Giveaway Prizes, Launch Day, Q&A

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong – @ginageejay @urbanebooks #Giveaway


Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It’s time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong? Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum’s much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America. Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.

My Q&A with Gina Kirkham


Describe yourself using three words?

Fun, quirky, caring

What inspired you to write your first novel?

I retired from Merseyside Police in 2012 after having a wonderful career as a front-line Police Officer. Over the years, I found that humour was one of the best coping mechanisms you could have to help you deal with the not so pleasant side of the job. “You couldn’t make it up” or “You could write a book’’ were two very familiar phrases you would hear after dealing with certain situations, so on my retirement I took the opportunity to do just that.

What time of day do you like to write? I tend to produce more words between 10 am and 2pm but I have my most exciting ideas for my characters at 3 am. When my mind is working overtime, sleep is impossible and my hubby’s snoring becomes too much to bear, I creep downstairs for a hot chocolate, a couple of biscuits and a stint in front of the keyboard. Two hours and 1,200 words later with another 2lb added to my already burgeoning derrière from the sneaky biscuits, I crawl back into bed, only to wonder what planet I must have been on when I re-read my nocturnal offerings at 10 am!

What is your favourite book and why?

To Kill A Mocking Bird, Harper Lee. I first read this as part of my English Class curriculum in the early 70’s. I remember being so strongly touched by the subject matter, I felt every emotion there is as I progressed from chapter to chapter. It dealt with such serious and intense issues, but still carried humour and warmth.

How did you pick the title of your book? Originally it was titled Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Primark Thong. The first part, Handcuffs, Truncheon, is a reflection of the police theme of the story and the Primark Thong is a reference to my main character, Mavis Upton’s love of cheap frillies from Primark. Once signed by Urbane Publications and after discussions, it was decided to replace Primark with Polyester to alleviate any potential snags with the trademark. So, my book is now titled Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Polyester Thong. I did wonder how it would all fit on the front of a book, but Matthew my Publisher, has done an amazing job.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

Yes, absolutely, it made the development of the characters so much easier too, as I could actually hear their voices and see their features, gestures, and mannerisms. I know there will be quite a few people desperately trying to find little traits to identify themselves. I hope I can keep them guessing!

If you were a colour what would it be? Gosh, now that’s a difficult one. I do tend to wear a lot of black or grey, as I feel it helps me to sort of ‘blend in’, but those colours actually belie my personality. I think I would have to say I’m yellow, as I’m very fortunate to be a happy person. I know I must smile a lot because I’ve got the most horrendous crows feet and ‘prinkles’ (as my granddaughters call them) around my eyes!

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow? I draft up an outline with bullet points and ideas on a whiteboard. It’s not set in stone, I have a basic idea of where I am going, but I take each day as it comes. Often I will have a fixed idea of what I want to write that day, and then suddenly one of the characters will become very awkward, like a naughty child, and I have to re-think their progress. I frequently tell them to behave or I might have to kill them off!

Who is your favourite Author?

Peter James. Although I write lighthearted humour, I’m actually a huge crime and supernatural/ghost story reader.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Bill Sikes in Olivier Twist. Even though he was Dickens most savage and violent book character, I’d like to think he was really a big softy at heart and just a bit misunderstood. I’d have him marrying Nancy and opening a home for wayward boys and girls after realising the error of his ways. I’m probably slightly biased in my view of Sikes, as I had a juvenile crush on Oliver Reed who played him in the musical Oliver!, so my observations are more likely based on my adoration for him rather than the character itself, if I’m honest.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes, I’m currently 45,000 words into the second book following Mavis’s adventures. I’m having a lot of fun with this one as the storyline I have chosen plays on my own experiences, whilst at the same time allowing me the opportunity to research an unusual aspect of his life for one of the characters.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

Publication date for Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Polyester Thong is the 18th May with a launch at Waterstones Liverpool One at 6.30pm that evening. It will be a fun event with Liverpool Actor Lynne Fitzgerald reading from the book as the main character Mavis Upton and an appearance by Luca Veste (Murphy & Rossi crime series) for a ‘Conversation with’. Complimentary Prosecco and cupcakes will be available and a gift of one of Mavis’s Humongously Large Thongs with each book purchased on the night. There are other events planned but as yet, dates have not been confirmed.

Twitter – @ginageejay (personal) @MavisUpton (book character)

Author Website –

Amazon UK



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Always & Forever ~ @msogorman @aria_fiction #QA #Giveaway

Always and Forever book jacket.jpeg

How can you find yourself again, when you can’t face what you’ve lost? Joanna Woulfe is looking to get her life back on track after her husband John leaves their family home. Once a high-flying Pr Director, Jo now looks after her son Harry and seeks support only from her mother Marietta and her best friend Nicole. But Nicole’s own marriage is facing its greatest ever crisis, and Marietta, too, is distracted by the reappearance of an old flame, ex-Showband-singer, and lothario Patrick Realta. Soon Jo enrolls with a colourful local amateur dramatics group and begins a flirtation with the handsome young Ronan Forest. But is she really ready to move on from her old life – and from her years of marriage to John? And what was it that happened three years ago that sent the couple into free-fall? Before long Jo will realise that is only by looking back that she will ever truly be able to move forward. . .

