Mastodon The Writing Desk: April 2021

30 April 2021

Book Launch: The York Princesses: The daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, by Sarah J. Hodder

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

As a collective, the lives of the Princesses of York span across seven decades and the rule of five different Kings. The daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, they were born into an England that had been ruled over by the great Plantagenet Kings for almost three hundred years. 

Their young years were blighted by tragedy: the death of their beloved father, followed by the disappearance and possible murder of their two brothers, Edward and Richard of York, forever now known to history as the infamous Princes in the Tower. 

With their own futures uncertain during the reign of their uncle, Richard III, and their mother held under house arrest, the Princesses had to navigate their way through the tumultuous years of the 1480s before having to adjust to a new King and a new dynasty in the shape of Henry VII, who would bring about the age of the Tudors. Through her marriage to Henry, Elizabeth of York rebuilt her life, establishing herself as a popular, if not hugely influential Queen. 

But she did not forget her younger siblings, and even before her own mothers death, she acted as a surrogate mother to the younger York princesses, supporting them both financially and emotionally. The stories of the York Princesses are entwined into the fabric of the history of England, as they grew up, survived and even thrived in the new Tudor age. 

Their lives are played out against a backdrop of coronations and jousts, births and deaths, marriages and divorces and loyalties and broken allegiances. From the usurpation of Richard III, to the Battle of Bosworth, the brilliance of the court of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, to the rise of Anne Boleyn, the York Princesses were there to witness events unfold. 

They were the daughters, sisters and aunts of Kings, and this is their story. The York Princesses is a natural follow-up to Sarah J. Hodder's first book, The Queen's Sisters, which told the stories of the lives of the sisters of Elizabeth Woodville.

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About the Author

Sarah J. Hodder began her career as production manager for Shire Publications, a unique niche Publisher that introduced her to an eclectic mix of subjects and encouraged her already well-founded love of books. Since leaving Shire to focus on motherhood, she has developed a passion for history, particularly medieval and Tudor, and reads everything and anything she can get her hands on. Her focus is the role of women and she counts Elizabeth Woodville as one of her heroines. Seeing a gap in the market around the lives of the Woodville women, led her to write her first book on the subject. Find out more at Sarah's website  and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @srhjyn8

The Battle of Barnet in Fact and Fiction, by Hilary Harrison, Scott Harrison and Mike Noronha

At around 5 am on the 14th of April, 1471, battle was joined between the forces of York and Lancaster just north of the village of Barnet, in one of the most decisive battles of the 30-year conflict that later became known as the 'Wars of the Roses.'

To mark the 550th anniversary of the historic battle, Hilary Harrison, Scott Harrison and Mike Noronha of Barnet Museum have put together a small book which is an inspired blend of the known facts, brought to life with extracts from historical fiction authors including Matthew Lewis, Toby Clements, Philippa Gregory - and myself.

Conventional histories of the Battle of Barnet tend to focus on events and strategies. This history of the battle puts the emphasis on the people, their lives, actions and emotions. It does this through 'pen-portraits' of the main characters and the use of a wide range of illustrations.

Warwick's letter in late March 1471 to Henry Vernon, exhorting Vernon to support the Lancastrian cause.
(The postscript is in Warwick's own hand.)

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Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

‘A story of adventure, power and influence at the heart of one of the most dangerous times in the history of England.’

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the 'Kingmaker', is the wealthiest noble in England. He becomes a warrior knight, bravely protecting the north against invasion by the Scots. A key figure in what have become known as ‘the Wars of the Roses,’ he fought in most of the important battles. As Captain of Calais, he turns privateer, daring to take on the might of the Spanish fleet and becoming Admiral of England. The friend of kings, he is the sworn enemy of Queen Margaret of Anjou. Then, in an amazing change of heart, why does he risk everything to fight for her cause?

Tony Riches

27 April 2021

Spotlight: The Magician (The Donora Story Collection Book 3) by Kathleen Shoop

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Donora 2019: Ninety-two year old Patryk Rusek is on the run, bath-towel flying off, with nothing but his new Nikes to carry him to freedom. His plan to escape from Blue Horizon Retirement Community is in motion. Except his great-grandson Owen isn’t at the pickup point. Resigned to his fate, Patryk returns to his room and reads from his incredible hand-drawn chronicle of Donora, luring half the nursing home’s employees and residents into the room, mesmerizing them with childhood tales of Stan F. Musial, beloved baseball hall of famer.

Donora 1920: Mary Musial is expecting again. After four daughters, her husband Lukasz is losing hope for a son. But Jupiter is rising when Stanisław Franciszek Musiał is born on November 21, 1920, and the midwife predicts he will live an extraordinary life. Young Stanley’s physical talents show themselves at the Polish Falcons and on the baseball field. But rather than pride, Lukasz’s spirits plummet after mill injuries turn his American dream into a living nightmare.

When the Depression hits and the mills close, tension grips every Donora household. Meanwhile as Stan matures, he draws attention from the press, college coaches, and professional baseball scouts. Suddenly his singular dream is set against options he’d never imagined. Every choice threatens to disappoint coaches, teachers, his girlfriend, and most of all his parents. Even with the talent to achieve his goals, doubt creeps in. Can he find the courage to leave everything he knows and all the people he loves to fulfil his destiny? Or will he wait too long and risk it all?

