In Search of Fear……Alison Knight

Well the new year is almost a month old and I know I have been MIA on the blog front but I was taking a break from blogging to get my head around the home schooling and working from home thing. Now I have successfully poured my frontal lobes back in place, here we are again on the hunt for scary inspiration. This week I have author Alison Knight popping by the House of Fear to tell us all about what scares the bejesus out of her.

What movie/book scared you as a child?

I think I should start by saying that I’m a complete coward and actively avoid anything that might be scary! I can’t remember a particular book that scared me, but I do remember seeing a film when I was about six at our local library in the East End of London that still gives me the shivers. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was an old black and white film about a group of children who lived in the country and in one scene they were trapped in the loft of an old hay barn that was on fire. I was so scared, I ran out because I couldn’t bear to watch it. I still don’t know how the film ended, although with hindsight, I’m sure they would have been rescued or been able to escape. I also confess to have been one of those children who hid behind the sofa when the Daleks came on the telly.

Do you like scary movies? Which one is your favourite.

No! I avoid them at all costs!

Ghost are my go to for scares. Have you ever had a paranormal experience in real life?

I’m not scared by the thought of ghosts – I think that’s because I’ve lost people close to me and like the idea that they might be hanging around, keeping a loving eye on me. I did have an unsettling experience a few years ago when I stayed at a friend’s house in Oxfordshire. It was a very old thatched cottage with wonky floors and walls. I was just dozing off to sleep when I felt a cat land on the mattress and walk across my back. But when I looked, there was nothing there! I checked with my friend the next morning and they have never had a cat. Yet I felt the cat’s weight on my back and heard it purring. 

Has a book ever scared you?

I had to read The Lovely Bones for a university course and found it really unsettling. It wasn’t something I’d have finished reading if it wasn’t part of my studies. Needless to say, I won’t watch the movie. I don’t like anything that makes me feel helpless. 

In my own books, I like to build tension, but I don’t aspire to instill terror in my readers. My latest book, MINE, is different because it’s based on real events. I found that really, really hard to write but as I’m the only one left who was part of what happened, I felt I owed it to myself and my family to write it. But it scared me to write it because it meant reliving it all. I was also scared of upsetting other family members who would remember that time.

I have to say, I shed a lot of tears as I wrote it and dreaded having to write some scenes. But I also tried to balance the bad stuff with lighter moments – memories that made me laugh out loud. I know some of my family and friends who have read it said they found it hard to read because they knew what was coming but they also appreciated the lighter moments which evoked good memories for them. 

In real life, what is your greatest fear?

Like every mother, I fear for my children and grandchildren. I remember thirty-odd years ago, when my son was a baby, I was at home and my husband was away on a course and someone tried to get into our house through the back door. What did I do? I yelled at the top of my voice and ran towards the door – no one was getting anywhere near my baby! I was just in time to see someone disappear over our garden wall. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised how badly that could have gone but I think if either of my children or grandchildren were threatened I’d do the same thing again. 

My mother nearly drowned as a child and was rescued from a fast-flowing river. She was terrified of water after that and never learned to swim. Yet I was a real water baby and loved to swim and she would sit by the pool and watch me. It wasn’t until years later that I realised how scary that must have been for her. 

On a personal level, I’m terrified of being helpless – if I couldn’t see or move I’d be absolutely terrified. Have you read The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby? He was the young, successful editor of French Elle when he had a massive stroke. It left him unable to move anything except for one eyelid. The book is beautiful and terrifying. I don’t think I could cope with something like that. 

Do you use your fears when you write?

To a certain extent, yes. In my first book I featured a house fire where the heroine was trapped upstairs, so that old movie is still influencing me! I’ve also featured characters suffering from PTSD after an attack and others having to make decisions that could leave them in serious danger if they ‘did the right thing’. Sometimes it can be terrifying to do what you know is right because it will mean you make yourself vulnerable – the choice of them or me can be the scariest thing you ever have consider.  

In MINE, I learned a lot about myself and my family as I relived events that I didn’t really understand at the time. Facing my fears of writing the story helped me to gain a new perspective on the people involved and how ordinary people made decisions that led them into an extraordinary situation.

Anne-Marie, thank you for inviting me to talk about my fears. Once again, I had to face my fears and, although I’m still going to avoid horror stories and movies and Daleks, I feel a little better about my fears and how I deal with them.

Thank you so much for sharing your fears with me/us it’s been great to have you here! The Lovely Bones is a beautiful and terrifying story, it really bothered me when I saw the movie – so much so I haven’t been able to watch it again. And I would love to hear more about your feline phantom!

If you want get to know more about lovely Alison, go get her book and get involved with her on social…..

Mine by Alison Knight

“What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.

Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

 Mine by Alison Knight is published by Darkstroke Books and is available

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine, published by Darkstroke Books is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison co-manages Imagine Creative Writing with Jenny. She teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

Social Media Links;

Talking About Dead People with Jennifer Wilson

When I was fortunate enough to chat with author Jennifer Wilson about her books recently, I felt I just wanted to keep talking about what appears to be a common subject between us – ghosts!

My book is all about being dead, and her books feature some pretty famous ghosts from UK history, so I could just talk to her all day about it all! So I asked her to appear on a one off special interview on my blog about why she writes about them and how she actually feels about the afterlife.


Hi Anne-Marie, thanks for inviting me along today, to chat about a mutual topic of ours – ghosts!


You have included ghosts in several of your novels – where did your interest in ghosts come from?

It’s really odd, to be honest – I’m really not a ghost person… I’m terrified of the notion, and have even gone out of my way to avoid places known to be haunted. But when I was thinking about a ‘way in’ to write about Richard III a few years ago, I came across a competition for a poem about ghosts, and when it struck me that the ghosts of Anne Boleyn and Richard III could potentially have a fair bit in common, it seemed the perfect solution.

I suppose as well, it may not be ghosts per se, but I’ve always been interested in the spirit (pun intended!) of a place, and that connection with the people who once lived, worked or died there. I think that comes across very strongly in some buildings and sites, and so the notion of writing about ghosts came very naturally.


I’ve always been fascinated with real life ghost stories, one of my favourites is the haunting of Borley Rectory in Essex. (read about Borley here!) What’s your favourite real life ghost story?

It’s one I came across quite recently actually, set in Dunstaffnage Castle, near Oban. Apparently, the ‘Ell-maid of Dunstaffnage’ wanders the ramparts, wearing green, and is supposedly linked to key events in the lives of the Campbell family, the hereditary owners of the castle. Her mood determines luck – smiling means good, crying, well, not. A related tale is that as part of their hold on the castle, the Hereditary Captain of the castle must spend three nights a year in the castle, and some have experienced ghostly goings-on during this sleepover. There’s certainly a feel to the place; for such a stunning castle, in a beautiful setting, it has a darkness about it.


Have you spent a lot of time in your book locations? Which is your favourite?

I think it has to be Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. I’ve loved Edinburgh since I was a child, and since moving back to the north-east, it’s become a bit of a bolt-hole for me, visiting pretty regularly to see friends, or even just wander around the place. When it came to another destination for a Kindred Spirits book, and the thought of Westminster Abbey terrified me, Edinburgh was the obvious choice. It also gave me the chance to write about Mary, Queen of Scots, my second favourite monarch, in Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile, having finally included Richard III in Kindred Spirits: Tower of London.


Have you ever had any paranormal experiences?

Once, I think. My parents were gardening, whilst I was pottering about inside. After a while, I went outside to ask my dad something, and saw him at the top of the back garden. When I started speaking to him however, he completely ignored me, and the next thing I knew, I heard his voice behind me, as he came around from the front garden. Looking back at the man I’d started talking to, there was nobody there. Apparently our estate is built on the site of an old market garden, so I can only assume that first man was the ghost of a former gardener…


I loved writing about the afterlife in my own book, what so you like about writing about dead people?

For me, it’s getting an idea of what people were like, how they lived, and what they thought about things. I also love having that little bit of wiggle-room, given that my ghosts, although of historical characters, are also modern people, to the extent that they are living ‘now’, as well as throughout every moment since their birth. It’s quite nice being able to write Anne Boleyn rolling her eyes and saying ‘whatever’, because actually, I think she was always quite a ‘modern’ character, and now she can be even more so.


What do you think the afterlife is like?

I would like to think it is a combination of how we both envisage it in our writing. I suppose my ghosts are in a purgatory of sorts, but some have chosen to stay there, not taking their chance to pass onto what I’ve always assumed is heaven, but never actually gone into any great length. There’s a mix of good and bad characters there, and a sense of having to work things out in this bit of the afterlife before you get the chance to move on.


Would you ever go ghost-hunting?

I just couldn’t… I’ve become a stronger believer about the afterlife in the last few years, and the only ghosts that ghost-hunters seem to encounter are those that are less than friendly! If I could just go and natter with some (nice) dead monarchs, or lords and ladies from the various historical sites I visit, then fine, but plague victims, criminals and tortured souls would be a bit too much for me.


If you could ask any dead person about the afterlife who would you choose?

