1 March 2021

Guest Post: Writing a Novel, by Saga Hillbom ~ Part Three: The Marketing Process

New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

1483, Westminster. The bells toll for the dead king, Edward IV, while his rivaling nobles grasp for power. His daughter Cecily can only watch as England is plunged into chaos, torn between her loyalties to her headstrong mother, Elizabeth Woodville, and her favourite uncle, Richard of Gloucester. When Elizabeth schemes to secure her own son on the throne that Richard lays claim to, Cecily and her siblings become pawns in a perilous game.

As mentioned in my guest post about the publishing process, my favourite thing to do is to write. The surrounding bits, such as publishing and marketing, were long uncharted territory for me. However, I have begun to put more effort into these aspects of being an author. In this post, I will go through a few tips for new writers, and talk about what I have done when marketing my upcoming historical novel Princess of Thorns. It is worth noting that while I am self-published, marketing is equally crucial for traditionally published authors.

Firstly, I would give a tip which is fairly obvious nowadays, namely to maintain an online presence. Aside from an author website, you need to be consistently active on some kind of social media. Pick 1-3 platforms that you can dedicate your time to. I have personally been a little lacking in my twitter presence, but post content on Instagram every day. Indeed, Instagram has been my main marketing tool for Princess of Thorns. 

It is where a lot of my target audience (mainly females above the age of 15, with an interest in history) spend their time. When I began marketing my latest novel, approximately six months before its release date, I also launched a series of Instagram posts. They are short, factual texts about everything related to the historical context of my book. I alternate them with aesthetically pleasing edits of period dramas. This is partly because movies and TV-shows are easy ways to attract people’s attention. Moreover, it provides variation.

My second tip would be to send free pre-release copies of your book to anyone who might be interested in writing a review. Of course, it is a bonus if the person has a large following on social media or is a fellow author, but each review counts. When raising awareness about Princess of Thorns, I acquainted myself with numerous experienced readers of historical fiction. Some of them were glad to collaborate with me. What I think is important to remember, though, is that no one owes you anything. Many will not respond to your messages, others will say ‘no thank you’, and still others will give bad reviews. That is entirely up to them.

Related to the practice of sending out pre-release copies, you should also contact bloggers and podcasters. It can be daunting when you are a new writer, but one never gets anything if one does not ask, as my grandmother once said. Reach out to people. This is an area in which I can definitely improve myself, but with Princess of Thorns, I have felt like a part of the writing community more than ever.

Lastly, there are paid book promotion sites and giveaways. Giveaways are quite self-explanatory. As for paid book promotion sites, they can be effective as long as you choose wisely. Also, if you pick a site that only promotes, for example, free ebooks, be certain that you run a Kindle promo simultaneously. Otherwise, your book will not actually be free to download. I know plenty of authors who consider it a pity to give away one’s book like this. Nonetheless, I am of the opinion that the more people who read my work, the happier I am, whether they pay for it or not. I should mention that I am not dependent on royalties for my upkeep.

When you begin marketing, writing all of a sudden becomes a business. That was a tough pill for me to swallow at first. I still do not measure my ‘success’ or ‘failure’ by how many copies of my book people buy or download. Instead, I look at the reviews, the lovely comments I receive, and at whether I am happy with the finished book itself. Most authors will never be bestsellers. In fact, most authors will never be able to make a living off their writing. 

While accepting this, I have still done my best to market Princess of Thorns, for the sake of practice if nothing else. I figure I might have 70 years of writing, publishing, and marketing ahead of me. Bearing that in mind, I hope to someday be as good at marketing as I am at writing rubbish first drafts. I also hope that this post about marketing tips and my experience so far has been helpful to someone.

Saga Hillbom

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About the Author

Saga Hillbom is the self-published author of four historical novels, including Princess of Thorns, City of Bronze City of Silver, Today Dauphine Tomorrow Nothing, and A Generation of Poppies. She is currently studying history in Lund, Sweden, where she lives with her family. When not writing or reading, Saga enjoys painting, cooking, spending time outside, and watching old movies.. To find out more, visit her website sagahillbom.blog and follow Saga on Twitter @sagahillbom02

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26 February 2021

Special Guest Post by Juliane Weber, Author of Under the Emerald Sky: A tale of love and betrayal in 19th century Ireland

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Ireland, 1843: Alannah O’Neill is feeling trapped. Under the thumb of her controlling brother, she finds herself contemplating the meaninglessness of her existence. Her life takes an abrupt turn with the arrival of the Englishman Quinton Williams on the neighbouring estate. Alannah feels drawn to Quin but knows that her brother hates the English and all they stand for. So she keeps her growing relationship with Quin a secret. Can Alannah and Quin find happiness amid those who dream of ridding Ireland of her English oppressors?