Beautifully written and the pages fly by. If you are a baseball nut, this is required reading, in my opinion, but, if like me, baseball is a foreign language, it is still an absorbing and telling tale of familial love, determination, courage, and the ability to see the best in even the worst situations. I loved this story and can highly recommend it.--Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
The prose is tender and insightful, and the true strength of the book lies in the characters, whose combined merits beautifully offset[human] weaknesses. --Heather Brooks for US Review of Books
Five stars over and over again! The word "Magician" in the title hints at the magical experience adroitly encased in this rich and exquisite book. Fully packed with brilliant metaphors, smooth storytelling, deeply portrayed and complex characters, and an elaborate, vividly described world. --Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite
Readers who believe that a prior interest in baseball or Donora history is a requirement for enjoying The Magician will be in for a surprise. All that's required is an open mind and heart. The magic embedded in the tale will do the rest.--Diane Donovan for California Bookwatch and Midwest Book Review
You fall deep into Stanley's beginning, thanks to the author's exquisite attention to detail and descriptions. The dialogue is fantastic. History, along with the Musials, comes to life, and you get more than a slice-of-life perspective--you get the whole Musial pie. The Magician(The Donora Story Collection Book 3) by Kathleen Shoop is a Musial fan's dream.--Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Following Stan as he navigates the world will take you on an emotional journey that will have you laughing and crying... --K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
It grabs you from the first page at the unusual sight of Patryk trying to run away in his towel. It kept me reading as I wanted to learn more about him and when he starts telling the story of Donora, I was hooked. --Samantha Gregory for Readers' Favorite

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About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Shoop holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. Her third novel, Love and Other Subjects, earned a Silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention from the San Francisco Book Festival. Her second novel, After the Fog (Silver IPPY), was a category finalist in the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her debut novel, The Last Letter, is a multiple award-winner, including a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. Find out more at Kathleen's website  and find her on Facebook and Twitter @kathieshoop 

26 April 2021

Book Review: A Wider World (The Tudor Court Book 2) by Karen Heenan

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

In 1558, during the last weeks of the reign of Queen Mary, we travel with the unlucky, fifty-year-old Robin Lewis, found guilty of heresy. Under escort from wintry Winterset in Yorkshire, he is on his way to meet his fate at the to the Tower of London. 

In a great opening sentence, reminiscent of George R. R. Martin, Robin mutters, ‘They said I would not end well.’ The young captain of his escort, William Hawkins, has one quality which might delay the inevitable end. He becomes intrigued by Robin’s story of a troubled childhood, and life at the court of Henry VIII – and so did I.

I particularly liked the way incidental characters are used to add depth and richness, and an understated complexity of back-story which is handled with great storytelling skill.

Evocative and poignant, this book is a worthy companion to Karen Heenan’s enthralling novel ‘Songbird’. Highly recommended.

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she could read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams -- which which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing. She lives in Lansdowne, PA, with two cats and a very patient husband, and is currently hard at work on her next book. Find out more at Karen's website and find her on Twitter @karen_heenan

24 April 2021

Special Guest Post by Robert M. Kidd, Author of The Walls of Rome

Book one of The Histories of Sphax series
Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

218 BC. Sphax is seventeen and haunted by the brutal murder of his parents at the hands of Rome. After ten years of miserable slavery he will make his last bid for freedom and go in search of Hannibal’s army and his birthright. He will have his revenge on the stinking cesspit that is Rome!

It began with an image of an old man sitting in a courtyard garden, staring out at the desert. Behind him, snow-capped mountains towered in the distance. It was an image of fire and ice. By the time I’d free-flown to the bottom of the page, I realised I was writing about a Numidian noble who’d led a long and eventful life. And I knew his name.

Once I was strong. Once I could race the wind. Once, the merest mention of my name would strike fear into the heart of any Roman. I have slain consuls of Rome and ground their legions into dust. I have stormed their cities and mocked their gods. But now I am old … I will be forgotten. No silver-tongued Greek will write my history.

It was not the sort of prose that would win the Man Booker – free flow writing rarely is – but I was intrigued, and wanted to know more about this old man I’d named Sphax. That hand-written page still sits on my desk, and I might use a line or two from it on the last page of the last chapter of The Histories of Sphax.

I’ve spent a lifetime reading history, mostly ancient and classical history, but when I came to writing and fictionalising it, my perspective began to change. Who was this old man who might have lived at the time of Hannibal? Was he a real historical character, or a fiction? Everything changed when I decided he was a fiction, but grounded in real historical events and figures.

In my search for Sphax I became fascinated by those liminal worlds in the hinterland of fact and fiction, those gaps, contradictions, and yawning spaces that leave recorded history behind and invite invention. I’m reminded of the story about that old reprobate, W. C. Fields, asked by a friend shortly before his death why he was reading the Bible so avidly. ‘Lookin’ for loopholes,’ Field replied.

I know what he meant – not about the Bible – but those loopholes. Perhaps a better word for them might be wormholes – those theoretically unproven phenomena beloved of sci-fi writers – for they take the imagination into an unknown space and into an unknown future. My search for Sphax began with the story of Navaras and Similce.

In Numidian history (Numidia covered where Algeria, Tunisia and parts of Libya and Morocco are today) there’s a wonderful story about one of its princes, a colourful character called Navaras. After the First Punic War (264 – 241 BC) and an outrageous claim for indemnity from Rome (3,200 talents of silver!), Carthage was strapped for cash and couldn’t pay off its mercenary armies, who promptly mutinied and began what is known as the Truceless War. 

At first, Navaras sided with the rebels, but on witnessing at first hand their atrocities, he sought an honourable way to switch sides. He did this by riding alone into the enemy camp and pitching up miraculously unscathed outside the pavilion of his arch-enemy, Hamilcar Barca. There he pledged his Numidians to the cause of Carthage. As in all good fairytale endings, such reckless audacity was rewarded with the hand in marriage of Hamilcar’s daughter.

To my delight, Navaras and his Barca bride then conveniently disappeared from history. Not a single classical historian can tell me what happened to Navaras and – I’ve called her Similce – after this one recorded historical event. There’s the wormhole.

Now I’m free to invent a future for them. Did they have children? A son perhaps? At last Sphax is beginning to come to life! Hamilcar Barca is none other than Hannibal’s father; which means Similce was his sister (Hannibal had two – but we don’t know their names), and Sphax’s his nephew. This just gets better and better …

Sphax is seventeen when The Walls of Rome begins, and has spent the last ten years as a miserable slave in Rome. Somehow, I had to get a seven year old taken into slavery around 229/228. In 229 BC Rome declared war on Queen Teuta of Illyria. She’s another colourful character, often referred to as the ‘Pirate Queen,’ and after losing her disastrous war with Rome when her lover (probably?), Demetrius, betrays her, conveniently disappears from history. Another wormhole? Definitely … and the dates fit perfectly.

