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

In Search of Fear…..with Jennifer Wilson

“Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed” – William Shakespeare, King Henry VI Part One

So very happy to welcome Jennifer Wilson to my blog during the festive season! As you may know Jennifer loves writing about spooks as much as I do, only hers are a tad more regal than mine. Author of the Kindred Spirits series, Jennifer has raised the dead monarchy so many times she deserves a spot on Most Haunted. I think her stories are awesome so I’m very excited to have her here to talk about fear…..

Hi Anne-Marie, thanks for inviting me to your blog today. It’s fair to say I’m a naturally jumpy and easily-frightened individual, so I’m confident that of all your guests, my responses are at the coward’s end of the fear scale…

What movie/book scared you as a child?

I have really vivid memories of reading a book from the ‘upstairs’ library, for the upper juniors in primary school, which really freaked me out. I can see the cover, with two boys running, and I’m sure it was called ‘The Runaways’ or something similar. In one scene, a wall fell over, almost crushing either one or both of them. That image stuck with me for a long, long time, and gave me nightmares about being crushed. Horrific. I should have stayed in the ‘downstairs’ library, where I belonged, but I’d finished all the books it had to offer!

What was your biggest fear as a child?

Well, apart from walls… I’ve always had the most random fear of dust-bin lorries. That, and dinosaurs. Both stem from films. I watched the Turtles live-action film, where Shredder is, well, shredded, in a dust-bin lorry, and from that day, I’ve hated them. We used to have to walk up a really narrow wynd to get up to college, and on dust-bin day, I’d be petrified of accidentally slipping into the back of it. As for dinosaurs, that’s the fault of Jurassic Park. I had this terrible fear that if I opened my curtains at night, I’d see the eye of a t-rex, just staring back at me…

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

As you can probably guess from the above, no, I do not like scary movies… I’m not really a film person anyway, but the most I can tolerate is a bit of a ‘jump scare’ which at least is over quickly!

I am usually scared the most by ghosts when I’m reading a book. Have you ever had a paranormal experience in real life?

Yes, and the most recent was in Greyfriars Kirkyard, in Edinburgh. As it’s the setting for part of my own book, Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile, and it was a lovely, quiet morning (I was early for an exhibition), I decided to pop in and get some nice photos of the blossom. There was one guy sitting having a coffee on a bench as I walked in, but that was it. Around the front of the church there was a lovely view down the graveyard of blossom, which I snapped, but as I went to put my phone away, I felt somebody touch my handbag. I panicked slightly, and put my own hand down to the zipper / strap, whilst turning to my left to confront them. Out the corner of my eye, I saw a tall gentleman in a dark suit and a white shirt, with dark hair. Later, I thought he had also been wearing a hat, but I cannot swear to that, and may have added it in my imagination afterwards. But the man himself was clear as day. Heart racing now, I turned fully around, only… Nothing. Nobody anywhere near me. Anyone who knows the site will know that if you’re in the middle of the paving in front of the church itself, there’s not enough time to get somewhere hide in the second it took me to turn around (Usain Bolt himself wouldn’t make it). The only other thing I felt was the strangest sensation of cold.

Greyfriars Kirkyard

I got out of there quicker than I’ve ever done anything in my life! Once out the gates, I did what every self-respecting thirty-something who has had a scare would do, and called my mum. She laughed initially when I told her, but then admitted she believed me, because she could hear the genuine fear in my voice. I was very glad to get away into the safety of the museum after that…

Has a book ever really scared you?

Other than the one I talked about above, not really, but that’s partly down to the fact that I can usually sense when something is about to get too much for me, and I skim / skip appropriately. It’s the same technique I use with overly-graphic crime novels!

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

Since the Kindred Spirits series follows the adventures of the ghostly communities inhabiting some of Britain’s most famous landmarks, fear definitely plays a part in my novels. For the most part, this is the ghosts instilling fear in the tourists who visit their homes, such as George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, rising from a barrel of malmsey in the Tower of London, or Katherine Howard haunting ‘her’ corridor at Hampton Court Palace. In one of the closes off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, some students ready to play a trick on those taking part in one of the city’s famous ‘ghost tours’, the students themselves become the victims, terrified as Mary Queen of Scots enjoys herself in the occasional haunting. In these situations though, I think it’s fair to say that the living are almost-willing participants in the game. After all, you wouldn’t go on a ghost tour along a famously haunted street, at night, with somebody dressed as a ghoul, if you weren’t at least partially expecting to be scared witless, would you? So can the ghosts really be blamed, when they’re practically giving the tourists what they’re expecting?

