Meet the Characters – Hester Pearce from The Ferryman’s Daughter by Juliet Greenwood

I’m delighted to welcome historical author Juliet Greenwood onto my blog today. Juliet is sharing an interview with Juliet from her latest novel, The Ferryman’s Daughter.

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Can Hester help her family escape desperate poverty and fulfil her dreams?

1908: Hester always loved her mother best, her father had always been a hard man to like, spending more time (and money) in the local than with his family. When her mother dies suddenly Hester is placed in the position of care-giver for her younger brother and sister, only for her father to get badly injured in an accident.

As the years pass it is only Hester who can keep her family afloat, now rowing the ferry night and day to keep them all from starvation, she sees her dreams of working in a kitchen and one day becoming a cook, slipping further and further away.

But just how far is Hester willing to go to make her dream a reality? And as the threat of war comes ever closer to the Cornish coast, will it bring opportunities or despair for Hester and her family?

Interview with Hester Pearce, the heroine of ‘The Ferryman’s Daughter’

Thank you Hester, for taking time out of your busy day. I can see the kitchens at a big house like Afalon are never quiet, especially now it’s a convalescent home for soldiers. I’m glad we’ve been able to retreat to the kitchen garden, Cornish afternoons are so beautiful this time of year. This must be such a good place to work.

Oh it is. I love working at Afalon. My grandmother used to be cook for the family here, when it was a private house. I never thought I’d get the chance to follow in her footsteps. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have been taken on, with so little experience, if it hadn’t been for the war.

Can I first ask you what first made you become a cook?

It was my mum who first made me interested in cooking. She was a wonderful cook. Even when we didn’t have much money she could make a tasty meal from practically nothing and things she gathered from the hedgerows. She taught me everything I know. And she was the one who always encouraged me to follow my dreams and never take second best.

I understand you didn’t start your working life at Afalon. Can you tell me more about the years you rowed the ferry across the Hayle Estuary? That must have been hard for a young woman.

It was hard, but I didn’t have much choice when Dad was injured, I couldn’t see my little brother and sister out on the streets. Most of the time I really enjoyed rowing passengers from one side to the other. It gave me independence, and I soon learnt how to deal with any young man who tried it on, like they do. It doesn’t half help if they know you can tip them into the river if their hands start wandering!

It sounds as if your independence is important to you.

Oh, it is. Definitely. My dad’s always trying to get me to marry Jimmy, but that’s only because Jimmy buys him pints down the Fisherman’s Arms. I love Dad, and I know he loves me in his way, but he always put his own needs first, he always has. I don’t want to hurt him, but I’m not marrying for his convenience, and especially not for pints! And I know what it would be like if I married Jimmy. Mum had a dream of running a cafe of her own in St Ives, but she never had a chance with washing and cleaning and always being pregnant. I don’t want that to be my whole life, and especially not with a man I could never love and doesn’t love me, not really. I can see Jimmy just wants a woman he can boss around and lord it over and make him feel strong and important. To be honest, he’s so obsessive, I’m not sure he’s right in the head. He scares me sometimes. And he’s so certain he’s going to win and have me at his beck and call for the rest of his life. When I rowed the ferry, at least I had control over what I earned. Once Dad insisted Jimmy took over I never knew what money was coming in to feed them all, and if there would ever be enough to cover the rent. I don’t want to live like that for the rest of my life. I’d rather make my own way, however hard that might be.

So that is why you became a cook?

Yes. When Miss Chesterfield bought Afalon and turned the house into a convalescence home for soldiers injured in the fighting in France, she needed a good plain cook. Things were getting difficult at home, especially as Jimmy just wouldn’t take no for an answer and Dad didn’t see why I didn’t do what he wanted, so I couldn’t stay at home any more. So working for Miss Chesterfield offered me a lifeline, especially being a live-in post and being able to earn enough to make sure my brother and sister were looked after.

You must have found it upsetting with so many injured men arriving? Especially that time early in the war when the main hospitals were overflowing and it took men straight from the battlefield.

That was heartbreaking, especially when the men were being brought straight from the trenches and the front line. You’ve never seen anything like it. But the nurses and the VADs were wonderful, even though they’d never had to treat such injuries before. We all pulled together, and I least I felt I was doing something, providing them with good nutritious meals with the vegetables from the kitchen garden to help them recover.

And how do you see the future?

To keep on working as a cook. And, if I can, open a cafe of my own in St Ives, one day, once this war is over. Just like my mum wanted to do, but never had the chance. I know the place. It’s the one Mum would have taken over, if she’d been able. There used to be summer visitors and artists, I feel so sure I’d be able to make a success of it. And I’m not going to give up, not for anything.

And romance? Is there someone special for Hester Pearce?

I so wish I could say yes. But it’s quite impossible. There’s no point in even thinking about it. Even if he survives the war… Anyhow, I’d rather not talk about it. There’s so much sorrow already, with so many men lost, why should I be any different? I’m just going to have to make the best of it, and make my own way in life.

