Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Spooktacular Crooked Cat Sale...

Be prepared to be spooked...


Loads of books - mysteries, thrillers, romances, historical - available at 99p/c or international equivalent for two more days only.  Scoot on over to Amazon before it's too late...

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The Spooktacular Crooked Cat Sale...

Be prepared to be horrified...


Loads of books - mysteries, thrillers, romances, historical - available at 99p/c or international equivalent for three days only.  Scoot on over to Amazon before it's too late...  

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Please welcome, friend and playwright, Will Templeton...

...to the blog today.  Hello Will, thanks for being here and I know how busy you are, so I'll get straight to the questions...  

AW  So, you're an actor, a theatre director, a playwright and a poet.  What first got you into writing and why?
WT  I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.  Longer really, as my memory’s not what it was.  I started as a small boy, and considering how tall I am now, that was obviously a long time ago.
AW  Hmm... Readers, I can vouch for that - he's as tall as a tree!  But you were talking about writing...
WT  I’m not sure what set me off, it was just something I always loved doing.  Or should that be, loved “having done”?  The results were much more rewarding than the actual process of writing.  It can feel such a chore.  I’m the world’s worst procrastinator (or do all writers think that?).  But holding a finished piece of work in my hands, and being able to show it to family and friends was such a buzz, and still is.  I still have a hand-written collection of horror stories that I wrote in a school exercise book in my mid-teens.  I stencilled the title “Venture Into The Macabre” onto the cover and pretty much wrote the stories straight out.  I wouldn’t be keen to show anyone the contents these days but I was very proud of it at the time.
AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or novels?
WT  I wrote a lot of short stories back then.  My first published works were short stories in the in-house magazine for the registration service when I worked there.  The plays came later, after I joined a local drama group and acquired a taste for that style of writing.  For the last few years I’ve been producing short-form screenplays for young actors to turn into videos for YouTube.  The screenplay format is a natural progression from stage plays, but with its own rules and restrictions.  It’s gratifying to think that my work has been viewed millions of times on the internet, but the scripts were all ghostwritten so there were no onscreen credits.  I’m currently working on a crime novel, but, of course, it is a completely different discipline to writing scripts; the necessity to fill in the bits between the lines.  When you rely entirely on dialogue you have to convey so much merely with speech.  It actually feels like I’m cheating in a way, being able to explain the motivation behind a character’s words and deeds.  And then there’s the need to describe a location so that a reader can “see” where the characters are, instead of simply writing “a bedsit, somewhere in England”, and leaving a director to create the visuals.
AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own?
WT  Not a shed, no.  What would be the dining room in my house has been converted into an office and a den.  My desk and chair are actually my old ones from the register office, rescued from abandonment when the registrar team moved to their new premises.  I also have a wonderful old Chesterfield chair and retro music system in the same room, to create the ultimate man cave.
AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one real individual (living or dead), or a character from a book, play or poem, who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
WT  Shakespeare has had such an incredible influence on all of literature, plays and prose, plus films and TV shows and any form of entertainment imaginable, so it would be amazing to have the opportunity to meet the man himself and get to know the mind behind all that.  Also to let him know that he’s remembered four hundred years after his death and get his reaction to that!


Thanks Will and best of luck with the crime novel.  Just because it is coming up to Hallowe'en, I have a little poetic offering from Will for you...


What feet were these with shuffling gait
Did tiptoe on the creaking stair
To hesitate and stop and wait
And linger just a moment there
What eyes were these in growing black
Did peer into the shadows thick
But dared not part the curtains' crack
Or spark the ashen candle wick
What ears were these, alert and ware
Did strain to catch the merest breath
Of one who slept with not a care
For hurt nor harm nor creeping death
What hands were these when trembling so
Could scarce maintain a sturdy grip
Would others care, would others know
Would any curl a sneering lip
What blade was this so razor keen
As ever been on any knife
What man was this, unheard, unseen
Who ventured forth to claim a life

You can find Will's work using the following links No Harm Done Splish Splash - A Comedy in 2 Acts and 5 Towels Jenny's Friend  Sod's Law

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Photography with Beth Samuels

I was able to catch up with the character of Beth Samuels, whilst I was in France a little earlier in the year.  Having put one or two testing questions to Jacques Forêt last week, I then went to meet Beth in her new studio and shop.  Read on to find out what she said…

AW   Beth, thanks for giving me some of your valuable time and I have to say this place looks wonderful.
BS    Thank you.  It has taken a lot of hard work to get everything exactly how I wanted it.  And I still haven't quite finished yet.
AW   So the fire in October 2009 did extensive damage then?
BS   In some respects, yes.  Come through to the studio, the beams above us were badly burnt and two had to be replaced. The window is completely new and part of that back wall had to be rebuilt.  There was damage to the floor above too.  All of this room and the shop front had to be re-plastered.  The windows had shattered with the heat and have now been replaced.  It took a lot longer than I anticipated.  Let's go back into the shop and I'll show you what I'm working on at the moment.
AW  Those pictures on your computer screen look great - how did you do that?
BS   It's quite easy really.  I'm just experimenting today.  I got the base shots with my very small digital camera one day last autumn when I was visiting a village just north of here.  I thought the autumnal displays were lovely, but it was only when I downloaded them and looked at them on the big monitor that I thought the windows might make a good feature to use as the pictures on greetings cards.  And that's what I've been playing around with this morning.
AW   So this first one is the original shot and the second is?
BS   The one that I've cropped and then applied a filter.  The third one has had the colour density for red enhanced slightly.
AW  And did that take long?
BS    Not at all.  Once I'd got the window as the central feature, right size and sharpness, then I can change the picture using the filters in the software at the click of the mouse.
AW  Amazing.  So, next, you will print the picture onto cards, is that it?
BS  Not quite, no.  Now that I know the idea will work I will go back and take my tripod and my other camera with me and spend a day there taking shots.  As the sun moves through the sky during the course of the day, the light changes.  I'll go back four times so that I can capture the inside of the church in each of the seasons.  Then I'll choose the best shots and then create the finishes that I want on the computer.  When I have my final set of images I'll take them to Monsieur Rochefort - the local printer here in Mende - and get them printed and then sell them here in the shop.
AW  I see.  I wish you all the best with that.  Beth, I was talking to Jacques last week and I know he asked you a very important question when he had completed his investigation in Merle.  Is there anything you want to share with us about that?
BS  Mmm, Jacques told me you'd been fishing for information.  So, I'll take the same line as him and just say that we're both working hard to make a life for ourselves here in Mende.
AW  Not quite the answer I was hoping for.  Are you sure there's nothing more you want to tell us, Beth?
BS   Yes, quite sure. You'll just have to wait until November.