Now it’s just a matter of joining the dots. I’ve got a sinking feeling Sphax’s imaginary parents are going to come to a sticky end somewhere off the island of Corcyra (Corfu, where Demetrius surrendered his Illyrian garrison to Rome), and he’ll be taken into slavery and sent to Rome. That would explain his loathing of Rome, his desire for revenge and motivation for joining Hannibal’s army. Sphax’s genes also point to an innate recklessness, intelligence and culture. Not bad from one wormhole, and the Pirate Queen offers up even more opportunities in the future.

This is how I began thinking about The Histories of Sphax; juggling dozens of tiny jigsaw pieces, fragments of history that would tell the story of Hannibal’s war with Rome through the eyes of a young Numidian with powerful connections to Carthage. Exploring these liminal worlds is why I took up writing in the first place. So essentially, I write fiction not historiography. For me a novel is an exercise of the imagination, but at the same time, I never play fast and loose with real history: names, dates, places, battles etc. These are sacrosanct. But wormholes are free game!

Robert M. Kidd

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About the Author
Robert M. Kidd (it’s a pen name) studied composition at UCNW with William Mathias. His music has been broadcast and widely performed in Britain, Europe and the U.S. In 2006 he received the prestigious Creative Wales Award to enable him to write orchestral music, and recent work has been premiered by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. CD recordings are available on the Prima Facie (ASC), Meridian, Metier and Composers of Wales labels. Six years ago he felt he’d painted himself into a creative corner and needed a way out. Writing a novel was his escape, and since then he hasn’t looked back. Now he divides his time between writing music and words. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and when he’s not waging war on Rome, enjoys hill walking, is a keen amateur naturalist, and like his hero Sphax, loves horses. Find out more at and find him on Facebook and Twitter @RobertMKidd1

21 April 2021

Special Guest Interview with Philipp Schott, Author of The Willow Wren

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The touching and nuanced portrait of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany through the eyes of a resourceful German boy.

I'm pleased to welcome author Philipp Schott to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book.

The Willow Wren is a memory of memories. It is the story of my father's childhood in Nazi Germany, before, during, and after the war. He had always meant to write his memoirs, but he died too young, so I took it upon myself to reconstruct what I could remember of the stories he told and the memories of other family members. I filled in the details from historical research and reasonable conjecture. I call it a novel, but it's bones are non-fiction.

In the book, my father, Ludwig, is an odd and introverted child. His father, Wilhelm, is a senior official in the Nazi Party in Leipzig, while Ludwig escapes the unfolding catastrophe by withdrawing into nature and books. Eventually the devastating Allied bombing campaign makes this impossible. Wilhelm uses his connections to evacuate the family from Leipzig. Ludwig is sent to a Hitler Youth camp, where his oddness makes him a target for sadistic bullying. Here, however, the first signs of inner strength also begin to show.

As the war turns against Germany, the Hitler Youth camp is run on ever more severe and militaristic lines. With Wilhelm presumed dead, and Ludwig’s mother descending into depression, the eleven-year-old bears increasing responsibility for the survival of the family as starvation sets in under Russian occupation. where it is becoming clear that one form of totalitarianism is being replaced by another. Soon, it will be impossible to leave the Russian zone, so Ludwig decides that he must rally his despondent mother and lead her and his three younger siblings in an escape attempt to the west.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I'm a morning person, so I'm able to get an early start, but I find I can only sit at a computer for an hour or so before becoming antsy, so I alternate writing with walking. Walking is also brilliant for getting my mind unstuck and generating new ideas. I'll be thinking about nothing at all, or the birds and the trees and the sky, and then suddenly a phrase or a plot point will come scuttling in, crabwise, from the side.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Silence your inner critic and just get words on the page. Set a modest daily or weekly word count target and then do your best to hit it, no matter how uninspired you feel. You'll often find momentum building once you get going. It can be like a rocket trying to achieve escape velocity - most of the energy is needed in the first few minutes. Sometimes that rocket crashes back to earth, but that's ok, just clean up and launch again.

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

Engaging with the Goodreads community and getting to know your local bookseller are good places to start. For the former, claim your author page and make yourself familiar with all the tools they offer. For the latter, be a friendly cheerful presence in their shop and attend other author's events.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

The denazification process that my grandfather went through surprised me. The Western Allies knew that they needed former Nazis to help run West Germany because most of the educated class had been in the party, but they had to figure out a way to change their views. How they did this and how they learned from the mistakes after the end of WWI was fascinating.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The first time I had to write my grandfather spouting extremist Nazi views. It was so at odds with the kind, gentle, cultured, sophisticated grandfather I knew when I visited Germany as a child. I didn't fully understand the reasons for the distance between my father and him until I began to write this.

What are you planning to write next?

I've almost finished the third in my series of collections of veterinary stories (my day job is as a small animal veterinarian), and I'm also close to finishing my second mystery novel (the first will be published by ECW Press next spring). But in my head I'm already writing a historical novel based on the life of the Danish explorer, Jens Munk (1579-1628). And recently I suddenly had a vision of a secret underground city, deep under Winnipeg, so I may explore something more fantasy-tinged as well...

Philipp Schott

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About the Author

Philipp Schott was born in Germany in 1965. He emigrated to Canada and grew up in Saskatoon, regularly returning to Germany to visit. Philipp studied biology the University of Saskatchewan before switching to veterinary medicine. After graduation in 1990 he moved to Winnipeg with his future wife, Lorraine. Except for a year taken to backpack around the world, he’s been in the same Winnipeg small animal practice since 1990. His writing began with blogging about travel and veterinary medicine, and his first book, The Accidental Veterinarian, was published by ECW Press in 2019.A particular fan of long-distance walking, Philipp has completed the West Highland Way, Hadrian's Wall, and the Inca Trail, among others. Find out more at Philipp’s website and find him on Twitter @philippwschott

20 April 2021

Author Interview with Scott Mariani, Author of The Pandemic Plot

New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

When ex-SAS major Ben Hope is urgently recalled to the UK from his base in France to assist with a family crisis, little does he know that he’s about to be drawn into one of the most dangerous missions of his career: his son Jude has been accused of a brutal murder, and all the evidence points to his guilt.

