A Lover of Books

Taking a blog break


I have some very exciting news to tell you all.  We are finally moving into our first home and it’s all happening from tomorrow.  This means that I am going to be taking a blog break for a while.  I plan to be back sometime in September.  I will still be on social media and I’m sure I’ll get some reading done so I may even return with some reviews.

Love from Sonya xx


Guest Post by Simon Michael

Simon Michael

Simon Michael’s new book, ‘An Honest Man’ is out on the 7th July 2016.  I recently read and reviewed ‘The Brief’ which I absolutely loved.  To coincide with his new book being published, Simon has written a guest post for my blog.



Photo A (wig)

The life of a criminal barrister is one of high stress, sweat-inducing responsibility, poor pay, unbeatable camaraderie and extremely funny stories.  I have often thought that the “life-and-death” issues in which barristers deal – like police officers, surgeons and firemen – make humour an essential coping tool.

I was a pupil barrister in the Chambers of Robert Flach QC, in the Middle Temple, of whom hilarious stories are legion – but this guest blog is not about him.  It is about two very green barristers, your writer and a man who was to become a close friend, whom I shall call Derek.  We were both about 23 years of age and pupils to an up-and-coming criminal barrister, hereinafter referred to as “Mr Smith”, who was at that time being led by an eminent QC in a high-profile criminal trial at the Old Bailey.

Mr Smith had left us to do some paperwork while he was in court that day and we were, as always, floundering around a mountainous pile of papers involving arcane and unfamiliar concepts, nattering away and finding every available excuse not to deepen our knowledge of the Law.

Then the telephone rang.  It was our senior clerk.  Mr Smith had left behind some important documents, and one of us needed to run the papers down to Court 2 at the Old Bailey immediately.  Enormous excitement – this would be the first time that we had actually been in the legendary Central Criminal Court.  Did we need to be robed?  Mr Smith didn’t say, replied the clerk, but better safe than sorry.

So we changed our Windsor collars for brand-new wing collars, pushing the brass and mother-of-pearl collar studs through the buttonholes closed with dried starch, tied our bands (those white things worn also by vicars) pulled on our gowns, and grabbed our wigs.  Then we looked for the papers on Mr Smith’s desk and found what amounted only to two short Statements, no more than ten pages.  So, only one of us was needed to make the delivery.

‘Toss for it,’ I offered.

‘Fair enough,’ agreed Derek.  I won.

‘Best-of-three?’ suggested Derek.  Like an idiot, I agreed.  He won the next two.

‘Best-of-five?’ I suggested.

‘No time,’ he said, looking at his watch, and off he scuttled, wig in one hand, statements in the other and black gown billowing behind him.  I followed; having changed into my fancy dress, there was no way I was going to miss the adventure.

It took us little more than five minutes to jog down Fleet Street, over Ludgate Circus and left into Old Bailey.  We paused outside the heavy swing doors of Court No 2 and Derek placed his wig on his red Irish hair.  Inside we could see the tall wooden dock in which sat our pupil master’s clients, the raked banks of jurors, the massed ranks of reporters and the packed gallery.  The back of the prosecution QC could be seen as he addressed the Recorder of London, who sat robed in black and purple, higher than everyone else in the court, under an enormous pediment bearing the crest and the words “Dieu et mon droit”.

‘How do I look?’ whispered Derek.

‘Fine,’ I replied.

‘Okay.  Here we go.’  He took a deep breath and reached for the door.

‘Don’t forget to bow,’ I reminded him.

He turned back to me, his face slightly pale.  ‘Right, thanks,’ and he pushed open the door.

The door made a loud squeak just as, unfortunately, there was complete silence in court.  The jurors turned at the noise, followed by the members of the press.  Derek’s progress down the centre aisle towards the barristers’ benches at the front of the court was followed by forty pairs of eyes.  The prosecution barrister began speaking again but realised that the attention of everyone in the court was on something going on behind him.  He turned, and every other barrister on the benches followed suit.  Within a few seconds Derek was the centre of attention of everyone in the court.

Blushing as red as the hair emerging from under his wig, Derek located Mr Smith in the second row amongst all the other identically-dressed barristers.  He walked along the front of the row and handed our pupil master the Additional Statements.  He then turned and, apparently remembering my last comment, bowed to the judge.  He bowed to the ranks of barristers.  He bowed towards the dock, causing the jurors to giggle.  Hearing the noise he then made a quarter turn, and bowed to the jury, causing the giggle to become a ripple of laughter.

He then backed back up the aisle – bowing once more to a surprised court usher holding a water jug – felt behind him for a door, opened it, and stepped backwards – into the exhibit cupboard, closing the door behind him.

