A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “September, 2014”

Interview with Gillian Mawson


Gillian Mawson was born in Stockport in Cheshire and now lives in Derbyshire.  She is married and has two cats.  Gillian’s new book is out today and she kindly took the time to answer some questions.


Your new book sounds absolutely fascinating.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?


The book is ‘Evacuees: Children’s Lives on the World War Two Home Front’. It is published by History Press on Tuesday 30th September in hardback format.

I have a passionate interest in social history and during 2013 I collected personal stories from 100 people who spent the war years as evacuees in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. My new book, ‘Evacuees: Children’s Lives on the World War Two Home Front’ contains memorable extracts from these stories. They are accompanied by family photographs, many of which have been rescued from old suitcases and attics. The book also includes the memories of adults who travelled with the evacuated school children.

Prior to this, I spent four years interviewing evacuees for my first book, ‘Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War.’  17,000 people fled Guernsey to England in June 1940, just weeks before the occupation of their island by Germany. Sadly, many of the people I interviewed have since died. I feel it is vital that the memories of Second World War evacuees are recorded now before they are lost for ever.

My new book contains stories from those who were evacuated within Britain as part of ‘Operation Pied Piper’. Others come from those who sought sanctuary in Britain from France, Belgium, the Ukraine and Spain or from persecution in Germany. I also include memories from evacuees who fled from British territories such as Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Gibraltar.


How long did it take you to write?

I began to collect the stories and family photographs in January 2013 and had to edit some of the stories. Some evacuees sent me a few paragraphs whilst others sent me 20 pages of memories. Because 100 stories are in the book, I had to edit the stories and select a memorable extract from each one. This was difficult as you can imagine. In addition some evacuees did not have access to a camera during the war, so I contacted local history societies and local newspapers. They kindly provided photographs to accompany these stories which delighted the evacuees.


How do you go about doing your research?

I often place letters in regional newspapers and on websites, asking for evacuees to come forward and share their stories. I also make great use of my own evacuation websites, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Even if an evacuee is not online or using social media, one of their children or grandchildren is.


Do you find the evacuees stories emotional at times?

I find them very emotional indeed. I interviewed 200 evacuees for my ‘Guernsey Evacuees’ book between 2008 and 2012, and the book was published in November 2012. I pick it up now and then and read a chapter and am still very moved indeed. The stories I have gathered for my new book have the same effect on me. Sometimes whilst interviewing evacuees they are moved to tears by their memories and I am too. When I read the final proof of my new book a month ago, I wept quite a few times.

I also run a community group for Guernsey evacuees who live in the Manchester area – they did not return home after the war. We organise events in order to share their stories with schools and museums. The evacuees’ memories still have the power to move me to tears especially when I hear them sharing them with members of the public.


How long have you been a social historian for?

I have loved history since I was a child and always reading about the lives of ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times. I began to study for my history degrees at the University of Manchester when I was 40 years old whilst I was working full time in an office.  In 2004 I began to write various history articles for magazines and newspapers, and in 2008 I began to interview Guernsey evacuees, both in the UK and in Guernsey. I wanted to find out about their wartime experiences on the UK mainland. It taught me a great deal about evacuation and also about the British Home Front during the Second World War.


Is this something you always wanted to do?

I enjoyed writing stories when I was a teenager, so I was very happy when I was offered a contract to write my first history book in 2012. Since writing that book, many of the evacuees have died. I feel it is vital that I interview as many evacuees as I can, while they are still with us, to record and preserve their memories for future generations.


Have you got anymore books planned?

I have 5 more book proposals in mind but I don’t want to give too much away at this stage. Four of them relate to the subject of the Second World War. – not just evacuation. The fifth is on a completely different historical subject – however, it does include interviews with people!


Describe a day in your life.

I have a part time office job, but on the remaining days I work on various matters including organising events for my evacuee community group, trying to obtain funding for the group and interviewing more evacuees. I send emails or letters to many of the evacuees I have interviewed as we have become good friends. I write down my ideas for future books and write articles for magazines and newspapers.

I have started to share my Guernsey evacuation archive online as much as possible so am in constant contact with museums and websites to ensure that this information is shared digitally. I receive emails from evacuees who wish to be reunited with wartime friends and I try to help them as much as I can. I have reunited a number of evacuees and this is very moving and makes me very happy indeed.

