In Search of Fear…… with Jennifer Worrell

What movie/book scared you as a child?

I was such a wuss as a kid, and hated horror movies.  But one of the most disturbing was not horror movie at all: *batteries not included.  It’s a family film with Jessica Tandy, for chrissakes.  The decrepit building, the palpably unstable slumlord, the erratically flying aliens with glowing eyes made a very unsettling ride for little Jenny.  

As for books, there are two that stand out: The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright and The Secret Bedroom by R.L. Stine.  I still read them, that’s how much impact they had on me.  The idea that dolls move about when you’re not looking and recreate scenes of an unsolved murder was unnerving enough.  But Stine’s tale of a girl with a secret bedroom (an introvert’s dream!) inhabited by a spirit that can not only invade your mind, but contort reality until you’re just a shell to possess, was enough to keep me up nights.

What was your biggest fear as a child?

For some reason, fire.  I was never in one, I was never burned, but I’d get anxious even going near a building in the aftermath, much less look at one on TV.  I found the blackness and destruction terrifying, the gaping windows and shredded wood and plaster hanging beyond the frames monstrous.  

In *batteries not included, there’s a scene in which some characters take a blissful walk home after a fun night out, only to find their apartment building ablaze.  I think that’s what is so upsetting: fire is such a simple, vital element, yet it can destroy your home, kill your loved ones, erase every memento from your past.  

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

Now I do.  I met (and eventually married) a horror movie geek (his descriptor) and I think he was secretly disappointed that I avoided the genre altogether.  But little by little he introduced me to older movies like The Seventh Victim (1943), Brides of Dracula (1960) and Masque of the Red Death (1964), and now I seek them out.  I begged him to take me to The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2017). 

Ghosts are guaranteed to creep me out. Have you ever had a paranormal experience in real life? 

No, and I’m sure if I did I would freak right out and move.  But I’d like to think we’d be pals, Casper-style.  As long as he’s not the chatty type.

Has a book ever really scared you?

In adulthood, no.  I’ve gotten the shivers, I’ve been creeped out, but mostly, I applaud the writer for eliciting a visceral response.  Ha!  Perhaps writing has ruined me for raw terror!  

Can you share with us an example of fear in one of your own novels? 

Certainly.  My protagonist in my novel, Edge of Sundown, is an author too, and much of his motivation comes from fear.  The fear he’ll be forgotten, the fear that his creative well has run dry.  Turns out it’s much worse: the world moved on and didn’t leave a forwarding address, and his reality is more fiction than his book.

In real life what is your biggest fear? Do you use that when you write?

I have the same fear as my poor protagonist: that one day I’ll be out of ideas and I’ll lose my ability to write.  

But also bugs.  Even helpful ones, like centipedes and common spiders and crickets.  There’s regular ol’ roaches, but also hissing, flying frickin’ roaches.  There is no God. Yet I’m writing a picture book about a girl who’s airlifted by a horde of butterflies, or as I call them, Satan’s biplanes.  Go figure.

Thanks so much for sharing – am totally with you on the cockroach front – they are pure evil. Also I really want to read some RL Stine books now, I seem to have missed those when I was growing up!

If you want to know more about Jennifer, check out her links below!

Edge of Sundown:
Subscriber page:
@JenniferWorrell | Linktree

Behind the Book; Redneck’s Revenge


So summers pretty much over and it’s time for me to dig back into the blog (which is no hardship let me tell you) so I’m going back to what I love and that’s chatting to other authors about their work and the processes behind the books they write.


I’m starting off with the wonderfully talented Joan Livingston, author of Chasing the Case, the first in a series about journalist/sleuth Isabel Long. And I’m very glad to say she took some time out to answer my probing questions regarding her latest novel Redneck’s Revenge which is released through Crooked Cats Books on 26th September.



Tell us the basic premise of your novel and tell us a bit about your lead character Isabel Long?


When I started the Isabel Long mystery series, I wanted a strong female protagonist, someone who was savvy and a bit sassy. I also wanted to create a mature woman who was reinventing herself because of her circumstances.


So who is Isabel Long? She’s a long-time journalist who was the managing editor of a local paper before she got canned. The paper’s new owner said she had to re-apply for her job, but she wasn’t having any of that.