Everyone in the court knew that poor Derek was now standing in complete darkness surrounded by boxes of exhibits, and they waited to see if he would emerge again.  Like the rumbling of distant thunder, the laughter grew until it became a crescendo of hilarity ringing around the court.  After about thirty seconds of what must have been complete torture to Derek, but during which he was utterly immobilised by embarrassment, the Recorder of London took pity on him.

‘For heaven’s sake, usher, let the poor fellow out,’ he directed.

The usher put the jug on a bench and walked up the aisle.  She opened the door to be greeted by a mortified pupil barrister standing in the dark.  Derek stepped into the court to an eruption of wild applause.  He cast about himself, saw me furiously beckoning from outside, and ran to the safety of the corridor.

I’m delighted to tell you that despite this setback, Derek enjoyed an extremely successful career at the Bar, but perhaps unsurprisingly he forsook practice at the Old Bailey, opting instead for the quieter life of a civil practitioner, toiling through mountains of papers, but safe from the ridicule of any jury.


[Simon Michael’s The Brief was reviewed by me here https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/the-brief-by-simon-michael/ and the sequel, An Honest Man, is to be published by Urbane Publications on 7 July 2016 but available for pre-order now.]


Honest Man cover

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/29ko0Iz

Criminal barrister Charles Holborne may have just escaped the hangman by proving he was framed for murder, but his life is now in ruins.  His wife is dead, his high-flying career has morphed into criminal notoriety, and bankruptcy threatens.  When the biggest brief of Charles’s career land unexpectedly on his desk, it looks as if he’s been thrown a lifeline.  But far from keeping him afloat, it drags him ever deeper into the shadowy underworld of 1960s London.  Now, not only is his practice at stake, but his very life.  Caught in the crossfire between corrupt police officers and warring gangs, can Charles protect himself without once again turning to crime?

Based on real Old Bailey cases and genuine court documents, An Honest Man is the second in the Charles Holborne series, set on the sleazy London streets of the 1960s.


About Simon Michael

Simon practised as a barrister for over 35 years, many of them spent prosecuting and defending murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy. He had several books published in the UK and the USA in the 1990s and his short story Split was shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan/Perrier Short Story Award.

In 2016 he retired from legal practice to devote himself to full- time writing. The Brief (September 2015) and An Honest Man (July 2016) are the first two books in the Charles Holborne series, set on the gangland streets of 1960s London, based upon his experiences. Simon is a founder member and co-chair of the Ampthill Literary Festival. He lives with his wife, youngest daughter and many unfulfilled ambitions in Bedfordshire.



Website and blogs: www.simonmichael.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simonmichael.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonmichaeluk

Email: author@simonmichael.uk

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/28ZFrwQ


Blog Tour – ‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ by Cathy Bramley

Blog Tour Poster

‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ was published as a paperback original by Corgi on the 30th June 2016.  I absolutely love Cathy’s books and was delighted to be asked if I wanted to take part in this blog tour.   For each day of the tour a question taken from an interview by Zarina (@zarinatweets) is being asked.


Here is today’s question…..

What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?

I have a lot of author friends and we all have periods of doubts about our ability to write, so don’t worry about failure, just go for it and do the best you can.


About Cathy Bramley

Author Picture

Cathy Bramley is the author of the bestselling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm and Wickham Hall (all four-part serialised novels) and Conditional Love. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog.

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. You can get in touch via her website http://www.CathyBramley.co.uk, Facebook page Facebook.com/CathyBramleyAuthor or on Twitter: twitter.com/CathyBramley


‘The Plumberry School of Comfort Food’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-



Interview with Tara Moore

Author Picture

Tara Moore’s new book, ‘Fade to Dead’ was recently published by Urbane Publications and is the first of a series.  I asked Tara some questions about it.


I have been hearing good things about your new book.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

Book Cover

My books generally originate with a character that pops into my head in the dead of night, setting up such a clamour that sleep becomes impossible. It’s annoying, but exciting too, and when that character is pretty much fully formed – for which read loud and insistent – I know there is a book to be written. Indeed, Jessica Wideacre, the lead character in Fade To Dead, arrived a full ten years ago. Back then, she just wasn’t the right fit for the contemporary novels I was working on, but I knew, beyond shadow of a doubt that, someday, she would emerge kicking and screaming into the light. Actually, kicking and screaming is something Jessica does rather well.

In Fade To Dead, she’s tasked with apprehending a vicious serial killer. Self-styled, The Director, he’s snatching young girls off the street to star in his movies. Armed with the perfect script, he’s got a role to die for. Literally. With a rising body count and clues scarcer than hens’ teeth, Jessica’s back is right up against the wall.  Time is not on her side. Neither is her boss, who doesn’t hesitate to turn the thumb screws. In the perfect storm, Jessica’s home life is also disintegrating around her ears. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that something or somebody subjected to sustained pressure will eventually crack. However, going to pieces is a luxury Jessica can’t afford. Whatever it takes, whatever the personal cost, she will not rest until The Director is behind bars.