I am frequently contacted by people whose parents or grandparents (now deceased) were evacuees. They want to find out more about their relatives’ experiences during the war. I help as much as I can. Authors and television documentary companies contact me to obtain accurate historical information for their wartime novels and programmes. I also give talks to schools, history groups and museums about wartime evacuation and speak on the radio about my research. There is not much time for relaxation but I am very happy in what I do.



You can find out more about Gillian’s new book on her blog:-



Gillian’s books can be purchased on Amazon:-



Gillian’s blog on the Guernsey evacuation can be found here:-



Blog Tour – ‘Death of an Avid Reader’ by Frances Brody


‘Death of an Avid Reader’ by Frances Brody is being published by Piatkus on the 2nd October 2014.  In celebration of her new novel I am one of a number of bloggers reviewing this book.

9780349400570The story is set in 1925.  Kate Shackleton is a private detective well known for her courageous sleuthing and top class work.  One day she receives a letter from Lady Coulton summoning her to London on a rather delicate matter, and so she makes her way there.  Lady Coulton confides in Kate about a secret from the past.  Many years ago she had a daughter born out of wedlock who she gave up to another family.  Now after all this time she wants to find her daughter and enlists Kate to assist her.

Kate begins her search for Lady Coulton’s daughter, but soon finds herself getting involved in other matters. A Capuchin monkey somehow gets inside her car and Kate ends up having no choice but to take him in temporarily until she can track down his owner.  Meanwhile there have been reports of strange goings on at Leeds Library.  When the body of the much respected Dr Horatio Potter is found in the basement, the quiet literary community is turned upside down.  But who would want Dr Potter dead and why?  This is what Kate wants to find out.

‘Death of an Avid Reader’ is the first Kate Shackleton Mystery I have read. Being an avid reader myself I just loved the title of this novel.  I can see exactly why it has been classed as cosy crime.  This is a well written story with good descriptions of the characters.

I really liked Kate Shackleton. Kate was truly dedicated to her work and was always on the go even when she was really tired or had been injured.  I also like how through Kate’s investigations you get to learn quite a bit about her past.

I found ‘Death of an Avid Reader’ to be an enjoyable and relaxing read.  There was much more to the story than I first thought.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


About Frances Brody

Yorkshire Post Newspapers

Frances Brody is the author of five mysteries featuring Kate Shackleton as well as many stories and plays for BBC Radio, scripts for television and four sagas, one of which won the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award. Her stage plays have been toured by several theatre companies and produced at Manchester Library Theatre, the Gate and Nottingham Playhouse, and Jehad was nominated for a Time Out Award.

‘Squaring Circles’ by Carolyn Mathews


‘Squaring Circles’ by Carolyn Mathews is the sequel to ‘Transforming Pandora’.  It was published yesterday by Roundfire.


Book Blurb

Free spirit Pandora is shaken by the sudden death of her mother and the presence of a mysterious stranger at the funeral. When her mother’s grave is disturbed, she turns detective and finds herself drawn into a world of intrigue, centring round a devious couple’s plot to exploit a healing circle for their own ends. Her partner Jay’s collaboration with a sexy singer and her own encounter with an old flame add to the confusion. Will she succeed in her quest to restore equilibrium to her family circle or will the decisions she and Jay make set them up for more heartache?


Author Bio


Carolyn Mathews’ English Language writing and teaching career included a stint with a class of ‘Harry Potter’ extras at the local Warner Bros. studio, Hertfordshire. With so much magic in the air, it’s no wonder she now writes fiction with more than a hint of the supernatural.



Buy Links:-



Author Links:-





If anyone wants an autographed copy they can email Carol. The address is on the contact page of her website.

Carolyn Mathews


There is a Facebook event today to celebrate Carolyn Mathews new book:-


‘Plague Land’ by S D Sykes + Competition

Plague Land

‘Plague Land’ was published today in both hardback and eBook. I first heard about this book from History Lives, the historical fiction community from Hodder & Stoughton.  It sounded so interesting and I was very kindly sent a proof copy to read and review.  ‘Plague Land’ is S D Sykes debut novel; an exciting new voice in historical crime.

