthing for plenty of lesser known gods and goddesses for him to pray to and sometimes to put blame upon when things don't quite go his way.

Today's offering is Bellona, sometimes called Duella. I find that duality of names interesting immediately. Duel - Duella!

Here are a few representations of Bellona that I've found. I know which I like best but wonder about you? The thing is that it's all about interpretation and that for me is why history and archaeology are so fascinating because one person's interpretation can vary so much from another.

In the same way as looking at, and admiring, the artistic interpretation of a theme or ideal a historical author dealing with pre-history has to choose which archaeological or historical interpretations to accept or follow and then interpret in his or her own way.

Bellona - Phillip Galle 1574 Bellona inspires the creation of arms
Bellona - Louis Jean Francois Lagrenee 1766  Presenting reins to Mars

Bellona - Jan Harmensz Muller after Bartolomaeus Spranger 1600 Leading the Imperial armies against the Turks

Marie de Medici as Bellona - Peter Paul Reubens 
I've found a few more, which one of these days, I'll add to a Pinterest Board.

And now....back to more writing and editing.


All of the above in the public domain. 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

#5 #Saturday Shorts-with #Lynn Forth

Good morning- it's Saturday! 
And that means a Saturday Short interview. 

The days are disappearing so quickly just now that I can hardly credit we're back to the weekend again. Regardless of what I've achieved in my new writing, the mornings are getting lighter and that's progress in itself (I've been consistently editing and writing all week).  Though, as well as managing some new writing, I'm also getting to know author friends a lot better - especially those who are popping on here to my blog. Let's see what we can learn about a fellow Crooked Cat author, Lynn Forth who is popping herself onto my lovely Saturday chair. 

Hello Lynn. Take a pew and let's get going! 

Hallo Nancy and thank you for inviting me on to your blog.  Although I’m a northern girl from Accrington, I have lived with my family in Worcestershire for many years.

Having always had a fascination with words and people, I had a lovely long career as a Lecturer in English at the local College. I left before the paperwork and procedures sucked all the joy out of an occupation I loved. And so now, at last, I can concentrate on my life-long ambition to write.
As an ex primary teacher I'm so sad that many in our general teaching profession have got to a scunnered level, and nothing to do with the students/pupils they were teaching. 

When is your best time to write?
I like to wait till the afternoon to start actually writing. I have usually spent the morning warming up to it as I go about all my daily jobs, or exercising at Zumba classes or attending meetings etc. Then, after lunch, I feel the rest of the day and evening is mine to write the words that have been tumbling through my head all morning. 
Lynn Forth

Which social media platforms do you find most comfortable to use?
I’m more of a Facebook fan but do try to keep up with Twitter as well, especially now we can write much more than before 
I like Facebook but am not so hot at tweeting. I'm still at the 140 characters stage and have to get used to the 'more is possible' scenario.  

Please tell us what your latest book is about and its genre.
My debut novel, Love in La La Land is a romantic comedy set in the glittering, glossy bubble-world of Hollywood.
I read your novel not long after returning from the Los Angeles area ( Pasadena) where I actually met quite a few 'Hollywood types'  at my niece's wedding who do TV comedy and TV shows that I'm not sure I'd actually want to watch. Individually they are all lovely people but there is a collective hype, that 'tinseltown' glow, that just isn't me. 

Did anything in particular influence you to write it?
I’ve always been equally interested in both books and films so have had a long fascination with the adaptation process when a book is made into a film. Hence the idea for my first novel when my author heroine, Jane Jones, rails against all the changes the movie scriptwriter, Jack Clancy, has made to her precious story. I liked the idea of exploring the process from both angles and thinking of all the modifications Jack needed to make to transform one storytelling medium into the other.  Both Jane and Jack are creative people, both proud of what they do and so the seeds of their disagreements are sown.

Did it require any specialised research?
I did want to get the setting right.  Obviously I’ve have seen a lot of movies set in and around Hollywood, but I did spend quite a bit of time on Google Earth searching round the starry suburbs of Tinseltown to get the ambience of Scott Flynn’s ’s house as accurate as I could. I have been to San Francisco but also researched the possible location of a hospital there. 