Like many journalists, Isabel has the curiosity gene. She also has a stack of cold case files she snagged from the newsroom on her last day. Among them was her first big story as a rookie reporter: the disappearance of a woman in the small town where they both lived. That was her first case — and the plot for Chasing the Case.


With her success for that first case, people are reaching out to her. That’s what happens in the second, Redneck’s Revenge, which has a Sept. 26 release.


Actually, the start of the first book is the end of a really bad year for Isabel, including the sudden death of her husband. But her period of grieving is over and she’s ready for new adventures — and having a man in her life. That happens when she works part-time at the local watering hole.


Isabel has an unusual Watson — her 92-year-old mother who comes to live with her. She is based on my own mother, who is now 94. She also has three grown children and a baby granddaughter.


I will admit there’s a lot of me in Isabel. We are both long-time journalists. We’re both of Portuguese heritage. But while Isabel became an amateur P.I., I just write about them. .


Did you take any inspiration for ‘the case’ Isabel is chasing from any real life crimes?


Not really. In the first, the mystery of a woman’s disappearance has lingered for 28 years. In the second, a woman asks Isabel to find out what happened to her father. The official story is he was passed-out drunk when his house burned down in his junkyard. She believes he was murdered. Both came from somewhere in my brain, as does the third.


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


I chose to set my mystery — plus other fiction — in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts in the U.S. I am talking about rural towns around a thousand people or less. My family and I lived there for 25 years before we moved to Taos, New Mexico. After 11 years, we returned. When I was a reporter, my first job was covering the hilltowns, so I got to know them intimately. I am enamoured by small towns, where it seems everybody knows each other and their business.


Did it take a lot of research for your locations and story line?


No, I just took what I know and had my way with it.


Do you have a favourite novel or writer who has inspired your own writing?


I can’t think of one author who has had that much power over my writing. But over the years, I have found many authors who have showed me what’s possible to do, especially in creating believable characters.


What is your ideal writing environment? 


I write at home, typically early in the morning. But sometimes an idea strikes me during the day and I can’t wait to get it down. I have an office again, but before our recent move to the home we renovated, I wrote at the kitchen table of the apartment we were renting. My office is not very quiet as my husband’s wood shop next door makes a lot of noise. But I have strong powers of concentration, probably from working in a newsroom.


What are you working on next?


I am getting close to the end of Checking the Traps, the third in this series. A few of the characters from the first two are in this one. I love them too much to let them go.

joancc logo



Huge thanks to Joan for stopping by, if you want to catch up with her you can find her here;

and pre-order a copy of her latest release from amazon here



Heres a little teaser –




Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over, but no surprise there since his sister turned out to be the killer. Then cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.




Behind the Book – Hunter’s Chase

HUnters Chase cover


This week I am delighted to welcome author Val Penny to my blog. Her Edinburgh based crime novel Hunter’s Chase is due out through Crooked Cat Books on 2nd February 2018.

I am a lover of crime fiction, from Jo Nesbo to Patricia Cornwall and Agatha Christie to Arthur Conan Doyle, my love of sleuthing has been firmly set from a young age (I blame my parents!) I grew up in a busy household full of brothers and sisters who also loved to read crime fiction and I would always grab what they had finished with. The Detective is always the greatest character (followed closely by their nemesis) and I always love the development of their personality and how they solve the crime in question.

So naturally when I heard about Hunter’s Chase and found I had the opportunity to ask a few questions I jumped at the chance!


Tell us the basic premise of your novel?


Hunter by name, Hunter by nature: in Hunter’s Chase, Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson struggles to ensure the crime in Edinburgh does not go unpunished. Hunter’s Chase introduces a new detective, DI Hunter Wilson into Tartan Noire.

I think all crime novels explore the triumph of good over evil. The readers know the criminals will not succeed. Still, the thrill of the chase and the problems overcome to achieve justice for the victims must enthral and satisfy the readers.


Did you take any inspiration from any real life crimes? 

I did not refer to any specific real life crimes but I did want to explore power and politics. Also, as I have a large family, the importance and problems caused by family ties is interesting to me.

Big cities all have issues with illegal drug use. One of the hidden problems is the risk to the health and security by people who are functioning drug abusers, who may continue to study or hold down challenging jobs. I find this both confusing and fascinating.