Thank you, Hester. I’m sure with your determination you will succeed. Good luck!

What readers are saying about The Ferryman’s Daughter:

‘This was a superb read, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.’ Being Anne

‘Bursting at the seams with courage and rebellion, and with women smashing the boundaries to become so much more than anyone previously thought they could be.’ The Book Babe

‘A gripping historical well-paced family saga that sweeps the reader along.’ Judith Barrow

It sounds a great read, doesn’t it? You can purchase the book here:

The Ferryman’s Daughter:

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Meet Juliet

Juliet portrait


Juliet Greenwood has always been a bookworm and a storyteller, writing her first novel (a sweeping historical epic) at the age of ten. She is fascinated both by her Celtic heritage and the history of the women in her family, with her great-grandmother having supported her family by nail making in Lye, in the Black Country, near Birmingham in the UK, and her grandmother by working as a cook in a large country house.

Before being published by Orion, Juliet wrote three historical novels for Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press, reaching #4 and #5 in the UK kindle store.

Juliet lives in a traditional quarryman’s cottage between the mountains and the sea in beautiful Snowdonia, in Wales in the UK, and is to be found dog walking in all weathers, always with a camera to hand…

Social media links

Juliet’s Blog:





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Tuesday Thrillers – Head of the Firm by Caz Finlay

My Tuesday Thriller this week is the gripping and gritty gangland thriller, Head of the Firm by Caz Finlay.

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If you love Kimberley Chambers and Martina Cole you won’t be able to put down this gripping gangland crime from Liverpool’s very own Caz Finlay!

Caz Finlay has delivered a belter … The Carter Family will never be the same after this epic roller coaster ride. With the family dynamics torn apart, I was on the edge of my seat until the final page’ Gemma Rogers

A family at war…

Happily married and with two small children, Grace has stepped away from the murky underworld that has shaped so much of her life.  Now Grace is leaving the hard work to the boys – her son Jake Conlon and the notorious Carter twins, Paul and Connor.

But Grace can sense danger better than anyone and trouble is heading their way….

She’ll stop at nothing to protect those she loves, even if it means an all-out gang war on the streets of Liverpool.  But is this one fight Grace can’t win?



Zak Miller sat patiently on the stolen motorbike with the engine running while he waited for his target to approach. His heart thumped in his chest and the blood pounding in his ears seemed to reverberate off the sides of his motorcycle helmet as its soft leather pushed against his ears. He closed his eyes for a few seconds and focused instead on the rhythmic sound of his breathing – calm and steady, just like he’d been taught. What he was about to do was incredibly risky. It would change the landscape of the Liverpool underworld for ever. The ramifications would be felt far and wide and for years to come. Not only was his target one of the most dangerous and powerful individuals to ever walk the streets of Liverpool, it was also broad daylight, which ensured there were plenty of potential witnesses around. It was a calculated risk, and one that Zak was willing to take. Given that his target was particularly difficult to get close to, and was rarely alone, he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to strike when he happened to know exactly where they would be.

Zak prided himself on being the very best at what he did, and he was getting very good money for this particular job. Money that would set him up for life. It would have to. He planned to disappear pretty quickly once this was over.

He could only hear the loud, rhythmic thumping of his heartbeat now as his target approached. Pulling down the visor of his helmet, he took the Beretta handgun out of his inside jacket pocket and edged the bike forward. A few more seconds and he would have a perfect shot. He watched as his intended victim smiled to themselves – they didn’t have a fucking clue what was coming. As their paths crossed he raised the gun. By the time his target had noticed him, it was too late. He fired one clean shot straight through his victim’s neck. Before they had even hit the floor, Zak hit the throttle and sped off out of sight.

Buy Head Of The Firm and the rest of the Bad Blood series on Amazon, Kobo and Ibooks

About Caz


Caz Finlay lives in Liverpool with her husband, two children, and a grumpy dog named Bert. She has two BA Hons in Criminal Justice and Community Justice. A Probation Officer for fifteen years, Caz has always been fascinated by the psychology of human behaviour and the reasons people do the things they do. However, it was the loss of her son in 2016 which prompted her to rediscover her love of writing and write her first novel, The Boss. Caz is currently writing the fourth instalment in the Bad Blood series and is also the co-founder of Perfect Crime festival.

Follow Caz on social media:

Facebook – Caz Finlay Author

Twitter – @cjfinlaywriter

Instagram –

Visit my website –

Email me at

Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your novel, Caz.


The cover of my first ever psycholigical thriller will be revealed at 4pm today! 


Friday Reads – Networking for Writers by Lizzie Chantree

Now and again I run a Friday Reads post to promote a book that I think deserves a shout out. Networking for Writers, by Lizzie Chantree, is one of those books. If you want to know how to market your book more efficiently, how to use social media and network to increase your sales then do check out her book.