This story is based in medieval Kent and is set in the aftermath of the Black Death.  It is 1350 and Oswald de Lacy has been sent home from the monastery he was packed off to at the young age of seven.  Now eighteen and having recently lost his father and two older brothers to the Black Death, he is faced with a huge amount of responsibility.  It will be his job to run the estate as Lord of Somershill Manor, something he never expected.

Oswald has no idea just how bad things are. The years of pestilence and neglect have affected the estate badly and lots of people have lost their lives.  His mother however still remains the powerful matriarch of the family and his sister Clemence who isn’t very easy to get on with still lives at Somershill Manor.  Just as Oswald is about to tackle things he is notified about a vicious murder of a young woman.  The rather ambitious village priest insists that she was killed by demonic dog-headed men, but Oswald sees his claim as a load of nonsense.  He soon finds himself with the job of trying to solve the crime and find the murderer, but each step he takes seems to lead him into a maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violence.

I knew as soon as I opened this book that I was going to enjoy reading it. The prologue had me totally intrigued.  If I had not known that this was S D Sykes debut novel I would never have guessed, it is that good.  The quality of the writing throughout is amazing and the story doesn’t drag.  S D Sykes paints a very good picture of what life was like in those days.

There is a handy glossary to refer to and at the end a very interesting historical note from the author which is really worth reading.

‘Plague Land’ is a fascinating and intriguing read and a real page-turner.  This is historical crime at its best.  I am already looking forward to S D Sykes next book.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


Both S D Sykes and History Lives are on Twitter.  Do follow them.

S D Sykes – @SD_Sykes

History Lives – @HistoryLives_



Three very lucky people have a chance to win a copy of ‘Plague Land’.  To enter leave a comment telling me what your favourite era is.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 12th October 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Hodder & Stoughton who will send out the prizes.


Good luck! 🙂

Cover Reveal – ‘The Prophecies’ by Holly Martin

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00068]

This is the stunning cover of ‘The Prophecies’, Book 2 of The Sentinel Series by Holly Martin.  It will be published on October 1st, a week today.


Book Blurb

Eve grows stronger and more powerful every day as she strives to ensure she is ready to face her destiny. But some of her gifts are unwelcome. Eve’s visions of the future become darker and those she loves are in terrible danger. But when her actions result in tragedy, Eve is called before The Oraculum, the council that created her

When she is summoned to their castle she becomes aware of a rift between the council members that not only could endanger her life, but could put the whole planet at risk. Would The Oraculum really turn against her and risk everything?

But in the darkness, a light burns bright. Her love for Seth is stronger than any of her powers.

But as she battles against a new threat, can she really forsake those closest to her in order to save the world? Will everyone Eve loves survive?


The Sentinel, Book 1 of the series is only 77p/99c so if you haven’t read it yet you can download it here http://myBook.to/TheSentinel

‘The Lady Who Turned’ by Tony Drury – Book Launch and Competition

The Lady Who Turned Front Cover (2)

‘The Lady Who Turned’ is Tony Drury’s fifth novel.  It is being launched at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London today.



The Lady Who Turned revolves round three impressive women, the Lady magazine, and, in the background, the renowned Mrs T, the lady who was not for turning.

Central to the story is Sarah Rudd, who finds herself and her family caught in a crisis which forces her to reconsider every aspect of her life, as a police officer and as a wife. The decisions she makes take her in unexpected and exciting directions.

Annabelle and Esther, both on the staff of the Lady magazine, also find themselves caught in a crisis – the magazine is under threat, and, in resisting its takeover by hostile forces, each woman finds herself having to go to extraordinary lengths to fight for what she values.

The criminal underworld and City financiers battle it out for dominance, and the ending comes unexpectedly at the graveside of the first woman prime minister of Great Britain, when the lady is seen at last to turn… 


About Tony Drury

Headshot - Waterstones 2 (2)

Tony is a corporate financier. He is chairman of both Axiom Capital Limited and Alpha Returns Plc, a Hong Kong based investment company whose shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange.