In some instances though, I’ve wanted to explore things a little ‘bigger’ than just ghosts jumping out at unsuspecting visitors. I’ve talked about ghostly characters finding their ‘white light’ and moving on from their haunting, but this is by choice – if the white light appears, then a ghost can choose to move on, or stay. But I also wanted to give the ghosts something to genuinely fear, otherwise, they seemed a bit too invincible. I had this idea that if a ghost was injured too many times, they would gradually fade away to nothing. That would stop characters fighting each other – there had to be a consequence of their actions.

In Kindred Spirits: York, I pushed things a little further, and actually introduced a ‘bad guy’ into things, rather than just an unpopular character. Here, the ghosts didn’t quite know what was going on, which, for characters who can slip through walls and overhear almost any conversation without being observed, was something unknown, and for a lot of people, isn’t that one of the most frightening things?

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

If you take away dust-bin lorries and dinosaurs, then being very serious for a moment, I’m always scared of letting people down, or disappointing them. Perhaps this isn’t quite as relevant in the Kindred Spirits series, but in The Raided Heart, Meg has a strong sense of wanting to do the right thing, and not let her family down, and in the WIP I’m currently working on, loyalty and needing to work together are strong motivations for the key characters, as they try to do their best in difficult situations.

Thank you so much for joining my study of fear Jennifer. I too fell foul of Jurassic Park, had several T Rex nightmares after seeing that at the cinema! And your Greyfriars experience deserves a blog post of its own! How creepy was that? Feel free to stop by with ghost stories again please!

All of Jennifer’s books are currently in the big DarkStroke Halloween sale over on Amazon, you can get all titles for 99p/99c this weekend! Go go go!

About Jennifer C. Wilson

Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quite often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page.

After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.

Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea.

You can connect with Jennifer online:






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: Napalm Hearts



Today I’m joined by author Seamus Heffernan to discuss his debut novel about an American private detective looking for a missing woman in London.

When I first read about this new book I was instantly taken by the fact that it’s set in London, and when I discovered the author had lived in my favourite city for several years I was interested to find out his inspiration and old haunts.

Everyone’s experience of London is so individual – I never get tired of talking about it…..

Tell us the basic premise of your book.

It’s a detective story about an American PI working in London. He is making a decent living working infidelity cases but is pretty bored, so when (trope alert) a rich and powerful client hires him to find his missing trophy wife, he jumps at the chance. From there, the necessary twists and (occasionally violent) complications ensue.

It’s a mystery story, and while I certainly wouldn’t describe it as high literary art, it is a book that explores some tough themes: Loneliness, class, love, sex and loyalty. The protagonist, Thaddeus Grayle, never really fits in. He’s an American navigating life in a strange land, and then takes a case that plunges him into a part of his adopted city he has never seen before. For him, the story is about being an outsider in worlds you don’t really understand.

What made you choose the locations you use in London and do they have any personal significance for you?

Oh God, yes. I spent five years in London and loved it. I grew up in a pretty small place and since I was a kid I wanted to travel and live in a massive city. London was perfect—it’s truly a world capital and there are only a handful of those on the planet, so I felt pretty fortunate to be there.

That said, the end of my time there was tough. My marriage broke up and I went through a pretty long period of loneliness and self-doubt. There’s nothing worse than feeling alone in a massive city—I adored London but I could feel the city and its temptations swallowing me up whole. I moved back to my hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland, for a hard life reboot and I’m pretty sure it saved me.

A few years after relocating, I started knocking around ideas for a book and my narrator needed a voice. I could hear my own loss and that awful sense of urban isolation creeping into his, and decided to stop fighting it and let it happen.

The book looks at the underbelly of the city – where did you take inspiration from for the darker side of London?

Too many long nights in too many dive bars.

I’m pretty sure a fair few Londoners can relate to that…..What made you want to become a writer?

