New Release from Renny deGroot

I am delighted that Renny has dropped by to tell us about her new release, Torn Asunder. Renny, what inspired your story?

As an author of Historical Fiction, I’m fascinated by the human perception of historical events. For example, each of us have family stories of events that took place before our birth and handed down to us. These spoken stories become a part of us, and the details may or may not fit exactly with other stories of the same events and yet we absorb and take for truth those that have been given to us by people we love and trust. While all cultures and families have these stories, in my opinion, no culture does this better than the Irish (and I don’t have a drop of Irish blood coursing through my veins). Dating back to ancient times an Irish story-teller (or a Seanchaí ) was the keeper of the community history, and the tradition of story-telling falls naturally in an Irish family.

My new novel, Torn Asunder draws on this tradition when the main character chooses to fight for the Cause with his pen (ie as a journalist) rather than a rifle. His challenge is his lack of awareness of the power of his words.

Fiercely loyal, Emmet Ryan plays his part in the war against the British to see a free and united Ireland. As a 16-year-old boy, Emmet is thrilled to join his father and brothers in the Finglas Volunteers during the 1916 Easter rebellion. The effects of that week mark Emmet for the rest of his life as he wrestles between his allegiance to his country and loyalty to his family. At times he isn’t sure he’s given enough to the fight until the day he realizes he may have given too much.

The story of Ireland’s birth as a modern nation and her turbulent formative years is woven into the very fabric of this multi-generational family drama.

A Conversation with Historical Fiction Author, Carol Hedges

Today in the library I have a very special guest. I happen to be a huge fan of Carol’s Victorian crime series, so I am really pleased to share this interview with you.
Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?
I write Victorian crime fiction. I used to write teenage fiction, until the market got flooded by celebs, and I decided to switch genre. As I read Victorian authors, like Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, etc., and specialized in this era at university, it seemed a natural choice. My series ‘The Victorian Detectives’ is set in 1860s London … mainly because the 1880s is a rather crowded field. I have two main detectives, DI Leo Stride and DS Jack Cully, and a host of other members of Scotland Yard’s Detective Division, plus the populace of London who wander in and out of the books, causing havoc.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others? 

I don’t think you CAN be a writer unless you are a reader. I always have a couple of books on the go. One is usually a research book on some aspect of the Victorian era (currently a book on Lunatic Asylums). Then, true to my genre, I have a couple of crime novels to read. I enjoy Philip Kerr, Kate Atkinson (the Jackson Brodie books), Robert Harris, Donna Leon, Tobias Hill. I’ll sometimes dip into a writer I’ve never come across, if recommended. I like series best ~ you know if you’ve enjoyed one, there are more to follow.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?
I used to be published by Usborne, when I wrote YA. Now, I am entirely self-published, using Amazon as a platform. My publishing name is Little G Books (named after my granddaughter). I publish in ebook and paperback formats, and I use a professional cover artist to do my wonderful covers. It is definitely worth paying out for good covers. The advantages of self-publishing, for me, is that I have control over pricing, platforms and publicity. The disadvantages are that few mainstream bookshops will take Amazon-generated fiction. But then, as most of my sales come via ebooks, that isn’t a big problem. I don’t ‘owe’ an agent 12% of my earnings, nor a publisher 25%! All good as far as I am concerned.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
My English teacher has probably been my greatest influence, which shows how important schooldays are. Mrs Myles, who taught me in Years 7 & 8, loved the writing process. She used to set us ‘compositions’ every week, giving us a title and then seeing what we produced. It stopped me being terrified of the blank page, and made me think in all sorts of directions. I am so upset that the modern curriculum no longer gives space for free creative writing! I wonder how many writers of the future are being stifled.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
I am a TERRIBLE procrastinator. Given the choice, I’d rather dust behind the fridge than actually write. I have learned, though, to be disciplined, as I know that as soon as I sit down at my computer to write, I will just get on with it … and time will flash by as I do. I gather, from ‘fessing up’ to this on social media, that I am definitely not alone.
What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?
I remember reading somewhere that there is no such thing as ‘writer’s block’ ~ it is just a fancy excuse for not writing. Yes. Ouch!
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
I like writing in the late morning … and then again late afternoon. If I am editing, I can do it at any time, but I seem to be drawn towards those particular times of day. I do NOT set myself any word limits; if I manage a page or five pages, that is enough. Distractions include: cat taking over writing chair, fish cavorting in the pond below my window and the local goldfinch thug-pack visiting the bird feeders.
If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?
I would love to go back to my fictional period: the 1860s. Not sure who I’d be ~ possibly not one of the starving poor, but I’d like to stand in Oxford Street and just watch the passing traffic and people. However much research you do, there is so much more you miss. What did it SMELL like? How did the people SOUND? What were their faces like? We know that any TV/film adaptation of a Victorian novel cannot ever be accurate ~ I find I shout at Ripper Street and The Woman in White, etc., as I know they are presenting a false image. Where are the rotten teeth? The smallpox marks? The clothes are always far too clean, as are the streets. I’d so love to go back, for 24 hours, and see what it was really like. And then come back and write about it!
Please tell us about your latest published work. 
Intrigue & Infamy is the 7th book in The Victorian Detectives series. I am currently working on the 8th, Fame & Fortune, to be published later this year.
It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers. Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?


Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.  Buy Link

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @carolJhedges

A Conversation with Author Regina Clarke

Today in the Library we have Regina Clarke, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Regina, please introduce yourself:

Hi Pam—Thanks so much for having me in the Library! I’ve switched careers three times, but now spend my days writing—just a joy. First, I taught English Lit at a university and then worked as a corporate writer, which often meant moving house, which I’ve done to date (gads) eighteen times to three coasts and overseas. But it wasn’t until I left the corporate workplace behind (happily!), that time and space came into sync and I began to send my fiction out into this real world. That was in 2012, and since then my short stories have appeared in Thrice Fiction, Kzine, Bewildering Stories, Subtle Fiction, Mad Scientist Journal, Over My Dead Body!, T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Blog, and NewMyths, among others. At one point I wanted to be a screenwriter and was a finalist in the Hollywood SCRIPTOID Screenwriter’s Feature Challenge for my script about a mother seeking the disabled child she had abandoned, in “Second Chances.” I began Indie publishing my standalone novels in 2014.

Life includes creative friends and a brilliant, talkative, and very green eclectus parrot named Harry. Home (at last) is in the evocative and hauntingly beautiful Hudson River Valley. It pleases me no end to live not very far from where Rod Serling grew up and Jane Roberts encountered Seth.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I write in several genres, but have been most recently drawn as a writer to the cozy mystery. I’ve read them all my life but didn’t plan to write one—my usual realms are sci-fi, fantasy, and standard mystery. But I entered a cozy mystery short story contest at Reedsy last December, just for fun. And won their prize—which astonished me! They posted my story on and I pinned the story to my Twitter page after that, but when people said I should make it into a book—I just didn’t see how. For months it wasn’t even on my radar.

Then in mid-April, thinking about what to write next, I got this sudden—it felt like a download of a cozy mystery book series, based on that short story—and the plot for Book 1, the cast of characters, including making the main character an amateur archaeologist, the expanded setting of the town and valley, even the red herrings—all of it was clear to me. And within a week I’d set up a reader’s group, created a closed group FB page, and begun writing—it was such a sudden thing. One of my readers asked if she could create a map for the town I’d invented, so I said absolutely and sent her my PowerPoint version with streets and shops and landscape (I am no artist…J ) and so Book 1 has a great map because of her. Now I’m working on the next book in the series, called Messenger Out of Time. It’s set near where I live in a real place, an abandoned state hospital/insane asylum that Ria learns might have been built over a Neolithic village.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I read many genres but for a good while I’ve been focused on reading cozy mysteries. I especially like the Maisie Dobbs mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear that were recently recommended to me, and I have found them enthralling. I also like biography a lot, and alternate history.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

A long time ago I had some nonfiction traditionally published, but since 2014 I have Indie-published all my books. It is SO incredible and wonderful that writers have this option, this new world to create in, thanks to the platforms out there.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Oh, so hard to narrow it down. So many grand influences teaching me and reminding me of this creative force. I guess I’d best name the ones I look at as bringing happiness over and over again—Ray Bradbury, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, Jane Roberts (her Seth books), Stephen Donaldson’s first trilogy, the Venerable Bede, Edgar Cayce, and no question, the Star Trek universe.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

It has, a lot. I was born in England, though I grew up in the U.S. I had an ancestral background in England—I even found my name in a 12th-century charter (of course, it was the male Reginald Clarke, not Regina Clarke, who got mentioned in those days). I’ve visited England often and find there such evocative sense of my roots and of course, the mysterious landscapes of ancient monoliths, especially in Wiltshire and Northumberland and West Riding, Yorkshire. In the U.S. which I’ve travelled through a lot, I have this sense of expansion and open spaces and a different kind of heritage, one shifted out of what Longfellow called “the forest primeval” in a poem, speaking of a New England at the time still mostly unexplored. I feel a deep affinity for all the cultures here, for the music, and the sense of a creativity that seems to exist in the land itself. Both England and the U.S. show up in my writing, one way or the other.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

That would be the element of logic—giving it a proper veneration in the plot! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to track turning points in Agatha Christie’s books to see how she worked it. And not just her—I do that with books by Carolyn Hart, Lynn Cahoon, and Kate Carlisle, among others, not to mention analyzing the plots of Murder, She Wrote, the television series. It helps me remember I really have to have it all make sense!