I'm pleased to welcome author Scott Mariani to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

First of all, thank you for having me – it’s an honour! I’m pretty prolific, so there are really two ‘latest’ books coming in the near future. One is THE PANDEMIC PLOT, which is the 23rd novel in my series featuring ex-SAS major Ben Hope. And the other, THE CAGE, marks the start of a brand-new detective series, starring the new character of DI Tom McAllister. Tom has actually appeared in a couple of Ben Hope books but is now getting his first solo outing. 

THE PANDEMIC PLOT, to be released in May 2021, may not be quite what you’d expect given current global events – rather, it’s a contemporary tale set against the backdrop of the early 1900s, World War I, and a certain pandemic that’s less well known these days but remains the worst in modern history. Meanwhile, THE CAGE (coming out in July) is a psychological thriller set in Tom McAllister’s stamping grounds of Oxford and surrounding areas. In this one, a serial killer is targeting child sex offenders recently released from jail, and Tom’s task is to bring the assassin to justice. Things get fairly complicated . . . but then again, don’t they always!

What is your preferred writing routine?

I’m better in the morning, although lately I’ve been working on two books at once (not recommended, by the way), and so there’s an afternoon shift. The day wraps up whenever it does, and then you run for your pint of beer or glass of wine, whatever comes to hand, and zonk out for the evening. I try to have weekends off, though that’s often a luxury one cannot afford. Whoever said this job was going to be easy?

What advice do you have for new writers?

Don’t do it. Seriously, the worst mistake you can make in this business is to believe there’s a career path laid out for you. You will have to hack and chop your way to whatever success you can, and it takes a lot of determination and a degree of self-belief that probably borders on the pathological. But for those who have what it takes to come up with great ideas and the ability to see them through, the rewards can be equally great – and there’s no better life than that of the happy author.

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

I’m unusual. I’ve never really done much in the way of social media, and never done a book signing or an event. The success of the Ben Hope series has been mainly thanks to good old word-of-mouth promotion; however, along the way I’ve found some odd ways to help that process along. Such as sponsoring a tee at Cardigan golf club, near where I live in west Wales. Whenever golfers from all around the UK came to play the course, they’d see the sign (very picturesquely situated on the 10th hole, with the blue waters of lovely Cardigan Bay glittering in the background) and wonder who the hell this Scott Mariani person was. As a result, I started to notice more members from all over Wales and beyond joining my fan group. So that definitely had an effect! I suppose it just means you have to be inventive in how you promote yourself.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Each Ben Hope book revolves, to some degree, around a historical mystery of some sort, and so there’s always been a lot of research for me to do into a whole range of subjects. I’ve learned a great deal about history as a result, but one of the most amazing discoveries has come from researching the background to THE PANDEMIC PLOT. I’d never realised before just how devastating and terrible the so-called ‘Spanish’ flu of 1918 really was. Like most people, I knew that it had ravaged Europe and the rest of the world, and claimed millions of lives. But the sheer scale of the horror and suffering so utterly eclipses anything we’ve seen since that it takes your breath away. As for the rest, you’ll just have to read the book!

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Probably the very ending of the second Ben Hope book, THE MOZART CONSPIRACY. I shouldn’t spoil it by giving away too much, but it was extremely distressing to write, and I’ve never been able to look at it again in the dozen or so years since. Lots of readers got upset and emailed me calling me lovely names like ‘you murdering b*****d’ . . . so that might give you a clue what the scene entailed. It was not, emphatically not, a happy ending to the story. Still one of the biggest sellers of the series, despite that!

What are you planning to write next?

There’s always more to come. Right now I’m working on the 24th Ben Hope novel, which will be out in November 2021 and titled THE CRUSADER’S CROSS. It’s a fast-paced action thriller, but with an interesting historical backdrop to do with the Second Crusade and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Once that’s finished I’ll be moving straight on with the following Ben Hope adventure – no idea what that is yet – and the next Tom McAllister thriller, which I’m going to call THE SPIDER TRAP. But nothing is set in stone, because when a new idea suddenly comes to you out of the blue, sometimes you have to give it precedence and abandon everything else. That’s all part of the fun of this job!

Scott Mariani

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About the Authors

Scott Mariani is the author of the bestselling thriller series featuring ex-SAS hero Ben Hope. Scott’s novels have topped the charts in his native Britain and are translated into 25 languages. Scott’s novels combine thriller action with historical mystery, forming the backdrop to the modern-day adventures of hard-driving soldier Ben Hope as he travels all over the globe in an unending quest to protect the innocent and bring bad guys to justice – as only he can.  Scott was born in Scotland, later studied at Oxford and ended up living there. Deciding after university that a career in academia didn’t suit him, he pursued his ambition to write for a living. During what turned out to be a long process of reaching that goal, he worked in various jobs from teaching English and music, running a burger bar, and playing in bands. Eventually leaving Oxfordshire and moving to the tranquil and beautiful setting of rural west Wales, the idea for the Ben Hope character came to him while hiking in the countryside with his dogs. The first Ben Hope book, The Alchemist’s Secret, went on to spend six straight weeks at #1 in the charts and sell publishing rights across the world. Every book since has been a bestseller, and there is no end in sight for the Ben Hope series. When he isn’t hard at work on his next book, Scott can be found (and sometimes heard) pursuing his other interests which include shooting, archery and astronomy. Find out more from Scott's website 

19 April 2021

Historical Fiction Spotlight: Songbird: a novel of the Tudor Court, by Karen Heenan

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

She has the voice of an angel...

But one false note could send her back to her old life of poverty.