My Q&A with Sian O’Gorman


Hello Kelly, Thanks so much for including me in your blog. I am really honoured to be a part of it! And I love the questions… they made me have to really think. Thank you!



Hello everyone… I am delighted to be here to answer Kelly’s fiendish questions and to tell you about Always and Forever, my new novel. It’s my second book after Friends Like Us and somehow I seem to have stumbled into my niche of stories examining the emotional lives of women with a dash of comedy and a generous slosh of romance.

Publishing my first book has been a brilliant experience and Friends Like Us has been far more successful than I could ever have dared to imagine with people all over the world, in Australia, America, the UK and Ireland, all reading my book. I ran the gamut of excruciated to exhilarated and enjoyed every second. A little biographical information about me is that I was born in Ireland, grew up in Wales and am back in Ireland, living in a small village along the coast from Dublin and it’s where I set my first two books and also the third which I am currently whipping into shape.

So… to the questions!

Describe yourself using three words?

Indecisive, impulsive, curious.

What inspired you to write your first novel?

Being in a real-life situation that I found I could write myself out of, if that makes sense. I had nowhere else to go and had reached a point in my life where I found writing was better than any therapy and highly enjoyable to boot. I couldn’t wait to get back to the page every day and find out what was going to happen to my characters.   

What time of day do you like to write?

I get up at 6am and try and get an hour done then. When I manage this I feel brilliantly virtuous. When I don’t, I am better slept!

What is your favourite book and why?

I have two. Persuasion and Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. Persuasion because it is Jane Austen at her witty and perfect best with the most satisfying love story in any book, ever. And Moon Tiger because it is a power-house of a novel in deceptively slim form. Endlessly fascinating and thought-provoking and life enhancing.

How did you pick the title of your book?

I want my titles to be warm and inviting and reflective not just of the story but the tone of the book. Always and Forever can refer to many of the different relationships in the novel and is a phrase which can change its meaning over time. But in life sometimes it takes time to realise who is going to be around always and forever. It’s often not who you first imagine.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?  

No, no one I know, unfortunately. However, I wouldn’t mind meeting some of them in real life and staying well clear of some of the others. I would like to meet Fergal Forest and his brother Ronan who feature in Always and Forever as well as Coco Crawley, a performance artist who doesn’t quite know where her art ends and real life begins.

What’s your favourite word?


If you were a colour what would it be?  

I would like to be a nice, bright tomato-red. Passionate and fiery. But in actuality I think I might be something a little less exciting, maybe Farrow and Ball Downpipe?

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

I definitely go with the flow. Even if I think I know where I am going, the story-telling always takes over and I just hold on and enjoy the ride. For me, it’s the most exciting and satisfying part of writing.

Who is your favourite author?  

Jane Austen, obvs, but also writers such as Marian Keyes, Laurie Graham, Anne Enright and Anne Tyler. Authors who tell interesting and important stories about women and know how to entertain along the way.

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Ooooh… good question. Ummmm. Right, Owen Meaney because I would love to meet him, Anne Shirley because she would keep the conversation going, Mr Darcy so I can gaze on his lovely face and think of lovely Pemberley, and Madame Bovary so maybe I could stop her of going mad with boredom. She also might bring a nice bottle of champagne to accompany my crab tart.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry. Brilliant writing, fascinating story, warm and rich and full of detail and love.


Where in the world is your happy place?

Hanging out with my daughter, my bed, and any Marks and Spencer food hall. In that order. But not necessarily all at the same time.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

Topping up world empathy levels.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

I would like Bertha Rochester (I realise she is not technically a villain but she is nonetheless a dark and mysterious figure) to get well and leave Rochester and Jane to their happy Thornfield ending (it doesn’t burn down). Bertha could live in a little cottage on the estate and become an artist and make jam and perhaps channel her inner Monty Don and create a lovely garden. Reader, she made it.


Are you working on a new project?  

Yes, just finished draft one of my new book. Working title: The Cherry Blossom Tree. It’s the story of four generations of women and how sometimes it’s easier to connect with your grandmother rather than your own mother. Working on the romantic core of the story as well and a few side shoots and loving every moment.

Thank you so much for asking me to take part, Kelly!


Buy your copy here:
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Huge thanks to Sian O’Gorman and Aria Books for letting me on this fabulous tour!


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Author, Interveiw, Q&A

Last Witness @CarysJAuthor @Aria_Fiction #QA


The page-turning sequel to the best-selling psychological thriller Wrong Number. With her husband gone and his legacy in her hands, Amanda Thorne is hell-bent on revenge. Amanda Thorne is on a mission to avenge her husband. Restoring his honour and protecting his legacy will be dangerous, but she will not rest until all those who have hurt her loved-ones have been dealt with. Her only option is to go undercover in the murky world of the gang kingpin McAllister. So, with her loyal companion Shane by her side, she heads back to Scotland to finish what they started. McAllister’s world is one of seedy nightclubs, drug deals, and beautiful women, but he is a hard man to get close to. As Amanda gets deeper and deeper into his dangerous world, what secrets from the past will come back to haunt her, and will she be able to protect the last witness to the truth? A compelling, heart-stopping thriller which you won’t be able to put down. . .