The mind is a curious thing… 

We’ve all heard this saying before, and it is most certainly true of my mind too. I had just moved halfway across the world when I suddenly found myself desperately wanting to write a book. How peculiar!, I hear you say. And you would be right, particularly so as I had ended up moving to a town that I’d never before heard of, with two children under the age of five, a dog and a cat that had made the trip with us, and a husband who was having to spend most of his time away from home for work. Clearly, I was in serious need of a distraction and evidently, writing a novel was just the thing!

The spark of an idea

I had thought of writing a novel before being gripped by the sudden, mad desire to do so after relocating to another country. Previously, though, I had only gotten as far as deciding that it would be a historical fiction novel and had no idea when or where the story would take place. Searching for inspiration I read about the Great Famine in Ireland in the 19th century and was immediately attracted to this historical setting. I liked the idea of the 19th century; I liked the idea of Ireland, with its beautiful scenery and its myths and legends; and I liked the idea of writing about something that hadn’t been written about as frequently as other historical events. So, I thought, why not? 

The story takes shape

I soon immersed myself in my research, trying to get to grips with the historical, social and religious underpinnings of the tragedy that was the Irish Famine. The luscious green hills of Ireland would provide an excellent backdrop, I decided, and the injustices that pervaded the land in the 19th century supplied plenty of literary fodder. And to add a little more conflict? Why not an English hero and an Irish heroine, who happens to have a brother who doesn’t like the English one bit! Perfect, I thought, and got to work, and so, Under the Emerald Sky was born.   

What’s next?

Once I started working on Under the Emerald Sky, the ideas just kept coming. So much so that I realised early on that I wasn’t writing just one novel, but an entire series of books set in Ireland around the time of the Great Famine. I immediately had plenty of ideas for the second book, which I am working on now. This onslaught of creativity was so thrilling at first that I could barely stop myself from writing, using every spare moment to jot down a few more words. Things have slowed down a little, though, with both children now in primary school and (usually!) plenty of activities lined up in the afternoons. For the second novel, I find that I need to schedule writing time during my day. That makes it easier for me to avoid distractions – there is always something else to be done after all! 

The second novel in the series will pick up where Under the Emerald Sky left off, in the spring of 1845, shortly before the Famine began. Besides getting to grips with the Famine itself, a few open questions from Under the Emerald Sky will be answered, there’ll be trips to 19th century Dublin and London, and perhaps even an encounter with Charles Darwin or some other famous personality. Who knows? I don’t plan my books in minute detail before writing, and so I look forward to seeing how the story unfolds as much as my readers! 

My advice to aspiring authors

If you’re an aspiring author and are feeling overwhelmed by the vast amount of information on writing that’s out there, I have just one piece of advice for you: do whatever works for you. Some people like to plan out their story in detail before writing down a single word, others (like me) prefer to figure things out along the way. Some people like to complete a draft of the entire manuscript before editing, while others (also like me) prefer editing while they write. There is no single way of writing a good book. Figure out what works for you and do that! 

 Juliane Weber

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About the author

Juliane Weber is a scientist by training. She holds degrees in physiology and zoology, including a PhD in physiology. During her studies she realised, however, that her passion lay not in conducting scientific research herself, but in writing about it. Thus began her career as a medical writer, where she took on all manner of writing and editing tasks, in the process honing her writing skills, until she finally plucked up the courage to write her first historical novel, Under the Emerald Sky.  Juliane was born in Germany but spent most of her life in South Africa. She now lives with her husband and her two sons in Hamelin, Germany, the town made famous by the story of the Pied Piper.  Find out more (and follow her blog) on Juliane’s website www.julianeweber.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @UnderEmeraldSky

24 February 2021

Special Guest Post by Paul Walker, Author of State of Treason

Audiobook on Amazon UK and Amazon US

London 1578 - a cauldron of conspiracy, intrigue and torture. The might of Spain and the growing influence of the Catholic League in France all threaten the stability of Queen Elizabeth and her state. 