Who is your main character?
My main character is Yorkshire novelist, Jane Jones, who goes to Hollywood to try to sell her second novel to interested producers.  She was really thrilled when her first novel was snapped up and adapted into a film, starring her favourite heart-throb, Scott Flynn. She’s even more thrilled when she gets a chance to spend a day on the movie set actually watching him perform. 

What’s your main character’s greatest weakness?
Her main weakness is probably pride and a certain literary snobbishness. This causes her to look down on screen writer, Jack Clancy, as a mere movie hack without appreciating the skills he has brought to the adaptation process.

What’s your main character’s greatest strengths?
But her pride is also her greatest strength, that, and her integrity. In the end she can’t, and won’t, go against what she feels is right, even if it means losing everything.

It's a while since I read the novel but I warmed a lot more to Jack, than Jane, which might be odd since he's the one whose been living in the bubble of tinseltown- though it's because you do ensure that he's a very grounded guy. 
Are you a lover of editing your work?
I quite like editing, up to a point. The story and characters have tumbled out headlong on to the page so I love going back and doing all the polishing and refining which beds it all down and makes everything shine. However, after the umpteenth time of reading, I find it can lose its charm and I worry that funny scenes are no longer making me laugh and sad scenes are becoming trite. And by then, I’m itching to get on to my next book.

What’s your favourite occupation? (apart from writing) Do you have a favourite place to ‘hide’ out from life?
Favourite occupation apart from writing is, as you might expect, reading, especially when ‘hiding out’ on holiday. If I’m away, I feel I can indulge guilt-free reading without the pressure of feeling I ought to be doing something else. 

Favourite food and drink?
I have so many favourite food and drinks choices, but I’m a big fan of fruit and nuts, so if they were to be combined in a chocolate bar, served with a nice cup of builders’ tea, that will do me. Not very exotic is it? But I feel my Yorkshire heroine would approve.
Cadbury's Fruit and Nut is my all time favourite chocolate bar - so long as it's the original proper full fat taste! I'm not so sure that what it around now has that original yumminess!

If you’d like to add anything else about your recent release please add it here:
My next novel has, in fact, just been accepted by Crooked Cat for publishing in the autumn. It’s another romantic comedy, this time set in Nice and is called Love, Lies and CafĂ© au Lait. Can’t wait to start polishing it.

If you love an amusing quick read then I can definitely recommend Lynn's work. 
Love in LA La Land is available as both eBook and paperback from Amazon HERE

You can find Lynn at these places:
Website: lynnforthauthor.wordpress.com.
Twitter: @lynnforth
Facebook Page: Lynn Forth
Author Page: Lynn Forth Author

Thanks for coming today, Lynn and best wishes with all of your new writing. I'll be looking out for Love, Lies and Cafe au Lait when it's available! 

Till my next #Saturday Short, have a fine week. 


Friday, 9 February 2018

#5 Someone to #lean On- Tyrnan from The Taexali Game

Friday means it's time to give those supporting secondary characters a bit of the limelight!

Sometimes a booked guest has mitigating circumstances and doesn't manage to pop in and that what's happened today. Ill health isn't always something you can plan for but adapting to the situation is what writing is all about. 

I've a lot of really fine secondary characters in my novels who should get a turn under the spotlight and my Tyrnan would have been featured at some point anyway because he really is a lovely character.

My trio of kids in The Taexali Game- Aran and his twin friends Brian and Fianna - first meet Tyrnan in quite perplexing circumstances. The Rubidium Time Leap function, developed by the twins father for a Virtual Reality game, spectacularly sends them back to A.D. 210. Though, at the point they meet Tyrnan they have yet to work out where they are, and what era they have been sent to. 

Tyrnan is terrifying at first sight when they encounter him in the forest of Bendauch. He's the personal guard of Seonagh, the local 'Taexali' chief's daughter and a 'princess' of her tribe, and takes his guarding job seriously. The unexpected arrival of my trio of adventurers is suspicious. Tyrnan frogmarches them to Balbath, the local roundhouse settlement. Tyrnan doesn't trust them because the enemy is roaming the lands, the enemy being the Ancient Roman Emperor Severus who marches to Taexali territory with 30,000 legionary and auxiliary troops.  