Networking for writers. Samm doc. By Lizzie Chantree

Are you swamped with book marketing and looking for a way to find new sales? Learn simple and effective networking techniques, to grow your readership and connect with other authors and book lovers, today!

Whether you are a new or experienced writer, self-published or traditionally published, this book will show you how to grow your readership and author network, through some of the most powerful of all marketing tools – word of mouth and recommendation.

This book will show you:

How networking can help you sell more books.

Why author branding is important.

How networking hours work.

Specific Facebook groups for writers

How to utilise social media to grow your readership.

How not to waste valuable writing time.

How to make our marketing more effective.

Throughout Networking for Writers, we will explore running or attending book signings, hosting seminars, finding a writing buddy or mentor, author networking groups, social media planning and so much more.

Read an extract from Networking for Writers.

I have always been fascinated with information and learning new things. Over the years, I’ve met lots of people who I now see as part of my ‘network,’ my group of interconnected friends and acquaintances. They have helped me to evolve into the bestselling author I am today.

I have had a very varied career path, and I believe that a lot of my success is due to the contacts I have made at every stage of my working life. The links can reach across decades and the process ebbs and flows both ways. This book has been written in uncertain times, during the global pandemic, but even now, when people are isolated and unsure, they have found new ways to connect, to reach out and communicate and to inspire each other with innovation and kindness.

I have written this book to help writers find their own network and learn how to communicate well with their readers and social media followers. In my book, I talk about how networking can help writers, author branding, Facebook groups, networking hours, hashtags for writers, social media timelines, book marketing and so much more.  I hope it will offer support to new writers, but also assist established creatives and writers, directing them towards new methods of establishing their writing brand and expanding their social media sites beyond recognition.

It sounds really useful, doesn’t it? The book will be available on October 29th but you can preorder now.

Universal book buy link: Networking for writers:

Meet Lizzie

Lizzie Chantree. Author photo small

Author bio:

International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree

Thanks so much for dropping by to tell us about your new book, Lizzie. It sounds brilliant!


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Meet the Characters – Leila Jones from The Last Charm by Ella Allbright

Today I’m delighted to welcome Ella Allbright to the blog. Ella is interviewing Leila Jones from her epic love story The Last Charm, which is being described as perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day in December. Let’s find out a bit about the book first.




Leila’s charm bracelet tells a story of love, a story of loss, a story of hope.

This is the story of her… and the story of Jake.

When Leila Jones loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake.

So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago…

Buy Links


Amazon –, Kobo – or Google Play


Amazon  or Kobo

Now let’s move onto Ella’s interview with Leila

Tell us about your charm bracelet – it’s beautiful.

Thank you so much. It’s my most precious possession. Mum left it behind as a gift on the evening she left me and Dad, the day before my eleventh birthday. For a long time, I really hated her, but as I grew up it turned into resentment more than anything else, and I suppose a fear of being left again… I definitely have trust issues! Dad’s an amazing single parent, but there have definitely been times I’ve missed having a mum to ask for advice from. Still, at least she sends charms every now and then so I know she thinks of me, at least sometimes. Jake gave me one too when we were in secondary school together for a single day. He hid the tiny book charm in the pages of a Jilly Cooper novel he returned to me, before he left town. We didn’t see each other for quite a while after that.

Which is your favourite charm, and why?

That’s really tough. I have quite a few now, and each one represents a significant memory, with the power to make me laugh, smile or cry. If I really had to pick one, it would be the tiny silver musical note charm. My friends clubbed together and gave it to me for my twenty-second birthday at dinner, after we saw Coldplay in concert in Cardiff. It was an amazing night despite the pouring rain because the atmosphere was electric, and Jake and I made up after a disagreement we’d had. It’s a lovely memory.

What’s your favourite place in the world, and why?

This is an easy one – Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast. I went to an end of school party there a couple of months before my sixteenth birthday. We’re lucky to live only 45 minutes away, and the limestone archway that curves into the sea is absolutely spectacular, whether you visit day or night. My favourite time to go is dusk; nothing beats sitting on the shingled beach watching the sunset. I just love it when the stars come out too – it feels otherworldly. I go there to paint if I need inspiration or if my mood needs uplifting. It also reminds me of a particular night, when I saved a certain someone’s life…

Who is your favourite person in the world, and why?

Ha! Speaking of a certain person… Jake, although I wouldn’t necessarily tell him that! He’s the most wonderful person, but at the times, the most aggravating. Still, he’s the one of the wisest and supportive people I know, and has always been there for me no matter what, even if at times I haven’t appreciated it. He also writes the most beautiful letters – he has the soul of a poet. We met when he was thirteen and I was eleven, and ever since then we’ve moved in and out of each other’s lives – a bit like Marianne and Connell in Normal People…

How does painting, and sharing your art with people, make you feel?

Truthfully, it makes me shudder. What if they don’t like it, or think it’s no good? Art is so subjective, and what one person might love, another might hate. It’s also the thought of the spotlight being on me that makes it worse – I’m naturally an introvert and happiest when I’m painting in the garden wearing dungarees. Still, Jake’s been encouraging me to paint more and follow my dreams, and I’m slowly starting to believe that I might have talent, thanks to him. We’ll see what happens.