Montbel  Jacques Forêt's next case is available for pre-order in both print and e-format.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

In the city of Mende with Jacques Forêt

Cathedral and the city of Mende
I was able to catch up with my central character, Jacques Forêt, whilst I was in France a little earlier in the year.  I put one or two testing questions to him… read on to find out what he said…

AW  Jacques thanks for making time in your busy schedule for me today.  You're working here at Vaux Investigations, in the centre of a city, how does that measure up with your own little 'barony' in the tiny gendarmerie in Messandrierre?
JF   I enjoyed my time as the local policeman in Messandrierre, and yes, I suppose you could say I had my own domain.  But village life is what it is, and whilst I needed some quiet when I first arrived, I quickly realised that I missed the excitement and the pressure of working on a large and complex case like the ones I used to handle in Paris.  Being here at Vaux gives me more varied work as I always have a number of cases on my desk at any one time.  I have the thrill of complex investigations again, but I'm still answerable to the management board… and that has its difficulties.
AW  Difficulties?  Would you like to tell me more about that?
JF    Not really.  But I will say that adjusting to life in a corporate organisation has not been easy for me personally.
AW  Alright, I'll let you get away with that one.  I understand you have a new case that you are working on.  Can you tell me about that?
JF    Hmm.  A difficult one.  What I thought at first was a straight forward missing person's case is turning out to be much more complex.  A key witness is now dead and myself and my colleagues are unsure of where to go next.  I'm also concerned that there are other parties working in the background to thwart my progress… It's a difficult situation.
AW  But you are confident that you can resolve it, aren't you?
JF    Oh yes.
AW  And that smile tells me everything I need to know!  And when will we be able to read all about this?
JF    In November.
AW  OK.  So, moving on, what about Beth?  Anything you want to share with us about you and Beth.
JF    She's very well, thank you and working hard to establish her photographic studio and shop here in Mende.
AW  I see.  Not quite the answer I was hoping for.  Are you sure there's nothing more you want to tell us about you and Beth? … And there's that smile again!
JF   You know me too well!  Perhaps we can talk off the record over lunch.


... and here's a short extract from Jacques' next story



                               la lettre 

…families fracture, Monsieur Forêt. No one desires it or intends it, but it happens. A harsh, unforgiving word begets a rash and revengeful action, and a sliver of ice takes hold in a dark corner of the hearts of those at odds with each other. And there it wedges itself, the frost gradually deepening and destroying. One of us has to stop the cold, as this impasse can continue no longer.  I have to put things right with my son, Monsieur… 


june 3rd, 2011


Montbel is available for pre-order in both print and e-format.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

I'm reviewing an Egyptian Journal...

...by William Golding

Published in 1985 this book charts Golding’s experiences, in the previous year, as he travels down the Nile with his wife, and a motley crew at the behest of his publisher.
At this point in his career, he had been awarded the Noel Prize for literature, had won various other accolades and had 11 novels published along with some notable travel pieces, books of poetry, some non-fiction and his only full-length play, The Brass Butterfly..
Like me, Golding, had a life-long fascination with ancient Egypt, so one has to ask the question – what took him so long?  Born in 1911 he would have been 73 when he took this trip.  I made my trip to Egypt at the age of 35.  I remember announcing my intentions to my family and then promptly going out a few days later to make all the arrangements with the travel agent.  And OK, I made my journey several years later than Golding, but, it was interesting to note as I worked my way through the book, that some of the frustrations I witnessed and felt about Egypt, had been there when Golding made his.
Beginning in Ma‘adi, just south of Cairo, as I did, Golding takes you with him as he sources and secures a small river cruiser to take him down the Nile to Luxor.  And so begins a chapter by chapter discourse of each day of his cruise.  Not that he had the same level of comfort as I did.  He complains about the lack of regular meals, the lack of heating, enough bedding, wardrobe space, his own overpacking and much more besides.  The most important lesson for Golding to learn, though, was how NOT to be the Captain of the ship!  His eminent naval career may have prepared him for life at sea and in war, but taking a step back to become a passenger on a ship was not one of them, much to my amusement as I read the details of these regular little clashes between ex-naval officer and Egyptian river boat Reis.
The monuments visited play their own individual roles throughout the text and I was glad to see that, in telling the ancient history, Golding maintained the easy narrative flow.  However, despite the history, the detail of the look of the monuments, it is no substitute for the wonder of seeing these incredible pieces of history for yourself.  Luckily, I had my own memories to draw upon to supplement Golding’s thoughts and descriptions.
One other thing that Golding comes back to again and again, was an issue for me, too, when I was there.  There’s an inconsistency to Egypt, its history, its people and culture, that he could not rationalise.  Neither could I, and having finally read his book, I’m still none the wiser.  Still a riveting read, though!