After her father sells her to Henry VIII, ten-year-old Bess builds a new life as a royal minstrel, and earns the nickname "the king's songbird." 

She comes of age in the dangerous Tudor court, where the stakes are always high, and where politics, heartbreak, and disease threaten everyone from the king to the lowliest musician.

Her world has only one constant: Tom, her first and dearest friend. But when Bess intrigues with Anne Boleyn and strains against the restrictions of life at court, will she discover that the biggest risk of all is listening to her own stubborn heart?

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About the Author

Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she could read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams -- which which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing. She lives in Lansdowne, PA, with two cats and a very patient husband, and is currently hard at work on her next book. Find out more at Karen's website and find her on Twitter @karen_heenan

18 April 2021

Special Guest Post by Steven Pilbeam, Author of The Heron Ring

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

 ‘I am Iphigenia. Daughter of King Agamemnon.
History says I died. I lived.’ 

Argive Greece, 1200 BC. Mighty King Agamemnon kills his daughter to save his warships. Or does he? When Iphigenia of Mycenae betrays her father, words of destiny are spoken that hurl her into the path of Aletes. The herdsman must battle his own fate to discover who he is, as he collides with Iphigenia and the armies of Troy. Think you know the great stories of Troy? Unwrite history, undo legend, uncover the truth…

The Story Behind the Story

The trouble with the greatest stories ever told, is they have been told a great deal. With historical fiction set in ancient Troy and Greece, we know the legends, we know the heroes, we know the face that launched a thousand ships. I knew I wanted to write an epic adventure, and I knew I was fascinated by the world of warriors and war of Bronze Age Greece. But I wanted my story to be new. 

Rather like the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who unearthed the ancient treasures of Mycenae and Troy, I dug up a gem from Bronze Age legend. 


Iphigenia was the daughter of King Agamemnon. The niece of Helen of Troy. Yet I was surprised to find Iphigenia’s story thin and contradictory. Agamemnon, Achilles, Hector, Paris – these male figures have been written, rewritten, overwritten. 

But Iphigenia? Like so many women of the past, her truth has been lost. Playwright Euripides, writing in the 5th Century BC, has Iphigenia ordered to death by her father (Iphigenia in Aulis) because the king has offended the gods. To save his warships, the king must make amends by sacrificing his daughter. Yet, Euripides has Iphigenia being rescued by the gods at the last moment in another play (Iphigenia in Tauris).

And so, Iphigenia became the hilt to my sword. Hers, the first words on my page. I had my hero – and she was a woman.  It got me thinking. What if Iphigenia escaped? How would that act of defiance affect politics? Family? Agamemnon’s temper is famous – surely, he would be furious. What about his warships? Would the Trojan War ever happen?

As the prologue of The Heron Ring reads: 

‘I am Iphigenia. Daughter of King Agamemnon. Twice married to dead kings. Promised to Achilles, greatest warrior who ever lived. I defied the most ruthless king to set foot in history. I betrayed my father.’

Iphigenia would need help. Introducing Aletes. He is modest. Happy with his quiet life. Until the Fates weave their work. The herdsman and Iphigenia collide early in the book. The mighty names of legend are there too – Agamemnon, Menelaus, Achilles, Hector, Paris, Helen of Troy – but in The Heron Ring they are supporting cast. This allowed me to create an original story in a genre so well-known. I wanted a theatre of characters in a world of epic proportions to accurately reflect Greece as a superpower of antiquity.  

Another original character is Melampus, a short, bald headed veteran with a voice that grates like bronze tyres on gravel. The men follow him without hesitation – you meet him in the first chapter: 

‘First Spear Melampus ploughed past Aletes, scratching a deep line in the dirt with the bronze point of his weapon, his short, bandy legs braced, swarthy face set like that of a cornered boar.'

The banter between Melampus and Aletes forms much of the humour of the book – or so I ho Now we come to recreating the world of Bronze Age Greece – also known as Mycenaean Greece, after the most powerful of its city states, Mycenae. Research took me years, and I wrote the book over ten years. Little is known because there is archaeological evidence Mycenaean Greece was conquered and destroyed. 

After three thousand years, all that remains are mainly weapons and treasure left in tombs, artwork on pottery, and fragments of frescoes. The written language of the time, Linear B, has been deciphered, but largely documents materials and stocks. In other words, we know the basics. We know what people in Mycenaean Greece ate, that they used swords and shields, were rich in gold and precious jewels. But we don’t know what these people thought. Or felt. Or even, their names. 

What was clear was that people met death in the eye – none more so than warriors. Minds guided by their gods, bodies built muscle on muscle like the stone slabs of their giant fortresses. Epic battles. Glorious courage. Yet the basic aspects of their lives – friendships, family, love – are the same as we face in 2021.

I am not a trained writer or historian, but I’ve written my whole life – to me it’s as essential as breathing. I’ve read and reread every book going on Greek mythology and history. I’ve travelled to the jewels of the ancient world – Mycenae, Hisarlik, Athens, Rome. I came away from each place with another chapter in my mind, another character on my fingertips.  

The test of a good book is if you cannot put it down. My aim for The Heron Ring is to make your arms ache, like the archaeologists digging up history with trowels in their hands. I hope you don’t notice the ache until it’s too late. Until you realise you’ve had the book in your hands so long because you couldn’t put it down.  

Steven Pilbeam

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About the Author

Steven Pilbeam is a retired businessman who wrote The Heron Ring over ten years, so vast was the historical research and epic nature of the story. He would begin writing at 5am every day before work. History-obsessed, he is to be found invariably with a book in hand, documentary on screen, or visiting ancient sites around the world – most of which he has explored ten times before, much to the dismay of his family! Now writing full-time, he is working on an epic set in Rome. The book is based on the true story of an inspirational leader betrayed by his people. Steven has three children: James is a partner in chartered accountancy, Louisa and Katie are television journalists. He describes the luckiest day of his life as the one he met his wife, Wendy. Coincidentally, she counts this as her unluckiest! Find Steven on Instagram: @Stevenpilbeamauthor and Twitter: @StevenPilbeam

17 April 2021

Book Launch Spotlight: For Better and Worse, by E B Roshan

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Boris and Anna's first baby is due any day, but the thought of raising a child in the war-torn city of Dor fills Anna with dread. Because Boris is so focused on keeping his struggling business afloat, he brushes her fears aside. When White Horse gangsters attack his illegal employee, Boris's attempt to protect him puts his own family in danger. Will doing the right thing cost him more than he's willing to pay? Will Boris and Anna live to see their second anniversary?