What’s your worst character trait?

I can be quite defensive when I feel vulnerable, like when things take me by surprise or if I’m being pressured to take risks, especially emotional ones. That’s normally when those perky trust issues crop up again.

I can have a quick temper too. It used to get me in trouble a lot when I was a teenager, and though I’ve worked on it and try to be patient, I can sometimes lose my cool with the people I love the most. I hope I have some redeeming qualities too though – Jake has always said that my art helped him get through some really tough things as he was growing up. Apparently my paintings gave him hope, and somewhere to escape to.

And finally, cats or dogs?

Definitely dogs. I have a tri-coloured beagle called Fleur – named after Fleur Delacour from Harry Potter – that Dad bought me the summer I sat my GCSE exams. I’d been campaigning for years for a puppy, and he finally caved in because I’d done well in school (no more skiving for me, though that’s a story for another day!) Fleur is adorable and such a character. She’s a huge part of our family and absolutely loves Jake, sometimes I think more than she does me!


‘A gorgeously romantic love story full of heart and poignancy that lasts long after the beautifully uplifting ending.’ Alex Brown, bestselling author of A Postcard from Italy

‘Magical, heartwarming, charming, heartbreaking, enthralling… really, this book is simply beautiful.’ Sarah L, Netgalley Reviewer

Meet Ella


Short Bio

A self-confessed reading addict, Ella Allbright writes commercial women’s fiction set in her beautiful home county of Dorset. Her first novel in this genre, The Last Charm is published in ebook and audiobook format on 21 August 2020 by One More Chapter (HarperCollins) and she’s currently hard at work on her next book. Ella is represented by agent Hattie Grünewald at The Blair Partnership.

Ella also writes as Nikki Moore, the author of the popular #LoveLondon romance series. When not writing or reading, she can usually be found working in her HR day job, walking the family’s cute beagle puppy or watching a Netflix series!

You can contact Ella here:

Twitter: @NikkiMoore_Auth


Instagram: @Authorbythesea1207


Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Ella. Wishing you lots of sales! 

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Sassy, heartwarming romances set in glorious locations: Amazon Author Page


Meet the Characters – Florence Boot of Mrs Boots of Pelham Street by Deborah Carr

I’m delighted to welcome author Deborah Carr to my blog today.  Her historical novel, Mrs Boots of Pelham Street was published on 15th May. Deborah is interviewing her character Florence Boot today. Let’s take a look at the gorgeous cover and learn a bit more about this heartwarming book.

Mrs Boots of Pelham Street cover USE Large


Behind every family there’s a strong woman holding them together.

As the wife of esteemed businessman, Jesse Boot, Florence’s position in society is much changed from her quiet life as a shopkeeper’s assistant.  Now a lady of means, Florence is expected to act in a way society demands.

And whilst Florence is more than happy to be a dutiful wife and a doting mother, as the Boots empire continues to grow, there is so much more to her than simply being Mama or dearest.  Helping the staff and customers who rely on her and the business gives Florence an added purpose.

Can she show society that a woman can have it all…?

You can purchase the book here:


Well that’s certainly got my interest! Now let’s move onto the interview with Florence Boot

Thank you, Florence for inviting me into your comfortable office in your new Boots store in Pelham Street.

What do you miss most about living in Jersey now that you’re based in Nottingham with your husband Jesse and three children, John, Dorothy and Margery?

We’ve recently moved from our home in Sheffield to a larger beautiful brick house in Nottingham with a beautiful park nearby so that we’re closer to our new flagship store in Pelham Street. We’re very happy there. Apart from my parents and three siblings who are all in Jersey, it’s the sea that I miss most about my home island. Although my parents still live in the flat above my father’s stationery shop at 27 Queen Street, it’s only about a ten-minute walk to the sea front either at Havre des Pas or near St Helier Harbour.

Your early working life was as a shop assistant in your father’s stationery shop in Jersey, how different is it working on the island to your working day in Nottingham?

I always considered Queen Street where W H Rowe Stationers is to be very busy, and for a small island it is, but it’s nothing like the busy streets of Nottingham. The hustle and bustle of the busy streets in Nottingham is another thing entirely. It took me a little while to become used to so many people, horses, Hansom cabs, but it is exciting and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t enjoy going to work. Also the size of the Pelham Street shop is vast compared to my father’s stationers.

You’re a lady of means now and have a standing in society, why do you still work such long hours in your office each day?

I love my work supporting my husband, Jesse as we build our business. My children are small and it doesn’t matter if they come to work with me because I have enough room for them in my office to play and nap, so I can still spend most of my time with them while they’re little. I believe that marriage shouldn’t be the end of a working life for a woman and so I lead by example to my female staff by working hard and that will also hopefully install a good work ethic into my three children.

