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 PJ Mordant

Well its Lockdown…..again….hope you had a safe and quiet – preferably cheese and prosecco fueled New Year! Im back again with some scary stuff this time joined by P.J. Mordant, author of supernatural thriller ‘When Angels Fear.’ So she knows a thing or two about what is scary – lets find out what scares her!

What movie/book scared you as a child?
I’m going to choose an advertisement, seeing its the first thing that came to mind: an advert for Deep Heat, a stupid  rubbing ointment. A really deep voice boomed DEEEEP HEEEET from the telly. It got so bad that I would leave the room when ANY adverts came on.

What was your biggest fear as a child?
I was and still am, terrified of thunder storms. Its the combination of noise and lightening. I think it started after my dad tried to fix our old valve telly. He took a screwdriver to it and it blew up with a flash and bang! Lucky escape for all of us, but left a lasting legacy.

Do you like scary movies? Which one is your favourite?
Medium scary films. I prefer supernatural rather than full-on horror movies. Very fond of ‘The Changeling’ with George C. Scott. Scary premise, musical boxes, wheelchairs, bouncing balls … a well. Great tropes.

The paranormal usually freaks me out the most when I’m reading a book. Have you ever had a paranormal experience in real life?

Has a book ever really scared you?
The Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson – anything by F. Paul Wilson, actually. There was one character – I think it was a young boy – who couldn’t die and Jack thought he’d put him out of his misery. YEARS later he pondered whether he had actually died so he returned to the burial site and dug the boy up.Turned out he’d been absolutely right: the boy was skeletal but with all his faculties and completely alive. Can’t remember names and whys and wherefores but … well, the idea’s stuck with me all these years.

Can you share with us an example of fear in one of your own novels?
The fear a woman has when the love of her life turns out to be an abuser. In ‘When Angels Fear’, my first chapter is filled with dry-mouthed dread that he might discover her escape.

In real life what is your biggest fear these days? Do you use that when you write?
I fear for the planet. It’s the theme of my sequel to ‘Angels’

Huge thanks to PJ for visiting! You can learn more about her and her books below!

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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

Meet the Publisher – Crooked Cat Books

2017 has been a great year in may ways for me – one of the reasons for that was finally finding a publisher for my novel Purgatory Hotel. After publication I have had the great fortune to come into contact with a great many writers who I have been busy chatting to about their own books which has been an amazing experience.

In a bonus interview I was able to get an audience with the mysterious Crooked Cat. In a rather surreal turn – the publishing house known as Crooked Cat Books agreed to an interview. But it turns out that the reason I am now a published author is because of an actual cat. A talking one….


Welcome to my blog!


Thanks so much for inviting me. And may I say what lovely wallpaper you have here. Not sure about the lampshade though.


 The lampshade? Its not from Ikea…is that a problem?

Who are Crooked Cat Books?


I are Crooked Cat Books and I are six years old. I’m based in France, but I used to live in Great Britain, and I’m a Cat, albeit a bit Crooked. I have around 220 books to my name (well, I didn’t write them), and about 90 authors. And I have rather a following across social media.


What inspired you to start an independent publishers?


I wanted to give really good storytellers an opportunity to have their voice heard, and being independent helps that. I’ve seen lots of stunning stories over the years and am proud that these are now being read by hundreds of thousands of people across the world. I embrace two things – that authors are the best people to talk about and promote their books, and that they sometimes feel they just want to hear it – to get advice – from other authors.


What is your favourite genre to read?


I love a bit of crime, me, though there are days when something chick-litty doesn’t go amiss. Having said that, we all like a bit of fantasy, don’t we? Oooh – I’m not sure I have a favourite.


Do you have a favourite author?


Always the next one I meet!


Crooked Cat has a variety of genres in its catalogue, what is it that you look for in a story that hooks you?


A really interesting and engaging person writer behind it. Knowing the story is only half of…er…the story, and we’re not only looking for a great hook, well-written, but someone that is a bit of a self-starter, confidence in engaging with their readers, willing to learn and share. If this isn’t you, you’re not going to do well as a published author these days.


What do you do when you aren’t publishing books?


I eat. I sleep. I chase mice and things.


If you could have a night of drinks and literary discussion with any writers (alive or dead) who would you choose?


Evelyn Waugh and David Hasselhoff, authors of Brideshead Revisited and Making Waves: The David Hasselhoff Autobiography, respectively.

Many thanks to you for chatting with me, and agreeing to appear on my blog, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

That is my pleasure. I’m sorry about your lampshade.


You can enter the world of Crooked Cat Books and its cattery of authors here;

Crooked Cat Books Website




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