A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “fantasy”

Blog Blitz – ‘Carrion’ by Graeme Cumming ~ #LoveBooksTours @lovebooksgroup @GraemeCumming63

It’s Bank Holiday Friday and what better day to tell you about a new book which is being published tomorrow the 9th May 2020.  First though I would like to thank Kelly Lacey of Love Books Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog blitz.

‘Carrion’ is Graeme Cumming’s brand new book and it is coming out tomorrow as an eBook.  Read on to find out a bit more about this book.  The purchase link is at the bottom of the page.


Book Blurb


A sheet of black filled his vision as hundreds of birds dived at the cottage, pointed beaks thrust forward. From this angle, he couldn’t see many of them striking it, but the few he did see held nothing back as they hammered into the shutter. The scale of the attack was beyond anything he’d seen or heard of. And bloodied casualties littered the ground: skulls shattered, wings broken, innards spilling from them. The fact that so many of them continued with the onslaught in spite of this filled him with even more dread.

Salin has always wanted an adventure and, when the opportunity presents itself, he grabs it with both hands, taking his friends along for the ride – whether they want to or not.

With strange lands come strange creatures that stand between them and their goal. And that goal is the same for someone else, a man who believes the prize is worth every sacrifice – especially when the sacrifices are made by others.

The future is about to change. But who for?


About Graeme Cumming

Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country, and has spent most of his life immersed in fiction – books, TV, movies – turning to writing his own during his early teens.

With his interests in story-telling sparked by an excessive amount of time sitting in front of a black and white television, his tastes are varied.  Influences ranged from the Irwin Allen shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, etc.) to ITC series (The Saint, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and so many more), so the common theme was action and adventure, but crossed into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as crime and espionage.

This diverse interest in fiction continued with his reading and his discovery of the magical world of cinema.  As a result, his stories don’t always fall into a specific genre, but will always maintain the style of a thriller.

When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking.  He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club.  Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.



‘Carrion’ by Graeme Cumming can be pre-ordered from https://amzn.to/2KYvFjp

Twitter – https://twitter.com/GraemeCumming63

Guest Post by Fi Phillips ~ @FisWritingHaven @Burning_Chair

It is a real pleasure to welcome Fi Phillips as a guest on my blog today.  Her debut novel, ‘Haven Wakes’, the first book in The Haven Chronicles series, is being published as an eBook and in paperback on the 1st October 2019 by Burning Chair Publishing.

Fi has written a post about how her book came to be.  Before you read it though lets find out what ‘Haven Wakes’ is about.


Book Blurb

The year is 2110.

Everyone has their own robot, and magical worlds are just behind the next door…

Steve Haven always thought he was just another ordinary twelve-year-old boy. Well, as ordinary as you can be when you’re the nephew of Rex Haven, founder of the Haven Robotics Corporation.

But when Rex dies in mysterious circumstances and Steve is given a strange artefact known only as the Reactor, he finds out that the world he thought he knew is a lot stranger and more threatening than he ever imagined.

On the run from a group of dangerous villains, Steve finds himself plunged into a hidden and curious magical world. With his parents missing and no one in the normal world he can trust, Steve must join with his new-found magical friends to discover the truth about the Reactor and his uncle’s death.


Guest Post

Haven Wakes – how it came to be and inspiration

Inspiration is a weird beastie. It can creep up on you in such a way that you can’t actually remember when it joined you on your journey, or it can jump out of the bushes with a bark of ‘Eureka!’.

When I think back to what inspired me to write Haven Wakes, both kinds of inspirational beasties have played a large part in the novel’s journey.


The seed that grew into Haven Wakes started out as a full-on, Tolkien-esque, fantasy novel with wizards and evil rulers and living clouds. I can honestly say that I didn’t think about the age of my readers when I began to write my story. I wrote it for myself, and in the form that seemed the best suited to writing about magic.

I finished the novel, polished it, sent it off for critique, polished it some more and came to a conclusion. It didn’t work, no matter how much I polished or re-jigged chapters or re-wrote characters.

At that time, I had moved on from reading similar full-on fantasy novels to ones that not only took place in magical, fantasy kingdoms but kept a firm foothold in the here and now as well, by writers like Terry Brooks and Stephen Donaldson.

And yes, that inspirational beastie did jump out of the bushes at that point and say, “Gadzooks!” or something similar in beastie language. The reason my novel didn’t work was because it wasn’t sufficiently grounded in reality. It needed grit and real family relationships. The danger needed to be recognisable, as did the villains.

I worked out a plan for moving the novel into a modern setting, but that seemed too normal and close to home. So in the end, I set Haven Wakes in a future version of our own world.


Even though I decided to re-write my novel in a futuristic setting, two characters from the original version continued to shape Haven Wakes.

Hartley was a character who worked in whatever situation I threw him into. Whether a travelling salesmen in a medieval fantasy setting or a shopkeeper in the here and now, Hartley always found a way to adapt to his surroundings.

The darkling, by contrast, needed to change but her heart – disciplined, fierce, loyal – remained the same.

I can’t say that any of the characters in the novel are based on people I know in my day-to-day life, but the magical community in Haven Wakes has a definite link to the kind of folk I grew up around, with their eccentricities, enjoyment of life and colourful ways.

What is futuristic?

The inspiration for the future-technological world Haven Wakes is set in came from all kinds of places.

I looked at our current technology and challenges such as climate change, and then considered where we might be in a hundred or more years’ time.

I scoured the news for stories on developing technology, such as advances in robotics and fabrics that can be programmed to change colour.
Favourite films tweaked my imagination too:

· Bladerunner
· Minority Report
· Wall-e

and many more too.