How many books in the series are there going to be?

I’m leaning towards seven books, the second of which, Babyshoes, is currently underway. That may change, of course. I’m not the one calling the shots. Jessica is!


What made you decide to write a series?

As I was writing Fade To Dead, it became clear that both Jessica Wideacre and her team had a lot more to give. An expression you will hear time and time again amongst authors is that the characters became like family. I want to know ALL about them and ALL their secrets. I’m nosey like that.  Jessica, in particular, piques my interest. She’s prickly, wears her pride like armour, is sometimes misguided, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She’s definitely no angel and will bend the rules if circumstances warrant it. That said, her heart is in the right place and her sense of justice unshakeable.  I would want a Jessica in my corner (especially in a boxing ring!).


Was any research involved?

South London where Fade To Dead is set was my old stomping ground for twenty years and so I have a good knowledge of the area and its surrounds. It is also the place where my two sons were born. That alone, means it will always have a special place in my heart, Tooting Broadway in particular.

Regarding the police procedural aspects – (although Jessica is not a by-the-book copper) – I called on the knowledge of an ex policeman friend. As is the norm these days, I also consulted with the great and all powerful Wizard of Google, read lots of books and watched lots of films.


Can you relate to any of your characters?

Yes, to certain aspects, otherwise I could not write them convincingly. Sometimes there is the urge to make one or other the mouth-piece for one’s own favourite hobby horses. Luckily, they tend to arrive with their own set of characteristics, baggage and prejudices and I have to lead the horse back into the stable.


Have you got any other writing projects on the go?

I like to work on two projects at a time on the basis that if I get stuck on one, I can then move on to the other.  It works – sometimes!  When I get stuck on both, I simply go away and drink wine.  After the second bottle, I don’t much care.  As touched on above, I am currently working on Babyshoes, the second book in the Jessica Wideacre series, as well as a standalone thriller, Get Set, Kill! (working title).


When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing for almost as long as I could hold a pen and join letters together. The whole of my teenage years were documented in cringe-making, angst-filled poetry, short stories and half-written novels. I yearned to become a writer and follow in my own ‘umble way those writers who so enriched my own life with their wonderful books. I learnt the power of the written word early and am still firmly under its spell.  Sometimes, I want to jump up and down like a lunatic shouting, “I am not a number, I am a writer.”  Then, I take my pills and go and lie down in a dark room until the feeling passes.


What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given about writing?

Give up and become a nun!  Clearly, I didn’t listen. The next bit of good advice was very simple – apply butt to chair, switch on computer and write! You may have the best idea in the world and the greatest plot, but if it remains trapped in your head it’s just another idea among millions.

A more useful piece of advice was to get the skeleton down first rather than edit and re-edit the same piece over and over. Seeing the book progress is a great psychological spur. You can go back, flesh it out and polish it to perfection after that. You cannot, however, work on something that has yet to be written.  Get it writ. Then, get it right!


Have you got any good advice for anyone wishing to get published?

I’m tempted to say, give up and become a nun. You get four square meals, don’t have to bother about bills, have a roof over your head and are supplied with a nice smart habit. What’s not to like? Barring the shoes! So, drawing a veil over that (see what I did there) here’s a list  – in no particular order – of what I think are non-negotiables for anyone wishing to get published.