Writing Historical Fiction - Inspiration and Planning

Inspiration seems so much more creative and worthy than the structured and methodical act of planning, and it’s tempting to emphasise the former in any success as a writer I might enjoy. But looking back, there is no doubt that writing the William Constable historical thrillers was more the result of planning over years than a sudden whoosh of inspiration.

My mother was an early influence on my reading. She was a member of the Richard III Society and devoured all fiction (and some non-fiction) that covered Medieval Britain, especially the Plantagenets. She later expanded this to include Tudor and Victorian periods. Following her encouragement, I started reading historical fiction as a teenager. Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time and T H White’s Once and Future King were memorable early reads.

In common with many others, reading for pleasure took a back seat while I worked my way up the greasy pole of career advancement, made a home and raised a family. It was later in my working life, commuting into London, that I rediscovered the joy of reading fiction again. My taste was eclectic. I read widely, quickly and, during this period, discovered what remains my favourite series of books – Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels of the English Navy in the early nineteenth century. 

I was entranced by his depiction of life aboard a man-of-war, the ambience he created and, above all, his writing style and use of language, which conjured an acute sense of period. It was my admiration of O’Brian that planted the seed of an ambition to write historical fiction.

In mid-2016, some 15 years after my first encounter with O’Brian, I retired from full-time work. Within a month I had enrolled on two creative writing workshops. I had done plenty of academic and business writing, but had never made a serious attempt to write fiction. I found support and momentum in the company of other aspiring writers in the workshops and within three months had started to write a novel. Very little research was involved, with the plot of a contemporary thriller unfolding as I wrote. It was finished in four or five months, I had enjoyed the writing and, although it wasn’t very good, I had the experience of storytelling spread over roughly 100,000 words.

One of the best decisions I made was to get a professional critique. No matter how hard they try to be objective and critical, friends and family just can’t do it. I learned a lot from the critique and there was enough encouragement in there to suggest if I reworked and edited thoroughly, it may be taken up by a publisher. But I didn’t want to go down that road. I put my first attempt at a novel to one side as an apprentice piece. Despite my inexperience, I had the audacity to imagine I was now ready to tackle what I really wanted to write – historical fiction.

I had already decided it was to be set in sixteenth century England, even though I was advised the Tudors had been overdone and interest in the period was waning. I’m not a historian, but the Tudor period was the one I was most familiar with, so the research would be easier. Also, I wasn’t convinced that the market was saturated. Surely, the fabulous books by Mantel, Sansom and others had strengthened interest in a period full of intrigue, peril and opportunities to fire an author’s imagination. My protagonist would be fictional with the plot woven around real events and characters. An interest in Doctor Dee led to the choice of my hero as a scholar, rather than a swashbuckling adventurer.

So far, so planned with little in the way of ‘light bulb’ inspiration. I also knew I had to research and structure this book in meticulous detail. I couldn’t write flying by the seat of my pants. Errors would be pounced on and reported, damaging reputation and branding. Of course, I underestimated the time it would take to do the research and with my first book, State of Treason, the research took twice as long as the writing. But, for the most part, I enjoyed the preparation, consoling myself that it would be worthwhile if book one turned out to be the first of a series.

The most difficult part of writing the book was finding a style of writing to suit the period, the main characters and the pace of the plot. State of Treason is a spy thriller, so maintaining a good pace was essential. But I also wanted the reader to feel immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of Elizabethan London. I had to experiment with the balance between readability and authenticity in language before I settled on what I thought might work. Writing historical fiction in the present tense has its critics and I dithered before taking the plunge and choosing to write that way. The book is also written in the first person, from William Constable’s viewpoint, as it felt the most natural way to write the story.

I’ve taken a long and winding route to describe how writing the William Constable historical thrillers series was the result of inspiration from reading Patrick O’Brian and the somewhat uneven process of planning in the 15 or so years that followed. I was fortunate to find a publisher and enough readers who liked the book to consider producing an audio version – something I never envisaged when I started writing. And how was it creating an audio version of State of Treason? That’s a whole different story.

Paul Walker

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About the Author

Paul Walker is married and lives in a village 30 miles north of London. Having worked in a number of universities and run his own business, he now divides his time between non-executive work for an educational trust and writing fiction. His writing is regularly disrupted by children and a growing number of grandchildren and dogs.  State of Treason is the first in a planned series of Elizabethan spy thrillers. The plot is based around real characters and events in London of the 1570’s. The hero, William Constable, is an astrologer, mathematician, physician and inventor of a navigational aid for ships. The second book in the series will be published in October 2019. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PWalkerauthor

23 February 2021

Book Review ~ The Forgotten Pioneer: A family story set in East Africa

Available on Amazon UK  and Amazon US

I was a child in Kenya when the country gained independence, so was fascinated to read this very personal account by Anthea Ramsay. Drawing from her grandparents’ diaries and photographs, as well as her own memories as a child, this sometimes harrowing book describes what it was like to live in East Africa for the first white settlers.  We then follow the adventures of Anthea’s family right through to the present day.