I don’t know if anyone “decides” to become a writer—you either want to do it or you don’t. That said, I had always been a pretty decent professional hack, hence having worked in marketing and communications for a long time. But fiction was always my goal. Eventually I just stopped making excuses not to do it, and started getting more serious about it.

Do you have a favourite author?

For sure, but I think it’s safer (and more fun) to list a few that have stuck with me through the years. Outside of crime fiction, some modern writers I like include Bret Easton Ellis, Douglas Coupland, Michel Faber and Lee K. Abbott. Raymond Carver and Anton Chekhov for the classic short stuff. I used to be heavy into comic books and find Brian Michael Bendis and Warren Ellis interesting.

Within the genre: Ian Rankin, Richard Price and Dennis Lehane. Finally, any of us who dare put “crime fiction writer” anywhere near a résumé must willingly genuflect to Chandler and Hammet, of course. And they totally deserve it.

Which famous people (alive or dead) would you most like to have a few drinks with?

OK, I’m going to cheat a bit here and force myself to not pick any writers.

My background is in criminology, so I would enjoy chatting with Fred Abberline and John Douglas. Abberline was the lead investigator for the Jack the Ripper murders and Douglas pioneered psychological profiling for the FBI, so I imagine they’d have a lot to talk about.

I’m also a sports fan, so I would ask Dennis Bergkamp (former Arsenal footballer) and Bob Gibson (former pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals) to hang out sometime. They were both geniuses in their respective games, but also delightfully cranky.

Finally, I’m really fascinated by people’s creative processes and how they make what they make, so I’d love to just be able to sit in on the recording of one of my favourite albums and talk to the musicians and producers involved. I’d spin a wheel and land somewhere between Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and Big Black’s Atomized.

What are you working on next?
In no particular order:
• The follow-up to NAPALM HEARTS.
• A TV pilot script, a dramedy about the day-to-day grind of working in government from the point of view of the people who serve the public every day. A somewhat kinder, gentler The Thick of It, perhaps.
• Meeting agents.
• Getting by with a little more exercise and a little less sleep.

Huge thanks to Seamus for stopping by, I’m really enjoying the book so hopefully a review to follow if I can tear myself away from house renovations….

You can (you should) order Napalm Hearts here

And get in touch with Seamus here –

Official Website



Crooked Cat Books


About the Author;
Prior to his writing career, Seamus Heffernan worked in education, journalism, marketing and politics. He currently works for a Member of Parliament. Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, he has called several places home, including a lengthy stint in London, England. He presently resides in British Columbia, where he splits his time between Abbotsford, Mission and Vancouver.
His short fiction has previously appeared in The Raspberry and Louden Singletree. NAPALM HEARTS is his first book.

Behind the Book: Ninja School Mum


Today I’m joined by author Lizzie Chantree, who coincidentally hails from my home county of Essex. We oddly lived not too far from each other long before we ever met, so I’m very glad to be talking to her and showcasing the writing talent of Essex (its not all orange tans and fake lashes people!)

So in between the school run, Lizzie is an inventor, business woman and artist. And sometime burner of cakes…..

She has a long list of previously published books and another on the way this year through Crooked Cat Books – but today we are all about the Ninja School Mum so lets get stuck in.



Tell us the basic premise of your novel?


Ninja School Mum is about a single mum who moves to a small town to make a fresh start with her son. She has a mysterious past and tries her best to fit in with the other parents on the school playground, but some of them have secrets of their own.


 What inspired you to write this story? Are your characters based on anyone?


I was inspired to write the story from seeing the way people tend to gravitate towards others like them at the school gates. It made me curious as to why a few people are always on the outside looking in and what would happen if one of them had a secret they didn’t want anyone else to discover.


I make up my characters and don’t base them on anyone I know. I am always noticing mannerisms and quirks of personality that would make a good character though!


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


I chose the English countryside as it’s somewhere I love to visit. There are so many wonderful buildings and quaint towns hidden away next to forests and along shorelines, to explore. I enjoy the architecture and the history and every time I visit one, I think how exciting it would be to make up a new story there. If I manage to find a cream tea while I’m wandering around being nosey, then that’s an added bonus!