He is the author of five romantic thrillers which combine his knowledge of the City and finance with the adventures of Detective Inspector Sarah Rudd, a police officer who lives life to the full and near to the edge.

His first novel ‘Megan’s Game’, which is based in Wales and tells of the legend of the Bells of Aberdovey, is to be made into a film at Shepperton Studios by accredited Producer Paul Tucker. It is hoped to start filming in 2015.

His latest work, ‘The Lady Who Turned’, tells of the dramatic events involving an East European gangster’s attempt to gain control of ‘The Lady’ magazine. This was inspired by a chance meeting between Tony and the managing director, Helen Robinson. Somewhere along the line DI Sarah Rudd gets involved and faces her nemesis in a brutal scene at Holborn Tube Station.

Tony is an ambassador for HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity.

He is married to Judy with a married son and daughter and Henry, his first grandchild. He lives in Bedfordshire.


For full details please see:-


Twitter @mrtonydrury

City Fiction, the publisher are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/City-Fiction-Publishing/1434318926804533 and on Twitter @CityFictionLtd



One very lucky person has the chance to win a signed copy of ‘The Lady Who Turned’.  To enter all you have to do is answer the following question by leaving a comment:-

Have you ever thought about writing a book?


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 5th October 2014.

The winner will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to City Fiction who will send out the prize.


Good luck everyone! 🙂

‘The Stolen Girl’ by Renita D’Silva

The Stolen Girl

‘The Stolen Girl’ was published by Bookouture on Friday 12th September 2014.  I was very kindly given a copy of this book to review.  This is Renita D’Silva’s third novel.

How far would YOU go to protect your child?

That is the thought provoking question asked in this story.

Diya is thirteen years old and for as long as she can remember it has always been just her and her mum, Vani. She doesn’t even know who her dad is.  Over the years they have moved many times, never settling down anywhere properly.  But things are about to change.  In the blink of an eye Diya’s fragile world is shattered when her mum is arrested, accused of abducting Diya as a baby.

Vani has spent a lifetime looking over her shoulder, never totally relaxed. She wants the best for her daughter and will do anything to protect her.  Life is going to be even harder for Vani now, but she will fight for Diya no matter what the outcome.

I had the feeling that I would enjoy reading this book. ‘The Stolen Girl’ has been split into five parts with each one being either in the past or present.  The story is narrated throughout by the three main characters Diya, Vani and Aarti.

All three characters had a tough time of it one way or the other, especially poor Vani.  I felt sorry for Aarti and what she went through in her childhood and although in a way it was understandable, I didn’t like the way she treated others.  It’s a pity she couldn’t move on.

I can tell that a lot of thought, work and care has gone into writing this novel. I really like the writing style and the way the story has been presented.  I found it easy to follow without getting confused.  Renita writes beautifully and describes things in such a colourful and wonderful way. The way she described the food made my mouth water.  I could almost see it being laid out on the table.

‘The Stolen Girl’ is a heart-breaking story about friendship, betrayal, possessiveness, love and motherhood.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

‘Stable Mates’ by Zara Stoneley


‘Stable Mates’ is Zara Stoneley’s latest novel.  It was published in eBook on the 4th September 2014.


Book Blurb

Secrets and scandals, love and lust – when the ‘Cheshire Set’ are up against the ‘Footballer’s Wives’ the only common ground is carnal…

Flirting and fun seem the perfect antidote for Lottie’s battered heart, and where better to find them than back in tranquil Tippermere, home of sexy eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O’Neal, and mysterious newcomer, model Tom Strachan?

But when landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, and the threat of his waggish wife Amanda selling the heart of the village out from under them looms large, things look like they’re about to heat up in and out of the saddle.

With tensions running high, and the champagne flowing as freely as the adrenalin, is it any wonder that love catches more than one of them unawares?


About Zara Stoneley


Bestselling author Zara Stoneley lives in deepest Cheshire surrounded by horses, dogs, cats and amazing countryside. When she’s not visiting wine bars, artisan markets or admiring the scenery in her sexy high heels or green wellies, she can be found in flip flops on the beach in Barcelona, or more likely sampling the tapas!

