25 May 2022

Historical Fiction Spotlight: The Road to Murder: A Tudor espionage thriller (Tom Walsingham Mysteries Book 1) by C. P. Giuliani


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A new spymaster thriller series set during the reign of Elizabeth I! - Will Tom Walsingham’s first mission be his last…?

England, 1581: Nineteen-year-old Thomas Walsingham is thrilled to be working as a confidential courier, carrying messages between London and Paris for his illustrious cousin, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham … until everything goes wrong.

Tasked with escorting an English glove-maker to the French Court, Tom is also playing messenger for the Duke of Anjou, Queen Elizabeth’s French suitor, as well as carrying confidential instructions to the English Ambassador in Paris.

When French soldiers assault his convoy en route, Tom loses a letter he had sewn into his clothes. And the next morning, the glove-maker is found stabbed to death.

Determined to prove himself, despite failing so disastrously in his mission, Tom pushes on to Paris, but when he gets there, he discovers the glove-maker may not have been who he said he was.

Certain the queen may now be at risk, Tom is determined to report back to Sir Francis, but he cannot afford to wait for official orders.

Who was the glove-maker working for? Why was he killed?

Isolated and without a passport, Tom must travel incognito and return to the English court before anyone else ends up dead…

The Road to Murder is a page-turning espionage adventure thriller set during the Elizabethan era in Tudor England. It is the first book in The Tom Walsingham Mysteries series.

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About the Author

C. P. Giuliani lives in Mantua, Italy, and 
began by studying the Classics and International Relations – and then swerved to the timber trade first, and later the pen and the stage. A passion for history and stories has led her to write historical fiction both in Italian and English. She also writes, directs, teaches playwriting, does backstage work, and very occasionally understudies with Mantua’s historic Compagnia Campogalliani. Find out more from her website https://claragiuliani.com/ and find her on Twitter @laClarina

24 May 2022

Blog Tour Guest Post ~ The Oath: The Druid Chronicles, Book One, by A.M. Linden


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

When the last of members of a secretive Druid cult are forced to abandon their hidden sanctu-ary, they send the youngest of their remaining priests in search of Annwr, their chief priestess’s sister, who was abducted by a Saxon war band fifteen years ago. With only a rudimentary grasp of English and the ambiguous guidance of an oracle’s prophecy, Caelym manages to find Annwr living in a hut on the grounds of a Christian convent.


The start of the story that turned first into The Oath and went on from there to become The Druid Chronicles was an image that came to me when I was toying with the idea of writing a medieval murder mystery. I did not have a particular plot or an exact time in mind, but pictured two youngish people—a tall, dark-haired man wearing a hooded cloak and a small woman in a nun’s habit—having a conversation by candlelight in a cramped, dirt-walled chamber. 

While I didn’t yet have any idea why they were there or what they were talking about, I was somehow certain that the man was a Druid priest; the woman was a Saxon nun, and the chamber was underneath a Christian shrine. Those “facts” set the narrative’s timeframe, fixing it between the completion of the Saxon conversion to Christianity in the late 600’s and the Viking invasions a century later.

Having fixed the time period for my saga in the early medieval period, I began my research by reading relevant historical texts with a focus on the conversion first of the native Britons and later of the Saxon kingdoms to Christianity. 

In order to fill out my vision of a secretive cult living in a hidden valley and continuing to practice a pre-Christian, polytheistic religion, I extended my investigation back to the European Iron Age, a period during which our understanding of people’s lives relies on archaeology—following that by reading accounts of Druids written by Greek and Roman commentators.

With this as a background, I went on to immerse myself in accounts of life in monasteries and villages, medieval farming and folktale, cooking over firepits and treating medical problems with herbs and incantations. It was during this phase of my research that I traveled to the United Kingdom with my husband and the Ordnance Survey map of ancient monuments in Great Britain, Scotland, and Wales. We started each of three trips at the British Museum. 

Then we rented a car, unfolded our map, and set out across country, taking in several of the well-maintained and highly informative heritage sites—including the awe-inspiring Stonehenge—but also following back roads, stopping at local museums in small towns with amazing displays of finds from nearby excavations, and taking advantage of the UK’s system of public access walkways to visit the vestiges of iron age hill forts or secluded standing stones in the company of modern-day sheep.

As I was then still working full time, this research and travel was spread out over a number of years, and I didn’t return to the draft of my manuscript until I retired. Since then I have substantially re-written it, incorporating my better understanding of its historical context. 

A number of books foundational to this series can be found on the Celtic History and Anglo-Saxon History shelves of my Goodreads book pages. Given the time lapse since the start of my research, I continue to follow new discoveries in the field via online resources including Early Medieval Archaeology.

A.M. Linden

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About the Author

Ann Margaret Linden was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up on the east coast of the United States before returning to the Pacific Northwest as a young adult. She has undergradu-ate degrees in anthropology and in nursing and a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner. After working in a variety of acute care and community health settings, she took a position in a pro-gram for children with special health care needs where her responsibilities included writing clinical reports, parent educational materials, provider newsletters, grant submissions and other program related materials. The Druid Chronicles began as a somewhat whimsical decision to write something for fun and ended up becoming a lengthy journey that involved Linden taking adult education creative writing courses, researching early British history, and traveling to England, Scotland, and Wales. Retired from nursing, she lives with her husband and their cat and dog in the northwest corner of Washington State. Find out more at Ann's website and find her on Goodreads

23 May 2022

Blog tour: Before Beltane (Celtic Fervour Series) by Nancy Jardine

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Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US


AD 71 Northern Britannia: At the Islet of the Priestesses, acolyte Nara greets each new day eager to heal the people at Tar-ras Hillfort. Weapon training is a guilty pleasure, but she is devastated when she is unexpected-ly denied the final rites of an initiated priestess. A shocking new future beckons for Princess Nara of the Selgovae…

