Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Please welcome friend and author, Pam Golden...

...to the blog this week. Hello Pam and thanks for making time to be here today, I know how very busy you are.  Tell me, what is your current release? 
PG   My current release “To Be Human is an Honour” is available on Kindle.  It charts my spiritual and physical journey around the world.  Experiencing many different cultures and people, I share their wisdom and understanding about our beautiful planet and our place upon it.
AW   What first got you into writing and why?
PG    I wrote my first novel when I was 9 but never finished it.  It was an Enid Blyton style magical story.  I’ve always written informally; letters home to my parents during my travels and poems to express feelings and emotions.  Then in recent years, I kept being prompted in all sorts of ways to write more formally, so I decided to start writing books.
Since the autobiography, I have now started a series of children’s novels based in the Mesolithic Period of Stone Age Britain.  I think we can learn so much from history.  Living in total harmony with their environment for 2000 years, they left hardly any trace of themselves.  The first novel is completed and I am awaiting responses from publishers.
AW  You write Historical YA novels and non-fiction.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
PG  Obviously I didn’t need research for my autobiography, but I did double-check facts with people and sought permission from them.  For the children’s novels, I did extensive research, which I found absolutely fascinating. 
AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
PG  I belong to a writing group in Todmorden and every couple of weeks we are set a writing challenge.  Initially, I did mainly poems but I’ve started branching out into short stories as well, which is fun.  I’ve just written a short story with a positive view for the future: something I think we all need at the moment!
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?
Difficult not to be inspired by a scene like this!
PG  I have a small room upstairs which is an office style space.  I find it easiest to write in there, however, for my inspiration, I often walk the dog to trigger ideas.  The quiet space surrounded by nature really helps to clear my head and clarify ideas. 
AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book, who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
PG   I’d love to spend the afternoon with Desmond Tutu.  I would like to discuss how he manages to find so much joy in everything around him and I’d like to giggle and laugh with him. I love his wisdom and laughter.
about the author... A happy childhood full of love and books led Pam Golden to study teaching.  Once she had finished her education, she found her wings and flew.  After many adventures around the world, she finally met her husband and they settled down in Yorkshire, where their son was born.  Her philosophy is simple; that love, in the broadest meaning of the word, is the answer.  She believes that everything in life happens for a reason.  Pam has always had a vivid imagination and started writing her first children’s book when she was nine years old. She never finished it but has finally realised her dream in the completion of a children’s novel many years later. 

about the book...An energising glimpse of a young woman’s life through a wide variety of experiences; starting in 1978, she sweeps you up and carries you with her.  Sharing her emotions, her understanding of the world and her spirituality, she travels both physically and metaphorically around the globe. With her sympathetic approach to the people she meets, combined with humour, sadness, wisdom, love and occasionally bizarre happenings; you will become drawn into her world of trust and belief that everything happens for a reason, helping to create a beautiful pattern of life. 

You can get Pam's book Here

You can follow Pam on Instagram Facebook  and on

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Please welcome, friend and author, Kay Patrick...

...to my blog this week.  Hello Kay and thanks for making time to be here today.  I understand you write historical crime and I'd love to know a little more about that...

It took me quite a while to recognise that I wanted to write.  When I was sixteen I won a scholarship to RADA and studied there for two years before acting in theatre and television – which included roles in the early black and white Doctor Who.  However, over the years I became more interested in writers and directing and left acting to script edit and then to direct in theatre, radio, and television (including 20 years directing Coronation Street).  During my time working in radio, I was able to direct many of the classics and work with new and emerging writers.  After many years of total satisfaction, the writing bug finally began to take hold of me and resulted in my debut crime/historical novel – The Trial of Marie Montrecourt.
In my early years as a script editor, I had been asked to research the possibility of basing a drama series on Victorian crimes committed by women.  I found some extremely interesting examples and the series went ahead (not written by me).  However, to my astonishment the most interesting case – in my eyes at least – wasn’t used.  It sat inside my head over the years and wouldn’t go away.  I made one or two attempts to write it – but I was never satisfied.
I realised I needed to create my own characters and my own world, just using the one or two actual facts and coincidences that had caught my imagination all those years ago.  I created two parallel lives.
First, there is Marie Montrecourt – a French orphan brought up in an English-speaking convent.  When 18 she is sent to England and placed in the care of a solicitor based in Harrogate – where her new life begins.  But what will it be?  No one will tell her about her parents or what the future holds.  She tries to take control of her choices but there are others – of whom she is ignorant – who are manipulating her future for their own ends. It is up to my second major character, Evelyn Harringdon, to reveal what those ends are.
He’s the son of an aristocratic family.  His father is a national hero and a leading politician in the government, a man who puts duty first.  Evelyn, unlike his father, does not.  He prefers a life of pleasure.  On one of his rare visits to the family estate, he discovers that his father is seriously ill.  The name Montrecourt is the last word he utters – a name that obviously greatly distresses him.  Despite himself, Evelyn is drawn into discovering why and finds himself involved in the world of lies, scandal and deceit that is Marie’s past.
Inevitably Evelyn and Marie’s paths cross.  She is still trying to create a life for herself in her new world – and Evelyn finds himself unwilling to reveal to her the seamy depths he has uncovered.  Until that is Marie finds herself a major player in a notorious murder trial.