Zara writes hot romance and bonkbusters. Her latest novel, ‘Stable Mates’, is a fun romp through the Cheshire countryside and combines some of her greatest loves – horses, dogs, hot men and strong women (and not forgetting champagne and fast cars)!

She writes for Harper Collins and Accent Press.


Find out more about Zara:

Website     Twitter     Facebook     Google+


‘Stable Mates’ is available to purchase at the following sites:-

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Foyles     Waterstones

Sainsbury’s     Google Play     iTunes     Blackwells

Adrian Harvey – Guest Blog Post


Earlier this year Adrian Harvey’s debut novel ‘Being Someone’ was published by Urbane Publications.  Below is a lovely blog post by Adrian in which he explains where he got his inspiration from when writing this book.

I hope you enjoy reading it.


Things are seldom as they seem

Inspiration comes from many places and in all shapes and sizes. In my case, it came from India, in the hefty form of an elephant. That elephant was long dead, and I never had the chance to meet him. It also turned out that he wasn’t even real. But his story was the starting point of my novel, Being Someone. Quite literally, in the sense that a version of it became the first chapter, but the elephant was also the inspiration for everything that followed. The elephant, who I called Iravatha, was both the starting point and the frame for the novel, and he keeps poking his very long nose into the story.

In the book, the story of Iravatha is told to the narrator in a little park in the middle of Mysore and, to all intents and purposes, it is the same story that was told to me a little park in the middle of Mysore, some seven years ago. Essentially, it is an Indian version of the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby. If you don’t know the story, it’s the ‘true’ story of a little dog – Bobby no less – who keeps returning to the grave of his dead master in an Edinburgh church yard. There’s a Disney movie, made in the sixties, about the tale. It’s very touching.

When I got back to London I checked and there was no Iravatha. The boy I had met in Mysore had been telling stories, conflating bits and pieces of truth to create an impression, an effect. And it worked; I liked it. But what attracted me most to it was the ambiguity in its apparent simplicity and honesty.

You see, there is an account of Greyfriar’s Bobby that suggests that, rather than a heart warming account of loyalty and enduring love, it was simply a wheeze dreamed up to attract tourists to Edinburgh and in fact – a little like Lassie – a number of different dogs played the role over the years. Other versions suggest that ‘Bobby’ was just one of a number of stray dogs that hung around the cemeteries of the city, waiting for the highly emotional human visitors, who would feed them.

Now, the relationship between a mahout and his elephant is deep, often lifelong. But it is also complex and problematic. Mahouts are seldom entirely kind to the animals they train and tend and, as we know, elephants have very long memories within which to hold their grudges. I started to play with the layers of truth that might be bound up with my elephant story and, for some reason, this ambiguity made me think about a marriage.

So Being Someone became a love story: a man – let’s call him James – and a woman – let’s call her Lainey – fall in love; they get married, and then things happen, as things so often insist on doing.



Since escaping the East Midlands to find his fortune in the big city, Adrian Harvey has combined a career in and around government with trying to see as much of the world as he can. He lives in North London, which he believes to be the finest corner of the world’s greatest city. Being Someone is his first novel.


‘Being Someone’ is available to buy on Amazon – http://georiot.co/3syu

You can also buy it from http://urbanepublications.com

‘The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman’ by Denis Thériault

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman

‘The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman’ by Denis Thériault was published last Friday 12th September 2014 by Hesperus Nova, an imprint of Hesperus Press.


Secretly steaming open envelopes and reading the letters inside, Bilodo has found an escape from his lonely and routine life as a postman. When one day he comes across a mysterious letter containing only a single haiku, he finds himself avidly caught up in the relationship between a long-distance couple, who write to each other using only beautiful poetry. He feasts on their words, vicariously living a life for which he longs. But it will only be a matter of time before his world comes crashing down around him…



To celebrate the publication of Denis Thériault’s beautiful and haunting novel The Peculiar Life of  a Lonely Postman,  Hesperus Press is running a HAIKU WRITING COMPETITION in association with National Poetry Day.

Send your haiku to Hesperus Press by 26th September 2014 and you could win:

1st prize: A top quality creative writing course in London, courtesy of The Complete Creative Writing Course at the Groucho Club, London and a year’s free subscription of Hesperus Nova books
2nd prize: A year’s free subscription of Hesperus Nova books

To enter either submit your haiku via Twitter including #peculiarpostman and @hesperuspress OR Email your haiku to info@hesperuspress.com by 26th September 2014.