Taking real dangers in their stride, from wild animals to lawless Mau Mau rebels, this family lived through an era that could easily be forgotten.  There was the constant threat of malaria or the dreaded black water fever, with only the most basic medical care. It is recalled as a happy time, however, with amazing extremes of wealth and poverty.

The Forgotten Pioneer is a very readable book and shines a light on a period of history which is often overlooked.  Thanks to Anthea Ramsay at least the men and women who helped to make Kenya what it is today will no longer be forgotten.

Tomy Riches

21 February 2021

Special Guest Interview with Emma Makarova, Author of Unearthed

Available from Amazon UK, Amazon US,

Scotland, 1849: Midwinter on the remote island of North Uist and twelve-year-old Morag has a terrifying encounter in the dark. Is it a beast or is there a more sinister threat which stalks the island? As the villagers turn to folklore to protect themselves, Maria, the wife of the landowner, arrives on North Uist longing to escape her past. But Maria’s past is catching up with her and time is running out – both for her and for the islanders.

I'm pleased to welcome author Emma Makarova to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Unearthed is a historical fiction set on the Outer Hebrides in Scotland in 1849. It is set during the Highland Clearances when thousands of people were forced off the land by English landowners. The novel is based on the Battle of Sollas in July 1849 and the attempted eviction of the community which is still commemorated on the island of North Uist today. 

The novel weaves fiction, history and folklore together to tell the story of two young women caught up in the events on the island, but also caught up in the societal pressures of the time. The story is told by two first person narrators: Morag, a girl whose family has lived on the island for generations; and Maria, the young English wife of the new owner of the island. Although they come from very different backgrounds, both Morag and Maria have a thirst for learning and knowledge which sets them apart from their contemporaries and which ultimately puts them both in danger. Their stories become more and more intertwined as the novel reaches its climax.

What is your preferred writing routine?

When I have a new idea for a novel or short story I try and carve out as much time wherever I can to get the first draft down on paper. This means I reschedule things, get up early, go to sleep late, whatever it takes to get that energy into words. When I am re-drafting or editing I tend to work in the mornings for just an hour or two at a time. Any more than that and I can't see the woods for the trees and I go round in circles editing the same paragraph over and over again.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Don't forget the first draft is only the start. My novel, Unearthed, took about 5 drafts before I thought it was even nearly ready. Also don't show anyone your work too soon, that can be really off-putting if your work is still in embryonic form. When you are ready, find someone that you really trust to read your work. I am so lucky to have my sister who has this amazing knack of telling me if something doesn't work in the nicest possible way.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Word of mouth was really useful in the beginning. Friends and family recommended it to their circles and it spread from there to book clubs and beyond. Twitter is also useful, especially for running giveaways and promoting discounted e-books, but the platform can seem very crowded with so many people promoting their books that it can seem daunting.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

The use of pelvic massage and vibrators to treat hysteria in women was a very ordinary practice in Victorian times!

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

I'm not sure about the hardest scene, but writing and re-writing the first chapter was hard work. You have so much you want to tell the reader it's difficult not to overload them with information.

What are you planning to write next?

I am co-writing a YA fantasy novel at the moment and I have plans for a romantic comedy based on my experiences of moving to France.

Emma Makarova

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About the Author

Emma Makarova was born in Melbourne, Australia and grew up in the Cotswolds, England. After studying Ancient History and Archaeology at The University of Birmingham she taught English in Hungary and then in Russia where she met her husband. In 2017, she gained a Masters with Distinction in Creative Writing for the manuscript of her novel. Two years ago she and her family decided to move to France for a new adventure, an experience she wrote about in her blog Femme Française. When she is not writing or teaching English, she can be found climbing a mountain or eating a lot of French cheese. Unearthed is her first novel. Find out more at Emmas website https://emmamakarova.fr/ and find her on Twitter @emmamakarova2

19 February 2021

Guest Interview with Michael Stolle, Author of The Dark Shadows of Kaysersberg

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

It’s 1646 and infant King Louis XIV reigns over France; wily Cardinal Mazarin holds the reins of power - but he needs money, desperately. Armand de Saint Paul, the younger son of a great and rich noble house, is leading a carefree life in Paris, dedicating his time to such pleasures as gambling, hunting and amorous pursuits. Unexpectedly, Armand has to defend the honour of his house in a duel that transpires to be a deadly trap, set up by a mighty foe of the house of Saint Paul.