Excerpt from Before Beltane: Nara-Summoned to Swatrega

Nara pulled back the heavy leather cover that kept draughts from entering the roundhouse and ducked under it.
   The first thing she noticed was the pall of aromatic smoke that lingered and danced high up in the roofbeams, and the heavy burning smell that permeated the dwelling. Swatrega and the priestess diviner had been casting prophecies.
   At the far end of the large room, Swatrega sat alone in silence. The eyes of the High Priestess were closed, though Nara guessed the woman was not asleep. She stood awaiting the invitation to go further into the room. It came eventually, by which time Nara was feeling extremely unsettled, wondering what she could have done to merit the censure she now feared was coming to her.
   “Come and sit by me, Princess Nara of Tarras.”
   Swatrega’s tone was not angry. This disturbed Nara even more. The use of the term ‘princess’ was yet another reminder of her tribal status, and not a good sign at all.
   Nara made her way to the end of the fireside, to a low-burning fire that gave out just enough heat to warm the priestess, who sat on the stool that had specially carved sides and was created for the one who led the order. Swatrega was enwrapped in a thick blanket of close-woven wool of a mud-brown colour, the material similar to the acolyte cloaks.
   Only after Nara was settled on the short wooden bench beside her did Swatrega begin to speak again.
   “You have been here for many seasons and, for my part, you have always given the impression that you would eventually rise to become one of our best priestesses.” Swatrega broke off, a gruff laugh coming unexpectedly.
   Nara was dazed by the words, a sudden thrill overtaking her natural caution. Was she now to be given her final priestess rites? The elation she was feeling she quickly suppressed from sight – it was not a worthy trait under the eyes of the goddess.
   She also knew it was not her place to answer…though it was her place to listen,
   Swatrega broke eye contact, her focus on the doorway at the far end of the room. “In time, I had even envisaged that you might take my place, here at this priestess home.”
   Once more Nara had to wait, confusion now reigning. The word ‘had’ that Swatrega used did not seem to indicate that she would remain at the nemeton. Did that mean she would leave and go to another priestess settlement? Nara’s head whirled. For some reason, conversations about other priestess villages had been rare, although a visiting priestess was not a completely unheard-of occurrence.
   Talk with the High Priestess about her future had never transpired before. Many times Nara had wanted to ask why her final vows of the priestesshood had been delayed, and further delayed, yet it was never a conversation that she could start. When the goddess willed it, it would happen. She felt her eyes glisten as she focused on the hearth stones.
   Was it about to happen now?
   Nara listened to the huge sigh that came before Swatrega’s attention returned to her.
   “Know now, Princess Nara of Tarras, that time will never ever come. You will never be a High Priestess at any sacred place. The goddess has spoken. She has prophesied a new pathway for you.”
   “A new pathway?” Nara could not control the wobble in her voice that bordered on a squeal, and could only repeat Swatrega’s words. “What does that mean? I do not understand.”
   “The goddess has newly spoken today. You must leave the Islet of the Priestesses. You have only a few things to claim as your own. You will collect them and leave now.”
   “Leave? What have I done?” Nara was horrified. Dread cold replaced the heated excitement that she had been trying to suppress. “Why does the goddess not favour me? Why does she send me away?”
   “Your future is freshly foretold, Nara of Tarras. You are no longer an acolyte of the priestesshood. You must take your place once again at your father’s side in his stronghold…as a woman of the people.”
   Nara fell to her knees beside the High Priestess and grasped Swatrega’s thin and bony fingers, tears stinging and dripping from her chin. “I still do not understand your words. My father has never had any need of me at Tarras. He hates the very sight of me. Why must I return there?” Relentless tears continued to stream down Nara’s cheeks. “I have been a priestess in all except name for many seasons now, bar the final rites. Why cannot I continue? Even as I am now, still uninitiated?”
   Soft pats at her cheeks only barely registered.
   Swatrega’s tones softened, though the High Priestess did not properly claim her gaze. “The goddess Dôn has spoken – and as her servants – we must obey, Princess Nara. Your path is no longer as a priestess.”
   Nara was distraught.
   “But how can I now be a princess of the tribe at my father’s side? What shall I do?”
   “The goddess Dôn has foretold that you will be the mother of a son who will become one of the greatest leaders the northern territories has ever known. In this time of great threat from the legions of the Roman Empire, the tribes of the north will desperately need strong men and women to defend our way of life.”
   Nara could only gape, open mouthed. What Swatrega was saying was incomprehensible.
   “Our forthcoming Beltane Festival will be a crucial time for you along your prophesied journey. Before then you must find a worthy warrior to sire your son. It cannot be just any man, but will be the one whose destiny is linked to yours. Pray to the goddess Dôn because she will always guide you.”
   “A mother?” Nara was dumbfounded.
   Swatrega’s expression lost its momentary softness. “You must leave immediately and prepare for your new future.”

Nancy Jardine


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About the Author

Nancy Jardine lives in the spectacular ‘Castle Country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her main writing focus has, to date, been historical and time travel fiction set in Roman Britain, though she’s also published contemporary mystery novels with genealogy plots. If not writing, re-searching (an unending obsession), reading or gardening, her young grandchildren will probably be entertaining her, or she’ll be binge-watching historical films and series made for TV.  She loves signing/ selling her novels at local events and gives author presentations locally across Aberdeenshire. These are generally about her novels or with a focus on Ancient Roman Scotland, presented to groups large and small. Zoom sessions have been an entertaining alternative to presenting face-to-face events during, and since, the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions. Current memberships are with the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland, Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with the author co-operative Ocelot Press. Find out more at Nancy's website http://www.nancyjardineauthor.com/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @nansjar

21 May 2022

One of the great unanswered questions of American history: What became of Raleigh's lost colony of Roanoke?

The story of adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh, who has been called the last true Elizabethan.

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

When he gained influence at court, Raleigh promoted the idea of creating English colonies in North America to challenge Spanish colonial policy. The Roanoke adventure began when Raleigh was granted the right to explore the New World and send colonists in the name of Queen Elizabeth I.

In return for a fifth share of all gold and silver discovered, (or looted from Spanish and Portuguese ships) Raleigh could seize any land not already claimed by any ‘christian prince’. Raleigh was well aware of the opportunities on the coast of the New World, and identified the island of Roanoke as a base for his first colony.