The winner will be announced on National Poetry Day on 2nd October 2014.


The panel of judges is made up of:

John Burnside, celebrated writer and poet who has won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award, the Forward Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Andrew Shimield, committee member of the British Haiku Society.
Denis Thériault, author of The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman. 


Full terms and conditions can be found on http://www.hesperuspress.com.

Interview with John Bayliss


‘A Fistful of Seaweed’ is being published today.  John Bayliss kindly took the time to answer some questions for me.


Tell me a bit about your new book ‘A Fistful of Seaweed’.

My main character is a private detective called Springer, who operates in the sleepy (and slightly seedy) seaside town of Westerby-on-Sea. He knows he’s not the best detective in the world, and he’d much rather leave serious crimes (like murder) to the police. (In fact, the police would rather he left those sort of crimes to the police, too.) Unfortunately, his cases never seem to work out as smoothly as he would like, and he inevitably gets deeper and deeper into trouble.

In ‘A Fistful of Seaweed’ Springer has the task of searching for a missing teenage girl. At one point it appears that the girl he’s looking for doesn’t even exist – until he gets a visit from the missing girl’s big sister, who tries to persuade him to drop the case. From then on, things just spiral out of control – what with an encounter with an old adversary, a lost (possibly stolen) wallet, and a weird, space age religious cult. It’s not too long before Springer uncovers what seems to be a nasty case of people trafficking, and although he doesn’t want to get too involved, he feels obliged to do something about it. Oh, and then there’s the body of an unknown man found beneath Westerby’s historic pier, too.


Where did you get your ideas from for this novel?

Many years ago it occurred to me that most of the detectives in fiction tend to be very clever, if not hyper intelligent – think of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot – or at least accomplished investigators.  I wondered: would it be possible to write a crime novel in which the detective wasn’t that clever? Not stupid, by any means, but just an ordinary sort of person who sometimes misses the obvious clues and gets side tracked by red herrings. Would a crime novel with such a hero work? There was only one way to find out: I had to write it for myself.

So that’s what I did, and not only did it seem to work, but it gave me the material for what could, potentially, become a series of six or seven novels. Also – as the Springer novels quickly started to take a more satirical turn – they give me the opportunity to poke a little gentle fun at some of the conventions of crime fiction, especially film noir and the ‘hard-boiled’ detective genre.


Did you have to do much research for it?

Not a great deal. I did some research into the kind of work that a real private detective does (most of it being very routine fact gathering and not particularly exciting, at least not from a novel writing point of view), and – as the novel is set into 1962 – I had to do some research to get the period details correct. For instance, I found out that a pint of beer cost around two shillings (10p in modern money).

Otherwise, ‘Westerby-on-Sea’ (the town where the novel is set) is largely a fictitious creation of my own, which means I basically make things up as I go along. The procedures followed by the Westerby-on-Sea constabulary would probably make a real policeman cringe with embarrassment – it’s a good job it’s not a real police force that I’m writing about.


How long did it take you to write ‘A Fistful of Seaweed’?

This is hard to answer, because I actually wrote the first version of ‘A Fistful of Seaweed’ some time ago, in around 2002, and that draft took around six months, I think. In that version, Springer was a serious detective in the Philip Marlowe mould – in fact, he wasn’t even called Springer in those days. I have been tinkering with the novel, on and off, ever since. The character of Springer slowly changed into what he is now, and the story evolved in some interesting ways, too. Preparing the final version took about six weeks, but by then I had several older drafts to work from, so most of the characters and the plot were already well defined. So perhaps the honest answer to your question is ‘Somewhere between six weeks and twelve years.’


Where do you do most of your writing?

Anywhere I can find a plug for my laptop. I do 99% of all my writing directly onto my laptop (if you saw my handwriting you would know why), so if there is a comfortable chair, electricity (it would be annoying to get a flat battery when inspiration is in full flow) and (preferably) a source of coffee, then I’m happy. I do like silence, however – some authors like to listen to music as they write, but I find even instrumental music a distraction.