This Tyrnan isn't so fierce but he is watchful!

Gradually my  teens realise that the fearsome Tyrnan is actually looking after them as well as Seonagh. The following is an extract from the novel - at the point when an auxiliary cohort of Emperor Severus attacks Balbath. A major problem at this point is that Aran is treated as an adult and has been sent off with the adults of Balbath to a nearby copse where a Beltane sacrifice is taking place. The twins are still regarded as children and are in a vulnerable position of being inside the hillfort along with all of the Balbath children, protected by a minimal guard since attack by night is not expected!  

Aran finds himself in a very difficult situation but help is not far off... 

Where to go now was his next question? Where would he find the twins? He raced towards the children’s gathering place, yet could see that Orla and Seonagh had had no luck there, because they charged back towards him. The clamour of weapons got even louder, the battle cries of the Celts fierce and terrifying. Aran knew that the senior Balbath warriors must now be defending the main entrance but Brian surely wouldn’t have gone there.

A sudden screech rent the air.


Aran knew that particular howl only too well. She wasn’t screeching out of fear, but out of sheer fury. Running between two roundhouses he could see her frantically kicking up at a single Roman soldier who was bent over her, his sword poised and ready to strike. Brian dangled from the soldier’s back and pounded away at the auxiliary’s helmet with his free fist, trying to dislodge it, his other arm a vice around the auxiliary’s neck. Little Caitlinn cowered nearby in a huddle of skins and cloaks.

Thank Taranis it was just the one soldier, though he thought it was unusual there was only one Roman auxiliary in the vicinity.

Aran daren’t use his spear this time because he’d likely kill Brian or Fianna. Instead, he whipped out the long knife from his pouch. Brandishing it in front of him, he charged forward, shrieking his own challenge. The soldier whirled around, attempting to dislodge Brian as the man forced himself upright to investigate what the howling was behind him, Brian’s arm still wrapped around the Roman’s neck. Aran watched as Brian slipped off and rolled away, the momentum tipping the auxiliary backwards. Aran lunged with his long knife, the blade heading for the soldier’s bare arm.

Th…whomp. Huumm. Twaaang!

This time it was Aran who felt the singing passage of the spear go right past his ear. By Taranis, it was terrifying! The contents of his stomach lurched up as quickly as he’d lunged out with the long knife. Once again, Tyrnan’s spear hit the mark, but this time not the ground. The Roman soldier lay pinned to the earth; the spear a direct hit through his throat, having precisely landed between the long earflaps of the helmet. The Roman Auxiliary’s death gurgle was a feeble blood-bubbling mutter since the man truly didn’t know what had hit him.

Aran slumped to his knees willing himself not to vomit—though he was so close. The soldier beside him, prostrate and pinned to the ground, was likely dead but he couldn’t bear to check. A rush of something like gratitude flushed through him because it hadn’t actually been his blade that had killed the Roman soldier. Not his. It had been Tyrnan’s spear.

What if Tyrnan hadn’t turned up? Aran’s stomach rebelled for real as he puked up the contents of his stomach with a few violent heaves at the side of the soldier. As the last of the vomit emptied out, he knew he would have driven his long knife into the Roman auxiliary if it meant that Fianna would be safe from the Roman’s gladius, the sword now lying alongside the body. Playing in a game, killing the enemy seemed so easy but in real life it was sickening. When he’d stopped heaving, through the fug of his shock, he eventually heard the plea beside him.

“Hurry.” Tyrnan urged them all as if nothing of note had happened. “Get away from here.”

Adrenalin kicked-in in good time as Aran struggled to his feet. He swiped a hand over his mouth before he passed Fianna one of the spears, and a sharp little knife. He felt in limbo: a place where he imagined all that had just happened. Brian lurched to his feet and picked up the gladius, as though fighting a Roman soldier was an everyday occurrence. It was all incredible.

None of them commented on the fact he’d just heaved his guts up.