Unluckily for Raleigh, the queen refused permission for him to sail to Roanoke in person, so he sent Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to find a suitable site for colonisation. They arrived at Roanoke Island in July, 1584, and met the native tribes, the Secotans and the Croatans. 

Barlowe returned with two Croatoans, named Manteo and Wanchese, who told Raleigh all about the Roanoke area. He presented them to Queen Elizabeth, which cause quite a stir at her Court, and announced he’d claimed the New World in the queen’s name, as the empire of Virginia. 

Raleigh sent a second expedition of five ships, led by Richard Grenville, with his appointed governor, Ralph Lane, who had experience of establishing the English settlements in Ireland. The expedition sailed to Roanoke Island in 1585. 

This attempt failed due to disagreements between Grenville and Lane, poor provisioning, and trouble with the local people, so in 1587 Raleigh replaced the military men with craftsmen, farmers, and their families, and sent another expedition, led by John White, to set up a new colony. 

John White was a surprising choice for his new role as governor of the colony at Roanoke Island. They built the ‘Cittie of Raleigh’, a substantial base, with houses for each family, but White had to leave his daughter Elinor, her husband, and their infant daughter, Virginia, (the first English child born in America) when he sailed for England to report back to Raleigh in 1587 and bring back fresh supplies.

He was not to know that the Spanish Armada would be sighted soon afterwards, and White was not allowed to return to Roanoke until 1590. To his despair he found the settlement abandoned, and his possessions ransacked. The single word ‘CROATOAN’ was found carved on a tree. John White hoped this was a sign to show where the colonists had gone, but he was unable to search nearby Croatoan Island and returned home to inform Raleigh of the disaster.

The fate of the lost colony has been a mystery for many years, but archaeologists have uncovered new evidence suggesting that the survivors divided into different settlements, and at least some were assimilated into the local population.

I enjoyed researching the life and times of Sir Walter Raleigh, and discovering his strengths and weaknesses, as a courtier, explorer and failed politician, soldier and poet, a man ready to speak up for the poor and to honour his debts. My hope is that my new book, Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer, will help readers see beyond the myths and half-truths, and have a better understanding of the man who has been called the last true Elizabethan.

Tony Riches

20 May 2022

Special Guest Post by John Pilkington, Author of Yorick: A Jester's Tale


New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Denmark. 12th century. In the castle of Kronborg, during the reign of the mighty King Rorik, an unwanted child is born to a lowly servant, Gitte, and an unknown father. But the boy Erik, later known as Yorick, will climb to a position of power that will prove his undoing.

The idea of writing a ‘biography’ of a character from Shakespeare had been with me for some years. I’ve been a Shakespeare devotee for most of my adult life (I once directed a terrible production of Twelfth Night; at least it taught me a valuable lesson - to stick with what you’re best at!). I’m not even sure why I thought of Yorick, but the more I mused on the ‘whoreson mad rogue’ whose skull we see in Hamlet when the prince banters with the gravedigger, the more he intrigued me. And after all, other writers have taken Shakespearean characters and created their own stories, or back-stories: Lisa Klein with Ophelia, say, or Elaine Feinstein with Lear’s Daughters, not forgetting the most famous of all, Tom Stoppard’s classic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. 

And so I re-read Hamlet and began looking into Shakespeare’s sources; he was a great borrower and recycler of tales and legends. Among them is the old Norse folk-tale of Amleth, from the medieval Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus. It tells of two brothers, Horwendil and Fengo, the latter of whom murders his brother and marries the widow: the basis of the plot of Hamlet. I came across other Scandinavian myths which I was keen to weave in, like the sea-monster the draugen, or the nightmare figure of the mareridt. 

And yet, Yorick himself seems to be entirely a product of Shakespeare’s imagination. Some have suggested that he had in mind the great Elizabethan comic actor, improvisor and loveable rogue Dick Tarlton, who had died around a dozen years before Hamlet was written (apparently in the house of a notorious prostitute). The name might derive from the old Norse version of George: Jørg, the ‘g’ at the end, in Norse languages, being pronounced as a ‘y’. Or it could simply stem from the common name ‘Erik’. I could find no scholarly works about Yorick, though a painting was a big influence: The Young Lord Hamlet by Philip Calderon (1868) which shows the boy prince riding Yorick like a horse. 

Other fanciful images show him in a parti-coloured costume with a jester’s cap and bells, which I rejected: that was an English custom, not known in medieval Denmark. But it seemed to me that enough elements were there to take the idea and run with it: my own version of Yorick’s life. For in the end, we know nothing of him other than what the gravedigger tells Prince Hamlet when he digs up the skull. He was the King’s jester, who has ‘lain in the earth three and twenty years’. He was a ‘whoreson mad fellow’ who once ‘poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head’. This prompts Hamlet, holding the skull, to speak the famous lines:  

  ‘Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy, he hath borne me on his back a thousand times… Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where are your gibes now? Your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning!’

That was all I needed, I believed, to begin to envisage the character and to locate him in the approximate time and setting: twelfth-century Denmark, in the castle of the semi-legendary King Rorik. Of course, as always Shakespeare takes liberties – shamelessly - with facts as he does with time and place (like the clock in Julius Caesar). But I resolved from the start that I should keep Yorick’s story within the confines of the play of Hamlet. 

For example, if he had died twenty-three years earlier, and since Hamlet is often assumed to be around thirty, then the prince was only a boy of seven when Yorick died. He was a jester, so I looked at the role of medieval jesters and the unique license they had to mock their masters. I imagined great feasts in the castle’s High Hall, where Yorick could ‘set the table on a roar’ with his songs and his clowning. And importantly, he had clearly been the young prince’s playfellow, bearing him on his back; many fathers will have had that experience. 

As for his being a ‘mad rogue’: it seemed logical to me to make him an outrageous, potty-mouthed, hard-drinking rake who lives by his wits, stealing a flagon here and there and bedding every maiden he can. Along the way I had to introduce Hamlet’s parents, the young Princess who would become Gertrude and her husband the older Hamlet, and to deal with her infidelity with his brother (might Yorick have known about it?). 