You can follow Kay on her Website  on Twitter  and on Amazon

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Come stroll with me...

...through the city of Marseille.  Last month I took you on a visit to the Vieux Port, today we're strolling through the first...

Canebière and the bourse
Canebière is a wide thoroughfare that leads from the Vieux Port straight into the heart of the city of Marseille.  Lined with beautiful and tall Napoleonic buildings, you find shops and hotels at street level and apartments on the floors above.  The street furniture - street lamps, etc. - are equally as striking as the buildings.
As we leave the port, on the left, you will find the bourse.  Built between 1852 and 1860, it is now the home of the naval museum and is the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the city.  The building overlooks a large square on the opposite side of Canebière.  And do check out the boulangerie/pâtisserie in the square, you can get a rather lovely tarte-au-citron here.
Canebière runs straight and true for about a kilometre and if you want to shop then by all means continue.  But, I'm taking a left onto Cours Belsunce because I know, about halfway along, there's something I particularly want to see.
On the right is what now remains of the old music hall.  Built in 1857 and decorated in a Moorish style, the theatre thrived.  As I stand here looking at the portico, I can imagine the noise, the laughter, the music, the jostling of the 2000 strong audience and I can almost smell the wine and the beer.  Given the opportunity I would have taken to the stage and silently replayed a snippet of one my previous roles, glancing up at the galleries or across the stalls area as I run through the speech in my head.  I've always thought it a great privilege to be able to recreate a character and make that person live on the stage for the audience.  As an actor, I can be in two places, centuries, personalities at once.  Today, alas, that opportunity is not available.  On March 30th, 2004, following extensive remodelling, the theatre opened as one of 12 municipal libraries created by statute in cities across the whole country.
The remains of the Alcazar-Lyrique
Originally called Alcazar-Lyrique, the theatre first opened on October 10th, 1857.  In its early days, and under the direction of Etienne Demoulins, the Alcazar built its reputation with summer shows in the gardens, and by welcoming to its stage celebrities from the surrounding area and from Paris.  In the 1860s and 1870s, the theatre became renowned for pantomime.  And yes, I know we Brits think that pantomime is something that is very peculiarly English, but its early origins were European.  Here at the Alcazar, fabulous and world-renowned mime artists such as Charles Deburau, Louis Rouffe and Séverin, have trodden the boards of the stage that was once here.  So, perhaps you can understand my disappointment at not being able to follow in their footsteps just for a moment or two.
Between its heyday and conversion to a library, the theatre had an interesting history.  In 1873 a fire destroyed the interior, but only four months later the building re-opened.  In 1889 it was refurbished, and the portico that we are standing in front of was added.  In the 1930s the venue became a cinema, and during the 1939-45 conflict, it remained closed until the Free French forces liberated the city in 1944.  Post-war, the theatre continued to provide entertainment right up until the 1960s when it went dark for the very last time on August 9th, 1966.  As I remain standing here, I have to mourn the loss of such a magnificent edifice to architecture and stagecraft.

You can read more about the city Here  and Here 
The next Jacques Forêt mystery, Marseille, is available for pre-order Here

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

An offer you can't refuse from...

...the Authors on the Edge.  Read on...

Over the last few months, I have been hosting my fellow writers' posts here on the blog.  Each of the Authors on the Edge contributed to the anthology, Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings.  A series of heartwarming-stories that was first published in May last year.  Having my writing colleagues visit the blog seemed, to me, to be a good way of introducing you to their books.  It also provided an opportunity for each of them to give a little bit of insight about their own particular story in the anthology.  You can revisit to each of those posts using the links below if you wish.

This month, I have something a little different.  The anthology is currently reduced in price and, up to and including Friday, July 19th, you can download the e-book for as little as 99p/c or international equivalent.  If you're still looking for that something special to read on the plane, the train, the beach or beside the pool, then check out Miss MoonshineYou won't be disappointed!

about the book... Sometimes what you need is right there waiting for you...
Miss Moonshine's Wonderful Emporium has stood in the pretty Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge for as long as anyone can remember.  With her ever-changing stock, Miss Moonshine has a rare gift for providing exactly what her customers need: a fire opal necklace that provides a glimpse of a different life; a novel whose phantom doodler casts a spell over the reader; a music box whose song links love affairs across the generations. One thing is for certain: after visiting Miss Moonshine's quirky shop, life is never the same again...
Nine romantic novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have joined together to create this collection of uplifting stories guaranteed to warm your heart. This intriguing mix of historical and contemporary romances will make you laugh, cry, and believe in the happy-ever-after.