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

It wasn’t “write what you know,” it was “write what matters to you.” My intent is for the stories and books I write to bring others a good read, a respite from the frenetic pace we sometimes live, and most of all, a path into other ways of seeing.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I do—and discovered it is apparently embedded in me now. I write from 9:30 to 1 p.m., usually seven days a week. Afternoons for a couple of hours or in the late evening I’ll write my essays on or edit my stories.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I suspect I’d be a scribe in a monastery somewhere in a past life! In this life? I’d be an archaeologist, hands down. I’ve spent a lot of my life exploring quarries as a teenager and digs and monoliths in England and here.

If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?

That’s a wonderful question—now I have stars in my eyes … I’d have Emily Blunt as Ria, Tom Welling as Gareth.

If you could live the life of an historical figure for one day, who would you choose and what would you get up to?

Merlin. Give almost anything for that. (Always better to say an “almost” when dealing with a real wizard…)

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

The Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago. I spend a lot of time studying and imagining that world. I feel as if I know it, somehow. It played a big part in my novel The Magic Hour, and when I wrote that book I was so immersed I lost track of time completely. I’d give my eyeteeth to get back to the year 4000 B.C. and wander through the Avebury stones, among others.

You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?

What would I choose? Wow. I’d have to say The New Testament. The Complete Plays of Shakespeare in one volume. Ray Bradbury’s October Country and Dandelion Wine in one volume. Melville’s Moby Dick, and Jane Roberts’ Seth books—these three in one volume: Seth Speaks, The Nature of Personal Reality, and The Unknown Reality.

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

HIDDEN IN STONE: On a cold March day, Ria Quinn, amateur archaeologist, arrives in Shokan Falls in upstate New York to claim an inheritance—but who was Aunt Harriet, her benefactor? No one she has ever heard of! Ria discovers there is a mysterious, prehistoric stone circle in the nearby woods that has an impossible connection to the girl’s boarding school her aunt attended thirty years before. Along with this, on her first day she finds a dead body in the snow, gets an anonymous call in the night, and encounters a set of quirky townspeople with too many secrets. How is she supposed to make sense of any of it? When a second victim is found, Ria wonders if she should just return to London, where until recently she had a lowly job as a film researcher with no dead bodies lying around, no real ones, anyway.

Yet against the sheriff’s orders that she stay clear of his work, Ria intends to find out who the killer is and what link the ancient stone circle has to her aunt’s past.

Hailey, the golden retriever who befriends her, is a joy to have near, reading Beowulf in Old English keeps her calm, and Ria finds the local sheriff more than easy on the eyes, even if he does find her irritating. Those things, together with the gorgeous and ancient Shawangunk and Catskill mountain ranges of the Hudson River Valley, already have a hold on her.

But Ria’s desire to get at the truth threatens someone in Shokan Falls, someone who is willing to put her life at risk.

Buy Link Amazon








Book Review: ‘No Stone Unturned ‘ by Pam Lecky

Woohoo – Lucy wins a Silver Medal!

Book Squirrel

This is a most enjoyable historical mystery, set in Victorian London and Yorkshire during the 1880s.

Lucy Lawrence is an engaging and likeable character, at times impulsive and quick to speak her mind, but always a woman of honesty and integrity. As the story plays out, she faces some interesting and mysterious opponents and endures more than one reversal of fortune, leaving her questioning who can or cannot be trusted. This gives the reader a strong sense of empathy and loyalty that connects them to Lucy and heightens their interest in her fate.

The story is well-constructed and very well-written. The twists and turns in the story keep the reader — and Lucy — guessing right up to the last page.

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Chicks, Rogues and Scandals; Best Books of 2019 #BestBooksof2019

Delighted for No Stone Unturned to feature in Frankie’s List!

Chicks,Rogues and Scandals

Hello, my lovely Sunshines! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/Holiday which was full of laughter and happiness – mine didn’t exactly go as planned, as the notorious ‘Christmas Lurgey’ showed up at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals Towers on Christmas Eve and refuses to leave even after nearly a week – but who doesn’t receive unexpected/unwanted guests at Christmas?

Anyway, enough about me, that is not why your here, is it?

We are now on that one-way road heading towards a whole New Year, not only a new year but if you think about it we are about to have a second go ’20’s’ how exciting is that? Time to bring out the inner bootlegger/flapper? ;-)… I’m babbling, yet again….I don’t know about you all, but personally, I can’t wait for 2019 to become the past and to move forward onto 2020, this year hasn’t exactly been brilliant, but…

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New Release from Historical Fiction Author John Anthony Miller

Today, I am delighted to share the news that one of my favourite authors has a new release. John Anthony Miller hails from southern New Jersey and his writing is motivated by a life-long love of travel and history. This really does come across in his writing. I loved Honour the Dead and can’t wait to read For Those Who Dare.

For Those Who Dare by John Anthony Miller

East Berlin, August 13, 1961:

Kirstin Beck watches from her townhouse second-floor window as the border with West Berlin is closed, a barbed wire fence strung through the cemetery behind her house. With a grandmother in West Berlin that needs her care, and a daughter given up for adoption sixteen years before that she’s recently found, she must get to West Berlin. Married to a college professor who is also an informant for Stasi – the East German intelligence service – she’s trapped in a cage, caught in a web of world events.

Tony Marino is an American writer living in West Berlin. His apartment abuts the cemetery that the border fence divides. As he watches the construction progress, he sees Kirstin looking from her townhouse window. Casual acquaintances before the border was closed, Kirstin holds up a sign for Tony to see. It states: HELP ME.

This basic communication spawns an evolution of events focused on an escape from East Berlin. Failed attempts, fake passports, a growing list of refugees, and ultimately a tunnel, lead Kirstin and Tony through a kaleidoscope of deceit and danger as she’s determined to attain freedom at any cost.

The two men in Kirstin’s life symbolize the governments they represent: her cold, dogmatic husband from East Berlin, rooted to a rigid philosophy that needs walls to contain its people, and Tony, the brash, optimistic American from West Berlin who rescues her from a world she can’t endure.
Buy Link


A Conversation with Historical Fiction Author JP Reedman

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ J.P. Reedman,who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, please introduce yourself:

I’m J.P. Reedman, author of historical fiction and historical fantasy. My works mostly cover the English Middle Ages, from the time of Henry II to the end of the Wars of the Roses but also delve into the far-flung past—the era of Stonehenge. One interlinked series, Medieval Babes, is of short biographical fiction on little-known medieval women; queens and princesses who are little more than a few lines in history books. Another is I, Richard Plantagenet, which is about Richard III-told from his first person perspective.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I write Historical Fiction mostly, although I also write historical fantasy and high fantasy. I have had a fixation on the past since I was about four when I loved ancient Egypt. One of my first ever stories was about Cleopatra. I had just turned six.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I love to read and am surrounded by thousands of books. I often have 5 or more on the go at any one time. I do read a lot of historical fiction but have been reading some Gothics and ghost stories lately, and read a lot of non-fiction on the Middle Ages and prehistoric Britain.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

I am self-published now, but did have several books with a small press. In the 80’s I had many short stories and poems published in the small press.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Even though they did not write historical fiction, it is Tolkien and Alan Garner.  The use of myth, the sense of place in their works was deeply inspirational. They also inspired an 11 year old to read such works as the Mabinogion, the Elder Eddas and Beowulf

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

I was born in Canada but was always attracted to the history of Britain and Ireland from a very young age. My mother was a warbride after WWII and I think she was always homesick even decades on; I grew up listening to traditional music from Britain and Ireland. Learning about the royals, looking at coffee table books filled with pictures of Britain. My first visit was when I was four; I can still clearly remember my excitement at visiting two real castles—Windsor and Guildford. I moved permanently to the UK in 1992.

 What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

The beginning is always difficult. I usually hate what I’ve written. I often need to go back later and pull the first chapter apart as the MC is often very different than he/she is later in the story. Too different.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I tend to write at night. I wish I could do more in the day but it never seems to work, so I do promo in the day.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I did a little bit of acting in the past but don’t think I’d have followed it as a career. An archaeologist or anthropologist probably.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

I would love to see the building of Stonehenge! Although most of my historicals are medieval, my first two were set in the early Bronze Age. This is the era that I have a real ‘specialty’ in, particularly burial and ritual. I worked at Stonehenge for over ten years.

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

My latest book is THE PRINCESS NUN which is about Mary of Woodstock, daughter of Edward I. She was the ‘nun who liked fun’, spending more time attending court than in her priory. She bought lots of gold and jewels, kept hounds, and one noble claimed he had an affair with her. She was quite a character. She’s also buried in my hometown of Amesbury, although her grave is now lost.

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