I'm pleased to welcome author Michael Stolle to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book 

My latest book ‘The Dark Shadows of Kaysersberg’ is set in the 17th century, like the other books of the ‘French Orphan’ series. It starts in Paris from there the reader will travel to the East ( Alsace) and further on to the Germanic Empire straight to the imperial city Vienna. It’s a simple story of adventure, deception, love - combined with a crime plot to give it more zest. The major protagonist is a very likable young man, born into one of the great noble families of France, who’s taken love as a pleasant game so far. As he’s entangled more and more in a web of deadly intrigues, he suddenly realizes that love is a precious gift… and that life can be cruel.  

What is your preferred writing routine? 

I need to walk, I have difficulties to look at a blank screen and start writing. While I’m walking I develop the plot and rehearse scenes until I like them. What then happens invariably is that my plot will change, characters that seemed less important at the beginning suddenly become major protagonists. It never goes to plan, that’s probably the weirdest thing.

What advice do you have for new writers? 

I can only judge from my own weakness, I tend to explain too much, I had to learn to leave space for the reader to develop his/her own imagination. I think my last books are better in this respect. Otherwise my advice: if you like what you write, believe in it, just go on, don’t give up.  And be careful, there’s a whole industry out there to cash in on writer hopefuls.

Get a good and helpful copy editor. I battle constantly with mine as I like to change the point of view (head hopping)  in a chapter, but somehow we always find a compromise.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books? 

First a confession: I’m not good in social media, really not good at all. I should be, I know - but I simply don’t like to upload constantly pictures of my dog or a cat to get a ‘like’ or show an artistically arranged picture of my self-cooked dinner. That leaves bloggers (an there are really good and nice ones out there), Amazon ads and reader reviews as the only lever to draw attention to my books, which I admit, can be tedious. Conclusion: if it’s in your DNA, better play the social media card and make a selfie with your cat – and your cake…

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research 

I thought that I knew pretty well the period, I had made extensive visits to museums and as I travelled a lot, I have seen most premises mentioned in my books myself. I was surprised though to find out how much the sister of Louis XIII who’d become Queen of England by marrying King Charles, meddled with politics and in how far the King of France and later the First Ministers were prepared to drop a close relative as weakening England was in the major interest of any French monarch. Nothing has really changed over the centuries, has it? 😉

What was the hardest scene you remember writing? 

I’m battling constantly with sex scenes and describing scenery. It’s a true challenge. It’s a tightrope walk between kitsch and evoking genuine emotions, very, very difficult for me to get it right. I love action and dialogue, that’s my thing.

What are you planning to write next? 

Good question, no idea. I guess one day I’ll be walking and suddenly a new plot starts forming in my head and my tormented readers will have to endure another book.

Michael Stolle

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About the Author

Born and educated and living in Europe, Michael Stolle has been publishing since 2013. He’s always been intrigued by the historical setting and the fact that what makes us human was as true in the 17th century as it is now. He has been reading and writing about history for longer than he cares to recall...  Follow Michael on Goodreads and find him on Twitter @MichaelStolle16

18 February 2021

Guest Interview with Josephine Greenland, Author of Embers

Available for pre-order from

Two siblings, one crime. One long-buried secret.  17-year old Ellen never wanted a holiday. What is there to do in a mining town in the northernmost corner of the country, with no one but her brother Simon – a boy with Asperger’s and obsessed with detective stories – for company?  Nothing, until they stumble upon a horrifying crime scene that brings them into a generations-long conflict between the townspeople and the native Sami. When the police dismiss Simon’s findings, he decides to track down the perpetrator himself. Ellen reluctantly helps, drawn in by a link between the crime 
and the siblings’ own past.

I'm pleased to welcome author Josephine Greenland to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Embers is a YA Mystery and crime novel set in the fictional mining town of Svartjokk in northern Sweden. It can be described as a Scandi Noir version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. It tells the story of 17-year-old Ellen Blind, who travels to Svartjokk with her brother Simon, a 14-year-old with Aspergers. They’re on a holiday arranged by their parents, who claim that the siblings should bond, visit the birthplace of their late grandfather, Lars-Erik, and discover their Sami roots. Ellen, though, knows that her parents also want them out of the way so they can sort out their marital problems. 