  • A thick skin – rejection is not for the faint hearted and with a very few exceptions, you are bound to get knocked back and often with great regularity. A friend of mine has wallpapered her downstairs loo with rejection letters, which is really putting a positive spin on things. Last seen entering a convent.
  • Just because one hundred agents/publishers may reject your manuscript, it doesn’t mean that the 101st won’t leap on it with the fervour of one who has just found the Holy Grail.  Walk into any bookshop, look around, and remind yourself that thousands of books by new authors are published every year – you can bet your life most of those will have suffered their own share of knockbacks on the path to publication.
  • This probably should have been number one and it’s so obvious you would think there would be no need to say it – DO NOT DREAM of submitting your MS until it is as polished as it possibly can be. Have it proofread; have it edited, have it correctly formatted. That is part of your job. Yes, it costs money, but ask yourself how much you want this. Do without the new shoes, the weekend in Cornwall, the bottle of wine each night (okay, not that one!). Sacrifice whatever you need to give yourself the best possible chance of getting your manuscript picked up. Do not imagine that an agent/publisher will merrily discount the shortcomings on the basis that it is an earth-shattering story and it can all be sorted out later.  Your book is a product, just like any other product. If at first sight it presents as careless and unprofessional, the agent/publisher will never get around to discovering your amazing opus and it will be consigned unread to the reject pile. Think of it as the supermarket principle. No one wants the torn package, the rotten tomato, or the mouldy bread.
  • Speaking of submitting, do your research first. Arm yourself with the Writers And Artists Yearbook for a comprehensive list of agents and publishers in the UK or abroad. Another useful site is agenthunter.co.uk . For a modest sum, this gives you year-long access to an up-to-date list of literary agents. It lists the genres they represent, the kinds of books they particularly enjoy, and whether they are actively looking for submissions. There is also a wealth of free information available on the internet. Draw up a list of those agents/publishers who are most likely to be receptive to your book and get submitting. Always follow the submission guidelines.
  • Write the story you want to write and not what you think the market is looking for. There really is no guessing what is going to be popular in eighteen months/two years from now. Twilight spawned a rash of vampire novels and 50 Shades a rash (probably not the best use of the word here) of erotica novels. By the time you have produced your own Twilight or Fifty Shades, the vampires will have flown off into the twilight and the handcuffs will be gathering dust in the nation’s bedroom drawers.
  • Before you put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, before you write the first word, be crystal clear as to genre and target audience. This is a cardinal rule. It serves not only to keep you, yourself, focused, but also allows you to pitch clearly to an agent/publisher.” It’s a kind of Western/meets sci-fi/meets Alice Through The Looking Glass/with overtones of Pride And Prejudice, mixed with a splash of War And Peace, which will appeal to all ages,” simply won’t do. I have seen too many people fall at this hurdle and end up with an unpublishable manuscript. The agent/publisher needs to know exactly how to categorise and market a book. And, yes, some books do successfully straddle more than one genre, but the book should be able to fall comfortably into one or other.
  • Now here’s something that has become increasingly important in recent years; I’m talking marketing and social media. Every author nowadays is expected to have a significant online presence with a view to marketing and publicity. Websites, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest et al, as well as participation in reading/writing forums is essential. Some agents/publishers are now asking for these details in their submission requirements. Regardless of whether you are published by one of the Big Five publishers with a large marketing budget or a smaller independent publisher of lesser means, you will be expected to take an active role in marketing your book. Gone are the days when an author could squirrel themselves away in their lonely garret, popping out only to cash their royalty cheques. Techno/social media phobes, be warned, there is no place to run, no place to hide. See you on Facebook!
  • Finally, the old refrain, do not give up. There is a school of thought that there are only so many story lines. Perhaps, but you have a unique slant and a unique voice and only you can tell your story your way. That makes you an original.


Describe a day in your life.

I have recently discovered that I am a ‘pantser’, not to be confused with a ‘prancer’, which is some daft form of exercise where one gallops Shergar-like through a local park losing both calories and credibility (more of the latter, I suspect). Look it up on Youtube – it’s good for a laugh. Pantser. I’m guessing, derives from seat-of-the-pants. In other words, I do a lot of winging, writing mainly when inspiration hits and when deadlines loom. I wish I could say I get up at 6.00 a.m. every day and work tirelessly till the moon comes up, but that would be to paint a false picture. A nice picture, but utter rubbish. My muse is a slacker. She’s off shopping and surfing the internet when she should be at home whipping me into shape. So, really, there is no writing routine to my days, no magic formula. I write when the mood and inspiration is upon me. I am a fully paid up member of the Society of Pantsers (SAP). Simple as that.


Who are your favourite authors?

Too many to list, but here’s a few and an eclectic lot they are:

The Brontes (to whom I am always true)
Jane Austen
Charles Dickens
Maeve Binchy
Edna O’Brien
Stephen King
Harlen Coben
Philippa Gregory
Marian Keyes
Linwood Barclay
Catherine Cookson
Thomas Hardy
James Patterson
Patricia Cornwell
Walter Macken
John Steinbeck
William Golding
Robert Louis Stephenson
Mark Twain
George Elliott
Dean Koontz
Val McDermid
Sheila Flanagan
Sheila Quigley
Gaye Shortland

. . . and on to infinity


What do you prefer; long or short chapters?

I don’t have a preference. I find the type of book generally dictates the length of the chapters and I sometimes forget to stop. Just like now!


Thank you Sonya for allowing me the opportunity to bore on.



About Tara Moore

Tara Moore is a Dublin-born writer, now living in Ramsgate, Kent. She is the author of several books, including RSVP and Blue-Eyed Girl (Orion Publishing). Her first crime novel, Fade To Dead (Urbane Publications) was published in March 2016.



Website – http://www.taramoore.com

Twitter – @TaraMoore2

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tara.moore.7731


‘Fade to Dead’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/fade-to-dead/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fade-Dead-Tara-Moore/dp/1910692778/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467025330&sr=1-1&keywords=fade+to+dead+tara+moore

Please note that ‘Fade to Dead’ can be downloaded for free today on Kindle via Amazon UK.