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


I usually think of places I have visited as I love to travel, especially within the U.K. There is much to discover in the countryside and also in the cities. I always have quirky businesses in my books and I use my own twenty years of running businesses as reference. Writing about them makes me feel like I experience what it would be like to run some pretty amazing businesses, so it can be great fun. I visited a tree climbing centre a few times when writing Ninja School Mum, as one of the main character’s, Zack, has inherited a crumbling estate and tree climbing centre.


If you could sit down and discuss secret lives with any famous people/characters alive or dead who would you choose?


I find Sherlock Holmes totally fascinating, but would love to discuss creativity and inspiration with Ed Sheeran, Chris Martin and Beyoncé. I imagine that Beyoncé would make an amazing Ninja School Mum. She’s such an athletic person and she’s so creative that she would be able to weave a story around you with ease.


What are you working on next?


I have a new book out in July, called, ‘If you love me, I’m yours.’ It’s about an eccentric family of artists and some beautiful little paintings which have been left on park benches across the countryside, which have the press in a frenzy of excitement and the person who painted them trying to hide their identity.



A big thank you to Lizzie for taking time out of her hectic life to chat to me! You can catch up with her online here;

Official Website



And you can get your own copy of Ninja School Mum here




Behind the Book – Merle


Merle - AW



This week I’m joined by mystery writer Angela Wren (yep back to where I’m most at home – murder mystery!) Her novels are set in beautiful France which is enough to get me wanting to read for a bit of escapism. As always I’m fascinated by why people choose the locations they use and what the connection is to that place.


Tell us the basic premise of your novel?


At its most basic level, the central plot revolves around the death of a woman.  That’s were the book begins and there is a short description of the crime scene included below.

la fête des morts


 It was the tightly scrunched ball of paper that captured the attention of Magistrate Bruno Pelletier. His trained eyes swept around the room, only glancing at the naked body in the bath, and came to rest once more on the small, ivory-white mass, challenging and silent against the solid plain porcelain of the tiles. He stepped over the large pool of dried blood, iron red against the white of the floor, and, with gloved hands, he retrieved the object. Carefully prising the paper back into its customary rectangular shape, he stared at the contents and frowned as he read and re-read the single six-word sentence printed there.


 Je sais ce que tu fais


 After a moment, he dropped it into an evidence bag being held open for him by the pathologist.


 all hallows’ eve, 2009′


Did you take any inspiration from any real life crimes?


No, I’m really not that interested in reading about real-life crime. To do so seems quite voyeuristic to me.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t take inspiration from real life and everything around me.  I do.  The scenario in Merle uses my extensive business knowledge in order to create the project management team that the dead woman worked for when she was alive.  My experience working in that field enabled me to build a whole office organisation to provide the appropriate, and I hope believable, background within which my investigator, Jacques Forêt, had to work.  Some of the scenes in the office were built from a remembered remark or conversation, and by asking myself ‘What If?’, I was able to work up a number of aspects of the central plot.  Naturally, some of it was also pure imagination.  Trying to get the blalance right is difficult but I tend to look at that kind of detail once the story is finished and I’m working through the various levels of edits required.


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


The office environment was critical to the central plot, so the plot really dictated the setting.  The location of the Cévennes, in south central France, kind of came about by accident.  I spend a lot of time in France and I was in the Cévennes when the very first idea for a story came to me.  Although it was only September, I woke up one morning to find that it was snowing and the whole countryside had taken on a new white blanket.  The idea that snow could cover someone’s misdeeds had taken root in my head and in December 2015, Messandrierre (Book 1 in the Forêt series) was published.  Merle follows on from Messandrierre and begins a few months afterwards.

As for significance – yes the Cévennes is very important to me.  It’s a fabulous upland area of France.  The village where I like to stay is about 1000m above sea-level, so that’s the equivalent of camping at the top of Snowden, but with better weather!  The area is sparsely populated and the villages are tiny and few and far between.  The principle city of Mende, sits in a valley about 400m further down the mountain and has a population of around 13,000.  Over here, we’d call that a small town!  The scenery is stunning, the weather can change in a moment and there’s a silence there that I can’t seem to find anywhere else.  It’s a location that I will always go back to.


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


I suppose the truthful answer to that is Yes and Yes.  I’ve been visiting France since I was a teenager, and although I didn’t know it at the time, the research about the country began way back then and has just continued constantly.  I have a book-shelf full of journals created on my many visits, I have acres of photographs and a whole forest full of leaflets, pamphlets, maps, and books about France, all of which I refer to from time to time as I’m writing.