I wanted my future world to be grounded in the reality and science of now before I added the magic.

Magic or superpowers?

I didn’t want to copy other fictional takes on what a witch/wizard is and does, so I started to develop my own representation of magic. What I came out with in the end is a mixture of magic and superpowers. Think Dr Strange with less money to spend on clothes.

Inspiration for this? I’ve always loved the witchcraft books of Titania Hardie, but I also read up on folklore and mythology, and a childhood love of mine – fairytales.

One film helped too – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice starring Nicolas Cage with its linking of magic with science.

A book is born

With Haven Wakes written and due to be published on 1st October, the inspiration isn’t over. My novel is inspiration itself for the next book in the series, currently titled Haven Journeys.

Who knows what new inspiration I’ll find?


About Fi Phillips

For many years Fi Phillips worked in an office environment until the arrival of her two children robbed her of her short term memory and sent her hurtling down a new, bumpy, creative path. She finds that getting the words down on paper is the best way to keep the creative muse out of her shower. Writing about magical possibilities is her passion.

Fi lives in the wilds of North Wales with her family, earning a living as a copywriter, playwright and fantasy novelist.

Her debut novel, Haven Wakes, will be published by Burning Chair Publishing on 1st October 2019, the first book in the Haven Chronicles series.



‘Haven Wakes’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK:-



Website – http://fiphillipswriter.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FiPhillipsWriter

Twitter – https://twitter.com/FisWritingHaven

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/fiphillipswriter/


Interview with Anthony Lavisher

Hello everyone!  I am finally back blogging and I have a lot coming up for all you readers over the coming weeks.

Today I would like to welcome the lovely Anthony Lavisher to my blog.  Anthony self-published his latest novel, ‘Vengeance of a Storm’, the last book in the Storm Trilogy on the 1st December last year.  Below is my interview with Anthony which I really hope you enjoy.


Can you tell me a bit about ‘Vengeance of a Storm’ please?

Thanks for having me, certainly, Sonya. Vengeance of a Storm is the culmination of seven years of work, the finale of my Storm Trilogy.


What made you decide to write a trilogy?

I grew up reading trilogies, starting with The Lord of the Rings and from there, falling in love with, and devouring, as much fantasy as I could afford or borrow. I love the format of a trilogy, be it on the page or on the silver screen, that natural progression through the story of the characters journey, all of the story arcs, so carefully stitched and threaded through the tale, finishing, hopefully, in a rich tapestry of adventure for both myself and the readers.


Where did you get your ideas from?

I overheard a conversation one day in my local supermarket; two members of staff were being, ahem, shall we say, less than complimentary about one of their colleagues. I moved on quickly, but as I queued at the checkout, I thought “Hmm! What if I had overheard something important? Something that would put my life in danger if I chose to do something about it?”

It offered up all sorts of possibilities and the first book Whispers of a Storm began to evolve from there.


Did you have to do any research at all?

I did a lot of research on the Middle Ages, one of my favourite periods in history. The trilogy is set in the Four Vales, an imagined medieval land, and I wanted to look at the everyday things people would have faced, their customs and their beliefs, the governance and political system, the tools and clothes they would have worn and the lives they would have led.


How long has it taken you to write each book?

It took two years for Whispers of a Storm and three for the sequel Shadows of a Storm (I moved to Wales during that time and started working for the Vale of Glamorgan library service). Vengeance of a Storm, the longest of the trilogy, took 17 months to arrive.


Can you relate to any of your characters?

I think there is a little of all of them in me somewhere. Everyone I have met in my life and many that I have not have sown the seeds of the characters that evolved through my tale.

If I had to relate to any of them closely, I think it would be Khadazin and, probably, a bit too much of Arillion.


Are you planning to write more books?

I have the ideas for at least seven more, so far…. ah, this is question seven 🙂 I have already started my next tale, a stand-alone modern thriller, a complete departure from my fantasy writing. From there, I shall spend several books in historical fiction before coming back to some thrillers and, who knows, perhaps one day a return to the Four Vales…


Where do you do the majority of your writing?

In the summer, I write at the rear of the cottage, where the sun is warmest. During the colder months I migrate to the dining room, closest to the largest radiator. Currently a part-time writer, my dream is that one day I can write full-time and have a study to write from.


How has social media helped you?

It has been a wonderful tool and for me, conversely, also the hardest part about the writing process. It puts you in touch with people you may never have met, a legion of eager readers and the other authors out there who are also trying to carve their path in the Ether. It helps to get you noticed, make people aware of your work, a platform from where your voice can at least have a fighting chance to be heard from.

I also find it a burden, however, as it takes up so much of my time. I don’t want to be camped over my laptop 24/7, or checking things on my phone all the time, but in this digital world we now live in, it seems that to get noticed, you do have to spend quite a bit of your day doing so.


What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding writing?

“Be true to yourself and to your writing” – don’t be influenced by what people might want from your tales.

My own belief is also that if I am not enjoying it, nobody else will. The day I stop loving what I am doing, is the day I put the pen down (or switch off the laptop).


Who are your favourite authors?

First and foremost, David Gemmell – the British Fantasy writer who sadly passed away in 2006. His style, his tales opened up the floodgates for me and I have never looked back since my friend Alan loaned me a copy of his first novel “Legend.”

I also really enjoy Robert Harris and Bernard Cornwell’s work.


If you had another chance at life would you still write books?

Without any hesitation. The only exception/change I would make is that I would make sure I joined the E-book revolution a lot sooner that I did.

I am a stickler for the belief in the physical page and I held out far too long to get with the times.