Tyrnan scooped up little Caitlinn, and they rushed towards the nether. He followed on still rickety legs. As they approached the exit Seonagh and Orla headed towards them from another direction, their cries of relief and joy a delight to behold when they caught sight of them.

“By Taranis, I am so pleased you are all safe!” Orla bawled her head off.

Only when they were well up the hill did Tyrnan relinquish a silent Caitlinn to her mother’s arms, ordering them to rush to the safety of the woods.

“Seonagh and Taexali warrior, Aran!” he cried. “You must defend the people of Balbath who shelter in the Sacred Grove. There may be only a few branded warriors up there, so the care of those up there lies in your hands. Do not fail them.”

Tyrnan sped off back down the hill leaving Aran open-mouthed.

I hope you enjoyed this taster. If you haven't yet read The Taexali Game you can buy it HERE across the Amazon network, or you should be able to read it FREE with #Kindle Unlimited. 

Till our next Secondary character pops in, enjoy the weekend and the week ahead. 


Monday, 5 February 2018

# 5 #Monday Meanders with #Nicola Slade

Today our #Monday Meanders are down in the south of England.

Nicola Slade
I'm delighted to say that it's the turn of author, Nicola Slade, to describe to us favourite locations that she's used in her novels. 

The location she describes is one that I really need to revisit. I've not visited the area since the 1970s though I was in the Wiltshire area in the 1980s; Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight in the 1990s; I holidayed in Kent, both Sussex's and Surrey in c.2007; and I was further north in Hampshire in 2015. 

Are these sufficient clues yet? If not, read on...

Truly full of history, the location Nicola describes is a locale I've recently been getting virtually acquainted with. I've read a few novels recently that have been set in the general geographic location that Nicola describes for us but reading about some place never quite matches up to actual visiting. Nonetheless,  my recent read of The House at Ladywell made a great impression on me because Nicola describes it so very well!

Welcome to my blog, Nicola! Please tell us about your chosen locations...

I live in Hampshire so all my books are set in and around Winchester and the small market town of Romsey. Why? Because I live about halfway between the two so research is easy, and because I love them both it’s a pleasure to wander round visualising my characters and stopping for coffee to make notes!
Jane Austen
Wikimedia Commons
I’m passionate about history and Winchester has lots of it from its pre-Roman beginnings; its association with King Alfred – it was his capital city; the cathedral built in the area of the Roman forum; and all the Jane Austen connections including the house where she spent the last days of her life and her grave in the cathedral.

My three Victorian mysteries feature Charlotte Richmond, a young Australian widow and Austen admirer, who arrives in Hampshire to live with the family of her late, unlamented husband, whose home is a village just outside the city. Charlotte just can’t help stumbling over the occasional corpse!

With permission from Nicola Slade- Winchester Banner

Winchester also features strongly in the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries, in which a recently-retired headmistress and her cousin and best-friend, the Reverend Sam Hathaway, find themselves mixed up in local murders. Sometimes these investigations are thrust upon them but mostly, as Harriet wryly admits, it’s her own fault for being naturally inquisitive. In Murder Fortissimo, their first outing, Sam has a pivotal scene in the cathedral and in A Crowded Coffin there’s actually a murder in one of the side chapels!

With permission -  Nicola Slade
The ancient market town of Romsey, which I renamed Ramalley, starred in my first novel, Scuba Dancing, a romantic comedy. 

My latest novel, The House at Ladywell, is set there and a lot of the history in the book has been ‘borrowed’ from the actual town, including the sale of the abbey to the town by the King’s Commissioners at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. 

This picture is of King John’s House, which isn’t the house in my book -  it’s even older than my fictional Tudor house and is where I held my paperback launch last November.

My Charlotte Richmond and Harriet Quigley mysteries are being reissued this Spring by Williams & Whiting.

Find my other books on Amazon http://amzn.to/2nlhZDM and find out more about me at:

That's such a fabulous location for a book launch, Nicola! Yes, I must get back down and visit just Winchester...and its immediate surroundings.

Thank you for sharing the Winchester area with us today. Best wishes for you future writing projects and happy sales of currently available books. It sounds like the spring is going to be a very busy time for you!