However, specifically for Merle, I did need to get some expert advice.  Luckily I know some very kind people who were willing to put up with my constant questions.  The workings of the office IT system was one issue that I needed to research along with the detailed advice that I required from the West Yorkshire Fire Service – my next door neighbour is a fireman!


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?


When I announced to an elderly aunt one Christmas that I wanted to be Shakespeare when I grew up.  My defence in making such a rash, and now cringlingly embarrassing, statement is that I was very young at the time.  And as you can probably work out, I’m still striving to achieve that particular goal!


Oh didn’t we all want to be Shakespeare at some point! If you could choose a detective to go crime solving with who would you choose and why?


Wow!  That’s a really tough question.  I’ve always been an avid reader and I grew up on a book-diet of Agatha Christie, Conan-Doyle, Wilkie Collins, Allingham, Sayers and many more besides.  I think it would be fascinating to go sleuthing with Gordianus the Finder in the Stephen Saylor books set in ancient Rome.  That would give me the opportunity to look at Roman life and times first hand.  But then there’s Jane Marple isn’t there?  I wouldn’t so much want to go sleuthing with her but I would want to have tea with her and quiz her about herself and her life before she became the astute, elderly observer that she is in the books.  But there’s also the gutsy Vera Stanhope, she may not have much dress sense but she’s a down-to-earth solid character.  I would probably have to tidy her up before we got down to any detective work!

The more I think about this question, the more I realise that perhaps I should just count myself lucky and say Jacques.  Afterall, in creating each of the books, I go sleuthing with him at my side every time I sit at my desk to write.


What are you working on next?


I’m working on the third book, Montbel.  Jacques has an old case that he’s asked to review and once he starts to look at it, the more unanswered questions he finds.  In time, this book has moved on almost 2 years from the previous one and Jacques is living in the apartment in Mende that he bought during the course of book 2.  But, he still comes across the villagers in Messandrierre and spends time there.  Gaston and his wife still run the village restaurant and bar and Pierre Mancelle, although a little older, is still keen to be a policeman when he’s an adult.  It might be a new and intriguing case but there are still some familiar characters around.

A huge thank you to Angela for stopping by….although I kind of need a holiday in France now….

You can keep up to date with Angela and find out more about Jacques Foret and the next mystery he will be embroiled in here –





Official Website

Buy the series of books on Amazon here

Behind the Book – Forest Dancer

Forest Dancer - Susan Roebuck(1)


Sticking with my look at romance novels, and how woefully ill informed I am on them, I had the great pleasure to chat with author Sue Roebuck about her latest novel, Forest Dancer, a romance set in Portugal (somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit).

Tell us the basic premise of your novel?


It’s about overcoming self-doubt and having the courage to take life by the horns if necessary.

This is a short blurb: Forest Dancer is set in the magical forests just outside Lisbon, Portugal. Classical ballerina with a London company, Flora Gatehouse, has just recently lost her father, but she has also suffered a devastating blow in her career: her failed audition that sees her moving to a small cottage in Lisbon, Portugal, the only inheritance left to her by her father. She embraces the life of a small village with its dark secrets, and falls for the forest ranger, Marco. But the questions are can she totally become part of this little hamlet and can she ever reconnect with her dream to become a principal ballerina?



What was your main inspiration for the story? 


I live close to Sintra (which is about twenty kilometres south west of Lisbon). ( Find out more about this gorgeous locations here ) Being British, I’ve always appreciated how cool and green Sintra is in the boiling hot summers of Lisbon and I’ve often been to ballets and concerts which are held on summer evenings at one of the many monuments in this magical place. Mind you, it was so misty one night that the ballerinas kept slipping about all over the damp stage.

I also love trees and forests (Sintra has its own national park) and I wanted to portray the beauty of them – and their mystery.



I have a thing about trees too…..(endless scary forest scenes in Purgatory Hotel)

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?


The answer’s going to be what all writers say: Always! When I was fourteen I entered a writing competition and won! Goodness knows what was going through my head but the little novelette was set in World War II (of which I knew nothing) in a small village in England. The inhabitants hated the fact that the army had built a training barracks on their land and were trying all sorts of ways to get rid of them. Sounds quite ambitious, doesn’t it? One day I’ll have to read it again. I think my brother gave me a bit of help – he gave me names for the characters, one of which was called Willy Wormtongue.