My Q&A with Carys Jones


Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

Describe yourself using three words?

Small, crazy, caring.

What inspired you to write your first novel?  

I wanted to write a story with heart. I’d spent years saying I would and then at 23 I was really well, due to a surgical complication I was on long term leave from work so suddenly had all this free time and writing was a welcome distraction from what was going on with my body.

What time of day do you like to write?

In the morning after breakfast.

What is your favourite book and why?

The Little House on the Prairie. My Mum gave me her copy of it to read when I was a little girl. I loved the connection of us both turning the same pages and also the way the story transported me away from rain soaked England to the wide open prairies of America. It felt magical.


How did you pick the title of your book?

With Last Witness I can take no credit, the awesome team at Aria came up with it.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?  

No, never. I think that’s a dangerous game to play.

What’s your favourite word?  

Cellar Door. It’s two words, I know. Blame my love of the movie Donnie Darko (from which I’ve stolen my selection).

If you were a colour what would it be?  

The brightest shade of pink.

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

I plan out absolutely everything.

Who is your favourite Author?  

I’m a huge fan of Jodi Picoult and John Green. I love stories that pack an emotional punch.


You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Dracula so that he’d turn me into a vampire and I can become immortal. Yay. Shane from Last Witness to see if he lives up to how I’d imagined him to be. Fiver from Watership Down so that I could adopt him and give him a nice, comfortable life like he deserves and finally Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights as I’ve always had a bit of a literary crush on him.pic_detail52dc13e6ea8cf

What book are you reading at the moment?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and its so much fun. If you love anything 80s related you need to read it.


Where in the world is your happy place?

Disneyland. When I can’t get there my pink writing room. It’s crammed full of Disney stuff.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

Teleportation. Think of all the time I could save and the places I could go!

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?  

Ooh. Tough one. I think most villains tend to deserve the endings they get… If Dracula counts as villain I’d let him have a happy ending since at the aforementioned dinner party he did give me eternal life so I feel like I owe him.


Are you working on a new project?  

I am. I’m working on two really exciting projects at the moment. I can’t really say anymore at this point sadly.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?  

Not that I can think of but I always update my social media sites with news of any events I’m involved in.

You can purchase your copy of Last Witness here: Amazon UK


Follow Carys Jones

Twitter: @tiny_dancer85

Facebook: @CarysJonesWriter

Instagram: tiny_dancer_8



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Perfect Summer ~ @karen_king @AccentPress #Excerpt #YALit

Perfect Summer final.jpg

In a society obsessed with perfection, 15 year old Morgan can’t help being a bit envious of her best friend, Summer.

Summer is beautiful, rich and seems to have an effortlessly perfect life. Whereas Morgan isn’t so rich, or beautiful and her younger brother Josh has Down’s syndrome, which according to the government, and society in general, is a crime.

Then Josh is kidnapped and the authorities aren’t interested, so Morgan and Summer decide to investigate. With the help of Jamie whose sister, Holly, has also been kidnapped, the two girls uncover a sinister plot involving the kidnapping of disabled children and find themselves in terrible danger. Can they find Josh and Holly before it’s too late?

Excerpt ~ Perfect Summer 

Summer and I hurried upstairs while Josh was busy watching TV. Summer plonked herself down on my bed while I got my things ready.

“Want some music?” I asked, pressing the silver button on the comm-panel. The latest hit from Krescendo, our favourite band, blasted out and a hologram of them playing beamed onto the wall.

Then I pressed the green button, my wardrobe doors glided open, and a rail of clothes slid out. I glanced over at Summer, feeling awkward as always, that my room was so small and my wardrobe so sparse. Summer’s wardrobe was a huge walk-in affair full of designer clothes. Luckily, she was sprawled out watching Krescendo so I quickly grabbed the clothes I needed for the weekend and shoved them in my rucksack. Thank goodness I’d found an immaculate emerald green Maliko dress at the recycle store the other week. That would be perfect for Roxy’s. I knew Summer would let me borrow her clothes but felt better if I wore something of my own.

I took out the dress and zipped it into a freshpack to keep it crease-free. I glanced at the image screen on my bedroom wall and grimaced. My make-up needed renewing and some strands of my chestnut hair were escaping from the ponytail I’d swept it into. I swiftly fixed it and applied more make-up. I didn’t want to turn up at Summer’s looking a mess, Tamara and Leo expected everyone to always look their best.  

“Ready.” I pressed the buttons on the CP again to close my wardrobe doors, and switched off the music.

“Have a nice weekend,” Mum said as we popped in to say goodbye. She looked so pale, with dark circles under her eyes. I could tell the visit from the Ministry had upset her and hesitated for a moment, wondering if I should stay. But Dad was due home soon and I was so looking forward to the weekend. I loved going to Summer’s house and being spoilt for a bit. It was like living in another world. She was so lucky.