Hopefully this interview has left you wanting to read Anthony Lavisher’s trilogy.  If that’s the case then you’re in luck as Anthony is very kindly giving away two paperback copies of ‘Whispers of a Storm’, the first book in the trilogy to start you off.

To enter just leave a comment telling me what you are reading at the moment.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is the 15th May 2017.  Any entries after this date will not be accepted.

The winners will be randomly chosen and notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Anthony Lavisher who will send out your prizes.


About Anthony Lavisher

Born in Berkshire, England, Anthony has always loved writing stories. After many years of enjoying other authors works, he decided to try and give something back to the literary world. From an early age, since reading The Lord of the Rings, he has been inspired to write his own stories. He states that his favourite author is David Gemmell and that his style of writing has been inspired by the sadly missed author.

Anthony lives in Wales with his wife Amy and Mertle the cat. He is about to start work on his next novel ‘The Last Tiger.’



Website: http://alavisher.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/alavisher

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anthony-Lavisher-Author/118025884963443

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4242577.Anthony_Lavisher

G+: https://plus.google.com/102712490566399197548/posts

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anthony-Lavisher/e/B0079N6V68/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1485522874&sr=8-1


Interview with Patrick Garratt

It’s time for another interview now.  Patrick Garratt’s debut novel, ‘Deg’ was published last year and I asked him all about it.


Can you tell me a bit about your book, ‘Deg’ please?

Deg is screen culture paranoia, anarchic politics and drug exploration written in an automatic, surrealist style. I wrote it in a fit of desperation I doubt I could ever replicate. The diary element to its method set the form of my further books, but it now seems that opinion and inspiration based on imaginary input will alway be subservient to reportage for me. Deg was likely a once in a lifetime event.


Is this a book you’ve always wanted to write?

In a way, I suppose. I’d been working on another novel called The Ooning, which I eventually canned after two rewrites, and was spending a lot of time reading twentieth century postmodernism. That these authors could write as they pleased, with little thought for the traditional notion of readability, was revelatory. In that sense I’d always wanted to write Deg. I was just ignorant of the fact.


Where did you get your ideas for it from?

Deg is my life story, a psychedelic diary. Thematically it’s a product of my family’s environment at the time of writing. Roughly three years before I wrote Deg we’d emigrated from the UK to Corrèze, a rural department in the Limousin region of southwest France. My wife and I lived in a huge house surrounded by forests with our three small children. Corrèze is so sparsely populated that it’s possible to get back to nature in a way I didn’t realise still existed in western Europe, and I allowed myself to start using cannabis again after a long abstinence from any drugs at all, including alcohol. The result was explosive. I just let it come out.


How long did it take you to write?

I wrote the first draft in around three months. It was a little like vomiting.


Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Absolutely, yeah. As I said, it’s a thinly-veiled diary.


What was the publication process like for you?

A little bizarre, but ultimately amazing. I tried to get Deg published via the traditional route of finding an agent, but, unsurprisingly, it got rejected everywhere. I’d moved onto writing the next book, and had given up reasonable hope of seeing Deg published at all. On the advice of a friend I approached video game artist Ste Pickford to draw the cover as a precursor to self-publication, and he liked it so much he decided to illustrate every chapter. I saw Matthew Smith, Urbane’s boss, requesting book pitches on Twitter, and he showed immediate interest.

From then the process was incredibly relaxed. Matthew is eminently professional and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The hardback really is a thing of beauty, from the physical materials to the reproduction of Ste’s drawings, and that’s all I could have hoped for. Being published by Urbane was a great experience.


Have you got any good advice for anyone wishing to write a novel?

Jeepers. So much of this depends on your goals. Many people approach writing as a career, as a job. There’s a financial element to it, as in they want to make money from novels. They attend seminars and buy places on courses and do degrees in creative writing and whatever else, eventually (hopefully) becoming trained in the creation of commercial fiction. If that’s what you want, then off you go. There’s an entire coaching industry waiting for your cash.

I always wanted to be a literary author, meaning the route to success is far muddier. The truth is that if you “want to be a writer” then you must write. Write anything, everything, in any way you want, but you must be productive. Embrace your fear and write your brain, not someone else’s. Don’t worry about making money or getting published or getting an agent. Just be as good as you can be, and that means a constant striving for personal betterment, for self-tuition and the overcoming of internal struggle. If you want to create art then learn art. Allowing yourself to be the person you want to be, to be you, could well be the hardest thing you ever do, but you’ll only reach your core by remorselessly breaching personal barriers. Stop giving a shit about the opinions of others. You won’t be recognised for replication.

To give an example. While I was working on the book following Deg, I lapsed into quite a serious period of self-doubt (yes, this is normal: few people are more pitiable than unpublished novelists), and signed myself up for a distance learning course in novel-writing. After I’d completed the first lesson, part of which was to outline my goals as a writer, the tutor told me I would never secure an agent or a deal if my work wasn’t “accessible”. Urbane signed Deg the following week. I never got round to lesson two.


Are you working on any other writing projects?

It never stops. I’ve written two full novels since Deg and I’m about to start another.


Have any authors influenced your work and if so, who?

The more experimental twentieth century postmodernists, such as Gaddis, Burroughs, Ballard, Acker and Pynchon, have heavily influenced me. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (it’s noteworthy as I read it just before starting writing Deg) showed me how strange fiction could be, that writing could be powerful as a result of being simultaneously formless and structured. It had a strong impact on my work.