Blog Tour – ‘Exposure’ by Ava Marsh

Blog Poster

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today for which Ava Marsh has written a guest post.  Ava’s new book, ‘Exposure’ was published by Corgi on the 16th June 2016.


Writing Sex

Every year the Literary Review holds an award for the worst sex in fiction – last year’s winner was none other than Morrissey, after turning his talents from song lyrics to a novel. While Morrissey probably took the distinction in his stride – after all, it’s just one award among many – the rest of us fictioneers dread ending up on the Review’s shit list.

So was I nervous about all the sexual content in my novels, Untouchable and the recently released Exposure? Yes, and no. Yes, because there’s a thousand ways to get it wrong, including using phrases like Morrissey’s unforgettable ‘bulbous salutation’.

And no, because there’s one hell of a difference between writing sex, and writing about it. In both my books, the bulk of the X-rated scenes are more about describing a job rather than an act of love – Kitty, the porn star heroine of Exposure, and Grace, the escort protagonist of Untouchable, both work in the sex trade, so sex for them is a somewhat prosaic, day-to-day activity – at least once they’ve got past their initial nerves. So in the main, their first-person accounts of their experiences ‘between the sheets’ tends to be more matter-of-fact than erotic.

In many ways this distance from the act – or rather, in Kitty’s case, the performance – makes these scenes easier to write. Simply a case of describing what’s going on. On the other hand, I had more difficulty with the scenes where Grace and Kitty have sex with someone they actually care about – making love rather than money.  Mainly because it’s hard to get across the emotional content of sex without resorting to clichés – or indeed going completely off-piste à la Morrissey.

I think one of the keys to writing good sex – or bad – lies within the writers themselves. Are you comfortable with your body and what it can do? Are you comfortable with other people’s bodies? Do you feel embarrassed even saying certain words? (I once met a woman who never uttered the word ‘vagina’ in her life, before training as an antenatal teacher).

Sex isn’t difficult to write about, any more than eating is difficult to write about. It’s the self-conscious element that creeps in that makes the whole thing fumbly and awkward. Or overblown, in the case of Morrissey. If you’re squirmy about sex in real life, then this is going to bleed into your fiction, I believe –  best then to simply draw a curtain over what goes on in your character’s bedrooms.

Here’s my advice for writing sex scenes that don’t make readers roll their eyes or squirm in their seats – unless, of course, you want them to squirm in sympathy with your heroine and what she’s having to do (there are several scenes in both Untouchable and Exposure that are meant to make your eyes water). Write as little or as much as you feel comfortable with. If you’re not relaxed about describing things in detail, then close the bedroom door behind you; readers have active imaginations – they can fill in the blanks.

And don’t for heaven’s sake start thinking up novel and strenuous metaphors – just call a spade a spade. Or, in the case of ‘bulbous salutation’, simply refer to your character’s massive erection.


‘Exposure’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-



‘The Optician’s Wife’ by Betsy Reavley

The Optician's Wife

‘The Optician’s Wife’ is Betsy Reavley’s new book and it is out today published by Bloodhound Books.  I was very kindly sent an eBook copy for my kindle to read and review.  Set in Cambridge, this story is inspired by true events.

Deborah is seventeen years old and very lonely.  She doesn’t have any friends and is unpopular.  Life at home isn’t good either.  One day whilst on her lunch break Deborah meets Larry.  He instantly sweeps her off her feet and they start meeting on a regular basis.  The only problem is that Larry has a secret.

When a number of grisly murders take place a shadow is cast over everything.   As Deborah’s world begins to fall apart she begins to suspect the man she loves of a terrible betrayal.  They need to keep their marriage alive and in order to do this sacrifices must be made.  But just how far will Deborah be willing to go?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  It was fantastic with an absolute shocker of an ending.  I really liked Betsy Reavley’s style of writing and the way the story was set out.  She has a way of drawing you right into the plot.  I have to say I definitely did not expect the outcome and would never have guessed it in a million years.  Everything just seemed so straightforward.

There were a number of rather unsavoury characters in the story and it was hard picking out any I really liked.  I wasn’t keen on Larry at all.  He appeared to be nice but in fact he was a total control freak.  He took over Deborah’s life so much that she ended up with little freedom.  Sadly though I don’t think Deborah saw it that way.

‘The Optician’s Wife’ is a psychological thriller which will grab hold of you and play with your mind.  It is quite a scary reminder that you don’t know what could be going on behind closed doors.

This is a story I won’t forget in a hurry.  I can see it being made into a TV drama or film.  I’m looking forward to reading more of Betsy Reavley’s novels.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


Interview with Dr. Antonio Menzies

Dr Menzies

So it’s like this!  I was meant to be interviewing Geoff Nelder but instead my questions have been answered by Dr. Antonio Menzies, the main character in the ARIA trilogy…..