You’re always trying to find ways to help your female staff? What is it that you want most for them?

I was shocked to learn that a great number of women struggle to bring in enough money each week to keep their family fed and clothed. It is heart-breaking to think that many of them go without breakfast before a long working day to ensure there’s enough food to feed their husband and children. This is why I now provide cocoa first thing each day for each of my staff. I want to help the women who work for Boots to have the best future they can. It’s especially difficult for them when society dictates that they follow traditional expectations of them. I believe they should be able to make their own decisions about their future and I hope to help them realise ways to do this.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Being able to help others. I am lucky to have such a supportive husband who values my ideas and encourages me to put any them into practice, like the electric lighting we have installed in the Pelham Street store and changing the way the shops are laid out and the things we sell.

One of your famous innovative ideas for the Boots shops was the Boots Booklovers’ Libraries. Why was it so important for you to fight for these to be included in your shops?

I believe that reading should be available to everyone to enjoy. Reading is a way for all of us to educate ourselves and I think that through reading books we learn more about opportunities and different ways of life. It is also a wonderful way for people to escape their lives even if for a few minutes each day.

I can imagine that you have many plans for the future of Boots. Are there any that you can share with me today?

Only that whatever future plans my husband Jesse and I put into action, they will be with the intention of helping enrich both our customers’ and our members of staff’s daily life. We are lucky to be in a position to be able to help others in many ways and we never want to have to stop doing that.

Review comments:

‘Fabulous’ USA TODAY bestseller Glynis Peters

‘A captivating historical novel that would make perfect Sunday evening TV.’ Kraftireader

‘Florence a true believer in the power of women and that they deserve respect and equality. I didn’t want it to end.’ Amazon Reviewer

Buy Links:




Meet Deborah

Deborah Med

Author Bio:

Deborah Carr is the USA TODAY best-selling author of The Poppy Field. She is currently writing her third book in the Mrs Boots series, Mrs Boots Goes To War to be published in 2021 along with a standalone novel set during The Occupation of Jersey during WW2, titled, An Island At War.

She sets most of her books at least partly on the island of Jersey where she lives with her husband and three lovable rescue dogs five minutes away from two beaches.

Deborah was described as ‘One to Watch’ by Good Housekeeping magazine for her debut historical romance, Broken Faces. She is also one third of The Blonde Plotters writing group and a Co-Founder of multi-award-winning tech start-up – the first global virtual literary festival venue platform developed to connect readers and authors.

Social Media Links:



Twitter: @DebsCarr

Instagram: ofbooksandbeaches

Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Deborah. Wishing you many sales!

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Sassy, heartwarming romances set in glorious locations: Amazon Author Page


Tuesday Thrillers – Secrets of a Serial Killer by Rosie Walker.

My Tuesday Thriller this week is the ‘edge-of-the-seat’ crime novel, Secrets of a Serial Thriller by Rosie Walker.



There it is: fear. It’s crawling all over her face and in her eyes, like a swarm of insects, and it’s all because of him.

A serial killer has been terrorising Lancaster for decades, longer than should ever have been possible. The police are baffled, eluded at every turn by the killer whose victims span generations. Speculation is rife among the true crime forums; is someone passing on their gruesome trade?

Every local mother’s worst nightmare has become Helen Summerton‘s reality; he’s taken her daughter, Zoe. As the clock runs down so do her chances of survival. Can Helen unearth the secrets of the killer before it’s too late?

A gripping serial killer thriller that you won’t be able to put down. Perfect for fans of The Whisper ManWhat You Did and Don’t Even Breathe.

Buy Links

Amazon UK:



Google Books:


Letter from the Leonard McVitie Archive,
John Rylands Library
Date: 1959–1985

Lancaster Lune Hospital
Lancaster, Lancashire
23 November 1984

Dear X,

I have watched the life leave the eyes of so many that I easily identify the signs as my own body begins to shut down. I know I will soon die, so I write to inform you that it is your turn to take up the mantle.

Work your charm; they will like you. You wear it well; they won’t sense who you are underneath. They can’t understand that you’re not interested in their thoughts, their feelings, their love. You’re interested in their fight, their attempts to flee, the smell of fear oozing from their skin.

I know that fear has always been your favourite, especially when you are the cause. Fear is vigilance. It’s universal to all animals, but only humans can override it and pretend it’s irrational. Only humans would experience fear, push it away and instead share a conversation with the predator; accept an invitation, smile and flirt and hope for more than they deserve. You were born for this life.

My teachings are complete, and your personal range of emotions is small yet efficient: joy, neutrality, or pure rage. All other emotions you choose to project are the result of careful study, manufactured for the benefit of your audience. The slight drop of your eyebrows to demonstrate disappointment. The narrowing of your eyes to indicate disgust. The barely detectable dip of your head to suggest disapproval. You have mastered it all.

You have been my best student. I trust that you will protect and enhance my legacy.