I’m starting to read more theatre and poetry. Fiona, my wife, just passed a Masters in translation studies (with distinction, I should add: I’m very proud to be married to a genius), and she focused on Peter Weiss’s Holocaust play The Investigation for her dissertation. This type of experimental form is currently interesting me as I’ve been fixated with novel-length fiction up to now. I’ve also just finished a collection of Daniil Kharms’s poems and plays, something completely different from my usual reading. Some of his pieces are so beautiful, so insightful. It’s hard to not be influenced by him.


How long have you been a journalist for?

Forever. I started working as a video gaming journalist in 1998.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

We now live in the Vosges, a mountain region in the northeast of France, so I’m able to ski when there’s snow and go mountain biking when there isn’t. I work out a lot. Travelling is becoming a lot more important to me, and, obviously, I love to read.


If you were only allowed to own two books what would they be?

Probably Infinite Jest and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. Ibbotson’s my children’s’ favourite author, so it’d always remind me of when they were young. I’d take Infinite Jest because I still haven’t read the endnotes. I’m such a fraud.



‘Deg’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/deg/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deg-Patrick-Garratt/dp/1911129481/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489694327&sr=1-1

Patrick Garratt’s Personal Website – https://patrickgarratt.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/patlike

Deg Illustrator Ste Pickford’s Instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/stepickford/

Interview with David John Griffin

I am pleased to welcome David John Griffin back to my blog.  His new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ was recently published.  I asked David some questions about it.


Your new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ sounds intriguing. Can you tell me a bit about it please?

It is an imaginative novella with a selection of twelve short stories. The novella is a heady mixture of magical realism, the paranormal and a dose of sci-fi too.

The novella is unusual in as much as it’s laid out as the emails between the two women, interspersed with a science fiction writer’s journal. The story is strange and becomes stranger by the page, keeping the reader “ head-scratching” right to the end. Though eventually all of the jigsaw puzzle pieces come together to present a satisfactory and surprising solution.

The short stories cover a variety of genres including science fiction, magical realism, even a ghost story! All the stories have a “twist in the tail” to surprise and entertain the reader.


Have you been writing short stories for long?

Not for as long as I would like: I’ve been writing short stories since the early 90’s. Up until then I concentrated on writing novels. Interesting to note that the novella Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn started life as a short story: I was aiming for 5 to 6000 words. But before I knew it, it had gained a life of its own and came out to over 31,000 words. All of my short stories have one thing in common in the main – they start life without a genre. It’s only after I’ve written a short story do I know what type of story it is.


Is the paranormal a subject you are interested in?

Not in an everyday sense and to be honest, I’m surprised how many of my stories have paranormal themes. It’s crept up on me (which is spooky in its own way!).


What would your reaction be if you met any of the characters from your books for real?

If it was a few from my first novel, The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb, I’d run a mile! Not quite but some of them are despicable, in particular Theodore Stubb. If I met Donald Clement from Infinite Rooms I’d want to help him. He’s such a fragile personality. I would enjoy meeting Audrey and Stella from Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn, I feel I would get on well with them. Even meeting Gideon Hadley, the science fiction writer from the novella, would be an interesting experience and as he’s a writer, I think we would have a lot to talk about.

It’s strange to think I’d ever meet any of my characters; it’s an interesting question! Which reminds me: The One Dog Inn – the 17th century former coach house – is described in detail in Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn which caused my wife Susan to express a desire to stay there if only it had been real!


Do you have a regular writing routine?

No, is the short answer. I have bouts of writing interspersed with months of no writing, which is when I try to catch up on my reading. I tend not to read much when I’m writing – I don’t want to be overtly influenced too much. When I am writing, even that will vary day by day although most of the writing will happen in the evenings. I have just finished the first draft of a science fiction novel which I managed to write in the space of three weeks. That’s the fastest I’ve ever written in my life…


Can we look forward to more books from you?

I’ve written my third novel, a fantasy tale which is currently under consideration. It’s byline is “A fantastical journey of imagination”. Then there’s my science fiction novel mentioned previously which I have to finish. After that, I have plans for yet another novel, a magical realism “Tall” tale. Plenty of work ahead for me!


How did you come to be published by Urbane Publications?

After pursuing literary agents without success, I tried a few publishers, and got a few “near-hits” but always they pulled out at the last hurdle… then I discovered Urbane Publications via Twitter. So I sent both my first and second novels to Matthew – and the rest is history, as they say. I was drawn to Urbane as they offer a refreshing and innovative style of publishing, particularly when it comes to the closer collaboration between publisher and author. Which means in my case, amongst other things, that Matthew of Urbane allows me to use my own cover designs. (I’m a graphic designer by trade). I also like the fact that Urbane realises that some authors aren’t overnight successes and that it take time and patience to reach a wider platform.


Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to write a book?

Write! I mean to say, too much thinking about it can spoil the flow, I think, you have to start typing/writing and keep at it. You don’t have to write every day necessary but even with the odd half an hour here and there, the words soon start building up. I’d also say, don’t worry about the quality of the first draft, plough on till the end without going back to amend anything, including word corrections. That can all be done in the 2nd and subsequent drafts. Write that first draft as if no one else on the planet will ever see it (which is often the case anyway). Finally, make sure your plot is watertight – it helps to have someone else read your final draft before sending off to a literary agent or publisher. Their fresh eyes will spot such things, as well as spelling mistakes which you might have become “word-blind” to.


If you had the chance to live your life all over again do you think you would still write books?

Definitely: I love writing. It’s a craft that can never be fully learned, I believe. Each novel is as difficult as the last one, I’m finding, each with their own particular quandaries/problems which need to be solved. That is part of the fascination of writing for me. Having said that, there are certain aspects which are easier the more experienced you are, the more “writing miles” you have under your belt. Who was it said that writing is like exercising muscles – the more you write, the stronger you will get.