Is your lead character, DI Hunter Wilson inspired by anyone?

Hunter Wilson, like all my characters in Hunter’s Chase, is a combination of several people that I have found interesting. I needed my main protagonist to have certain characteristics including patience, perseverance and a desire to achieve justice for those who could not attain that for themselves. Hunter is a compassionate man who fights for the underdog and is a fine team player. These are important qualities in my main character.

But I also needed Hunter to have flaws. Everybody has faults and to make Hunter believable, he had to have them too. He is not a saint. He is divorced, he is untidy, he likes to win, he bears a grudge.


Why did you choose the setting of Edinburgh and do the locations hold any real life significance to you?

Although I am originally from California, USA, I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for many years, so it is a city I know well. I chose Edinburgh as the setting for Hunter’s Chase because it is a beautiful, multi-cultural city which is well-known and loved around the world. Edinburgh is a big enough city for any problem that Hunter needs to solve to plausibly have taken place. Nevertheless, because it is a city of only half a million people, in many ways it is like a big village: there is a feeling that everybody knows everybody else. That is an amusing conceit when I am writing.


Did it take a lot of research for your locations and story line, how did you research the police work?

I did need to do a lot of research for Hunter’s Chase. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed that.

When I was choosing places for action to take place in my novel, I needed to check that what I was asking of my characters could actually happen. That was fun. Revisiting and exploring again the beautiful city of Edinburgh is always a joy.

Also, you will not be surprised to know that I do not have first-hand knowledge of drug trafficking! I found the research for that quite exciting: of course it was all theoretical research.

I had to research the roles of Crime Scene Investigators too and received a great deal of assistance with that from my friend Kate Bendelow. Her book, The Real CSI: A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers, is indispensable. I was also lucky to have good support when I was researching police procedures. This came from former Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Gibbon. His book, The Crime Writers’ Casebook is invaluable to those writing historical or modern day crime stories.



What are you working on next?

I am presently working on the sequel to Hunter’s Chase –  Hunter’s Revenge. My publishers, Crooked Cat Books, have just confirmed that it will be published in August/September 2018, so I better get a move on and finish it.

Hunters Chase will be released through Crooked Cat Books on 2nd February 2018, pre order your copy here

You can keep up with whats happening with Val on the following links;


Val Penny Website

Val on Facebook

Friends of Hunter’s Chase Facebook Group

Val on Twitter

Val at Crooked Cat Books

Behind the Book – Winter Writerland

Winter WQriterland coverBeatrice


Continuing my conversations with authors and the inspirations behind their work, I had the great pleasure of chatting with Beatrice Fishback. Beatrice hails from New York and lived for 20 years in the UK where she picked up a love of all things British. She now lives in Carolina but still uses the UK as a setting for her work. Her most recent novel Winter Writerland takes place here so I decided to pick her brains on the subject matter.

This is also a perfect choice for something to read over the Christmas holidays – as long as you don’t mind a spot of murder with your mince pies…..


Tell us the basic premise of your novel?

Daisy McFarland is an American spinster who has retired to England after teaching elementary school for thirty years. An aspiring novelist, Daisy looks forward to attending the Crime Writer’s Conference in Branick for the third year in a row during the Christmas holidays. What she doesn’t anticipate is finding a body floating in the frozen lake and who could have possibly committed this dastardly deed.


The story features a murder at a writers Conference -Did you take any inspiration from any real life crimes? 

I can’t say I took any inspiration from a real life crime but I love to watch Midsomer Murders, Lewis and a selection of other U.K. dramas. In fact, I’m hooked on all of them to include Father Brown.


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

Last summer I attended the Swanwick Summer Writing School. There I met some wonderful new friends. Chatting over a glass of bubbly we thought the place was the perfect Agatha Christie setting for a cosy. We began to brainstorm and by the time I left the conference I had the skeleton idea for this tale.


Is your sleuth Daisy based on anyone?

I seem drawn to writing about mid-life women. Maybe because when I began my writing career I was approaching this season of life. My character in “Dying to Eat at the Pub,” another cosy mystery, is also about a woman who now faces life married to a retired man and she’s anything but ready to sit in front of warm fire and die in her recliner.