Yours sincerely,

Leonard McVitie



Helen leans her elbows on the railings and gazes up at the Gothic turrets of the derelict hospital as the sun begins to rise. A light mist hovers just above the ground, highlighting the dew on the grass.

Some window panes are broken, probably by stone-throwing vandals before the security company began twenty-four-hour patrols. She’s been taking regular walks around the grounds for the past couple of months, getting a feel for the building in all seasons and weathers.

She scans each window, searching for movement inside. As a child she was fixated on the supernatural, but now that she’s in her fifties, the history of such places is far more fascinating than spirits and ghouls. She shakes her head, smiling at her overactive imagination.

The wind picks up, rustling through the trees above her head and needling her skin through her woolly jumper. She shivers.

Why did the architects build their ‘lunatics’ such an ornate prison? It is a magnificent structure; she loves the flying buttresses, like the legs of a spider about to scuttle away. The dirty red sandstone seems more suited to a reclusive prince living on a stormy cliff-top in a Victorian novel than for the so-called ‘feeble-minded’ of nineteenth-century Lancashire. This massive building was once known as ‘The Annexe’, an extension of the original County Lunatic Asylum constructed in the 1880s to house the masses of mental patients shipped to the county from all across the north of England.

Once looming over barren moorland and visible for miles, it’s now almost hidden from the city, concealed within the trees. She loves the way that nature takes over a building once mankind abandons it: shoots sprouting from rooftops and ivy pushing apart the brickwork. It feels life-affirming that the natural world will still continue after we’re gone.

It’s a shame they can’t just leave it as it is: retain the ivy and the moss and the spindly saplings that grow from the gutters. But, sadly, people want to make money, and part of Helen’s job is to help carve up this beautiful old building.

Alfie pulls hard on his lead, his tongue hanging from his mouth as he struggles against the collar. She bends down.

‘Alright, but don’t run off,’ she says as she releases the clip.

As expected, the dog immediately disappears into the nearest clump of bushes, flushing a squawking pheasant into the air and away. She hears him burst out from the other side of the undergrowth and jogs ahead to keep him in sight. He is running away, and fast. Helen shouts and whistles as she sees him push through a gap in the fence and run towards the building.

‘Alfie! No! Bad dog!’ she calls, but he ignores her and continues running until he is out of sight. She knows he won’t run far; he just gets excited. But the building is derelict and riddled with asbestos.

Helen groans.

She follows at a jog, squeezing through the gap in the fence and pushing across the overgrown lawn in front of the hospital, thistles tugging at her jeans.

It’s thrilling to get closer to the building, with a genuine reason if anyone challenges her. So far in this phase of work she’s only seen dusty floor plans, concept sketches and asbestos reports during dull scoping meetings and budget discussions.

She slows for a moment to take in the imposing façade up close, initials carved above each tracery window and ornate parapets along the roof. The six-storey water tower looms over the main entrance, where a stone staircase rises up to wooden double-doors. The basement floor is half-submerged, with letterbox windows at knee-level.

She remembers the floor plan she pored over last week: there’s a double-height entrance hall behind those doors, with a sweeping staircase in the centre, and long corridors branching off to the east and west wings: the wards and seclusion cells. East for female patients, west for male. The hospital was designed to house the infirm in small rooms, crammed to maximum capacity and maximum practicality.

She passes the main entrance, where the doors are secured with a chunky padlock and chain. ‘Alfie?’ she shouts, but he still doesn’t return.

She passes through a stone archway into a horseshoe-shaped courtyard, which must have been the loading dock with access to the kitchens, laundry and store rooms. A door stands open in the far corner where the main hall branches into the west wing, a dark hole gaping in the stone wall.

She feels a shiver of anticipation. Alfie must have gone inside. She has to go after him.

Publication dates:

Ebook: out now

Audiobook: 6th August

Paperback: 15th October

Meet Rosie



Rosie Walker is a debut novelist who lives in Edinburgh with her husband Kevin and their dog Bella. Rosie gained a Masters in Creative Writing with distinction from the University of Edinburgh in 2011, where she learned to talk about writing over a gin and tonic, and accept critical feedback with grace.

She also has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Lancaster University, where she learned how to pull an all-nighter to hit a deadline right at the last minute.

Secrets of a Serial Killer, her first novel, is out now in ebook. Her second novel is coming in 2021.

Contact links:

Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your new book, Rosie. Wishing you many sales. 


My  first psychological thriller will be out later this year. Look out for the cover reveal, coming soon.


Meet the Characters – Jack Green from Summer Island by Natalie Normann

I’m delighted to welcome author Natalie Normann onto my Meet the Characters blog today. Natalie is interviewing Jack Green, the MC from her novel Summer Island.

Cover Summer Island


He never meant to stay.
He certainly never meant to fall in love…

Summer Island off the coast of Norway was the place London chef Jack Greene should have been from. He’s an outsider in the community that should have been his family, and now he’s setting foot on the strange land he has inherited for the first time.