Notebooks or Computers?

I always carry a notebook with me so that if I’ve a line or an idea I can jot it down straight away before it’s forgotten. For actual writing, I by far prefer the computer. I’m not one for longhand when it comes to actual writing, although I know of other authors who swear by this approach before they get anywhere near a typewriter or computer. For interest, I wrote my first two novels on a good old-fashioned typewriter.



‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/two-dogs-at-the-one-dog-inn/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Dogs-One-Dog-Inn/dp/1911331159

‘Infinite Rooms’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/infinite-rooms/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infinite-Rooms-gripping-psychological-thriller/dp/1910692603/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1488574787&sr=1-1

‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-unusual-possession-of-alastair-stubb/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unusual-Possession-Alastair-Stubb/dp/1910692344/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5K0V3BDFE4JZEVPJ3NZD

Website – http://www.davidjohngriffin.com

Twitter – @MagicalRealized


Guest Post by Robert Enright

I would like to welcome Robert Enright back to my blog  Last year I read and reviewed the wonderful ‘Doorways’ and I am still waiting patiently for the next book in the series.  Robert has written a guest post for my event.


Doorways: A new chapter

I can’t believe it’s been almost 5 months since Doorways has been published. It may not seem like a long time, but considering the book actually came out over a year after signing the contract, my concept of time has rapidly changed. And now, knowing that Doorways is sat on the shelves in places such as Foyles and Waterstones, it feels like a new chapter in my life has begun.

But before all that, let me introduce myself. I am Robert Enright, author and a recent member of the 30 club! I have been writing since I can remember, be it silly stories when I was a kid or roleplaying games during my (admittedly uncool) teens. It was when I hit 17 that I started knuckling down, properly designing characters for a comic book series and planning stories. Then I spent the next 7 to 8 years swinging from idea to idea, like Tarzan through the jungle. Then my brother gave me a boot up the backside and I started writing seriously.

First book, One by One, was met with some great critical acclaim, scoring high ratings with every reviewer who let me grace their blog and it changed my life. Not only did it show people I could do it, it showed me that I could. I pitched it to Matt, but he was more interested in Doorways, which I hinted at in my email. A phone call and a few beers later and I had signed on the dotted line, with only 4 chapters and a concept. It was daunting, because now someone else was backing my idea and I was contractually obliged to provide a good book.

Well hopefully I did. The critical acclaim that Doorways has achieved has been nothing short of mind blowing, purely because it is such a weird book. One by One was a straight revenge story, whereas this is an Urban Sci-Fi, Mystery, Crime Thriller, Buddy Cop, Paranormal Investigation. So yeah….quite a tricky one. And for my book tour, I had a batch of some of the most talented and highly regarded CRIME reviewers. None of them read Sci-Fi and many were fairly sceptical, agreeing to read it based purely on One by One (and NOT because I sent them money. Which I didn’t….because I have none!)

I almost cried at the response. Every single one of them gave Doorways a 5 Star review, all of them perplexed that they had enjoyed a Sci-Fi novel as much as they did. That was what made me smile the most, the fact that I got people to not only experience a new type of story, but to actually enjoy it. If you follow me on social media, you will know I’m pretty nerdy. Comics, computer games, films….I love a lot of Sci-Fi and Doorways was such a passion project for me, as it allowed me to create my own worlds, with their own rules and laws. The fact that Argyle, the ‘Other’ from the Otherside is such a favourite was amazing to hear.

What next? Well Bermuda is coming back!! I am nearly halfway through the sequel which see’s our hero stop decimating London and destroy Glasgow instead. I have a comic book in the works (OH YEAH!!) and whisper it, but we may be seeing One by One reach the shelves aswell. But for now I will go back to writing and slowly panicking at my first book event coming up later this month, before I head to Waterstones in April for my own evening. Seriously…..somebody pinch me!

I would also like to thank every single reader, writer, blogger and reviewer for the continuous support and inspiration you bring to writers like myself. It means more than these words I’m writing. Also, make sure you follow Sonya on Twitter because her blog and reviews are AMAZING!!

Rob 🙂


‘Doorways is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/doorways

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Doorways-Bermuda-Jones-Case-File-ebook/dp/B01LOO18EW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489226001&sr=1-1&keywords=doorways+by+robert+enright


Interview with Mark Mayes


I am delighted to have Mark Mayes on my blog for this event.  His debut novel, ‘The Gift Maker’ was published last month and it is getting a lot of positive reviews.  Mark very kindly answered my questions.


I’ve heard so many good things about your book, ‘The Gift Maker’.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

Thank you so much, Sonya, for inviting me onto your wonderful book blog to talk about The Gift Maker, and about writing more generally. I appreciate this opportunity so much. Well, The Gift Maker is a debut novel, and I would say it straddles several genres, in that it has some fantastical or magic realist elements, but it also might be considered a literary novel ( I hope). It comprises a quest, or rather several interlocking quests, undertaken by several characters. In addition, a romantic theme runs through the narrative. So, quite a mixture, I’d say. I’ve been overjoyed with the reception thus far, and very glad that readers have not found the blend of elements confusing or overwhelming.

I won’t recap the blurb here, but will say that themes of identity and the exploration of the purpose of an individual life figure strongly in this story. The theme of personal responsibility also comes up; as does that of how much we should be for ourselves in life, fulfilling our own needs, contrasted with how much we ought to be for others, and the concomitant requirement to adapt to a shared world.