While for other elements of the story it was a delight to introduce ghosts and a witch, along with a boring tutor who becomes the King’s councillor Polonius, and a priest who tries in vain to get Yorick to repent of his sins. To humour him, our narrator Yorick in secret writes his life-story, which the priest thinks is a repentance tract. It tells of his rise and fall, and is in one sense a tale of power: for a man of humble birth, a very slippery commodity indeed. 

I can only hope that I’ve done some justice to someone who remains, to my mind, the greatest off-stage character William Shakespeare created. It was a joy to write Yorick; I almost feel as if I knew him. 

John Pilkington

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About the Author

An author for over thirty years, John Pilkington has written plays for radio and theatre as well as television scripts for a BBC soap, but now concentrates mainly on historical fiction set in the Tudor and Stuart eras. He has published over twenty books including the Thomas the Falconer Mysteries, the Marbeck spy series and the Justice Belstrang Mysteries (all pub. By Sharpe Books). He is also the author of a children’s series, the Elizabethan Mysteries (Usborne) and two Restoration tales featuring actress-turned-sleuth Betsy Brand (Joffe Books). His recent mystery The Tivoli Murders (Sharpe) marked a brief venture into the dazzling world of the Victorian Music Hall. His new book Yorick: A Jester’s Tale (Sharpe) is a departure into speculative fiction, telling the Secret History of the famous ‘mad rogue’ whose skull features in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Born in the north-west of England, he now lives in a Devon village with his partner, and has a son who is a psychologist and musician. He is currently at work on the first book in a new Tudor trilogy. Learn more by visiting his website at www.johnpilkington.co.uk or find him on Twitter @_JohnPilkington

18 May 2022

Blog Tour Spotlight: The Mesilla (The Two Valleys Saga, Book 1) by Mary Armstrong


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

At fourteen years old, Jesus ‘Chuy’ Perez Contreras Verazzi Messi is too small and frail to work the land on the family farm near the Rio Bravo in Mexico. 

The local padre’s tutoring reveals Jesus’s unending curiosity and fertile mind. Noted Las Cruces, New Mexico attorney and politician, Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain agrees to take his nephew, under his wing. 

Jesus ‘reads law’ with his uncle and shares adventures and adversity with the Fountains and other historic Mesilla and Tularosa Valley citizens. 

His coming of age story will take you into the wild southwest, a brewing range war, a territory struggling toward statehood, courtroom dramas, and the adventures and adversities of a boy’s quest for manhood. 

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About the Author

Mary Armstrong lives in the heart of one of the ‘Two Valleys’ in Las Cruces New Mexico, with her hus-band Norman ‘Skip’ Bailey, Jr. and their Cavachon child-dog, Java. In 2017 she wrote the one-act play, “It is Blood,” which was selected for a performance by the Las Cruces Community Theatre. Whereas the Two Valleys series is a prequel to the notorious and unsolved murders of Albert J. Fountain and his eight-year-old son, “It is Blood,” is a sequel to those events. After winning an award for her debut historic fiction novel “The Mesilla,” Mary has decided to focus on that genre — at least for the foreseeable future. Her writing is fast-moving, thought-provoking and with just enough wordsmithing to satisfy your artistic hankerings. While her writing has literary merit, she strives to capture the moment — the time and the place — and help you live in that moment. Before releasing her debut novel, Mary dabbled in creative writing, including a weekly column in the Las Cruces Sun News. Since retiring from a diverse career in various planning and de-sign fields, she has devoted herself more fully to her writing, being a good spouse, serving her dog Java, and slipping away to the golf course when left unchained to the desk. Find out more at Mary's website https://maryarmstrongauthor.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @authornotarthur



17 May 2022

Book Review: Rogues, Rebels and Mavericks of the Middle Ages, by John Brunton


New From Amazon UK and Amazon US

There are plenty of rogues, rebels and mavericks for John Brunton to discuss in this new book. It was only when I studied his list and found women like Christine de Pizan, Eleanor Cobham and Margaret, Countess of Slaisbury on his list that I realised he's using the terms to make a good point. 

We must not trust the legends and myths. Many of the accounts of these 'rogues and rebels' were written by their enemies,  and we must avoid the trap of judging people from the so-called 'middle ages' by present day standards. 

A good example is the flamboyant Raynald of Châtillon, He married well, and became the charismatic leader of the crusading army that defeated Saladin, yet the legends tells us of his ruthless ambition and flawed strategy, which led led to the fall of Jerusalem. 

Interestingly, the author finds a more balanced view, and even challenges the legend that Raynald was beheaded by Saladin, when he refused to convert to Islam, (the alternative version is he hacked off his arm, and he bled to death.) Either way, it's good to question Raynald's legacy as part of the long history of heroic failure.

I was also pleased to see a more nuanced treatment of Eleanor Cobham, who is so often portrayed as either a witch or a fool. As John Brunton points out, her mistake was to marry Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, her interest in astrology providing his enemies with an effective way to ruin his reputatation,

I enjoyed this somewhat meandering journey through some well known, and some less well known, figures from history,. What they all have in common is, for one reason or another, they left their mark, and we are still taking about them today. As John Brunton says, not a single one coud be described as less than remarkable.

Tony Riches

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About the Author

John Brunton was born in Sunderland and has lived his adult life in London. He has qualifications from four different universities and has research interests in medieval Britain and Europe and the Near East. He owns a business that undertakes historical research for clients all over the world. He also continues to teach History and other subjects in London. He is a historian and researcher specialising in medieval history and the author of a range of textbooks for schools.

16 May 2022

Book review: Thrown, by Sara Cox


New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The inhabitants of the Inventor's Housing Estate keep themselves to themselves. There are the friendly 'Hellos' when commutes coincide and the odd cheeky eye roll when the wine bottles clank in number 7's wheelie bin, but it's not exactly Ramsay Street. The dilapidated community centre is no longer the beating heart of the estate that Becky remembers from her childhood. So the new pottery class she's helped set up feels like a fresh start. And not just for her.