Well, if we work on the assumption that they are able to visit the realm of the living, like both of our sets of characters can, then I think I’d have to go a fair way back, just because that way, the person I ask will have seen and heard a heck of a lot over the years. So, following that logic, and my own personal preferences, I’ll have to go for Richard III. It was never really going to be anyone else…

You can get Jennifer’s fabulous books here –

Jennifers Amazon Page


Jennifer’s debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Books in October 2015, with Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile following in June 2017.

Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey will be released in June 2018.

She can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at The Next Page’s website. Her timeslip historical romance, The Last Plantagenet? Is available for download from Amazon.

And you can get my book here!

Purgatory Hotel by Anne-Marie Ormsby


If you want to chat about ghosts with me shout me on Twitter !

Behind the Book – Topaz Eyes

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It gives me great pleasure to welcome the the lovely Nancy Jardine to my blog today. Her book Topaz Eyes caught my eye and I wanted to get the background inspiration for such an amazing adventure!


Welcome  Nancy, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me!

Hello, Anne-Marie. Thank you for the opportunity to visit your blog. I aim to ‘get out’ a lot more this year so your invitation is much appreciated!


Tell us the basic premise of your novel?

Topaz Eyes has been called a ‘fabulously dangerous quest for a precious collection of emerald jewellery’ that once belonged to a Mughal Emperor. It’s also been called ‘ a deep plot of intrigue across Europe’ and beyond. The novel centres on a fictitious European family of third generation cousins. In their hunt for hugely expensive missing jewellery that the family once owned, some cousins are nice but others are downright nasty, even murderous.

Why did you choose the locations you chose and do they hold any real life significance to you?

All are personally significant in some form. The story begins in the beautiful university town of Heidelberg, Germany, chosen because my daughter spent a year at the university and I visited her there. Keira Drummond, my main female character, also spent time at Heidelberg University – isn’t that an amazing coincidence (*wink, wink*)? Some of the action takes place in Amsterdam, Holland, because I lived in Holland for three years and adore the country. I won’t give away any spoilers but one of the complex relationships in the story mirrors a situation I found myself in when I lived in Holland. Vienna features just because it’s a fabulous place to be a tourist. I decided that one cousin had to be American so I used locations in Minnesota, USA, which I’ve also been to. Keira Drummond is an Edinburgh lass because I wanted a ‘Scottish’ element in the story.

What inspired this exciting adventurous novel?

Topaz Eyes is my second contemporary mystery that revolves around an ancestral theme. The first ‘Family Tree’ I invented for my mystery Monogamy Twist  was a fairly simple one but when I started Topaz Eyes I  wanted to create a much deeper mystery with a bigger cast of related characters who had a common purpose linking them together. I then had to think up an exceptionally absorbing reason for a bunch of third generation cousins to be on a murderous quest, family members who are essentially all strangers at the outset of the novel. The 1880s matriarch of the family is from an Amsterdam family who own a prestigious jewellery business. This meant I could have lots of contemporary action happen in different worldwide locations since her descendants end up scattered around after the Second World War. I mainly used my memories of the locations which meant only some up-to-date fact checking was necessary. I remember having a lot of laughs when I was creating the family tree and the incidents that happen in the story!

Did it take a lot of research to come up with the story behind the jewellery once owned by a Mughal Emperor?

My main research for this novel was about emerald collections, especially those originally owned by Mughal emperors. I’m fascinated that a piece of jewellery designed for a Mughal Emperor in 1580, 1680 or even 1780, could be completely different by 1880! I hadn’t really appreciated that designs created for a particular woman (wife or one of the many concubines) were rarely appropriate for another woman and that it was commonplace for the gems to be reset into new jewellery. That cemented a really deep mystery because if you don’t have many clues about what an item might currently look like, then how difficult is it to bring that collection together? Topaz Eyes ended up being a mystery within a mystery but you’ll have to read the story to uncover that connection!


If you could go on a global adventure with anyone (alive or dead) who would you choose?

I’m cheating here because although I write contemporary mysteries, I also write historical fiction. In Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series (unpublished), my main characters are mainly Celtic but there’s also General Gnaeus Julius Agricola. Agricola was the commander of the Ancient Roman army which marched all the way to north east Scotland in c. A.D. 84 and then they left without properly absorbing the area into the Ancient Roman Empire! The only reason we know this happened is because Agricola’s son-in-law – Cornelius Tacitus – wrote about Agricola’s military campaigns. I’d love to journey back to c. A.D. 95 and spend time in Rome because that’s probably when Tacitus was writing about Agricola’s exploits in northern Britannia (The Agricola was published in A.D. 96). That way I might get the true version of what happened! And…I’d love to describe to  Tacitus what Rome is like today having visited there in 2016.

What are you working on next?