The three young people in this novel, Thomas, Liselotte, and Jo, each of whom are given a gift by the eponymous gift maker, Daumen, have important discoveries to make about themselves, and their resolve and sense of honour are very much tested. There is a maxim that character is revealed under pressure, and this application of pressure is what I attempt to bring to bear throughout the story, so to enable the said characters to question themselves, and (hopefully) overcome obstacles, leading to personal ‘growth’, or possibly even moments of enlightenment.

Both fairy tale and mythical tropes play a part in The Gift Maker, and as these are ancient forms of storytelling, I hope some of the symbolism employed may resonate with readers on a subconscious level. Lastly, for some light relief, I have attempted to leaven some of the scenes with humour, albeit somewhat of a dark(ish) nature.


I absolutely adore the cover.  Did you decide what you wanted it to look like?

The cover was really down to Matthew Smith, founder and owner of independent publisher Urbane Publications. Matthew very kindly gave me a selection of cover ideas to look at, and as soon as I saw the open hands and the butterfly, I knew this would make an excellent cover. I love the muted colours and overall texture of the image. Moreover, it expresses a dichotomy of action – are the hands releasing the butterfly, or are they seeking to trap it? This mirrors nicely some of the themes/motifs that are laced throughout the narrative.


Where did you get your ideas from for this book?

When I began it, I didn’t know I was writing a novel. I assumed I was writing another short story, as I’ve been writing stories for quite a while now. All I had was the simple idea of a man in bed being woken in the night by a knock at the door. It might seem a bit vague, but from there I just followed my nose, as it were, and gave my imagination free rein. The characters seemed to appear, as did the setting, bit by bit, and before I knew it I’d gone beyond the traditional length of a long short story (i.e. beyond eight thousand words, say), and thought, Oh, goodness, this could be a novella, or even a novel. I don’t really know where ideas come from, or at least the kind of ideas that might be apparent in this novel – perhaps they have an amalgam of sources – memory, imagination, dream, other stories, the collective unconscious, and some mysterious element, guiding you, for some reason that cannot be discerned.


How long did it take you to write?

About two years, including drafting and editing, although there were some gaps during that period due to various life events and situations, and working other jobs. Often, the editing stage can take quite a long time, but that’s all to the good, I feel.


What would you do if you met any of the characters from your book for real?

I love that question, and the potential for that to happen is quite fascinating. Accepting a multiverse theory, or allowing for an infinite number of universes or realities, perhaps every character from every book or play is out there somewhere. I don’t know. Thinking about that leads to needing a lie down in a darkened room.

If I met one of the characters from the book, I would hope it might be in a neutral sort of place – perhaps a bar, or sitting on a park bench. I would try to keep calm, and pass the time of day, hoping they might reveal things I didn’t know about them, which amounts to an awful lot.


Can you relate to any of them?

Yes, all of them to some extent, except maybe some of the meanies who work at the slaughterhouse in Grenze, but even with them you have to try and get under their skin to some extent. The one I most relate to is Thomas, I suppose. The truck driver character, Peter, also seems to be quite popular, and I can see why. He’s honest, uncomplicated, and has a very good heart – and he likes chocolate!


Can we look forward to more books from you?

I very much hope so. I’d love to one day have a collection of poems, and a collection of stories. I am also working on a longer story just now, but it’s at an early(ish) stage, to be frank. I’d love to do more with my songs eventually (and some co-written songs) – perhaps make a CD, and see if some other musicians could play on the tracks, and do it properly, in a studio. Might need to come up on the horses first.


Where do you do most of your writing?

During the writing of The Gift Maker, I moved a few times, but in each case I did the writing at a desk in my bedroom, fortified by a constant drip of tea and ridiculous amounts of biscuits. Occasionally, I would sit in cafes or a pub, and think about how it was going, or indeed where it might go. Simply going for walks, or waking up first thing, ideas for a scene or a problem that needs ‘fixing’ can just simply come to you – most often when you stop striving for them, I find.


Have you found social media useful?

I think especially these days it is vital; vital to build relationships with readers, and readers who are bloggers, and with more general marketing matters. Great for connecting with other writers, who are usually voracious readers, too, of course. Getting news of a book ‘out there’ relies a lot on social media these days, and word can spread very effectively. People have been so very kind – individual readers, and especially book bloggers, who really are a wonderfully supportive community in themselves, and are part of an invaluable network that gets other people turned on to new books as well as older ones. Social media is also an important means of promulgating such an event, to hopefully create a bit of a buzz.


If you had the chance to live your life again would you still write?

That’s a great question, as are they all, Sonya – and the answer is an unequivocal yes. The only change I might make is to start earlier. I didn’t read much as a child, outside of comics, and only began to develop an interest in writing around the age of thirty (although I had written some songs prior to then). Having said this, things happen the way they do for a reason. In my twenties, my passion was for acting, and nothing really could have got in the way of that at the time.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I love to read – pretty much anything, although I really want to go back and read a lot of the ‘classics’ that I haven’t as yet tried. There’s only so much time, I suppose. I do consider reading an indispensible aspect of the writing ‘journey’ – for inspiration, connection with language, and simply to immerse oneself in worlds created by imaginations and sensibilities other than one’s own. A reader is also a time traveller.

I would love to learn other languages, or at least little bits of them; and then to read some stories and poems in their original incarnation. I keep trying.

I enjoy walking – which can also aid the imagination, as mentioned above. Just a nice gentle pace for me these days due to the old knees. I pretty much drink tea all day – not sure if that’s a hobby, more of an addiction, but not the worst you could have, I suppose.