“Thanks, we will.” I leaned over and tousled Josh’s chestnut curls. “Bye, Josh.”

“Play, Maw,” he said, scrambling up.

“Maw going out now. I’ll play with you when I come back.”  He puckered his face as if he was going to cry, but Mum took his hand. “Come on, Josh, let’s pick some tomatoes for tea.”  

Josh’s face lit up. He loved helping Mum in the garden. Everyone had a vegetable patch, compost and water butt by order of the Ministry as part of the Planet Protection Programme. I hated gardening but Josh loved helping Mum water the plants with the rainwater collected in the butt, and picking the vegetables. Summer’s parents had a gardener, of course.

Mum led Josh out into the garden while we went out the front door.  before Josh could realise I was leaving. I had no idea how much I was going to regret not playing with Josh one more time. Or not kissing him goodbye.

Buy Links


Meet Karen King KK Head and Shoulders (1)

Karen King is a multi-published author of children’s books and romantic fiction. She has had 120 children’s books published, three romantic novels and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her first chick lit novel with Accent Press ‘I do – or do I?’ is out now. Her second one, ‘The Cornish Hotel by the Sea’ is out in July.

Author links


Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Young Adult Books



Perfect Summer final

Thank you to Karen King and Accent Press for the honour of being on this fabulous blog tour! 

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Isa’s Daughter @Katrine66 #MiniQA


Although part of a series, each book is stand alone.
The Great War is over, and the inhabitants of Raumsey Island struggle to regain their livelihood. Seventeen-year-old Annie Reid is a spirited, ambitious girl, determined not to end up a herring gutter or go into service.
Annie befriends a young schoolteacher, Alexander Garcia, who promises to help her further her education but, after tragedy strikes, Annie pursues a nursing career amidst the political complexity of Glasgow. Garcia dreams of a return to his Spanish roots, but Spain is also in political turmoil.
Annie’s love for the teacher remains through the years, but will love overcome the barriers and prejudice of race, religion, beliefs and distance?

My Mini Q&A with Catherine M Byrne

me latest

Hello Kelly,
I have had several short stories published in My Weekly, and won several awards for my writing. What I really wanted to write was novels, however. My first book, Follow the Dove,  won second prize in the Scottish Association of Writers Competition for best general novel. After publication, I was not eligible to enter again, until there was a new competition for best SP novel of the year.  I won second prize in that for my third novel, The Road to Nowhere.
One always strives to come first. 
I have written a contemporary novella Song for an Eagle and co-wrote a NF book, A five Takka Note which deals with the issue of modern day slavery and will be out later this year.

Describe yourself using three words? 

hard-working, honest, creative.

What inspired you to write your first novel? 

I have always wanted to write, but for many years, life got in the way. My first novel was based very loosely on factual experiences of a couple in my family tree, and on a fictional island, not a million miles from the island where I was born and brought up.

What time of day do you like to write? 

Anytime, whenever the muse visits me

What is your favourite book and why?

 Don’t really have a favourite. My reading preferences are varied.

How did you pick the title of your book?

I always have difficulty. Isa’s daughter is my latest book. Isa is the heroine of my other books but I thought I had put the poor woman through enough, so now is her time to be happy. However, her daughter is feisty, headstrong and ambitious, so the story continues with the new generation. 

You can order your copy here:

Amazon UK

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Event Review

Flesh Of The Peach @HelenMcClory #Event @FreightBooks @BlackwellEdin


I attended the book event for ‘Flesh of The Peach’ by Helen McCory, at the famous Blackwell’s Bookstore in Edinburgh.

A splendid turnout with lots of excited chatter and buzz about the book.

Helen McClory arrived in a spectacular outfit, a light gold jumpsuit and black cape!


There was a lovely interview hosted by Jenny Brown. We learned that Helen really did take the three-day Greyhound bus across America the same as her character Sarah takes in the book.  So that was hands-on research, with forever memories~ good and bad (gun smuggling, oh my). A very thought provoking question arose from Jenny and Helen, do we need to like the characters in a book to enjoy it?   This had me really thinking about the way I review and how it may change in the future,  I do put a lot of emphasis on how much I like or dislike the characters. But perhaps I don’t have to like them I just have to respect their journey. So that was a nugget of inspiration for me personally to reflect on.


Most definitely a book that I hope to review here on the blog soon at a later date.


An intense journey into and out of rage and grief, via sex and violence, following 27-year-old artist, Sarah Browne and set mostly in the American Southwest. In New York, the ending of Sarah’s recent relationship with a married woman has coincided with the death of her estranged, aristocratic mother, leaving her a substantial amount of money and an unrecognised burden of toxic grief. Rather than return home to England, she decides to travel by Greyhound to her mother’s cabin in New Mexico. There she’s drawn into a passionate relationship with Theo, a man whose quiet stability seems to complement her mercurial character.