I've been enjoying the new series of 'Between the Covers', a lively and intelligent book show presented by Sara Cox, so was intrigued to hear she'd written a novel. 'Thrown' is billed as a 'laugh out loud' comedy, but I found the relationships between the women and their errant partners poignant - often tragic, and in one case disturbing. 

Well observed, and clearly drawing on the authors experience of presenting a pottery show, with one exception, the men do rather badly. It took me a while to realise the significance of the title, as most of the women are literally 'thrown' by their discoveries.

I found I was reading quickly, and looking forward to knowing the outcome, always a good test of a novel, and I like Sara's easy-going writing style. I'm happy to recommend 'Thrown', and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Tony Riches

14 May 2022

Special Guest Interview with Frank Malley, Author of The 13th Assassin


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Emily Stearn is young, headstrong, logical - and believes that someone has murdered her Uncle Sebastian. Whilst going through his belongings, after his sudden death, Emily discovers an encrypted journal. With the help of Al Andrews, a maths graduate she befriends after meeting in the local cafe, she deciphers the material. It reveals that Sebastian, a Cambridge history professor, was a spy. Code name WHISPER.

I'm pleased to welcome author Frank Malley to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book.

The 13th Assassin is a murder mystery blended with a spy thriller, published by Sharpe Books. I like to think of it as Midsomer Murders meets John le Carre. Emily Stearn is young, smart, and sure someone has murdered her Uncle Sebastian. Sorting belongings at his seaside home after his sudden death in 2021 she discovers an encrypted journal and with the help of her friend, Al Andrews, cracks the code.

It reveals the Cambridge history professor was a spy. Code name WHISPER. Hiding in the shadows of academia. Until 1981, when British Intelligence believed he was the only man capable of getting close to Colonel Igor Kalenkov.

A disciple of the 13th Directorate – the Soviet killing and kidnapping department – Kalenkov is closely-guarded, and plotting an attack on the British Royal Family. As the journal surrenders its chilling secrets 40 years on, Emily decides the Russians have assassinated Sebastian. But does a grainy CCTV image point to a murderer closer to home? Emily won’t rest until she uncovers the truth. 

What is your preferred writing routine?

I tend to mull over the storyline for some time, forming a loose framework, rather than dive straight in. Not that I am a meticulous plotter. I am much more of a pantser, once started letting the characters take the story in directions I find unexpected. That can be exhilarating at times.

Once I commit to writing, I tend to be disciplined time-wise which probably comes from my years as a national newspaper reporter. I like to work to a deadline. I’ve done so all my working life. Between 1,000 and 2,000 words a day, five days a week, keeping the momentum going. It applies pressure and focus to get that first draft done. You can always edit your manuscript into shape after that.     

What advice do you have for new writers?

Read. Observe. Persist. I hold up my hands, I don’t read enough but I try to have a book on the go most of the time and especially when I’m in writing mode. I like to bathe in the cadence of other writers, soaking in the beauty of the written word and its ability to generate pictures and emotions. That’s the magic of writing. If you want to make magic of your own it makes sense to experience how others do it.

Observe the world around you. My debut novel, When the Mist Clears, was inspired by voluntary work as an ambulance car driver transporting cancer patients to radiotherapy treatment. I witnessed so much courage and laugh-out-loud humour and found the bonds of friendship that sprung up spontaneously between patients at the scariest time of their lives quite humbling. Some of the characters demanded a story of their own. I was happy to oblige.  

Persist. Probably the most important because all new writers – and established ones too -  experience imposter syndrome at some stage. Days when you are sure you have nothing relevant to say and that what you have written is unworthy. You have to believe. You must keep writing, however sticky it may have become. Everything can be polished and improved.    

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

I used to think writing a book was the hard part. Getting it into the hands of readers is far more problematic. We all have friends and family who will buy our new release, but short of a TV spot on a national chat show how do you break into the wider market? My non-fiction sports books were straightforward. 

There was a defined market. A niche market. Easy for bookshops to find the right shelf. Easy for the author and publisher to target potential buyers. In reality, I’m still looking for the secret to raising awareness in the fiction world. I don’t think there is a secret. Ads on Facebook and Amazon haven’t worked for me, or anyone I know. I think it’s down to hard work. 

Forging contacts with the writing community on social media, who are approachable and supportive, on the basis that if you support others, they will support you. Reaching out to accessible bloggers and reviewers. Building a brand. Getting that word of mouth circulation. It takes time. I’m not there yet, but participating in the writing community has certainly helped.     

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research?

For The 13th Assassin I had to research how to locate old newspaper articles. I thought they may prove impossible to find until I telephoned a gentleman at the British Library who told me that a hard copy of every print edition of every newspaper in the United Kingdom is available for perusal on demand. Apparently, it is a legal requirement. 

The papers are kept at a vast warehouse in Yorkshire and on request relevant editions are put on a daily van and transported to London St Pancras for reading. Oh yes, and there was another unexpected fact. A pristine first edition copy of Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer prize winning 1936 novel, could fetch in the region of £80,000 at auction.  

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Describing the feelings of a woman who had been diagnosed with brain cancer in When the Mist Clears. I wanted to get things right, so researched as sensitively as possible with people who had gone through the same diagnosis. The tangled thoughts they described, followed eventually by a clear determination to fight for their lives, gave birth to the title of the book. 

Also, a conversation in The 13th Assassin between a hard-line Kremlin officer and the history professor main character, debating the merits of autocracy and democracy. The Russian argues that the will to kill your enemies, and if required your own people, without a moment’s reluctance, is part and parcel of being the leader of a big nation. Getting inside the psyche of such a character was a challenge, although the notion of state-sponsored murder became quite prescient when Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.     

What are you planning to write next?

I have a quirky murder mystery, If it Looks Like a Duck, being published by Whisper Publishing in August. It is the second book in the Lexford Town Mysteries series and the sequel to When the Mist Clears. My current work in progress is the follow-up to The 13th Assassin. It’s another crime mystery set in Cambridge. Three students die in mysterious circumstances, all with dog-head key rings on their person, and another goes missing. Emily Stearn believes a book relating medieval modes of persecution holds the key to the killer. She must convince the police. And time is running out. All my novels are character driven. I want readers to believe in my main characters, hopefully to love them, though not necessarily all of them, and be invested enough to root for them.   