I’d love to read that!

If you could spend an evening in a Portuguese cottage drinking wine and eating good food, with any famous people – alive or dead- who would you choose?


Well, Byron visited Sintra and I think he would have to be one of the guests. We’d have a riotous time, I think, and drink all the wine that was on offer. Another guest would be Vasco de Gama who was the first explorer to navigate from Europe to Asia. I might have a go at him about his treatment of the natives he came across. Then I’d invite Saint Anthony of Lisbon because I like him and I think he and Byron would have a great discussion. And, also for Byron, I’d invite one of Portugal’s most famous poets and writers. I’d eavesdrop on their conversation for hints.


Ah Byron, I’d love to meet him, can I come too?

What are you working on next?


On another in the Portuguese series (the first one was called “Rising Tide” and set in the Alentejo region of Portugal – which is between Lisbon and the Algarve – in a small fishing village that time and most of Portugal has forgotten). “Forest Dancer” is the second. The next one is called “Joseph Barnaby” and takes place in Madeira. Joe is a farrier who prevents the favourite steeplechaser to run in the Grand National because he believes the horse isn’t fit enough to race. The aftermath of hate-mail, death threats and blackmail send him whirling into a deep depression and all he wants is to go to the end of the world. He finds just the place in Madeira.

Thank you so much for stopping by Sue!

You can get Forest Dancer from Amazon here

Keep up with Sue online and find out more about her here:






Behind The Book – Betrayal


This week I have the pleasure of welcoming fellow Cat Lesley Field to my blog to discuss her latest book Betrayal. I recently discovered that I have very few romance novels on my read list – Wuthering Heights seems to be the only one! So in an attempt to remedy this I am having a chat with Lesley about her ‘contemporary romance.’


Tell us the basic premise of your novel?


I’m never really sure where my ideas come from, which is probably a bit scary.

However, Betrayal, is about a lawyer, Jessica, who thought her life was settled and she knew where she was going. Then suddenly it was all gone and she was faced with starting again in a new city and in a new job. But a chance meeting forced her to face her own inhibitions and she ended up having a one night stand with someone she felt an instant connection with. But inhibitions returned in the cold light of day and she fled, never expecting to see him again. But life has a way of taking charge and her one night stand appeared again. Sadly things were not as she thought and she was not prepared to be betrayed again. Fighting the attraction between them she then found herself caught up in a plot to frame someone. But is she in time to save them? And will she get her happy ever after?  You will have to read the book to find out.


Did you take any inspiration for your story from real life?


Partly.  Before I retired I was a Personal Injury Lawyer so I gave my heroine the same profession. She became disillusioned with the law, and to some extent I did towards the end of my career. So I guess I took that from my own personal experiences. There is a horse in the story and again that is taken from my own love of horses.


Why did you choose the locations you use and did it take a lot of research? Do the locations hold personal significance?


I set my contemporary romances in Canada, as it is the home of my heart. My parents were going to emigrate before I was born, but then changed their minds, so I really should have been born Canadian. I love the country and my husband and I have family and friends there so visit as often as we can. The location just outside Calgary is based on personal knowledge. The town where my heroine moves to is loosely based on a town we visited. For research I use the internet, or just go back into my head and remember visits and what I did, what I saw and how I felt at the time. There is a section in Betrayal which is set in The Core shopping mall in Calgary. I went there with my husband for research and we had lunch and listened to the grand piano being played. So that scene is taken from our visit.


What is you ideal writing environment?


My ideal writing environment would be to have my own writing room where I had a computer set up permanently, with all my research folders to hand. That is my dream. Reality is, I write on my laptop which is on the dining table. So I have to clear everything away when we need to eat in the evening. But I have a wonderful view of the garden so I can’t really complain.


If you could have an evening in a hotel restaurant with any famous character/person alive or dead, who would you choose?

I think I would love to meet with Sarah Maclean who writes historical novels. I write historical as well as contemporary and I love her style of writing.


What are you working on next?


At the moment I am working on an historical series called, Lords in Love. There will be 4 books in the series. I have books 1 and 2 completed. I have just finished the first draft of book 3 and book 4 is still in my head.