Ninni Toft, his nearest neighbour, has come to the island to mend her broken heart. With her wild spirit and irrepressible enthusiasm, she shows city-boy Jack the simple pleasures of island life – and what it means to belong. To a place. To a people. To one person in particular…

Home is where the heart is, but is Jack’s heart with the career he left behind in London, or on the wind-swept shores of Summer Island, with Ninni?

Buyers links.

Interview with Jack Green, renowned Chef and island dweller

I find Jack in the kitchen, apparently that’s his favourite place. It’s a roomy, shiny kitchen, with all the equipment a modern chef needs to do his magic; hanging from hooks over a large work counter. I have no idea what he uses most of them for and it seems rude to ask.

He’s pulling food out of a large fridge and setting the plates down on the counter, when I plant myself on one of the highchairs on the other side.

‘Right, Jack. Why Norway? What on earth made you come to this wind swept piece of rock in the middle of the North Atlantic?’

He seems annoyed by the question. Jack is patient, but he also have an impressive collection of seriously sharp chefs knives.  Maybe I should rephrase that. ‘I mean, it’s a nice rock, but still. You’re from London, for goodness sake.’

‘If you had seen me on my first day here, you would never have thought I’d stay longer than a week.  This place, it grows on you.’ He waves his knife at the window where the rain is hammering on the glass. ‘Even now.’

‘As I understand it, you didn’t know anything about this island before you arrived?’

‘No, I had no idea what to expect.  Before I came here, I was a bit lost, to be honest. It was such a strange place, so different from what I was used to. I have lived in London all my life, and I couldn’t really picture myself living any other place. The contrast was … felt, enormous.’

Jack is making me a sandwich,  an open sandwich, because that’s how we make them in Norway. He points at the different plates of food on the table in front of him. There’s different types of ham, fruits and berries, jam, eggs and sausages, fish, and bacon – it looks like a Norwegian dream breakfast. Me, I usually manage fine on a glass of ice coffee.

‘See this? All sorts of stuff to put on your bread. It even has a word: pålegg. It’s brilliant.’ Jack grins. ‘Sweet or savoury?’

‘Oh, for me? Hm. Savoury, I think. Why don’t your surprise me? But no mustard, mayonnaise and raw onions, please.’

Jack takes the challenge. He cuts a piece of rustic looking brown bread and starts to butter it. Then looks up. ‘You prefer not toasted, right?’

I nod. ‘I have a toaster, but I never use it. Did you bake the bread?’

‘Of course. The bread is fresh from this morning. Do you like liver pate?’

‘Sure. You seem awfully fascinated by Norwegian food. Why is that? No pickles, please. I hate those too.’

Jack thought about it. ‘Well, I’m classicly trained, in French cooking, and my favourites are the rustic, homely meals, the one you eat for comfort or when it’s cold and you fancy something to warm your cockles.’

‘Your what now?’ My imagination has no nice translation of that word, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have any cockles.

‘The cockles of your heart? No?’ Jack sighes when I shake my head. ‘It means something nice and good, actually. Like your hygge, maybe.’

‘Okay.’ I snatch a piece of bacon before he can stop me. ‘So that’s what Norwegian food does for you? It doesn’t really do that for me. I’m more of a pasta girl, myself.’

‘That too. I mean, traditional food here isn’t that different from what we have back home. Norwegians have lived of the sea and the land for centuries, just like we used to do in the UK. And we survived fine without access to all sorts of exotic produce that now has to be flown in from the other side of the world. Also food here is suprisingly expensive, especially imported food.’

‘So you’re fascinated by the food here. Is that enough to keep life here interesting for you?’

‘We’ll have to see, won’t we? For now, this is what I want,’ he says with a huge smile.

He cuts a thick slice of pate and puts it on the bread, then garnish with bacon and something foamy that I don’t know what is, and ends it with adding what looks like jam made of some kind of berries.

‘Here. Try this. Now, as you know, normally, you’d eat the sandwich with your hands. But this is more of an artisan sandwich, so you might want this.’

He hands me a set of cutlery. I frown, still staring at the plate in front of me. It doesn’t look like any kind of sandwich from my breakfast table, I can tell you that. ‘This is really more a Danish kind of sandwich, you know,’ I say.

Jack grins. ‘I wouldn’t know the difference, I’m afraid. And a piece of cold bread with a slice of cheese on it, isn’t much of a meal, is it?’

He’s right about that.

I look at the plate again. ‘What is all this … stuff you’ve put on here?’

Jack is already making another sandwich, presumably for himself. ‘It’s a local pate, made from an old recipe here on the island. The bacon is of course not from the island. There are no pig farmers here so we get that from the mainland. The foam is made from locally harvested mushrooms, also on the mainland, but the jam is crowberries that grow wild here. They are really good with meat, I think,’ Jack says, pointing at each component with his knife.

I love crowberries, I just haven’t had it on a sandwich before. I cut a piece, making sure to get a bit of everything, and put it in my mouth. It’s so good, it’s practically religious, and I’m not even a huge fan of liver pate.

