Tuesday, 29 June 2021

I'm reviewing The Nazi King of Paris...

... by Christopher Othen.  This book tells the story of Henri Lafont and his criminal associates during an especially dark period of French history...

Set in Paris during the occupation in the 1940's, this book details the insidious rise to power of one man and his criminal counterparts.

Henri Lafont was born in Paris, April 1902.  He spent most of his life in the city and died there on December 26th, 1944 following a trial.  His execution took place at Fort de Montrouge on the outskirts of the city.

When the city was occupied in 1940, life for everyone changed.  The government removed itself to Vichy, which was in the Free Zone, and the decision to collaborate or not with the occupiers was one that all French people had to take on a daily basis.  The decision for Henri was an unequivocal and constantly enduring yes.  Through his contacts and the workings of the occupying forces, at a time of great distress for the whole of the country, this man sort only his own gain and personal advancement. As an exposé of an amoral sector of society, this book is it.  The depths to which Henri and his associates sank during les années noires are unfathomable for a law-abiding citizen such as myself.  It was a very difficult book to read, at times, but compelling all the same.

Meticulously researched, with a very detailed set of notes and bibliography at the back, this was yet another story that needed to be told.

I found the narrative voice flowed well without judgement, leaving the reader to make up their own mind.  When you consider some aspects of the subject matter, that must have been an incredibly difficult line to tread for the author.  A fascinating read.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Newark Book Festival...


Come and join me on Sunday, July 11th in the Market Place, Newark.  I will be signing and selling books from 10.00am.  No booking or tickets required, just turn up.  It would be great to see you there.

Tickets and more detailed information for other festival events are available Here

Monday, 21 June 2021

Published today…

 ...Midsummer Magic at Miss Moonshine's Emporium…

My blog post is a little earlier than usual this week. But then I have something wonderful to tell you - the third anthology in the Miss Moonshine series of feel-good, heart-warming stories is published today!
Way back in 2017, when I was asked if I would like to contribute to a collection of short stories, I never for one moment thought about whether the book would have longevity or not. I was just so bowled over at the thought of being included, considered even, that I just didn't think where it might lead.
Here we are, four years later, and the third collection of stories is available for everyone to read.
Set in our imaginary town of Haven Bridge, Miss Moonshine is still doing her good works in her fabulous, but eclectic, emporium on Market street - a guiding word or two of advice for some customers, an object that exactly meets a need for others, distributing small doses of her magic to help as needed.

about the book… Are you ready to meet Miss Moonshine? Life may never be the same again…
It’s summer in Haven Bridge and Miss Moonshine is getting ready for a busy season. From the window of her Wonderful Emporium, at the heart of the pretty Yorkshire town, she watches and waits, weaving plans to bring happiness to all who step through her door. For Miss Moonshine is no ordinary shopkeeper. She may not have what you want, but she will always have what you need…

Nine romantic novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have joined together to create this anthology of uplifting stories guaranteed to warm your heart. This magical collection of contemporary romances will make you laugh, cry and wish for a Miss Moonshine in your own life.

Follow the book as it tours blogs and websites, details above

Not met Miss Moonshine yet?  You can find out more about her Here

Want to know how the anthologies are put together?  Read more Here

You can get all three books Here

Miss Moonshine will be making a personal appearance here on the blog next month.  You can read her interview Here

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Friend and author Mary Kendall joins me...

... on the blog today.  Hi, Mary, thanks for being here.  You have a new book out that is somehow connected to your family tree.  I love that kind of story so, tell me more...

Inspiration is a funny thing…it can sprinkle down from anywhere and usually when least expected.  In the case of my recent release, The Spinster’s Fortune, inspiration came while I was researching old newspaper articles about my long deceased paternal grandfather, a man who died nine years before I was born.  He was an attorney in Washington, D.C., and had worked on some significant cases.  Because of this, there were opportunities to “find” him in the internet newspaper archives.
I was so excited to come upon a photograph of him in his early 30s as there are not too many photographs of him around.  But the story that came with that photograph stopped me in my tracks.  It was a stunner.  Headlines such as “Spinster, 90, in Poorhouse, Found Owner of Fortune”, “Old House Yields Additional $1,100 Hidden in Rubbish” and “Rag-Stuffed Old Box Reveals Rich Treasure” pulled me right down into the rabbit hole and thus a new writing adventure began.  A tale eventually spun out from the real life facts of this case that my grandfather had been involved in and became an historical mystery that I titled, The Spinster’s Fortune.  So it is a fictional tale inspired by the real life events, setting and time period with one of the two main protagonists, Blanche, based on a real person.
A spooky house from Mary's past, perhaps?
In my fictional rendition, Blanche Magruder, for unknown reasons, has hidden her family’s fortune in strange places throughout her decaying house in the neighborhood, Georgetown, Washington, D.C. in 1929.  When authorities notify her niece, Margaret O’Keefe (identified as next of kin), that treasure hunters are looting her estranged aunt’s house, Margaret becomes immersed in the life of this supposed penniless spinster.  It actually provides her a much needed distraction from her own life’s problems.  For starters, her husband’s gambling habits have put the family horse business in dire jeopardy.  And Aunt Blanche’s hidden treasure secreted throughout the house in Georgetown could be Margaret’s way out.  While Margaret struggles to sort through Blanche’s affairs, Blanche stages breakouts from her care homes using tunnels underneath the city causing chaos and crises.  As Margaret chips away at finding the hiding spots of the monies, she starts to unravel mysteries about this aunt’s life.  Along the way, she also begins to make discoveries about her own life and changes that need to happen.
The story draws deeply from mystery genre traditions with gothic roots.  It is heavily influenced by my background as a historian and as a reader with a heavily saturated diet of mystery/suspense/thriller fiction.  After approximately six years of many rounds of drafts, many rounds of editing and many rejections, The Spinster’s Fortune, was recently published in April 2021 by darkstroke books.