I'm pleased to announce the release of "For Better and Worse," the fourth novel in Shards of Sevia, the ongoing Dystopian/Romantic Suspense series.

Excerpt from For Better and Worse:

As I stepped into the back garden, the rising wind chilled my nose and blew feathers of snow against my eyelashes. Except for the crackle of a distant machine gun, the city seemed to be sleeping off last night's parties.
I stepped off the cement path and kicked at the half-frozen soil.
My coat didn't zip over my belly anymore, so I held it closed with one hand. In the other, I carried Boris's pistol, making sure the barrel pointed straight down.
Could the baby sense what I was thinking? Could he taste the salty edge of my fear? 
The muscles in my stomach quivered, then clenched. I took slow deep breaths, waiting for the tension to pass. According to the results of my Google search for "Signs of Early Labor," those strange, not-exactly-pain cramps might mean the baby was coming soon. Or they might mean nothing. After all, the baby—did I really want to call him Alexander?—wasn't due until the sixth. I pushed on the top of my belly, and he pushed back with both tiny feet. 
I'd asked Boris to get rid of his pistol more than once. Guns were expensive, but maybe he could sell it back to Maxim. He'd stared at me, those dark eyebrows knitting together. "I got it to protect us."
Boris didn't realize it gave him confidence he shouldn't feel, a false promise that he could stop the violence outside from pushing into our home. Why did he still think he had any control over what was happening in our city? 
Boris and Arjun could have both been killed last night. If things had gone just a little differently—I closed the doors of my mind firmly on that thought and locked them.
Burying the gun seemed the best plan. I stopped in front of the flower bed, where dried stalks of marigold plants stuck out of the snow. My boots were already pinching my swollen feet; I should have borrowed Uncle Peter's to clump around in instead. 
I didn't know much about guns, but I was pretty certain that being buried in a flower bed wouldn't be good for one. Squatting down, I eased my taut belly into place between my knees and uprooted one of the withered marigolds. The soil was laced with ice crystals, but not frozen solid. Using the barrel end of the gun, I scraped the hole bigger, making sure my fingers didn't get anywhere near the trigger.
Boris would be hurt that I didn't trust him. Angry. But I didn't know another way to explain the desperation I felt inside.
Dear God, let him see it's time to go, I prayed silently. Make it so clear a blind person couldn't miss it.
I pressed the gun into the ground. With grimy fingers, I scooped a handful of bullets out of my sweater pocket and dropped them in the hole, too.

E.B. Roshan

# # #

About the Author

E.B. Roshan has enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle for several years, living in the Middle East and Asia. Now she is temporarily settled in Missouri with her husband and two sons, where she works with the local refugee community. When she's not cooking, cleaning, or chasing the boys, she's writing the latest instalment in Shards of Sevia, her ongoing romantic suspense series set in the war-torn (and fortunately fictional) nation of Sevia. To learn more about E.B. Roshan and the Shards of Sevia series, visit:

13 April 2021

Stories of the Tudors Podcast Series Passes 100,000 downloads

I'd like to thank all the listeners who helped my podcast series 'Stories of the Tudors' pass 100,000 downloads. 

My name is Tony Riches. I’m a historical fiction author and specialist in the early Tudors. These podcasts are about the stories I uncovered during my research.  Find out more at my website

12 April 2021

Historical Fiction Spotlight: Murder at Beaulieu Abbey, An Abbess of Meaux mystery by Cassandra Clark

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Death and danger await intrepid nun Hildegard of Meaux when she undertakes a secret mission for the good of her Order, in this eleventh action-packed installment of the medieval mystery series.

February, 1390. Hildegard is given a special assignment by the Prioress of Swyne to escort a young heiress from Beaulieu Abbey to the northern stronghold of Sir William atte Wood. What could be more pleasant than to join a betrothal party, especially as she will be accompanied on the long journey to the New Forest by the two monks militant, Gregory and Egbert.

But there is a more urgent and secret purpose for her mission.

The Western Church is in Schism, with two popes battling for power. The Cistercians are split between the pope in Rome - supported by King Richard - and the pope in Avignon, an ally of the king's French enemies. Which pope will Beaulieu decide to follow? England's future depends on it, and who better than Hildegard to discover Beaulieu's allegiance? But to question such powerful forces brings only death and danger - and even her two militant monks may not be enough to save her.

This action-packed, page-turning medieval mystery is a great choice for fans of holy sleuths like Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma and Paul Doherty's Brother Athelstan.

# # #

About the Author

Cassandra Clark has an M.A. from the University of East Anglia and taught for the Open University on the Humanities Foundation course in subjects as diverse as history, philosophy, music and religion. Since then she has written many plays and contemporary romances as well as the libretti for several chamber operas.  Find out about Cassandra's other books on her website at and follow her on Twitter @nunsleuth

11 April 2021

Special Guest Post by Alistair Forrest, Author of Line in the Sand: The Story of David and Goliath

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

1000 BC. His mother is reviled as a whore and his half-brothers despise him. The best Dhavit of Beth Lechem can do is escape. But just as life couldn’t get much lower for the youth they call Leper, he is recruited as a spy. His mission – to find out about the superior weapons and invasion plans of the warlike Philistines. When he is betrayed, Dhavit is thrown into an arena with two other misfortunates to fight a pair seemingly invincible warriors. Only speed and quick wits can save him. Dhavit believes he is chosen by the gods and finds himself revered in the Philistine court, whose rulers want to declare war on his people. At the head of the Philistine forces is the famed Golyat, a man bred for war and destruction. A vicious conflict for supremacy is sure to follow.