The big plan is to have Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series published in the spring (2018). After that I’ve got two projects already started that need a lot of work. The first is Book 2 of my Rubidium Time Travel Series- a Victorian adventure. The second is a family saga that begins in Scotland c. 1850 – Book 1 (of 3?) being another Victorian setting. Then in the fullness of time I’ll get back to Book 5 of my Celtic Fervour series…or maybe I should write that next? Who knows (**smiley face here**)


Nancy Jardine is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland and the Historical Novel Society. She’s published by Crooked Cat Books and has delved into self publishing.


You can find her at these places:

Blog:  Website:

Facebook: &

email:  Twitter

Amazon Author page



Behind the Book – The Last Plantagenet


For my final author interview of the year, I had a chat with Jennifer Wilson, author of the Kindred Spirits series; paranormal fiction set in the Royal Court of the 1400’s – so clearly my love of all things spooky mean I had to have a chat with the lady herself!

Her most recent book is slightly different but again returns to the era of Richard III. Ive always been fascinated by this period of history and Jennifer really knows her stuff so this interview has been a real pleasure.

Tell us the basic premise of your novel?

The Last Plantagenet? is a timeslip historical romance, following history-lover Kate as she gets transported back in time from 2011 to the travelling court of Richard III in 1485. That would be difficult enough to acclimatise to, but then she also catches the eye of the King of England himself – how will she cope?


As the book is historical fiction – did you have to do a lot of research for accuracy?

I was really keen that even though it’s a bit of a fantasy, with the timeslip element, that the facts were still correct. So yes, I did do my research, in particular to make sure that the court was in the right place at the right time, and that people who shouldn’t have been there weren’t there. I had a really good book which went into a lot of detail about the last 100 days of Richard’s reign, and that was a great resource, to track each day’s activity. Happily, having one of the main characters as an entirely fictional individual, there was a little leeway in where I could go with her.

As it was also my first go at self-publishing, I was keen that it was in good shape, and didn’t accidentally detract from my Kindred Spirits series, so I checked everything at least twice!


Where do you go to get inspiration for your locations and storylines?

For TLP, it was all desk-based, although I have been to the site of Nottingham Castle, where the book is mostly set. Most of the time, I do need to go somewhere to really write how I want to about it. For example, for the third Kindred Spirits novel, I had written a whole scene about Anne of Cleves’ tomb, only to discover that you couldn’t physically see what I had my characters seeing from a particular spot, and I had to rewrite the whole thing.

I found especially with places like Westminster Abbey or the Tower of London, they do have a very specific atmosphere, and I like to capture that. Plus, I love visiting historical sites anyway, so it’s not that much of a hardship.


Do you have a favourite author?

I’m always torn here between three, but I think Philippa Gregory is still the author I look forward to a new release from. It was reading The Other Boleyn Girl on the insistence of a colleague that introduced me to the Tudor world, and inspired me to get back into writing historical fiction again, so I feel I owe that book a lot.

I also love the writing of Elizabeth Chadwick and Anne O’Brien, who both manage to capture strong central female characters, without falling into that trap of having their heroines too modern in their attitudes and thoughts.


What/who inspires you most as a writer?

For me, it’s places. There’s nothing better for me than visiting historical sites or buildings, and just mooching about, getting a feel for the place, and who might have spent time there in the past. That’s where my inspiration comes from. I’ve been wanting to set a story in an abbey (other than Westminster!) for years, but couldn’t get a good enough grasp on it until this summer, wandering around Glenluce Abbey, when the whole thing magically fell into place. By the end of the day, I had the whole synopsis, ready to go.


Which historical figures would you most like to sit down to dinner with?

Well, I hate to be obvious, but I would, of course, enjoy sitting down and sharing a cup of wine with Richard III. He was king for such a short time, but involved in so many events and situations important to British history. Also, who wouldn’t want to hear his side of the story regarding the Princes in the Tower? Although, I think I would leave that until the end of the meal, in case he refused to speak to me again after that…


What are you working on next?

I’m thrilled to bits that the third Kindred Spirits novel, set in Westminster Abbey, will be released by Crooked Cat in summer 2018, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the editing process for that in the new year. I find self-editing so hard, but love receiving critique and feedback from others, so that’s part of the publishing process I really enjoy.

As for new writing, I have a couple of ideas for other timeslip, like the abbey tale I mentioned above, and one with a more local flavour, inspired by a reservoir we used to visit when I was little.



About Jennifer

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who spent much of her childhood stalking Mary, Queen of Scots (initially accidentally, but then with intention). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consulting since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to develop her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. She is also part of The Next Page, running workshops and other literary events in North Tyneside, including the prize-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle.

Jennifer’s debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Books in October 2015, with Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile following in June 2017. She can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at The Next Page’s website. Her timeslip historical romance, The Last Plantagenet? Is available for download from Amazon.