Frank Malley

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About the Author

Frank Malley works as a volunteer ambulance car driver, transporting cancer patients to life-saving radiotherapy treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. In another life he was a columnist with the Daily Express newspaper in London and former chief writer with Press Association Sport. He travelled the world reporting top events, including five Olympics and four football World Cups. His memoir, ‘Living on the Deadline’, was published in 2014, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins supplying the foreword. Simply the Best, a book about his passion for Wigan Rugby League club followed in 2017. Royalties for all his books go to charity, the most recent to the Primrose Cancer Charity in his adopted home town of Bedford where he lives with wife Carole.  Find out more from Frank's website https://frankmalley.com and follow him on Facebook and  Twitter @MalleyFrancis

13 May 2022

New Historical Fiction Blog Tour ~ The Admiral’s Wife, By M.K. Tod


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The lives of two women living in Hong Kong more than a century apart are unexpectedly linked by forbidden love and financial scandal. In 2016, Patricia Findlay leaves a high-powered career to move to Hong Kong, where she hopes to rekindle the bonds of family and embrace the city of her ancestors. Instead, she is overwhelmed by feelings of displacement and depression. To make matters worse, her father, CEO of the family bank, insists that Patricia’s duty is to produce an heir, even though she has suffered three miscarriages.

Excerpt from The Admiral’s Wife

April 1912 – Isabel Taylor clutched her straw hat in one hand and her daughter Georgiana’s hand in the other, as the China Seas cleared the tip of an outlying island and Hong Kong Harbor came into view.
   “Look at all the little boats, Mummy,” Georgiana said. She pointed at a jumble of vessels the size of large rowboats anchored in long columns perpendicular to the quay.
   “I see them, sweetheart,” Isabel said. “Do you remember that they’re called sampans? People use them for fishing. But I had no idea there would be so many.”
   At least fifty passengers stood at the bow rail watching the city come into view. Isabel smiled at the line of hats her female shipmates wore: boater hats, wide-brimmed hats, turban-style hats, hats with feathers, hats with elaborate silk flowers. In addition, a number of women held colorful parasols edged with frills to shade their faces from the hot sun. Some of the women were animated; others looked anxious, even wary.
   “It’s mountainous,” a woman dressed in blue said to no one in particular. “I didn’t expect mountains.”
   Isabel hadn’t expected mountains either yet there they were, craggy peaks that embraced the city of Victoria, where she and her husband and daughter had come to live. Isabel was struck by the sudden reality that this foreign place would be her home—a place of strange customs and exotic scenery, of unusual food and dramatically different climate, and of people who looked nothing like her.
   When Henry had explained his new position as Commander-in-Chief of the China Fleet, Isabel had experienced a wave of excitement. The Far East had fascinated her since she was a young girl learning about the British Empire: India, Burma, Ceylon, Malaya, Borneo, Singapore, Hong Kong. She poured over pictures her father showed her and read stories of daring exploits and dangerous journeys in these far-away worlds.
   In an unprecedented move, her father, a former member of parliament representing Cambridge University, had invited several foreign students to dinner. During the lengthy meal, Isabel had spoken to a student from Burma who’d been seated on her left and a student from Hong Kong on her right. Both were polite, well-spoken, and engaging, and she wondered now whether she might meet the man from Hong Kong once more.
   Georgiana tugged at Isabel’s skirt. “Will we get off soon, Mummy?”
   Isabel smoothed Georgiana’s blond curls. “Yes, Georgie. Very soon.” She often called her daughter Georgie. Georgiana seemed too grand a name for a little four-year-old girl.
   “But where’s Papa? Isn’t he coming with us?”
   “Of course, he is. I’m sure your father is talking with Captain Davidson,” she replied. 
   Isabel crouched down, taking care not to wrinkle the white muslin jacket and long white skirt she’d put on that morning in anticipation of finally reaching their destination. White was impractical but it suited her fair skin and auburn hair, and she was keen to make a good impression. “The captain will have wanted Papa’s advice about coming into port.” 
   When they’d gone out on deck an hour earlier, Isabel had been unable to find Henry. Not an unusual occurrence. The ship’s bridge was the most likely place Henry would be right now. Duty and family were often at odds for her husband. For the most part, duty took precedence.
   “I’m glad we’re here, Mummy. Will my toys be here too?”
   After reassuring her daughter, Isabel continued to watch as they navigated through a harbor crowded with ships of every size and purpose: warships, barges, tugboats, ocean steamers, large sailing vessels, hundreds of seagoing junks, and what seemed like a small city of sampans bobbing up and down along every section of the shore.  A minute later, a green ferry with white trim passed so close to the China Seas that she could see the faces of its passengers standing beneath a dirty canvas canopy.
   Isabel shielded her eyes from the glare. Four- and five-story buildings lined the waterfront, while piers jutted from the quay like long limbs. Rising up the slopes, tier over tier, were hundreds of closely built houses interspersed with dense foliage. Dotting the hillside beyond the city were apartment buildings and what looked like spacious homes. Smoke belched from factories in the distance. As the ship drew closer, she noticed brightly colored awnings and a church spire that reminded her of St. Mary’s in Islington.
   “Here you are, Mrs. Taylor,” Muriel Fletcher said. “I’ve finished the packing. Can I help with Georgiana in any way?”
   “Georgie’s fine with me,” Isabel said to the governess. “But stay with us and watch the ship dock, Muriel. What do you think of your first glimpse of Hong Kong?”
   “It’s astonishing, Mrs. Taylor. I’m so fortunate you asked me to come along.”
   The ship made a wide turn as it prepared to dock, exposing a low-lying area filled with ramshackle buildings that looked like they’d blow away in a strong wind. This was Kowloon, located on the mainland to the north of Hong Kong Island. The turn complete, Isabel noticed the Union Jack flying proudly atop what might be a government building and a line of palm trees waving in the breeze. The quay teemed with people and waiting vehicles—everything from carriages and lorries to rickshaws and motorcars.
   Slowly the China Seas drew alongside a concrete pier, where men shouted in a language unlike any other Isabel had ever heard while fastening thick ropes tossed by the ship’s crew. After four long weeks, they had finally arrived.
   “There you are,” Henry said, his voice tinged with impatience. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you, Isabel. Why are you and Georgiana standing here?”
   Georgiana’s enthusiastic chatter forestalled the tart reply that sprang to Isabel’s mind. She had imagined the voyage as an opportunity to relax with her husband and young daughter away from the demanding naval duties that had dominated life in London. Instead, Henry had spent hours every day with Captain Davidson, discussing seafaring conditions in the waters around Hong Kong and the challenges of the territory her husband would command.
   To make matters worse, because of Henry’s new position as commander-in-chief of the China Fleet, they were assigned to the captain’s table at dinner, which often entailed long discussions of naval matters and piracy, and debates over the significance of Germany’s military buildup. Weeks at sea had done nothing to improve the mood between them—quite the contrary, in fact.
   Isabel watched Henry hoist Georgiana onto his hip and point to various places on shore. At least he’s a good father and he loves Georgiana, she conceded to herself.
   “We’ll wait for the others to disembark,” Henry said. “The commodore sent word there’s to be a welcome ceremony. Afterwards, they’ve arranged for someone to take you, Georgiana, and Miss Fletcher to temporary quarters while I do an inspection and meet the senior officers.” He checked his watch. “I may not be able to join you for dinner.”
   When Isabel was tired, she spoke her mind. “Our first dinner in Hong Kong, and you’re expected to be elsewhere?”
   Henry sniffed, then twitched his nose. “Please don’t fuss, Isabel. You know I dislike it when you fuss. As I’m taking up new duties, there are certain expectations. I can’t let people think I’m ruled by my wife’s preferences, now can I?”
   Perhaps he meant the statement as a little joke, but she wasn’t in the mood for humor. “There’s no danger of them thinking that, Henry. No danger at all. But we’ll manage without you. Join us as soon as you can.” Isabel took Georgiana’s hand. “Come with Mummy, poppet. I’m sure Miss Fletcher has all your things ready. We’re going on an adventure.”
   I won’t be able to count on Henry, Isabel thought, as she supervised the loading of their trunks and other cases into a delivery van. I’ll have to make my way here on my own.
   The prospect was daunting. She should have known her husband would throw himself into his new responsibilities without worrying about her or their daughter. He would assume that Isabel could manage and be puzzled if she found their new circumstances difficult. If she complained, he would say, “You’ve just got to get on with it.” 
   Isabel resolved to do just that.