But as Sarah’s emotional turmoil grows, there are warning signs that tragedy could ensue. In Flesh of the Peach Scottish First Book of the Year winner, Helen McClory, paints a beautiful and painful portrait of a woman’s unravelling, combining exquisite, and at times experimental, prose with a powerful understanding of the effects of unresolved loss.

Buy your copy here ~ Amazon UK


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The Summer House @carofraser @HoZ_Books #QA


In the gloriously hot summer of 1936, a group of people meet at a country house party. Within three years, England will be at war, but for now, time stands still.

Dan Ranscombe is clever and good-looking, but he resents the wealth and easy savoir-faire of a fellow guest, Paul Latimer. Surely a shrewd girl like Meg Slater would see through that, wouldn’t she? And what about Diana, Paul’s beautiful sister, Charles Asher, the Jewish outsider, Madeleine, restless and dissatisfied with her role as children’s nanny? And artist Henry Haddon, their host, no longer young, but secure in his power as a practiced seducer.

As these guests gather, none has any inkling the choices they make will have fateful consequences, lasting through the war and beyond. Or that the first unforeseen event will be a shocking death.

My Q&A with Caro Fraser 


Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey.

I’m 64-year-old retired lawyer, I live in South East London, and I’ve been an author for almost twenty-five years, although I’ve been writing all my life. My first novel, The Pupil, was published in 1993 and was the beginning of a very successful series of legal novels (the Caper Court series). There are seven books in the series, all featuring the brilliant, charming, but amoral barrister Leo Davies, and I’m hoping to start number eight next year. In between, I’ve published a number of stand-alone novels. My new book, The Summer House Party, opens in the summer of 1936, three years before the war, at the country home of Henry Haddon, a famous society painter, and his wife Sonia. A group of friends – some young, some old, some wealthy, some less so – have been brought together for a week to enjoy the country house pleasures of tennis parties, picnics, and tea on the lawn. As the warm, lazy days unfold, intrigues and rivalries develop among the younger guests, and then a sudden death, like a foretaste of the war to come, puts and end to the party. In the years that follow the events of that week continue to haunt their lives, and as the country heads into war they must try to reconcile the choices and mistakes they have made….

This latest novel is something of a departure for me, as all my other books are set in the present day. I hugely enjoyed doing the historical research and trying to catch the tone and feel of that pre-war world. I like to think this is the kind of big book you could take on holiday for a long, lazy read!

The Summer House Party is published by Head Of Zeus, and what is especially delightful for me is that reunites me with Rosie de Courcy, the wonderful editor who published my first novel when she was with Orion Publishing.


Describe yourself using three words?

Mother, child, writer  


What inspired you to write your first novel?

The Pupil was the first novel I wrote, and it became the first in the Caper Court series of legal novels. It was inspired by my experiences in pupillage (which is a sort of apprenticeship on the road to becoming a barrister), and its hero, Anthony Cross, is a brilliant but hard-up pupil barrister who has to struggle against heavy odds to gain a tenancy in a prestigious set of barristers’ chambers. Halfway through the novel I introduced a character called Leo Davies, who becomes a kind of mentor to Anthony, but is also bisexual and has ulterior motives for befriending him… He was such a successful character that he became very much the ‘star’ of the novels that followed.  


What time of day do you like to write?

I have a pretty regular routine – start at 9, break for coffee at 11, lunch at 1, gym or swim around 3 – but oddly enough, I find the most productive time of day to write is early evening.  Things just flow then, for some reason.


What is your favourite book and why?

That’s a difficult one. I suppose my favourite from childhood is The Rose And The Ring, by William Thackeray, because it’s the book that first opened my eyes to wonderful writing. But for a desert island I would take Martin Chuzzlewit, by Dickens. I never get tired of it.


How did you pick the title of your book?

Actually, it was my agent who came up with the title for The Summer House Party. I suppose it’s quite an obvious one because the book opens with guests gathering for a week-long house party in the summer of 1936, and that house party is the catalyst for all the events that follow.   


Are the characters in your book based on real people?

No. Real people are far too complex to put on a page. That said, I occasionally take aspects of someone I know – mannerisms, tricks of speech, and so on – and use them in creating a character. And because I think very visually when I write, and see events as though they’re unfolding on film, I might pick an actor who could portray the character I’m creating and use them as a physical template. I did that with Leo Davies in the Caper Court books – in my mind’s eye he was the young (and at that time very dishy) Anthony Hopkins.  


What’s your favourite word?

Not sure I have one. But I quite like the word ‘ludicrous’.


If you were a colour what would it be?  

If she wants to wind me up, my daughter will occasionally tell me I’m in danger of becoming ‘beige’. But I like to think I’m more a soft, yet vibrant shade of yellow!


Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

I generally have a rough idea of the story, but I never plot too tightly. I like to be true to my characters and allow them to shape things. There will be times in a story when I’m about to have a character do or say something, and I’ll think – hold on, she wouldn’t do or say that, she’d do or say this instead. Characters really take a hold of you in that way.  They become like real people, and you can’t let them act in a way that’s literally out of character. So that can take the story in an unexpected direction. I suppose the answer is that I tend to go with the flow, though there is always a point in a book, about two-thirds of the way through, where you have to start weaving plotlines together to bring it all to a satisfactory conclusion.