What/who inspires you most as a writer?

When I read stories that bring fiction alive, I’m inspired to give writing another try in the hopes that the next attempt will be that much better than the last. I especially enjoy Alan Bradley’s series about a much younger sleuth named Flavia de Luce. I love his attention to detail and descriptive settings.


Do you have a favourite author? Besides Alan Bradley, I enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and never tire of his Sherlock character.


What are you working on next? My challenge is whether to start another novel, or finish the one that’s nearly completed. I love beginning a new story with fresh characters. But I have half of the sequel to “Dying to Eat at the Pub” and I’d like to see that published in the New Year.


You can catch up with Beatrice here;

And treat yourself to a copy of Winter Writerland for some cosy Christmas reading material;

Winter Writerland on Amazon

Behind the Book : The Watcher

Having at last found a publisher for one of my own books, I have had the good fortune to find myself in the company of a bunch of great writers lately. Its great to be part of a community of writers sharing ideas and general chat. Its also a great way of finding new books to read!

One of the novels coming out this year is right up my street ; a serial killer on the loose in London with a detective hot on his trail. The Watcher, the debut novel of Eli Carros is being released by Crooked Cat Publishing on 21st June.

Being a bit of a true crime nut and crime fiction fan and always excited by any London based books, I thought I’d have chat with the author to find out more about what inspired him.


Tell us the basic premise of your novel?

The Watcher is about an obsessive serial killer who stalks his victims before violently attacking them.  It takes readers into the mind of a true psychopath, exploring what makes him tick and learning how he became who he became.  It’s a novel about alienation, prejudice, abuse, and shame and how formative life experience can tip the balance of an unstable mind.  It also takes readers behind the eyes of DI Jack Grayson, who’s been tasked with the unenviable job of stopping a brutal killer who leaves no trace before he strikes again.


Did you take any inspiration for your serial killer from any real life crimes? 

The lead antagonist in my novel is a composite character, incorporating traits from real life serial killers I studied and also some fictional and screen creations.  Before writing, I made case studies of several serials, including Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer, and I did draw on certain commonalities that I found.  Though the actual character I have created has his own, very distinct, and possibly fairly unique motivations for doing what he does.

I’m also an avid crime fiction reader, and a big fan of the novels of the late Ruth Rendell, as well as crime queen Patricia Cornwell, and the books of Mark Billingham, Val Mcdermid, and Leigh Russell, among others.   No doubt I have been influenced to some degree by what I’ve read from those amazing authors.


Why did you choose London as a setting and do the locations hold any real life significance to you?

I lived and worked in London for seven years, and also studied journalism there.  I love the hum and throb of the place, as well as the tolerance and culture, and it definitely feels like my spiritual home.  I don’t live there currently but I want to, and, as soon as I can afford to, I’m moving back there for sure.


Are you a Londoner or did it take a lot of research for your locations?

As I was a Londoner for seven years, while I was there I was able to go to some amazing and very atmospheric locations.  The Watcher was actually written while I still lived in London, in fact, one scene of the book in actually set in a café in Old Compton Street that I was writing the book in at the time, though I don’t name the place in my novel.  I can tell you now though, it’s Patisserie Valerie, a lovely place where I’ve spend many a wonderful afternoon, people watching.



Crooked Cat are an independent publisher, what can you say about your experience with them so far? 

I admire independent publishers like Crooked Cat for the high standards and professionalism in a market that is orientated towards big business.  I also think the authors they have in their stable are absolutely amazing, I’ve read some of their talented writers already and am steadily working my way through the rest.


Can we expect more from Chief Inspector Jack Grayson?

I think Grayson will be making a comeback soon, as I’m in the planning stages for my second crime thriller at the moment.  This one’s about a very different killer than the one featured in The Watcher, because this one actually wants to stop.  The second novel will cover themes of virtual reality and autism, and will contain lots of surprises and twists because I do think those are the some of the best things about reading crime fiction.


The Watcher’s officially released on June 21st by Crooked Cat Books and is available in e-book and paperback from  Readers can stay updated on The Watcher and receive news of bonus content, exclusive competitions, and the online launch party by visiting the facebook page at or Eli’s website at