Betrayal is available now on Amazon through Crooked Cat Books!


Keep up with Lesley online here –



Behind the Book – Topaz Eyes

new TE(1)


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 Soulweaver

Final Cover Soulweaver


This week I’m very excited to be talking to Australian author Heidi Catherine about her new novel The Soulweaver.

I’ve always had a fascination with the afterlife and the concept of reincarnation, and they are major themes that I have kept coming back to in my own writing. Everyone feels differently about the idea of an afterlife and everyone has a different idea of what it might be like. (If you have read Purgatory Hotel you will know my own vision is a bit unpleasant for those that deserve it.)

When I read the synopsis of Heidi’s novel I was instantly intrigued – I had found a kindred spirit! So I was quite eager to pick her brains about one of my favourite subjects and learn more about her own thoughts that had inspired the novel.


Tell us the basic premise of your novel?

The Soulweaver is a story about a girl who’s haunted by memories of having lived before. As these memories sharpen, she has to choose between the man she loved in her past life and the man she loves now. I was fortunate enough for this book to win the Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Pro award, which was a huge honour.

What or who inspired you to become a writer?

My mum has always loved to write and had a children’s book published when I was in my early twenties. This was great inspiration for me to turn my own love of writing into something more, as I could see what was possible with hard work and persistence. Mum is now my biggest fan and reads all of my first drafts. Her very unbiased opinion is that they’re all brilliant…


Are your locations based on real places?

The Soulweaver is set in Australia, Hong Kong, London and New York, which are obviously all real places. But there are also scenes that are set in ‘the Loom’, which what most people would call heaven or hell. It’s described in the book as “a place where reward and redemption are rolled into one”.  If we do go somewhere after we die, I’ve always thought it would be the one place. I can’t see how it’s possible for the universe to be so black and white that one soul is considered good and another evil, when there are so many shades of grey. I really enjoyed being able to explore this concept as I wrote the novel.


Did it take a lot of research for your locations and do they hold any real life significance to you?

The story is told in parts, with each part taking place in a different city from the point of view of a different character. I’m Australian so the scenes set there didn’t require too much research and I’ve spent time in Hong Kong and London so could also draw on my experiences there. I’ve never been to New York, so those chapters required a little more research. Google is a writer’s best friend! I really liked how changing the setting gave each part of the book a distinctive feel. As for the Loom, that required a whole lot of imagination rather than research, which I always find far more enjoyable.

There’s a supernatural feel to the story, and obviously a lot of it is based around reincarnation, is this something you believe in?

The idea of reincarnation has always fascinated me and I would very much like to believe it’s real. I’ve heard some incredible (and very convincing) stories about children remembering their past lives, with these memories fading as they’ve grown older. I’ve also met people who I’ve been certain I’ve met before. In the first chapter of The Soulweaver, Hannah sees Reinier for the first time and is overwhelmed with the feeling she’s seen him a million times, yet she’s seen him never. It’s a feeling I’m sure many readers will relate to. Reincarnation makes a lot of sense to me, and although nobody can be completely certain as to what happens to us after we die, I’m positive that something happens. The Soulweaver is just one of a billion possibilities.

Tell me an ideal set up for a day of writing – where are you, is there any music etc?

I mostly write at home when my kids are at school. We moved house about a year ago and I claimed one of the living spaces as my writing room. I’ve filled it with books and have a desk in the corner near the window. Usually I’ll light a candle, put on some music and read my angel cards. Then I’ll get stuck into it. If the words don’t flow, then I’ll take my dogs for a walk and try again. My dogs are big fans of writer’s block.


What are you working on next?

I’m working on Books 2 and 3 of The Soulweaver series, which follow my characters into their next lifetimes. I also have a couple of crime novels and a middle grade novel sitting on my computer, which I’d like to revive. And I’ve recently published a prequel novelette to The Soulweaver series, which is called The Moonchild and available for free on Amazon.

The Soulweaver is out now on Amazon – Buy The Soulweaver on Amazon

Book 2 of the Soulweaver series The Truthseeker is out through Crooked Cat Books on 19th March 2018.


You can keep up with all of Heidi’s news here!


Heidi’s Website

Heidi on Twitter

Heidi on Facebook

Heidi on Goodreads