Who is your favourite Author?

Bit of a chestnut, but I suppose Charles Dickens. He never lets you down, he is a genius of a storyteller, he can command humour and pathos with equal brilliance, and has created some of the most memorable characters in fiction. Mind you, I could say much the same of Stephen King, who is a master of his craft.


You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?

Top of the invitation list would be Flashman, the anti-hero of my father George MacDonald Fraser’s wonderful historical novels. He’s sexy, amusing, and would have some great stories to tell. I reckon he’d probably get on pretty well with Scarlett O’Hara – I love her independent spirit and her determination to look after number one – so I’d have her there, too. And as I’ve always had a huge weak spot for him, please could I sit next to Bertie Wooster?  Maybe to inject some elegance, mystery and the possibility of intrigue among the guests, I’d like to invite the Marquise de Merteuil from Les Liaisons Dangereuses. How she and Scarlett would get along is anyone’s guess, so maybe they should be seated at opposite ends of the table.


What book are you reading at the moment?

At the moment I’m reading Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory, as it’s my book club’s choice. Apart from that, I’m reading Quentin Crisp’s The Naked Civil Servant. Most people have seen the film starring John Hurt, but the book itself is well worth a read – it’s a brilliantly witty, elegantly written gem, and an astonishing insight into what it was like to be gay in the unforgiving era when homosexuality was illegal. Also on my bedside table is London Fog, The Biography, by Christine L. Corton. It examines the history of air pollution in London and the depiction and influence of London fogs in English literature, and is ideal for dipping in and out of.


Where in the world is your happy place?

We have a cottage in the Isle of Man, where my parents used to live and where I went to school for a couple of years. The cottage stands on a remote headland overlooking a bay with a little beach, and has a wildflower meadow. The views are stunning, the air is wonderful, and lying in the meadow on a summer’s day it’s so quiet you can hear the swish of a gull’s wing as it flies overhead, and the buzz of insects in the grass. That’s my happy place.


If you had one superpower what would it be?

Invisibility. I suppose I should say something like superhuman strength so that I could go around doing heroic deeds and rescuing people, but I’d much rather be able to slip unseen in and out of places and find out what’s going on….


If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

I think it would be rather nice if Satan from Paradise Lost (who is, after all, a fallen angel) could see the error of his ways and get back together with God and become a force for good, rather than evil. It would save the world a lot of grief! 


Are you working on a new project?  

I’m happy to say I’m working on the sequel to The Summer House Party. Everyone knows that feeling of getting to the end of a book and wanting to know more. That’s the way I want my readers to feel, so that they need to find out what happens next with the characters. I’m often quite curious myself! I’m already halfway through it, and I’m even hoping it may lead to a third novel.  


Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?  

Yes, I’ll be at Romance In The Court, hosted by Goldsboro Books in the delightful Cecil Court just off Leicester Square on May 25th from 6 – 9pm. I would love to meet readers – yours and mine! – so I do hope people will come along.


Thank you to Caro Fraser and Suzanne @HoZ_Books for this wonderful Q&A, come back soon.


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The Key Of All Unknown @KathrynHitchins #Q&A #Giveaway


Brilliant scientific researcher Tilda Moss wakes up in the hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove she is not in a persistent vegetative state, she travels back through her fractured memories looking for clues. Could someone really have tried to kill her? An indulged younger brother, an obsessive flatmate, jealous colleagues and a missing lover. Everyone has a motive. On the edge of death, and questioning the value of her life, Tilda’s only hope is to unlock the key of all unknown.

My Q&A with K A Hitchins

What inspired you to write your novel?

I’ve often tried to imagine what it would be like if I were suddenly faced with a life-threatening condition. I’d seen my own father die from cancer a few years previously and wondered whether he’d been able to hear me and my mother and sister in those last days of unconsciousness. He believed he was going to a better place and had been brave to the last, but I wished I’d known what thoughts were going through his mind, if any, as he faced that greatest of unknowns. This was the initial inspiration for my second novel.

When I was about halfway through the first draft, I woke up one morning with a rash of non-blanching spots, some unexplained bruises and blood blisters in my mouth. My GP sent me immediately to the hospital. After tests, a registrar from Haematology told me I had developed Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia, a condition where my immune system destroys the blood platelets and prevents the blood from clotting.

I was given medication and taken to the Critical Dependency Unit to be observed overnight in case I was bleeding internally. I was told I probably wouldn’t sleep because of the drugs I’d been given. I lay in the dark listening to the sounds of the hospital, and the cries of the elderly lady opposite who kept asking where she was and if anyone was there.

By the next morning, the ulcers in my mouth had stopped bleeding. My blood pressure was stable and I was sent home with high dosage steroids to switch off my faulty immune system. During the days that followed, I spent most of my time in bed. However, the medication-induced insomnia was chronic and I was surviving on a couple of hours of sleep a night at most. I decided to continue writing, tapping away on my laptop during the night while the family was asleep. Having just experienced my own life-threatening moment and spell in hospital, ideas poured out of me. Within a week I’d completed 30,000 words and finished the first draft.