Capturing a Sense of Place, Part Two: David & Goliath

Alistair Forrest draws on an upbringing in the Middle East and a love of ancient history to explore fact and fiction surrounding a famous Bible story.

David and Goliath by Caravaggio

I’m an author of fiction, not a historian. So I don’t worry too much that some boffins and maybe religious folk might find my account of the David & Goliath story, Line in the Sand, a little annoying.

Instead, I hope lovers of historical fiction will accept that I have filled in some gaps that the ancient scribes left in their telling. This is how it might have been before the religious scribes got their hands on the tale.

I count myself lucky to have spent my childhood and early teens in three Middle Eastern countries and subsequently to have travelled widely as a journalist, always delving into the history that made each place what it is today. I’ve always had a burning passion to write historical fiction, in this instance fuelled by two years studying theology straddled by my early years as a newspaper reporter.

We know there are inconsistencies and contradictions across the several Biblical books that report the story of King David, leaving many questions unanswered. So, following my journalist’s mantra, ‘Never let the facts get in the way of a good story’, I have drawn on my studies of the ancient Near East and Old Testament history – let’s call these ‘the facts’ – and unleashed my imagination and love of ‘a good yarn’.

In reality, there are very few facts. The only archaeological reference to King David would appear to be a reference to the House of David on a ninth century stela found at Tel Dan in northern Israel in 1993. Most of the Biblical texts were written down long after the events surrounding David’s rise to power, with the two books of Samuel the earliest account.

Fair game, then? I decided that this bullied young shepherd should become a spy, find himself betrayed in the Philistine city where giants lived, be tortured and face branding as a slave, fight a giant called Golyat (Goliath) in a gladiatorial arena, rescue a Philistine princess and ultimately escape to warn the Israelites of pending doom.

You might think you know what happens next. Dream on. I have tried to anchor the story in certain Biblical facts, such as the tensions between the agricultural kingdom of Judah and the five Philistine city states, and the settling of scores in single combat (and who wouldn’t nominate a nine-foot warrior as champion?).

Which brings us to Goliath, or more accurately, ‘Golyat’.

At the outset of writing Line in the Sand, I listened to a very convincing lecture by Professor Jeffrey R. Zorn of Cornell University, entitled Who Was Goliath? in which he suggests that the Philistine giant was an elite chariot warrior. Most modern depictions of Goliath are as a very large foot-soldier, but Zorn points out his armour and weapons as detailed in 1 Samuel 17: 4-7 would indicate an Aegean/Levantine chariot warrior who was probably transported to the ideal position in a battle to wreak the most havoc.

While researching for the book, I was in touch with Professor Aren Maier, director of the Tel es-Safi excavations that have uncovered so much about ancient Gath, whence the giant came, including an inscription thought to include his name or at least something similar.

Excavating Goliath’s Gath

I am also indebted to the British Egyptologist and author David Rohl, not least for succinct explanations of his New Chronology theories, specifically his interpretation of the Amarna letters and probable references to King Saul.

Books that have helped me include the Bible of course, The King David Report by Stefan Heym; The Source by James A. Michener; David’s Secret Demons by Baruch Halpern, and various books published by Osprey about warfare in the ancient Middle East.

I have read many books about ancient Israel both on-line and in my studies, too numerous to mention, all influential in their way. But somehow I still feel as though I know nothing when compared with the likes of Maier, Zorn and Rohl. I hope these knowledgeable historians will forgive my diversion from ‘what is known’ to ‘what might have been’.

What next?  Although currently focusing on post-Republic Roman themes at the behest of my publisher Sharpe Books, especially the upheaval following the assassination of Julius Caesar (Libertas, Nest of Vipers, Viper Pit), I hope one day to return to my formative years in the Middle East and extensive studies of ancient Mesopotamia, including the amazing stories waiting to be reimagined of Assyrians, Israelites, Phoenicians and Philistines.

And while there’s ink my pen, I must surely make the most of the archaeological dig just a few yards from my home in Alderney (Channel Islands) where archaeologists Jason Monaghan and Phil de Jersey have uncovered well-preserved remains of Roman and Iron Age settlements. The historian Dan Snow is keenly interested in the site. But that’s yet another story that must wait until the pandemic allows digging to resume…

An Iron Age skeleton is discovered beneath a Roman floor at Longis, Alderney. Photo: David Nash

Alistair Forrest

# # #

About the Author

Alistair Forrest is a journalist, editor and author of historical fiction. He has worked for several UK newspapers, edited magazines in the travel, photographic and natural products sectors, and owned a PR company. He is author of Libertas and the Agents of Rome series, Nest of Vipers and Viper Pit. A third in this series is due out in summer 2021. He lives in the Channel Islands with his wife Lynda. They have five children, two Maremma dogs and a Spanish cat, Achilles. His books are published by Sharpe Books of London. Alistair loves to hear from readers. Contact him through his website and find Alistair on Twitter @alistairforrest

10 April 2021

Book Two of the Elizabethan Series: Essex - Tudor Rebel

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is one of the most intriguing men of the Elizabethan period. Tall and handsome, he soon becomes a ‘favourite’ at court, so close to the queen many wonder if they are lovers.

The truth is far more complex, as each has what the other yearns for. Robert Devereux longs for recognition, wealth and influence. His flamboyant naïveté amuses the ageing Queen Elizabeth, like the son she never had, and his vitality makes her feel young.

Continuing the story of the Tudors, begun in the best-selling Tudor trilogy, this epic tale of loyalty, love and adventure follows Robert Devereux from his youth to his fateful rebellion.

Sir Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

9 April 2021

Special Guest Post by Wendy J. Dunn, Author of Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Dońa Beatriz Galindo. Respected scholar. Tutor to royalty. Friend and advisor to Queen Isabel of Castile. Beatriz is an uneasy witness to the Holy War of Queen Isabel and her husband, Ferdinand, King of Aragon. A holy war seeing the Moors pushed out of territories ruled by them for centuries.