Music is the other main thing I love, specifically playing the guitar, singing, and writing songs, or singing songs by other songwriters. I’ve been doing it for quite a while, and in the last couple of years have been active on Soundcloud – a site I love, as it has such a wonderful community of musicians, songwriters, poets, storytellers, and spoken word aficionados.


You are given the challenge of staying on a desert island for a month.  You are only allowed two books.  What would they be?

I know on Desert Island Discs you are given the Collected works of Shakespeare for ‘free’, as it were – but if I didn’t have that on offer, then I’d surely like the Bard as one of my two chosen books. The second book would be either Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching, or Basho’s complete haiku – I think either of those could put me into a nice contemplative state of mind.



Urbane Author Page: http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/mark-mayes/

Urbane Book Page: http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-gift-maker/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/pumpstreetsongs

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gift-Maker-Mark-Mayes/dp/1911331779/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=14767072

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33398102-the-gift-maker

Blog: https://darklingilistenblog.wordpress.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Mark_J_Mayes

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MarkJMayes


‘The Sleeping Warrior’ by Sara Bain

The Sleeping Warrior - Book Cover

‘The Sleeping Warrior’ is Sara Bain’s debut novel.  Published in paperback last year, I was very kindly sent a copy by Matthew Smith.  I love crime fiction and the paranormal so really wanted to read this book, plus I was also hearing good things about it.

Libby Butler’s life is in a bit of a mess.  Working as a solicitor in a prestigious London law firm her career appears to be at a standstill.  Her rather ill-advised affair with her boss isn’t really doing her any good either.  To top it all off Libby has a terrifying encounter in a park late at night with what is presumed to be the Vampire Killer, an evil knife-wielding maniac.  She is lucky to escape but this incident obviously knocks her for six and does nothing for her confidence.

Desperate to pick up the pieces of her life, duty calls Libby to the cells of a Metropolitan police station in the darkest hours of the night.  There Libby meets mysterious and enigmatic stranger Gabriel Radley, a man who is on intimate terms with danger and who somehow manages to escape police custody.  Gabriel is searching for a Stone which he has lost, its value apparently beyond human imagining.

Libby sensing a chance at redemption agrees to help Gabriel find it, but unwittingly plunges headfirst into a series of events that threaten to tear her world apart.  A cult called the Awakened, a gangland thug, a deadly female assassin, a dedicated detective and even the Vampire Killer, all somehow become embroiled in the chase for the Stone and influenced by the elemental force that is Gabriel.  As the death toll rises will the killer be found?

I thought ‘The Sleeping Warrior’ was an absolutely brilliant read.  In fact it was even better than I expected it to be.  Sara Bain definitely tells a good story, so much so that I found myself instantly drawn to it.  I’m not actually a big fan of fantasy but it really worked in this book.

In the first chapter the reader is introduced to Gabriel Radley.  There was certainly a mystery surrounding him and I very was eager to find out what it was.  I think he was really good for Libby and helped her quite a bit.

Some of where the story was set and other areas mentioned in this book aren’t actually far from where I live at all and being that I was already totally engrossed, I found it all a little bit surreal.  It was as if the murders and other events that took place had actually happened.  That wasn’t the case though luckily.  There were a number of unsavoury characters who I really wouldn’t have wanted to meet.

This was an exciting, fast-paced and thrilling story which kept me on tenterhooks.  I’m so glad that I have Sara Bain’s next novel, ‘The Ghost Tree’ to read.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


‘The Sleeping Warrior’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-sleeping-warrior/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Warrior-Sara-Bain/dp/1910692360/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1458252319&sr=1-1


Virtual Voyager Event

Virtual Voyager Banner

I am one of a number of bloggers taking part in this event celebrating HarperVoyager’s digital authors.  Nancy K. Wallace has written a guest post for my blog.  I really hope you enjoy reading it.


 Literary Magic: Crafting the Perfect Concoction of Fact and Fantasy!

By Nancy K. Wallace

Fantasy lures us with rich detail, imagined realms, and unique creatures. It allows us to explore the depths of uniquely magical places we have never visited before. If the plot seems to lead down a familiar path, we are warned that its borders are not those we are acquainted with. What lurks within its hedgerows may grant our fondest dreams or send us racing from our worst nightmares.

What part could fact possibly play in this magical world of invention and imagination? More than you might think. Most fantasies contain some factual material threading through the sparkling, golden cords that bind the story together. They offer something that grounds it in the real world without disturbing our “suspension of disbelief” in a new magical one.

From the very beginning, fantasy writers have found inspiration in history and legend. Tolkien compared his novels to a sort of literary soup, complaining that the critics didn’t need to see the bones that had been simmered to make the broth. Oddly enough, it’s by identifying the bones of a story that we often catch a glimpse into the author’s mind, and the fledgling spark of a novel’s inception.

The Legend of the Beast of Gevaudan, a giant wolf that terrorized 18th century France by killing innocent women and children, anchors my novel, Among Wolves, in a place very much like pre-revolutionary France. The culture, people, and social issues are certainly comparable, but that’s where the similarity ends. Llisé isn’t France and my wolves are not Gevaudan’s wolves.

Stephen Moore’s forthcoming novel, Graynelore, which will be released Aug 13th 2015 by Harper Voyager, also had its beginnings in historical fact. Moore found its roots in his own familial tie to the 16th century Reivers on the border of Scotland and England. He used historical fact to trigger the plot of a totally unique fantasy.