Thankfully I’m in remission now. There’s a one in three chance that the problem could return in future. Like all of us, I walk that narrow path between life and death, but now I have a better understanding of how I might react at the end.

What time of day do you like to write?

Any time will do. If I could, I’d write all the time. The difficulty is fitting it round a busy family life and other commitments. I think about what I’m going to write while walking the dog first thing in the morning. Once back home I’m constantly weighing up what’s more important – cleaning the bathroom or ironing for instance, or writing. I have no particular writing routine, which I know is bad. I’m often scribbling away while sitting in the car waiting to pick up the kids.

What is your favourite book and why?

I love the Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. The novel embeds several stories within the story, going back through the past and peeling back layers of family history. It’s a bit like those Russian Dolls. Not until you get to the very end do you understand who the blind assassin is.


How did you pick the title of your book?

It’s the title of a very old hymn which I first heard at the funeral of a 98-year-old friend. I thought it would make a lovely title and it perfectly fitted with the theme of my book.

1. God holds the key of all unknown,
And I am glad;
If other hands should hold the key,
Or if He trusted it to me,
I might be sad, I might be sad.

2. What if tomorrow’s cares were here
Without its rest!
I’d rather He unlocked the day;
And, as the hours swing open, say,
My will is best, My will is best.

3. The very dimness of my sight
Makes me secure;
For, groping in my misty way,
I feel His hand; I hear Him say,
My help is sure, My help is sure.

4. I cannot read His future plans;
But this I know;
I have the smiling of His face,
And all the refuge of His grace,
While here below, while here below.

5. Enough! this covers all my wants,
And so I rest!
For what I cannot, He can see,
And in His care I saved shall be,
Forever blest, forever blest.

Source: The Cyber Hymnal #1947

You can hear the Hymn music here ~ Click

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

No, though I have drawn on some real life experiences as I mentioned previously.

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

I plan my opening chapter and my closing chapter very carefully so I know where I’m headed. Often the twists and turns in the middle surprise me as I’m writing them.

Who is your favourite Author?

There are too many to mention. I read most genres, and enjoy both literary and commercial fiction. It depends on my mood at the time.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Count Dracula. There have been lots of spin offs of the vampire genre in the past few years, but you can’t beat Vlad the Impaler for macho charisma and terror.


Are you working on a new project?

Yes. I’ve nearly finished my third novel but the storyline is under wraps at the moment.


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Thank you so much to K A Hitchins for such an honest and beautiful Q&A, please come back soon with the next project. ~K~

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The Errant Hours ~@kateinnes2 #Q&A #Giveaway


A headlong journey through the physical and spiritual dangers of Plantagenet Britain, in all its savage pageantry. Welsh Marches, July 1284 – the uprising in Wales is over, the leader gruesomely executed, the dead are buried. But for Illesa Arrowsmith, the war’s aftermath is just as brutal. When her brother is thrown into the Forester’s prison on false charges, she is left impoverished and alone. All Illesa has left is the secret manuscript entrusted to her – a book so powerful it can save lives, a book so valuable that its discovery could lead to her death. When the bailiff’s daughter finds it, Illesa decides to run, and break her brother out of jail by whatever means. But the powerful Forester tracks them down, and Illesa must put herself and the book at the mercy of an unscrupulous knight who threatens to reveal all their secrets, one by one. Inspired by the seductive art of illuminated manuscripts, The Errant Hours draws from the deep well of medieval legend to weave a story of survival and courage, trickery and love. “Kate Innes’s glorious first novel is a lyrical joy. Up there with the best of Pat Bracewell and Elizabeth Chadwick, it offers utter immersion in an intricate, plausible world. A must read for the autumn.”

Buy your copy here ~ Click Here

About Kate Innes

51HotnsFtGL._UY200_Kate Innes was born in London and lived and worked in America and Zimbabwe, but now exists happily amidst the history and natural beauty of Shropshire with her husband and three children.

She trained as an archaeologist and a teacher and then worked as a Museum Education Officer around the Midlands. After several writing courses, she expanded her repertoire (previously short poems only) to write ‘The Errant Hours’, a literary adventure based on real events in the Welsh Marches during the Thirteenth century. A sequel should be available in 2017.

The Historical Novel Society selected ‘The Errant Hours’ as an ‘Editor’s Choice’ and long-listed it for the 2017 Indie Award.

Kate has been writing and performing poetry for many years, usually with a particular focus on animals, art or the natural world. These poems, associated research and thoughts are posted on her blog and through Twitter.

Q&A with Kate 

What inspired you to write your first novel?

In addition to the fantastic surviving monuments in the Welsh Marches, and the beautiful natural environment, there was one particular object that I found profoundly inspiring. A manuscript from the late 13th century, describing the martyrdom of St Margaret, (patron saint of childbirth) that was used as a birthing aid. I came across it during my research into medieval childbirth. Women would read the story, pray to the saint and kiss the image of her in the book. You can see where the paint is smeared on the page from repeated kissing. It was this visceral sign of women’s’ desperation and pain, at a time when giving birth was frequently fatal for mother and baby, that was the key to both understanding the period and unlocking the plot for me.