Dear Sonya,

I’ve been sent your questions to that reprobate author, Geoff Nelder, who is far too idle to answer them himself. I am Dr. Antonio Menzies PhD (HPV), DMS (liguria) and in between seducing rich patients I’m willing to pen some lurid but truthful answers on Nelder’s behalf.


How long has Geoff Nelder been writing?

Far too long. He scribbled jokes as a teen that were so awful they were picked for university rag mags. Eg When men smell it’s an accident. When women smell it’s a mystery.


What types of books does he write?

Nelder calls them science fiction but look at ESCAPING REALITY, that’s a humorous thriller. Oh, I forgot about that one, he says. Then HOT AIR is a serious thriller with a feisty female being shot down in a hot-air balloon. How can that work? It’s true that EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEE is pure science fiction baloney. Alien artefacts that had been buried for eons leave. Not at escape velocity but so slowly you could stroke them. They’ve been collecting time decoherences – heard of it? Nor me but they exist in a quantum sense. So when these spheres leave orbit, the Earth goes into spasms—argh. Nelder’s most famous—and then only in his street—for his ARIA Trilogy. It’s brilliant because I’m a main character in it. Allegedly, I go mad after being exposed to the antidote for an alien infectious amnesia bug. I know, infectious amnesia doesn’t exist, OR didn’t exist until Nelder invented it. Of all things to create: a bug that infects everyone such that they forget a year’s worth of memory, backwards, each week. You forget how to do your job, where you live, who you married! Eventually, how to read and speak. Pre-apocalyptic and post.


Can you tell me a bit about his latest book?

Nelder’s gone all historical fantasy in his latest novel. He holidayed in Malta, discovered my predecessors, Ottoman pirates, abducted the people of a whole island. Well, the spirits of those slaves are crying out for revenge aren’t they? Hence XAGHRA’S REVENGE is finished and looking for an unwise publisher to take it on.


Does Geoff Nelder have to do any research?

Don’t mention research! He’s obsessed by getting stuff right. He has to name streets, towns and rivers in the right places. I blame it on him being a geography teacher for 100 years. In ARIA he read every damn book on the brain, amnesia, Alzheimer’s, you name it. No don’t. So into research he emailed an astronaut, Leroy Chaio, for data on the struts of the International Space Station and get this, Leroy replied while he was in orbit!


Where does Geoff Nelder get his ideas from?

He steals his ideas from me. No question. Nelder says he oxygenates his brain while on his long cycling tours but I’ve no doubt at all that he sneaks a peek at my prescription pad and little black book for his ideas.


How long on average does it take him to write each book?

Book Cover

I was in a pub the other evening and overheard a nerd bookreader say, “I read Geoff Nelder’s ARIA: LEFT LUGGAGE in just a weekend.” What? I happen to know that poor old Nelder spent two years writing that first book in his ARIA trilogy. Granted much of that was in research and another half a year going through his critique group in the British Science Fiction Association, but even so, TWO YEARS to write a book is ridiculous.


What is Nelder working on now?

You mean what is he cribbing off me? Shorts. He’s writing shorts as if they are worth reading. He’s written over 100 of them, 84 have been published including 7 this year. Against my advice he’s plotting a sequel to XAGHRA’S REVENGE.


Does he have a favourite place to write?

As an idiot researcher Nelder likes to write his stories in their setting. Hence if a scene is in Paris, that’s where you’ll find him, sat at an outside café table swimming in the language, atmosphere and booze. I encourage this, especially with his science fiction. Go to the Moon I tell him. Often.


What would Geoff Nelder’s reaction be if a character from one of his books came to life and turned up on his doorstep?

You’re kidding, right? I am here you know.


Where does Nelder see himself in five years time?

Never mind him. He’s a boring writer, whereas I’ll be having two or more synchronous affairs with gorgeous women patients all eager to please me to have their cosmetic ops done for half price. Luxury.


Hello, Geoff Nelder has spotted me writing these responses, I’ll get them to you and delete this document before he can stop me. While I’m at it I’ll delete some of his projects. Hah, there was one where he used me to promote his ARIA: LEFT LUGGAGE. There, gone.


For those who are bothered all Geoff Nelder’s books are in his Amazon Authors page at

UK Amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

And for US readers http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

Geoff facebooks at http://www.facebook.com/AriaTrilogy and tweets at @geoffnelder



About Geoff Nelder

Author Picture

Geoff Nelder is a professional liar, badass editor, and fiction competition judge. He was awarded Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society for his research into air pollution and microclimates. He taught Geography and IT to the ungrateful alive but escaped to write.