M.K. Tod
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About the Author

The Admiral’s Wife is M.K. (Mary) Tod’s fifth novel. In addition to writing fiction, she runs the award-winning blog A Writer of History where readers and writers can find all sorts of information on historical fiction. Mary is married to her high school sweetheart and has two adult children and two delightful grandsons. In off-writing hours, you can find Mary on the golf course, hiking, biking, traveling, or hanging out with friends and family. Find out more from Mary's website 
www.mktod.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @MKTodAuthor


12 May 2022

Book Launch Spotlight: The Midnight House: A spellbinding and gripping mystery of a beautiful house in Ireland, by Amanda Geard


New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

1940: In south-west Ireland, the young and beautiful Lady Charlotte Rathmore is pronounced dead after she mysteriously disappears by the lake of Blackwater Hall. In London, on the brink of the Blitz, Nancy Rathmore is grieving Charlotte's death when a letter arrives containing a secret that she is sworn to keep - one that will change her life for ever.

2019: Decades later, Ellie Fitzgerald is forced to leave Dublin disgraced and heartbroken. Abandoning journalism, she returns to rural Kerry to weather out the storm. 

But, when she discovers a faded letter, tucked inside the pages of an old book, she finds herself drawn in by a long-buried secret. And as Ellie begins to unravel the mystery, it becomes clear that the letter might hold the key to more than just Charlotte's disappearance.

An unforgettable and spellbinding story of secrets, war, 
love and sacrifice.

# # #

About the Author

Amanda Geard is a writer, geologist, amateur gardener, experimental chef and enthusiastic restorer of old houses. Having lived and worked from the Equator to the Arctic she is now happily settled in Ireland with her husband and two setters. When not at her desk, she can be found between the wild Atlantic and even wilder Kerry mountains, getting rained on while planning her next project. Her second novel, due 2023, is set between Ireland and Tasmania, the island state at the edge of the world where she was born and raised. Amanda has also written for The Irish Times, The Journal, writing.ie, The Waxed Lemon, Ireland’s Own and Nordic Reach. Find out more at Amanda's website https://www.amandageard.com/ and follow her on Twitter @AmandaGeard

11 May 2022

Blog Tour Interview with Edward Londergan, Author of Unlike Any Other


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US


The Story of An 18th Century Woman from A Prominent New England Family Who Went from A Life of Privilege to The Gallows. Bathsheba Spooner was the daughter of Timothy Ruggles, a general in the French and Indian War, president of the Stamp Act Congress, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and a leading loyalist in Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War; the epitome of upper class. Based on a true story, the events that follow Bathsheba’s life, her decisions, and her ultimate demise will show readers that Bathsheba Spooner was, in fact, Unlike Any Other . . .

I'm pleased to welcome author Edward Londergan to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book.

Unlike Any Other is the story of Bathsheba Spooner, the daughter of a wealthy and powerful politician, staunch British Loyalist, and the most hated man in Massachusetts. Raised in wealth and privilege, Bathsheba dreams of a life of happiness and grandeur. To protect her from the coming rebellion, her father forces Bathsheba to marry an affluent businessman she soon despises. 

After ten years of marital misery, with the turmoil of war swirling around her, she is desperate for love and affection. After saving a 16-year-old American soldier from certain death, they begin an affair, and she soon finds herself pregnant. Loathing her husband and fearing public humiliation, she pleads with the young soldier to murder her husband, but instead, he flees. 