Perhaps it is because fantasy is tied so closely to truth that it appeals to us so much. When we read fantasy, we become one with whatever magical world we have permitted ourselves to enter. It allows us to travel its roads, marvel at its sunsets, rejoice with its lovers, and weep at its heroes’ graves. We breathe its air, smell its exotic fragrances, and touch and feel treasures we have only dreamed of before. We grow to care deeply for the companions on our journey and are reluctant to leave them behind when the story ends. Ultimately, fantasy speaks to our hearts. It touches our souls, leaving us tearstained or joyful, tortured or terrified, but never quite the same. It leaves us wistful, wanting, and eager for more.


Among Wolves Book Cover

You can buy Nancy Wallace’s book, AMONG WOLVES here, and find the author on Facebook and Twitter.

Cover Reveal – ‘Heart Search: Betrayal’ by Carlie M A Cullen


Carlie M A Cullen is launching the final book in the Heart Search trilogy on the 7th February 2015 and today is the day you all get to feast your eyes on the cover.


Blurb for Heart Search: Betrayal

One bite started it all . . .

Joshua, Remy, and the twins are settled in their new life. However, life doesn’t always run smoothly. An argument between Becky and her twin causes unforeseen circumstances, an admission by Samir almost costs him his life, and the traitor provides critical information to Liam. But who is it?

As Jakki’s visions begin to focus on the turncoat’s activities, a member of the coven disappears, and others find themselves endangered.

And when Liam’s coven attacks, who will endure?

Fate continues to toy with mortals and immortals alike, and as more hearts descend into darkness, can they overcome the dangers they face and survive?


About Carlie M A Cullen


Carlie M A Cullen was born in London. She grew up in Hertfordshire where she first discovered her love of books and writing.

She has always written in some form or another, but started to write novels in 2011. Her first book was published by Myrddin Publishing in 2012. She writes in the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genres for New Adult and Adult.

Carlie is also a principal editor for Eagle Eye Editors.

Carlie also holds the reins of a writing group called Writebulb. They have published four anthologies so far, two for adults and two for children, all of which raise money for a local hospice.

Carlie currently lives in Essex, UK with her daughter.



Website: http://carliemacullen.com

Twitter: @carlie2011c

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CarlieMACullen

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=240655941&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B009MWVL5A

About.me: http://about.me/CarlieCullen

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/CarlieCullen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6550466.Carlie_M_A_Cullen


Heart Search, book one: Lost: http://smarturl.it/HeartSearch-Lost

Heart Search, book two: Found: http://smarturl.it/HeartSearch-Found

Interview with Madeline Dyer

2014-03-22_20.11.15-1Madeline Dyer has had her work published by various publishers.  She kindly agreed to be interviewed for my blog.

Can you tell me a bit about your latest book?

The latest book I wrote is The Imposter, which I have just begun querying–and have already received a request for the full manuscript from an agent. It’s a science fiction thriller aimed at the YA market, though it is suitable for the mature end of the YA readership too.

However, I’d also like to talk a bit about my previous book, Untamed. It hasn’t yet been released, but the full manuscript is under review with several editors at publishing houses and I have already been offered a contract, so hopefully I’ll be able to say a lot more about that very soon! Untamed is a YA dystopian manuscript with strong fantasy elements.

Which types of books do you write?

I write fantasy and science fiction books, predominantly. Recently, although I’ve still been writing science fiction, I’m moving more into the thriller and mystery territory as well, which I’m enjoying a lot. I also have had seventeen short stories published, appearing online, in ebooks and paperback anthologies in aid of charity.

All my fiction is traditionally published. 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Definitely! For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to write. I just love the freedom that writing offers and how I can be transported into a new world so quickly.

Can we expect another book from you soon?

Hopefully, Untamed will be published very soon (as I’ve already received one offer of publication from a publisher). I’ve also just started querying my latest book, The Imposter, and the first book I wrote, Spirit Of Fire, is also being reviewed. 

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to try their hand at writing?

Just to write. Honestly, if you want to be a writer, then you have to write. It’s (the main) part of the job. And write because you want to, not because you think it’s what you should be doing, or because someone else thinks you should be a writer. It needs to be your choice. And you must love what you’re writing–readers will be able to tell if you don’t.

It’s the night before your new book is due to be published.  How do you feel?

Ooh, nervous, excited… Even on the nights before I have a new short story being published I can’t sit still!

Describe a day in your life.

At the moment, I’m studying at Exeter University for an English degree, so my weekdays consist of lectures, seminars, and coursework, with any spare time dedicated to writing (if there is any spare time!). Weekends are a bit nicer, writing-wise, as I can usually get 3,000 words written in a day. I prefer to write first thing in the morning, or last thing before I go to bed.

The type of writing I get done each day, (and, yes, I do try to write every day), varies a lot depending on which stage in the writing process I’m at. If I’m writing the first draft, I can be really free and imaginative–pretty much everything goes. The second and third drafts are more about developing the plot, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and tightening up on characterisation. Also, at this point, a lot of restructuring takes place, so I have some days that I’ll spend ages ‘writing’, but my word count won’t change a lot. After this stage, what I call the fine-toothed-comb editing takes place. This is the small stuff, word choice, etc., yet I often find myself writing new scenes and deleting others that don’t work/don’t add anything to the plot at this stage too. The final editing/read through is one of my favourite things to do in a ‘writing day’. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I live on a farm where we breed Shetland ponies, so I love spending time with them! I also own a number of other animals–guinea pigs, a rabbit, a cat and a goldfish–so I’m looking after them a lot.

I also enjoy reading and blogging a lot. Oh, and catching up on iPlayer!


Below are some useful links:-

Madeline Dyer’s website – http://www.MadelineDyer.co.uk

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/MadelineDyerAuthor

Twitter – @MadelineDyerUK


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