The holiday turns upside down when the siblings discover reindeer heads in the forest. Simon’s findings at the scene suggest the reindeer have been poisoned, and he suspects people in the town. Frustrated with the police’s lack of interest, he is determined to solve the case himself. The siblings’ investigation takes them to the local Sami village and the owner of the dead reindeer, Per-Anders Thomasson. It turns out that Per-Anders knows far more about Lars-Erik’s past than the siblings did. The more they learn, the more Ellen suspects that the reindeer killing is somehow connected to their grandfather and the reason he left his home-town and the Sami community behind. As Ellen and Simon are to discover, embers of the past rarely burn out.

What is your preferred writing routine

My writing routine follows more or less the same pattern regardless of whether I’m writing a short story or novel. I always prefer writing in the mornings, roughly between 10 am – 2 pm. Normally, I’ve typed up the first draft on the computer, but recently I’ve gone back to writing by hand (even for my current WIP, my second novel!), before redrafting/editing it on a computer. I find writing by hand in a beautiful notebook is a safe space for trying out my ideas, before typing them up in a more formal, “polished” version on my laptop.

I tend to have a rough outline of the plot, which I will tweak and amend as I go along, but with certain key stages /turning points (including the ending), clearly identified. I normally have a reasonably detailed mind map for all of my characters, including appearance, body language, generic info like their favourite food and drink, hobbies etc, so that they feel like a real person I know in real life.

When it comes to drafting, I feel like I take the long route. The first two drafts of a WIP are always complete rewrites, particularly for novels. Not until the third draft do I have what feels like the true version of the story. Only by the fourth draft do I get to the true micro-editing stage.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

It is never too early to share your work with other writers/readers. Perfection does not exist, and striving for it before you’re willing to share your story can kill the heart of the work. Throw yourself into whatever opportunities come your way, and actively seek out for opportunities, in equal amount. Writing is about perseverance, but in order to persevere, you need to be fearless.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Social media. I love the Twitter community for writers, it’s an incredibly supportive space and a very efficient to grow your network. If not for twitter, I wouldn’t have encountered Tony and be invited to write this guest post! Twitter is also a great way of discovering new magazines, publishers and agents to submit to.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

The crime in the book is actually based on a real reindeer killing, in which a circle of mutilated reindeer bodies had been discovered by two teenage girls in the forest. The location wasn’t far from the town where I’d stayed with my brother when we were travelling in northern Sweden. The culprit was never found. This opened my eyes to the hate crime that is committed against the Sami and their reindeer. The more I researched, the more atrocities, each one stranger and more gruesome than the next. All of them could be linked to the long-term contempt and discrimination against the Sami that has taken place through history with forced assimilation, racial biology studies and exploiting ancient grazing lands for iron ore mining and forest industry. All of these underlying issues have been described in the novel.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

It’s difficult to describe this without giving away the plot! What I will say though, is that the confession building up to the climax near the end of the novel was quite challenging emotion-wise: every single word was loaded and had to perfectly selected. There was a very delicate balance between raining the emotion in and maintaining a tangible tension, and going overboard resulting in more cliched dialogue.

What are you planning to write next?

I am currently finishing the third draft of my second novel, a crime novel for adults. Like Embers it is set in Sweden, but closer to home, describing the hunting community and small-town life, and the secrets and conspiracies that can take place within a family. It is also loosely based on a real incident that happened in the area, about wolf hybrids roaming the countryside and passing through towns, which had to be tracked down and shot.

Josephine Greenland
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About the Author

Josephine Greenland is a Swedish-English writer from Eskilstuna, Sweden, currently living in Edinburgh, where she works as a secondary English teacher. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham and a BA in English from the University of Exeter. Embers is her first novel, and was her dissertation project for her MA. She was a finalist in the 2020 Literary Taxidermy Competition by Regulus Press, the winner of the 2019 Bumble Bee Flash Fiction Competition by Pulp Literature, and winner of the 2017 Fantastic Female Fables Competition by Fantastic Books Publishing. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in fourteen different magazines online and in print. When not writing or teaching, she enjoys playing the violin, running and hiking. Find out more at https://www.josephinegreenland.com/ and follow Josephine on Facebook and Twitter @greenland_jm