His publications include science fiction novels Exit, Pursued by Bee and the ARIA trilogy; and thrillers: Escaping Reality, and Hot Air. Many of his short stories have found homes in mags such as The Horror Zine, Ether Books, eFiction, Encounters, Jimston Journal, Delivered, Screaming Dreams and many anthologies such as Monk Punk, Science Fiction Writers’ Sampler and Zombified.


Cover Reveal – ‘Occupying Love’ by Marilyn Chapman

Book Cover

This is the wonderful cover for ‘Occupying Love’ by Marilyn Chapman which is out on the 24th June.  Read on for more information.


Book Blurb

With the Nazis poised to invade Guernsey in World War Two, feisty student Lydia Le Page returns home to rescue her parents, but as she arrives the harbour is bombed and she’s trapped on the island as the German Military Occupation begins.

Two very different men enter her life: Martin Martell, the handsome but mysterious rector of Torteval Church and Major Otto Kruger, the ruthless German Kommandant, who soon falls under her spell.

When Martin disappears Lydia discovers a secret from her past that threatens her whole future. Will she be able to keep it from the enemy? Or is it too late?  This is a story about love, loss and the unique identity that makes us who we are.


Background to ‘Occupying Love’

Guernsey-born journalist Marilyn Chapman read almost every novel written about the Occupation of the Channel Islands, but none sounded quite like the stories her grandparents told her as a child.

Marilyn, who now lives on the Lancashire coast, learnt about life under German rule when Guernsey was occupied by Hitler’s troops in World War Two, and the memories have always stayed with her. The result is Occupying Love which she describes as ‘a fictional account of love, loss, bravery and heartbreak, as well as defiance and hope.’

‘My grandmother refused to acknowledge the German soldiers and even hid cheese in the stair rods at her home, rather than let the food be taken,’ says Marilyn. Eventually the couple’s home was requisitioned by the Germans but they never gave up hope that the island as they knew it would survive.’

Marilyn began her career as a reporter on the Blackpool Evening Gazette, later freelancing for national newspapers and magazines.

Her debut novel Baggy Pants and Bootees was published in 2014 giving her the confidence to finally follow her dream.


‘Occupying Love’ is available to pre-order from Amazon UK:-



Interview with Jenny Kane

Author Picture

I would like to introduce you all to Jenny Kane.  Her latest book, ‘Another Glass of Champagne’ was published on the 9th June 2016 by Accent Press and I wanted to know all about it.


Firstly, please can you tell me a bit about your new book?

Another Glass of Champagne is a story of friendship, life, dreams, romance, and coffee sipping. Set in and around Richmond Kew Gardens, the action is often located in the cafe that unites all the characters- Pickwicks Cafe House.

Alongside the cups of coffee, there are several bottles of champagne on ice, but only time will tell if they ever leave the fridge and their corks get popped!

Following on from the bestselling novel, Another Cup of Coffee, and the seasonal Christmas novella’s Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas in the Cotswolds, and Christmas at the Castle, Another Glass of Champagne, is the final instalment in the Pickwicks Coffee House adventures.


Book Cover


A warm-hearted, contemporary tale about a group of friends living in a small corner of busy London, by bestselling author Jenny Kane.

Fortysomething Amy is shocked and delighted to discover she s expecting a baby not to mention terrified! Amy wants best friend Jack to be godfather, but he hasn’t been heard from in months. When Jack finally reappears, he s full of good intentions but his new business plan could spell disaster for the beloved Pickwicks Coffee Shop, and ruin a number of old friendships…  

Meanwhile his love life is as complicated as ever and yet when he swears off men for good, Jack meets someone who makes him rethink his priorities…but is it too late for a fresh start?

Author Kit has problems of her own: just when her career has started to take off, she finds herself unable to write and there s a deadline looming, plus two headstrong kids to see through their difficult teenage years…will she be able to cope?


I love the cover.  Did you celebrate with a glass or two of champagne when it was published?

Many thanks. All the covers in the series are wonderfully cheerful.

The novel came out on 9th June, right in the middle of the Tiverton Literary Festival, which I help organise- so I didn’t have time to raise that glass of bubbly until it was all over on 12th June. That evening however, I definitely raised a glass or two to wish Another Glass of Champagne lots of luck!


How long did it take you to write?

Six months from start to finish- and I loved every minute. I’m really going to miss writing about Amy, Kit, Jack and the crew at Pickwicks Coffee House.


Where did you get your ideas from for this book?

Another Glass of Champagne is the final instalment in the adventures of Amy, Kit, Jack, and their friends. These friends first appeared together in Another Cup of Coffee, and each of them is based on one of the real friends I made at university. The whole premise of the story is what ‘might have happened’ if we’d all made slightly different life decisions than the ones we actually made.

By the time we reach book 5 in the Another Cup of…series, Amy, Kit and Jack are (like their real life counterparts) in their 40’s- and life is still throwing out challenges!