Another fellow Author on the Edge will be visiting the blog next month, so watch this space...

Kate Field  Melinda Hammond  My Own Post  Helen Pollard  Jacqui Cooper   

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Come stroll with me...

... around the Vieux Port (the old harbour) in Marseille...

Quai de la Fraternité & Saint-Ferréol

A vast sprawling conurbation, Marseille, is the second city of France.  With a population of just under 900,000, it outstrips Lyon, the 3rd most populous city, easily.  It also has a fascinating history, is renowned for its independence and can claim to be the oldest city in France.  So, people were living here long before the Romans arrived!
This city is also one of the most multi-cultural that I have ever come across in France.  As you meander through the streets, for every five people you pass speaking French there are another five following speaking an entirely different tongue.  You can eat in any one of a hundred different languages - from the parlances of Northern Europe to the Mexican and All-American English of the west, to the numerous tongues of Africa in the south, extending eastwards to Arabic, to Turkish and stretching all the way to Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Japan with just about everything in between.
Fort St-Jean & the marina entrance
The very first settlers here were the Phocaeans (ancient Greeks), arriving around 600BC and travelling from one of the most northern Ionian cities on the west coast of Asia Minor.  They settled on one side of what is now the Vieux Port, the sound being then little more than a creek.  But it was an essential supply of water and an opportunity for trade - something the ancient Greeks were very good at.  Of course, those first settlers weren't allowed to keep everything to themselves, and about 60 years later the Persians arrived.  The original settlement expanded as trade and ancient commerce grew, and the reach inland expanded to the sites of modern cities such as Arles, Nice, Avignon and elsewhere.  The Romans turned up around 125BC, and after years of war, established transalpine Gaul.  The port of Marseille (then referred to as Massalia) became an independent republic allied to Rome.  Maybe that's why it has a reputation for independence and a very distinctive local character, not to mention it's own very particular local dialect.
The first port has changed much over the centuries.  Now, it is mostly a marina for pleasure boats and excursions across to the Hyères islands.  The islands are the site for the Château d'If that Alexandre Dumas used as a location in his books, The Man in the Iron Mask and
Château d'If
The Count of Monte Cristo.  The château was quickly built to protect the port in the early 16th century and was further fortified some decades later by a bastioned wall.  As well as a location for fictional heroes the castle was used as a state prison for the Huguenots and various political prisoners.  Now it's just a tourist destination.
However, like Dumas, I'm using this fantastic city as a location, too although I'm not imprisoning any of my characters in the château!  But my investigator, Jacques Forêt, finds himself here in Marseille in search of answers and a resolution for his next case.  Book 4 will be out towards the end of the year, and I will keep you updated over the coming months.

You can read more about the city of Marseille Here and Book 4 in my Jacques Forêt mystery series is available to pre-order Here

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

I'm reviewing The Strawberry Thief...

...Joanne Harris.

This is the fourth book in the series that begins with Chocolat and, I have to say, I awaited the publication of this story eagerly.  As soon as my copy arrived I was tempted to forget everything else I was required to do and sit down and read it.  But I waited until I was in France and then, in the shade of a large tree, began reading.
Vianne Rocher has returned to Lansquenet-sous-Tannes.  This is the fictional town in Chocolat that is apparently inspired by the real town of Nérac in the département of Lot-et-Garonne.  Despite her difficulties with the local priest, Reynaud, in the earlier story, Vianne has settled into village life.  She has her chocolate shop on one side of the central square, from where she supplies her friends and neighbours with exactly the right sweetmeat or blend of coffee or hot chocolate as they require it.
But time has moved on for everyone.  Vianne’s eldest daughter, Anouk, is now 21 and living in Paris.  Her second daughter, her special child, Rosette, is 16 and becoming independent in her own special way.  For Vianne, the passing of time and the changes within her family are something she knows she has to accept.
The story primarily unfolds through the eyes of Vianne, Rosette and Reynaud.  Each has their own distinctive voice and it was pleasure to get to know the character, Rosette and to re-acquaint myself with the characters of Vianne and Reynaud after such a long time - the last book, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé was published in April 2012, so it has been a long wait for this one.
The story begins in March, it is the beginning of Lent and Vianne senses change.  Against the back-drop of the sleepy French town, Narcisse the florist dies. A new trader moves into the village, a will creates a stir and a lot of antagonism and a letter, a very important letter sets the local community one against the other.
I really, really enjoyed this book.  The various plot lines are intriguingly and carefully woven together.  The characters live on the page as you read and, from first picking it up, I could not put it down.  I most sincerely hope I will not have to wait quite so long for the next story about Lansquenet and Vianne.