‘Are you experimenting with local produce, so that you can bring new recipes to London? I mean, your former position as a young, promising chef, meant that people had expectations. They still do, I should think.’

‘Wouldn’t you like to know? ‘ Jack says, winking at me.

I would actually, but I have to write it

What readers are saying about Summer Island

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely uplifting story

I loved this book from the start, saw it by chance in Twitter so glad I did! I’ve never been to Norway, it’s on my to do list, but I felt as if I have been there after reading this book as it’s so well described, likewise with the characters. I really want a dog like Fikke! I will be downloading the next book and any further books by Natalie, if you like books by Sarah Bennett, Daisy James and Sue Moorcroft to name just a few then this is the book for you!

Meet Natalie



Natalie Normann grew up in a shipping town on the west-coast of Norway and always wanted to be a writer. Actually, she wanted to smoke cigars and drink whiskey like Hemingway but settled for chocolate and the occasional glass of Baileys. Her writing journey started with short stories in women’s magazines until her first book was published in 1995.
Summer Island is her first romance written in English

Contact links
Instagram. natalienormann


Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Natalie. 

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Sassy, heartwarming romances set in glorious locations: Amazon Author Page


Tuesday Thrillers – Untraceable by Jake Cross

My guest this week is Jake Cross, who has dropped by to share an extract from his latest gripping mystery thriller, Untraceable which is published by Bloodhound Books.



They don’t want to be found. You won’t give up the search.

Everyone has a price.

When Matt Armstrong learns that his sister has been murdered, he returns to his family to find out what happened. Visiting the place where their sister’s corpse was found, Matt struggles to uncover any information. But when he learns that a camera might have been used to record the killing, he becomes a man on a mission.

Helped by his ex-girlfriend, Lisa, he follows a trail of clues until the investigation grinds to a halt. On the verge of giving up, an anonymous tip is thrown his way which blows the mystery wide open.

Can Matt solve the murder and get justice?

He’s about to find out.

Buy Link:


Two years after Don Jones lost his home in a fire and moved to Sheffield, he was killed off by Ian Smith, who fled to Newcastle under the guise of a man who’d decided to relocate after his wife shacked up with his best friend. Three years after that, Ian Smith vanished and Peter Jackson, rising from his ashes, resettled in Glasgow with a claim that he’d lost his job and had chosen a new home by sticking a pin in a map.

Don Jones had waited tables. Ian Smith had worked a nightclub door. Both guys had left their jobs with no notice, and Peter Jackson was going to do the same when he winked out of existence. But for now he lugged potted plants and bags of stones out to customers’ cars for minimum wage. He kept to himself, didn’t talk about his past, never asked others about theirs. Sometimes someone at the garden centre offered a night out or asked to pop round to his bedsit, but Jackson always refused. He was considered strange by his colleagues, but was polite to customers so the boss never had a problem with him. Every day he worked hard and mostly in silence and then returned to his rented bedsit and spent the evening alone. He’d performed this unsociable routine for eighteen months and would continue it until he felt too rooted, too stale. Then he would get the map and the pin and a new name and a new bullshit story to explain why he was in a city where he had no friends and no family.

Today the man, whose real name was Matt Armstrong, woke early and alone, as always. He sat up in bed and reached to a square piece of duct tape stuck on his shoulder. He peeled it away, exposing a micro sim card. His phone was on the bedside table, next to a slip of paper with his latest fake name on it. The slip was there in case the boss called: wouldn’t do to have his sleepy head forget his alias. He slotted the SIM and the battery into the mobile.

He went into the bathroom to shower while the phone booted up. Only one man other than him had the number for that SIM card and in seven years Matt had never received a call or a text on it. Every day for seven years, he’d prayed he never would. If that was again the case when he checked after his shower, he’d tape the SIM on his shoulder, put the original SIM back in the phone, and head off to work to enjoy another day as Peter Jackson.

It was as he was stepping into the shower that he heard the unmistakable double-beep of a text message received. A cold snake of fear slipped down his spine.

It had taken seven years, but finally it had happened.

‘I HEARD YOUR SISTER JUST GOT KILLED,’ the text message said.

Compelling, isn’t it? Want to find out what happens next? You can buy the book here:

Meet Jake



As a kid, Jake Cross chose to write fantasy because there was no research needed for an invented world. Early short stories covered probably every genre except dieselpunk-romcom. Although he now writes thrillers, Jake’s reading love is true crime. He thinks he’d make a good detective, but his partner points out that he can’t even decide if it was the three kids or the two cats who broke something in the house. His excuse: kids won’t sit still for a polygraph, and cats know their right to remain silent.

Contact links

TWITTER CONTACT LINK: @Jakecrossauthor

FACEBOOK: JakeCross – author

Thank you for dropping by to tell us about your new book, Jake.  Wishing you lots of sales!


My  first psychological thriller will be out later this year. Look out for the cover reveal, coming soon.