Can you relate to any of your characters?

I may… or may not… be Kit! Kit is a writer, mother to teenagers, and a serial coffee drinker- she also writes all her books (some of them erotica), in a cafe- just like me!


If one of the characters came alive and spoke to you what do you think he or she would say?

I can tell you exactly what the ‘real’ Jack said before I started writing Another Glass of Champagne– ‘Can you give me a hot boyfriend please?’ Before the series started ‘Jack’ was also quite keen to be a little taller than he is in real life…


Will you be doing any book signings?

I have a book launch- which I’m going to combine with a Family Book Quiz- in the coffee shop where I write my books everyday! 1st July, Costa, Tiverton 6.30pm!!

I am hoping to do a launch in a local bookshop as well, but details aren’t finalised yet.


What can we expect next from you?

My next book will be out in November and will be called, The Outlaw’s Ransom, which is a medieval murder mystery. This has come about after the success of my part modern/part medieval novel, Romancing Robin Hood.

Many years ago I was an archaeologist and a medieval historian. I’ve indulged heavily in the research I did back then while writing The Outlaw’s Ransom.


How has social media helped you?

I constantly Tweet and Facebook- as well as put out blogs on my web site. I hope it helps me spread the word about my work- I’m too scared not to do it to stop doing so now, in case it’s the only way I’m selling my books!


Where do you see yourself in five years time?

That’s a very difficult question. I have been writing for 12 years now. I started as erotica writer Kay Jaybee; then 5 years ago I ‘became’ Jenny Kane. In another 5 years, who knows who I’ll be?

I will certainly have written another full length medieval murder mystery by then – as I have been contracted to write a follow up to The Outlaw’s Ransom called The Winter Outlaw.

In Summer 2017 there will also be a new beach read. Abi’s Neighbour will be published in June 2017, and will follow on from my bestselling Cornish romance, Abi’s House.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I honestly don’t have any – I really don’t. If I’m not writing them I’m at work.


iPad or Computer?  

Computer. I have a lovely little laptop, which I’ve named Alfie.


About Jenny Kane

Jenny spends a large part of her time in the cafe’s of Mid Devon, where she creates her stories, including the novels Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent Press, 2016), Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and the novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds, (Accent Press, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle, (Accent Press, 2015).

Her next full length novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published by Accent Press in Summer 2017. She is also working on a short historical novel, which will be published in November 2016.

Jenny Kane is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015).

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl


Buy Links




Guest Post by PJ Whiteley

Philip Whiteley

Back in March I hosted a guest post by PJ Whiteley as part of my Urbane Publications blog event.  He is now back with another post.


A question of subject matter

Guest blog by PJ Whiteley


Do you have to care about the interests of your characters to enjoy the book?

The issue occurred to me on holiday last month as I read Simon Says, by Daniel Gothard (declaring an interest, we have the same publisher, Urbane). The two main characters, Simon and Sean, watch a movie together several times a week, and their banter is peppered with quotes from their favourite films, most of which I haven’t seen (I watch a fair few movies, but I have a peculiar taste). This might have irritated me, but it didn’t. I think the reason is that the character Sean was smart and engaging: cool but with a big heart. He was the main reason I enjoyed the book, and the dialogue between the two lads was sharp.

This was reassuring to me, as my own novels, which could vaguely be defined as romcoms like Simon Says, also feature grown adults, mostly men, who have keen, near-obsessive interests. They are sports fans, so a necessary discipline for me is to keep the fan-talk to a minimum, and develop the human drama. ‘Most sports fans are men; most novel-readers are women,’ I’m often warned.

My riposte is that where a romantic comedy only features relationships and career choices they can become a bit bland. I want to have clashing world-views, commitment to a cause, or the fierce loyalty of tribe. Sport appeals because of the strong emotions it generates, and the parallels with real life that it can generate.

Not everyone would agree; not everyone will like my books, but that’s fine. That’s true of all authors. If the story engages, it soon won’t matter whether the main character’s passion is cricket, potholing or theoretical physics. Thousands of people read the 1990s non-fiction book Longitude, about the tale of an 18th-century clockmaker John Harrison. The book-buying population hadn’t suddenly become fascinated by the engineering of chronometers in their early years; they were hooked by a classic fable of the underdog overcoming formidable obstacles. And who, of all those who watched Erin Brockovich, can cite details on the particular corporate conspiracy that she exposed, and the underlying science?

It doesn’t matter what the subject is, it matters that the lead character cares about it. That’s what we have to show, as authors.


About PJ Whiteley

PJ Whiteley is an author. His first novel, Close of Play, published by Urbane Publications April 2015, was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize. His second novel, Marching on Together will be published February 2017, also by Urbane.


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