Writing Falling Pomegranate Seeds 

Absolutely thrilled with the news that Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters has reached the semi-finalist list in the 2020 Chaucer Award!

While I now attempt to forget about the competition and my hope that I learn more good news on April 21st,, (when the finalists are announced), I thought I would like to share with you the inspiration behind this work.

A footnote. Sometimes it takes just a footnote to set my imagination alight. Years ago, I found such a footnote, in Isabel la Católica, Queen of Castile: critical essays, a book of academic essays about the times, influence and mythology of Isabel of Castile[1] , the mother of Katherine of Aragon. Katherine, of course, was Henry VIII's wife, and went to her grave calling herself that. Really, that's not surprising considering that she was a devout Catholic, and had been married to Henry for over twenty years, and let's not forget their five dead babies and one living daughter, before he decided to replace her with Anne Boleyn. But back to my footnote.

This footnote introduced me to Dońa Beatriz Galindo (1465/75? -1534)- a woman who taught not only Katherine of Aragon, but also Latin to Queen Isabel herself. Latin was the necessary language of Medieval diplomacy for the Christian world, but, because she was 'female' and an unforeseen successor to her half-brother’s throne, Isabel was not schooled or expected to learn this language in her childhood and early youth. As a mother, Isabel remembered how her own education did not prepare her for her future life. She ensured her five children received the best education possible by employing the best teachers for them.

When I decided to explore in Falling Pomegranate Seeds the forces that originally shaped Katherine of Aragon (or Catalina as she was known to her family) during her time at the court of her mother, I turned to Beatriz Galindo to tell this fictionalised story of Katherine's early years. Beatriz was a perfect subject for me as a writer of fiction. I could only find the barest bones of her life story, which offered me a huge gap to fill with the use of my imagination; but what fascinating bones I had to play with. Beatriz was a scholar, a poet - sadly, like so many talented women of the past, her work is lost to us - and such a gifted Latin teacher that she lectured at the University of Salamanca. She also lectured on Aristotle, medicine and rhetoric. And did I mention she was a wife and mother as well?

I felt in awe of Beatriz when I started writing Falling Pomegranate Seeds. I could not help wondering how it must have been for her - a woman who lived a life denied to most women in the Medieval period. Did it come at a personal cost? That question opened up a lot of 'what if' questions that acted as midwives to my imagination.

My imagination constructed Beatriz as a woman who lived a life that challenged the status quo. In a male dominated society, Beatriz somehow, and extraordinarily so, rewrote her life story. She appeared to have both worked with and resisted a society that could have easily prevented her from reaching her true potential.

A recognised scholar and a respected advisor to Queen Isabel, wife of King Ferdinand of Aragon, a kingdom of lesser importance than Castile, Beatriz lived in a time of great change and upheaval - accompanying her Queen during the 'Holy War', Queen Isabel's campaign to 'cleanse' her country of the Moors, which closed the door upon hundreds of years of Islamic influence in Castile. Beatriz Galindo was also a personal friend to the Queen. As a member of Queen Isabel's court, she frequently accompanied the queen in her court's peripatetic journey around her kingdom while employed as Katherine of Aragon's tutor, and likely the tutor to Katherine's three sisters.

Beatriz Galindo seems almost forgotten by world history, yet she deserves to be remembered. Her one and only biography, written in Spanish, is still untranslated and thus unavailable to the English-speaking world. As a tutor of Katherine of Aragon, a woman known and respected for her intelligence and learning, I believe we can say that Beatriz's influence continued into the reign of Henry VIII of England and beyond.

History tells us that Beatriz Galindo was a scholar of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. This philosopher spoke loudly and clearly his views concerning women who he saw as "unfinished men" and vessels simply designed for childbearing. It intrigued me that Beatriz Galindo studied Aristotle and wrote commentaries about him. Did her resistance to and questioning of his beliefs result in her own empowerment and reshaping her life to one that allowed fulfilment? I could not help thinking about how such a teacher could have influenced Katherine of Aragon.

Falling Pomegranate Seeds is set during the time that saw Columbus discovering the "New World" and Isabel and her husband Ferdinand engaged in their Holy War. Married to Francisco Ramírez, master of the King Ferdinand's artillery, Beatriz Galindo was an eyewitness to the fall of Granada. Later, she saw Isabel send into exile her Jewish subjects, after giving them an ultimatum to convert to Christianity. With her passion for learning and knowledge of medicine, I suspect the expulsion the Moors and Jews would have shaken Beatriz's identity to the core, as would have had a later happening: the burning of countless and priceless Islamic manuscripts, which erased knowledge that had come down the centuries.

Envisioning Beatriz made me wonder what it may have cost her to claim her own life. My imagination posed one possible scenario. My imagination also opened the door to Katherine of Aragon, as both child and girl. Katherine was a woman who loved books and learning. As England's very loved Queen, she was the patron of scholars and of the arts. It is not hard to imagine her then as a child who loved to learn. It is not hard to imagine that she would have loved her tutor, Beatriz. The youngest child of five children, Katherine suffered sorrow after sorrow before she left England to begin her life of exile. But she came to England trained and ready to be a queen. Falling Pomegranate Seeds imagines how that happened.

Wendy J. Dunn 

Reference list:

Boruchoff, D. A. 2003, Isabel la Católica, Queen of Castile: critical essays, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Denzin, N. K. and Y. S. Lincoln 2003 Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials. Thousand Oaks, Calif., Sage.

[1] Studying that book is also the reason why I call Isabel of Castile Isabel rather than Isabella. One of the essays strongly suggests that Isabella originated as a form of belittlement of this strong Queen - who was referred to as 'King' during her long and world changing reign.

# # #

About the Author

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian author, playwright and poet who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel. While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally. Wendy tutors at Swinburne University in their Master of Arts (Writing) program. Find out more at her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyjdunn