Book Spotlight: Martha’s Cottage by Fiona Cooke

A very happy Publication Day to Fiona Cooke! I’m a huge fan of Fiona’s writing and if you haven’t checked out her previous work, you should do so. Her collections of short stories are fabulous dark tales, deliciously creepy, and are guaranteed to give you sleepless nights!

Martha’s Cottage is Fiona’s first novel and is a heart-warming and humorous story (see blurb below). The book is published today by SpellBound Books.

Book Spotlight: Martha’s Cottage by Fiona Cooke

Her Last Betrayal: New Release from Pam Lecky

Today is Publication Day!

Initially, I hesitated to write a story set during World War 2, unsure what I could bring to it that would be unique. And then it dawned on me that few had written about the war from a neutral Irish perspective. Luckily, all I had to do was delve into my family and local history and Her Secret War, the first novel in the Sarah Gillespie Series, was the result.

Essentially, the stories in the series are about spies and fifth columnists, a subject covered in some depth by Tim Tate in his book, Hitler’s British Traitors. This was the source for much of my background information and threw up a few plot ideas too (always a bonus!). [Buy Link: Hitler’s British Traitors]

Betty Lecky, Birmingham, 1940s

My mother and her sisters left rural Ireland to work in Britain during WW2. One aunt followed her boyfriend, who had joined the RAF, and she worked in a munitions factory. Another aunt wanted to study nursing, and my mother was a ‘clippie’ (bus conductress) on the Birmingham buses. Neither book is their story, but there are glimpses of their experiences hidden throughout the fiction. The German attack on North Strand, which opens the first book, happened only a few miles from where I grew up. As a young child, I passed the bombed-out sites regularly, knowing nothing about them. I was in my late teens before I heard about the bombing and the relevant history.

Her Secret War by Pam Lecky

For me, the greatest challenge was getting up to speed on day-to-day life. I knew a lot about the overall timeline and events of the war, but it was the nitty-gritty details of life on the Homefront which would ground the stories in reality. Thankfully, there is an enormous amount of material out there, from eyewitness accounts and books to newsreels.

My heroine, Sarah Gillespie, is Irish, and the first novel in the series begins with the infamous bombing of neutral Dublin by the Luftwaffe in May 1941. The opening chapters take place during the bombing and its aftermath before the story moves to England. Like many Irish, Sarah has family living in the UK. They welcome her to their home when her own family is killed. Without giving away the plot, Sarah’s nationality leads to complications, and she is forced to decide where her loyalties lie. The complex relationship between the Irish and their ex-colonial masters interests me, and I explore it to some extent in both novels.

Her Last Betrayal by Pam Lecky

Her Last Betrayal continues Sarah’s story. She is now employed by MI5 and must work with a new colleague, a US Naval Intelligence officer, who is hostile and suspicious of her motives. There mission is to track down IRA members who are facilitating British fifth columnists and Abwehr agents entering and leaving the UK. Just as they appear to be making progress, one of the MI5 team is revealed to be a German mole. Their mission thrown into chaos, Sarah and Tony must learn to trust each other if they are to survive.

Again, I referenced Mr Tate’s excellent book only to find that the port used by the IRA was only alluded to as being in South Wales. I knew the UK National Archives document reference number, but the text in question was only available to view in person, not online. Due to Covid, I could not travel to Kew to look at it. So, in the meantime, I had to make an educated guess (Fishguard seemed likely as it connected Cork and neutral Lisbon at the time—a possible route).

As the deadline for finalising the book approached, however, I panicked and took a chance and messaged Mr Tate directly through social media. A few weeks later, he responded and emailed all the information I needed. But, as it transpired, the identity of the port used by the IRA for smuggling people in and out of the UK, remains a mystery. The document Mr Tate had seen only mentioned South Wales. And then the bombshell: the British Secret Service had destroyed the other file which identified the exact location. Although disappointed, at least I had an answer. And let’s be honest, a bit of mystery is music to the ears of a writer of espionage tales!

Her Secret War was published in October 2021 and is available in all good bookstores and online. Her Last Betrayal is published today, 14th April 2022 and is available in all good book stores and online. I am currently working on the third novel in the series, as yet unnamed.

Buy Link: Her Secret War

Buy Link: Her Last Betrayal

In Conversation with Mary Clancy

Today, I am delighted to host fellow Irish historical fiction author, Mary Clancy.

Pam thanks so much for inviting me to feature on your blog.

Mary Clancy

Let me tell you a little about myself. I live with my family in Co. Kildare just outside Naas, with Michael and two of our three sons. My youngest is eighteen, I don’t know where those years went to. I mustn’t forget to mention our treasured dog Coco who is still sprightly at the grand old age of fifteen.

I look forward to having my books in the book shops when I can have a real live launch. (Most important.)

Having retired from my job as a social worker, I took to writing, a hobby which I had enjoyed for much of my adult life. Being offered a three book deal from Poolbeg Press in 2020 was such a dream. And here I am.

In Conversation with Mary Clancy

New Release from Pauline Morgan

Retired housewife, Pauline Morgan, relocated to her native Northern Ireland. She has been writing since 2000 and decided to write about her experiences in various houses she lived in and, as a result, self-published the paranormal Special Houses. Pauline previously joined the Romantic Novelist Association and participated in their New Writers Scheme and she is also a member of an online writing group, Writers Ink VIP. Pauline has written four short stories which have been published in Woman’s Way magazine and a further two have been published in the iconic Ireland’s Own Magazine. She enjoys entering Flash Fiction competitions and was long-listed in the Kanturt Flash Fiction. Her first poem, Airborne, was posted on the Pendemic.ie website, in March 2020.

New Release from Pauline Morgan

A Conversation with Author Amy Maroney

Today in the library we have Amy Maroney, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

Thank you for having me on the blog, Pam! I live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States with my family, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning my hand to historical fiction. When I’m not diving down research rabbit holes, I enjoy hiking, drawing, dancing, traveling, and reading. I am the author of the Miramonde Series, a trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail.

A Conversation with Author Amy Maroney

A Conversation with Author Sharon Dempsey

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

You are very welcome, Sharon, please introduce yourself:

Sharon Dempsey

I’m a Belfast based crime writer. The first in my new crime series, ‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’ was published in February by Avon Harper Collins. I am also a PhD researcher at Queen’s University, exploring class and gender in crime fiction.

A Conversation with Author Sharon Dempsey

A Conversation with Penny Hampson

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

You are very welcome, Penny, please introduce yourself:

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Pam. It’s great to be able to chat. I’ll start by telling you a little about myself.

Penny Hampson

I came to writing rather late in life, having spent most of my adult years bringing up my family and then working as researcher in an academic library. It was only when I made the difficult decision to give up working full time to enable me to care for a close family member that I decided to write my first novel. I’d been juggling both caring and work for ten years and it was beginning to get too much.

Of course, being a historian meant my first book was going to be an historical novel. I joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, who were very helpful in critiquing my work and introducing me to other authors. A Gentleman’s Promise was eventually published in 2018. I’ve now written three historical novels, and one contemporary mystery/romance novel, with more to follow. I feel I’ve got a lot of catching up to do having started so late!

I live in Oxfordshire with my family, and when I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

A Conversation with Penny Hampson

New Release from Sharon Dempsey

Sharon Dempsey

Happy Publication Day, Sharon!

Today I am delighted to share details of this fabulous new release from Belfast based crime writer, Sharon Dempsey. Who Took Eden Mulligan? is the first in her new crime series and is published by Avon Harper Collins. When not writing, Sharon is a PhD researcher at Queens, exploring class and gender in crime fiction.

Who took Eden Mulligan? is a modern day murder investigation wrapped in a historical cold case.

New Release from Sharon Dempsey

New Release from Sharon Thompson

Sharon Thompson is a best-selling, Irish author who writes historical novels, with plenty of criminal elements for Bloodhound Books UK. When she is not plotting gritty manuscripts (like ‘The Abandoned’ and ‘The Healer’) Sharon enjoys conjuring light-hearted short stories for magazines like Woman’s Way. Living in rural Donegal, Sharon loves binge-watching movies and TV programmes, walking on the beach with her dog, and making time for coffee or a glass of wine with friends. An avid tweeter, Sharon runs a trending tweet-chat #WritersWise, and can be found online, chatting on messenger or typing out a new idea. ‘The Quiet Truth’ is due for release on 9th Dec 2020. Sharon has also signed with Poolbeg Books Ireland. Her historical, crime novel called ‘The Murdering Wives Club’ from the Sinful Roses series will launch in January 2021. New Release from Sharon Thompson

A Conversation with Author Elizabeth St. John

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

Here’s a little bit about Elizabeth:

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian, and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story.

Having spent a significant part of her life with her seventeenth-century family while writing The Lydiard Chronicles trilogy and Counterpoint series, Elizabeth St.John is now discovering new family stories with her fifteenth-century namesake Elysabeth St.John Scrope, and her half-sister, Margaret Beaufort. A Conversation with Author Elizabeth St. John