Her British sympathies make her a pariah in a town of ardent rebels but lead two British prisoners-of-war to her door, and she conspires with them, and the young soldier upon his return to claim her as his own, to murder her husband. In the first murder trial after the Declaration of Independence, the unending hatred for her and her father is unleashed upon her through the vengeance of a zealous patriot.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I write late morning and mid afternoon. Going through my daily routine helps ground me. I don’t have a set number of words I write. Some days it’s in the thousands, other days it’s a couple of hundred. I believe that it’s not the quantity but the quality that counts. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

My advice is to start writing and not stop. Don’t judge the first draft; it’s supposed to be bad. That’s why it’s a first draft. Write the story now and edit it later. Don’t be afraid of editing; it makes the story better. Finish what you start. Don’t let a story sit for years. Get on with it; finish it now. Read every day. Read to enjoy but also to learn what makes a great book great and a bad book bad. 

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

I’ve found that talking with people, whether in small groups or presenting to larger audiences, is the best way to get people aware of my stories. Word of mouth and social media are great ways to get the word out. I present at libraries, historical societies, and any group that will listen to me. I know this latest book is a very good story because it’s been fascinating people for 244 years. People will listen.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

I found that, even here in Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American Revolution (don’t tell the people in Virginia that as they think it started there), the support for the break from Britain was not as overwhelming or as cut and dried as I thought. Family members fought against each other. In many ways, it was a civil war. 

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The trial scene was the most difficult. One of the problems is that there are so many conflicting accounts that it’s impossible to know all the details of what happened. The justices and lawyers kept notes, but some are more to themselves than anything truly useful. In addition, realizing how shockingly badly the trial was conducted was stunning. The four defendants had one inexperienced attorney representing them all, even though they had different strategies for their defense. What it came down to is that the jurors, and most of the residents of the area, wanted the prisoners to die. 

What are you planning to write next?

I’m in the editing stage of a contemporary fiction story about the importance of family and personal redemption. After that, it’s a story of a road trip between a dad and his fourteen-year-old son. That’s going to be a special story. I can feel it. 

Edward Londergan

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About the Author

Ed Londergan is the author of the award-winning books The Devils’ Elbow and The Long Journey Home. Having researched American history for many years, he is a frequent speaker with a focus on colonial Massachusetts. A graduate of Holy Cross, he lives in Warren, Massachusetts. Find out more at Ed's website http://www.edlondergan.com/ and find him on Facebook and Twitter @EdLondergan

8 May 2022

Special Guest Interview with Seeley James, Author of The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

"Agatha Christie meets Taylor Jenkins Reid in this page-turning mystery woven into a brilliantly comedic drama" In a story that addresses the meaning of family, issues of adoption, identity, inclusion, and rejection arise in many different and unexpected ways.

I'm pleased to welcome author Seeley James to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery is a murder mystery with a touch of psychological thriller and references to ancient literature. The murder of a small town drunk exposes long held secrets and family trauma. Visiting industrialist Pia Sabel quickly determines the town’s police chief will never believe who the murderer is and sets out to show him, clue by clue. The problems her investigation uncovers range from community and family inclusion and adoption to racism and dealing with unintended biases. Her revelations lead to a shocking conclusion not just about whodunit but why. And that brings the story full circle for the reader.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I write every day. I move from the patio to my office, to the living room. Sometimes I go to a coffee shop. A different view gives me a different perspective. But I always look at my outline before I start writing. Often for amusement as much as guidance.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Study the craft, read a LOT, analyze every story you come across from books to movies to podcasts. Getting people to spend money and time listening to your tale is not easy.

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

There is no substitute for word-of-mouth. Study after study shows most books are purchased because someone told the buyer they should read it. I spend several hours a day doing ads and other marketing, but my most effective time is spent selling reviewers/bloggers on why they should recommend my books. It’s time intensive and seemingly unproductive, but I find the relationships well worth the effort as they ripen over time.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

I do a ton of research on a wide range of topics, which has led me to post a link to my notes in the back of my books. (Help yourself: https://seeleyjames.com/rembrandt-notes ). What struck me the most while writing Rembrandt was the state of foster care and adoptions. Due to a host of reasons (in vitro fertilization, acceptance of single parents, etc) adoptions are down 75%. 

At the same time, the number of children in foster care is growing. On any given day, there are well over 100,000 kids over the age of seven hoping to be adopted. Of those, less than one percent will find a home. The rest will bounce from one foster home to another until they are unceremoniously dumped on their eighteenth birthday. As the adoptive father of a little girl who might otherwise have been a foster child, I encourage people to consider helping these kids in anyway they can. (More about my story at http://seeleyjames.com/adopted.)

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The discussion between two characters, both adopted as children, about how they were/are treated differently from biological children and the impact that had on their lives. It’s a sensitive topic and no two adoptees have the same experience, so I interviewed a lot of parents and children, working those feelings into that scene. I rewrote that dialogue several times to get it right.

An equally difficult scene to write was actually a series of mini-scenes for the Black character in this book. I wanted to portray how his everyday life is different from mine and many of my readers. Again, I interviewed many friends and relatives about the slights and misunderstandings they encounter every day. In this story, Isaiah recounts how a high school teacher asked about his college plans and he proudly announced he’d been accepted at Dartmouth. The teacher asks, “The college?” That one was a real life exchange that happened to a friend of mine. (She had replied, “No, the gas station.” And walked away.)

What are you planning to write next?

I’m just finishing Act I of Death & Lies: A Jacob Stearne Thriller. (He and Pia Sabel starred side-by-side in the first eight books I wrote, but got divorced a while back. So now I have two series: the more emotionally exciting thrillers and the more cerebral mysteries.) This one will bring new and different family issues to light. Two characters of equal resolve contrast vastly different childhood environments. My goal in every book is to make exciting action wrapped in head-scratching mysteries featuring deep and relatable characters.

Seeley James

# # #

About the Author

Seeley James says his near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap. His writing career ranges from humble beginnings with short stories in The Battered Suitcase, to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god. His love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction. Find out more at his website https://seeleyjames.com/ and find him on Facebook and Twitter @SeeleyJamesAuth