What time of day do you like to write? Whenever the house feels empty. Which in practice means between 9:30 and 2:30 during term-time, or late at night when everyone else is asleep!

What is your favourite book and why? That is an almost impossible question to answer. But if I answered which book I enjoyed reading the most (which is slightly different), it would be Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg. It has a memorable and very fierce female lead, is atmospheric, gripping and tightly plotted, but also has a subtlety of thought. It is intelligent, individual and unpredictable.

How did you pick the title of your book?

The title was almost the hardest thing about writing this book. It took me a very long time to find something that would express the interwoven themes that characterise the story, eventually lighting upon The Errant Hours. I liked the dual meaning of ‘errant’, which can mean someone who is outside of society, deviant in some way, and can also mean actual physical wandering.  My heroine has to be both to survive.

The ‘Hours’ part can refer to Books of Hours, which were exquisitely decorated medieval manuscripts, and the canonical hours which set out times of prayer but also can mean a limited period of time during which the heroine has to be errant. The main action of the story takes place over a period of just under a month.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

Some are, and some aren’t.  Most of the nobility that appear in the book are real, Edward I and Queen Eleanor of Castile, Henry de Lacy, Earl Warenne, the Lord Forester. But Illesa, the heroine, her mother and reckless brother are my inventions. The most important real character is the Chancellor Robert Burnell. He was a Bishop as well as the second most powerful man in the country, known for his intelligence in management and lawmaking, and for his ambition. But he had one vice recorded against him. He had several mistresses and illegitimate children. This prevented him from becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, although the King nominated him for the role twice.

If you were a colour what would it be? Green –  like the moss you find in deep forests

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow? I’m a planner, but one of the best experiences as a writer is when something happens before your eyes that you didn’t plan. I had several characters pop up and change the story, and then refuse to leave!

Who is your favourite Author?  If I had to choose just one it would have to be Shakespeare (but Helen Dunmore is a close second)

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre. She got a really raw deal. Imagine having to live with Grace Poole all those years.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes, I’m working on the sequel to The Errant Hours, which takes place ten years after the first book. I hope it won’t take me that long to write it!!

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

I often give talks about the historical background to The Errant Hours to groups of all kinds. Any public events are posted on my website.

I will be performing alongside the band ‘Whalebone’ at Alveley Country Park on the 17th June in a set including original compositions and poems – entitled ‘Flocks of Words’

Twitter – @kateinnes2

Facebook Author Page –

Kate’s Author Website –

Giveaway ~ The Errant Hours Book 


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Thank you, Kate was lovely having you on my blog today.

K x

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Book Reviews

Night Is Watching @lucycameron22 ~ #BT Guest Review By J A Warnock


Can You Feel Your Blood Drain…

Couples are being slaughtered in their homes; women drained of blood, men violently beaten.  There are no clues to track the killer, no explanation as to why an increasing amount of blood is being removed from the crime scenes.

Detective Sergeant Rhys Morgan is seconded to the ‘Couples Killer’ investigation. Tormented by vivid nightmares, he hasn’t slept soundly for weeks becoming convinced a creature from these nightmares poses a threat to him and his family. His behaviour becomes increasingly erratic causing his bosses to wonder if he’s the right man for the job.

As clues to the killer’s identity are uncovered, the line between what is real and what cannot be starts to blur and Rhys discovers the answer to catching the killer and exorcising his own demons, may be as irrational as he fears.

This dark and disturbing debut novel is a page-turner you will not be able to put down. 

By your copy here ~ Amazon UK

The Review By J A Warnock ~ 4 STARS

It is unusual to find an author who can sustain a book’s central question quite as well as Lucy Cameron does in her debut novel ‘Night is Watching’. Trying to explain what I mean without giving anything away is going to be tricky but I will give it a go. Cameron has the enviable knack of making her reader believe, or at least consider, several conflicting possibilities as the plot unfolds. Even ideas that, if encountered in our daily life, we may consider far-fetched are not without some potential witness or corroboration which should seem plausible to even the most level-headed of a reader. The question and implication of who and what is to believed starts on the first page and lingers after the last.

Written from the standpoint of an omnipotent narrator, the novel flits from character to character giving various perspectives on and insights into the events that unfold. This is useful because we do not see events as skewed by any one characters point of view. We see what each person percieves as the truth and it is up to us to decide how we interpret their thoughts and actions.
The story centres around an ordinary, if troubled, Detective Sergeant named Rhys Morgan. Although we are thrown in at the deep end in terms of plot, there is also enough given of the ordinary and mundane (his home life, squabbles and routine) to ground the unfolding horror in a landscape the reader will recognise.  I realise this is hugely subjective but I also liked him which is something I find helps immensely when embarking on a new book.
All in all, a strong debut. I would highly recommend giving it a go. Four stars.
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