I have a table and a chair in a nice shady nook in the garden, so, if the weather is fine, I plug in an extension lead and write there – that’s probably my favourite place to write, but the British climate tends to limit my opportunities to use it.


Would you like to see either of your novels made into a film?

Yes, I would. I wouldn’t even mind if the producers decided to relocate the film to somewhere exotic like California, or even make up an original story – just as long as the character Springer remains as I wrote him. Although I understand than an actor must be allowed to find his own way of playing the rôle, I would like the Springer on the screen to at least be recognisable as the character  I’ve written about.


Are you currently working on any other writing projects?

I am always working on other projects. I think I must have a short attention span, because to me the thought of working exclusively on one project right from start to finish, without some other project to distract me, would be utter purgatory. I can concentrate on one project for perhaps six weeks to two months until I have exhausted all my ideas; then I put that project to one side and work on something completely different for a while. When I do return to the original project, I can approach it with fresh eyes and fresh inspiration.

Just at the moment, in addition to three more Springer novels (one finished all but for a final polish, one in a rather chaotic first draft, and one in the form of a few rather sketchy ideas), I have a science-fiction novel partly complete and another novel started which I find hard to classify but will probably be considered fantasy. There are several other ideas rattling around in the back of my head, too, all desperate to get my attention and become my next big project. They are definitely going to have to wait a while, however, until I can get some of the current projects finished.


Did you always want to be a writer?

Ever since I can remember. I think I must have been around eight years old when I made my first attempt at writing a novel. I was writing Tolkien inspired fantasy epics throughout my teens and wrote my first ‘serious’ novel in my twenties – one that (at first) I thought would win literary awards and make me famous, but I quickly discovered that it was pretty awful and no one would want to read it.

I didn’t make a serious attempt to get published until comparatively recently. I have become my own harshest critic where writing is concerned and I thought that if I didn’t consider my writing good enough to be published, then I was pretty sure that a publisher wouldn’t, either.



John Bayliss was born in Staffordshire and spent most of his life in the English Midlands. He now lives in a seaside town in the West Country and still can’t get over how close he is to the beach. One of his earliest memories was writing a story in primary school, and he basically hasn’t stopped writing since. A veteran of many writers’ groups and creative writing courses, he’s tried his hand at historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy and now he’s having a stab at crime–though with a comic twist.

‘News from Westerby’ website: http://johnbaylissnovelist.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @johnbayliss5

Commando Comics

Commando has been publishing stories of action and adventure to its readers since the 1960s.  Each fortnight two brand new episodes are released under the sub titles Action and Adventure and Home of Heroes.  Two classics are also re-issued, one from 25 years ago (The Gold Collection) and one from 25 years ago (The Silver Collection).  Most books are completely self-contained but there is one set of recurring characters, the Convict Commandos.

My husband is a big fan of the Commando Comics and he was delighted when the Editor, Calum Laird sent us some comics to be reviewed.


‘Deadly Enigma’ – No. 4735


‘Deadly Enigma’ is set in the late Second World War and is just one of the stories with the Convict Commandos characters.  After a number of near-fatal missions they seem to be having a well-earned rest.  But will things stay peaceful for long?

This was a super comic.  I found the story to be very exciting and I really hope there is going to be a sequel.


‘Sea Wolf’ – No. 4736


‘Sea Wolf’ tells the story of the men in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and their dangerous missions on the Motor Gun Boats and Motor Torpedo Boats as they go into action with shore batteries and e-boats.

This comic was absolutely brilliant!  I loved the action and the story made me laugh in some places.


‘Desert Hunters’ – No. 4737


‘Desert Hunters’ follows the Long Range Desert Group.  The desert is a harsh place to be in as it is.  It’s not very easy to survive out there.  So imagine having to fight a war in one.  Unfortunately for the L.R.D.G this was the case.  Finding themselves in some very difficult situations they had a tough time especially watching out for enemy vehicles.

I thought this was a very good story.  It was fast paced and thrilling.


‘Marooned’ – No 4738


No sailor wants to be stuck on a remote island, they just want to get back to sea.  It’s even worse when that particular island is being held by Japanese soldiers who are led by a fanatical officer who refuses to believe that the war is over.

This was a fantastic and action packed story.


Out of all four stories, my favourite one was ‘Sea Wolf’.  I give it 5 out of 5.


These 63-page comics are great because they are so compact in size and can easily be taken on journeys.  The covers and the artwork inside are absolutely amazing.  Some of the comics also contain a fun crossword.

The Commando Comics are excellent and very exciting and they teach us what the men and women went through all over the world during the First and Second World Wars.  They are ideal for boys and men of all ages.


I would like to personally thank Calum Laird for sending me these comics and for signing them all.  I did remember to thank my wife for getting me these.

You’re the best, Calum.




For more information about the Commando Comics visit http://www.commandocomics.com.

Subscriptions are available in print at £150.00 per year and digital at £4.99 per month.  Alternatively these comics can be bought in branches of WHSmith and cost £2 each.

‘Shop Gossip’ by Kathryn Player


Last month Kathryn Player released ‘Shop Gossip’, a short romantic comedy.


Book Blurb

When the charity shop is in danger of closing down, the ambitious Ruth (the shop supervisor) will do anything to keep it open. One cake sale later and a disastrous encounter with a Health and Safety officer, Ruth lands herself in hot water with Head Office.  Meanwhile, Molly (a volunteer) has a stab at internet dating and Nadia (her sister) has a huge crush on the shop manager.  But does Alex feel the same? What happens when a forty seven year old married woman has another try at love?

Nadia follows Alex when he goes on a date and she narrowly avoids being arrested.  She realises that she needs to leave Alex alone so, therefore, she decides to focus on her ambition to be a successful beautician.  She is determined to make it work and doesn’t miss an opportunity to give her beauty products away.  However, the dream receives a cruel blow from the bank and just when things couldn’t get any worse, Nadia finds out her husband has been having an affair. 

Nadia starts to question things.  Is she really cut out to be a beautician? And is she too old to find someone new?  Sometimes it’s easier to go crawling back to the husband of twenty years, rather than try life on your own without an income.  Does Nadia want to take the risk?  Is love really worth it?


Author Bio


Kathryn Player was a teacher for ten years before she decided to have a career break and become a stay-at-home Mum. At the same time, she launched her debut novel, ‘Moody not Broody’, which was written three years earlier. ‘Moody not Broody’ is based on her teaching antics (experiences) over the past ten years.

Kathryn’s second book, ‘Shop Gossip’ (a short romantic comedy), is about two sisters who work in a charity shop and is based on real life stories which Kathryn’s mum has told Kathryn over the last five years.

Currently, Kathryn is working on the sequel to ‘Moody not Broody’ and hopes to release it in the summer of next year.


‘Shop Gossip’ is available on Amazon:-


‘Finding Mother’ by Anne Allen


Last year I interviewed Anne Allen and asked her about ‘Finding Mother’, the second of her Guernsey novels.  You can read my interview with her here:-


Having previously reviewed Anne’s first novel I was very interested in reading ‘Finding Mother’ and recently got round to doing so.

Nicole was just three days old when Mary and Ian Le Clerq adopted her.  Now at 35 years old Nicole’s marriage is over and she feels the need to reassess her life and find out who she really is.  So she decides to search for her natural mother.  It doesn’t take Nicole very long to find her and she is soon on her way to Guernsey.

‘Finding Mother’ is a wonderful story which follows three generations of women.  It is a tale about family relationships, secrets, second chances, love and death.

I really enjoyed Anne Allen’s first novel ‘Dangerous Waters’ and I thought it was very good, but in my opinion I would say that this book is even better.  In fact it is excellent.  I liked Anne’s writing style throughout, the way she takes the reader to many different locations and her descriptions and I thought it clever how she included a couple of the characters from her first novel in this story too.  Absolutely superb!

I loved reading about Eve’s (the grandmother’s) past.  I found her tale to be very interesting and I couldn’t wait to learn more.  How she kept things to herself for so long I really do not know.

Through book reviewing I have discovered many new authors and read some fantastic books.  I can now say that Anne Allen has been added to my list of favourite authors.  I am looking forward to reading her latest novel ‘Guernsey Retreat’ and I really hope that Anne keeps writing.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

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