about the author… Mary Kendall lived in old (and haunted) houses growing up which sparked a life-long interest in history and story-telling.  She earned degrees in history related fields and worked as an historian for many years.  Her fiction writing is heavily influenced by the past which she believes is never really dead and buried.  Fuelled by black coffee and a possible sprinkling of Celtic fairy dust, she tends to find inspiration in odd places and sometimes while kneading bread dough.  The author resides in Maryland with her family (husband, three kids, barn cat and the occasional backyard hen) who put up with her mad scribbling at inconvenient hours.  The Spinster’s Fortune, her debut novel, is twisty tale of family deception murky with gothic undertones recently released on 6 April 2021.

about the book… Summer of 1929.
Of supposed unsound mind without a penny to her name, Blanche Magruder lies alone in a home for the aged and infirm.
Meanwhile, her house, a crumbled ruin in the heart of Georgetown, Washington, D.C., is pillaged nightly by thieves looking for treasure rumored to be hidden there.
A distant niece, Margaret O’Keefe, is tapped as executor and soon becomes embroiled in the hunt for recovering monies, taking it on as a welcome escape from her financial and marital woes.
As Margaret discovers caches in unlikely spots throughout the house, family mysteries begin to unravel.  She questions whether Aunt Blanche is an insane fool or a daring genius, yet Margaret must also wrangle with her own hidden truths.
Pressed towards a convergence of their pasts and presents, the two women must ultimately face down a fateful discovery in order to rectify their lives.
Shrouded in gothic undertones and dark artifice, The Spinter's Fortune is a tale that takes the reader on a strange journey through tangled webs of family deceit.  But where does it end?

You can follow Mary on her  Website on Facebook Instagram and on Twitter

You can get the book on Amazon 

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

I'm cycling Canal du Bourgogne

…I'm picking up from where I left you in my last post, at St Rémy.  Having made my trip to Montbard and back, I didn't stop…
From St Rémy (Lock 67), I decide to cycle on.  I'm heading north and towards the lowest point of the canal at Migennes, about 100Ks away - an no, I've absolutely no intention of convering that distance today!  But, the sun is bright and high and the canal is in the shade - a perfect combination for a stress-free trip on the bike.
About 5 kilometers and three locks further on (Lock 70) is the bridge at Rougemont.  I stop and wheel the bike across to the centre of the bridge.  The water kind of sparkles in the sunshine and there are a few people out with picnics still enjoying a last glass of wine after lunch.  On the other side of the bridge, I spot a fabulous display of flowers at a canal-side property.  A great excuse not to peddle and have a gulp or two of water and take some pics.
Away from the shade of the trees I can feel the searing heat of the sun on my face and the backs of my legs.  It's time to move on.  I  want to get to Aisy-sur-Armançon before turning back towards where the car is parked.  It's just another lock (Lock 71) and another bridge further on.  And yes I know, the numbering system of the locks is confusing isn't it?  But we're in the département of Yonne here so the lock numbers are suffixed with a Y to differentiate them from the other locks with the same numbers that begin at Pouilly-en-Auxois and continue south.
Aisy is another sleepy little town.  With a population of about 250 it boasts a boulangerie and a couple of other small businesses along with an old priory.  I park the bike and take a wander.  The street I'm on is named after a Marthe Saillard and I'm curious to know who she was and why the street carries her name.  Unfortunately, there's no-one else around to ask.  I follow the silent street and find a wine merchant and the baker's, neither of which are open.  A handwritten note on the door indicates the breadshop will open again at 16.30.  I check my watch, that's almost an hour to wait.
River Armançon
I retrace my steps still in search of information about Marthe, but unusually there is nothing, not even a little blue plaque displaying the street name and the dates of her birth and death.
  Something to research another time, I decide.  I collect the bike and trundle back to the river on the outskirts of town.  There are some benches in the shade and I decide to have a half hour stop watching the river…
Back at the campsite I check my map of the canal and my notes and do a quick count.  I've covered a total of 20 locks in my two weeks here.  A few of them more than once - well I like to be thorough and I can't see the point of rushing.  So, that's another 169 locks to look forward to for future visits!

I still don't know the history of Marthe, despite several checks through encyclopedias and other reference material once I returned home.  So, I will go back to Aisy at some point…

You can read more about the canal and my little discoveries along the way Here  Here  Here  and  Here 

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Friend and author Kateri Stanley...

... joins me on the blog today. Hi Kateri, thanks for making time to be here today.  
Tell me what is your latest release?
KS  My debut novel, Forgive Me is a sci-fi horror about a journalist who is hired by an entrepreneur to pen an article for his online business.  After a couple of brief meetings with this client, she wakes up chained to a bed in his home.
Forgive Me focuses on societal issues such as violence in entertainment, our fascination with the serial killer and our love of everything evil.
It was published on Tuesday 20th April 2021 from indie publisher, darkstroke and is available in e-book and paperback on Amazon.
AW   What first got you into writing and why?
KS   I remember being in love with books, audiobooks, movies and music as a kid. Reading, watching, listening to a story unfold was always something I liked.  I loved getting lost in the characters and what was happening, it made me forget about the world and escape from any stresses that were going on in my life.  I guess why I started writing was that it was just a natural thing to me.  It just happened.  I have to do it.
AW  You write dark fiction and your central character is an investigative journalist.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
KS  I did do a little bit of research for the journalism part.  Other than studying a fraction of it at uni, I read a couple of articles where an investigative journalist was hired by an outside source to produce a story.
AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
KS  When I was at university, I studied prose, poetry (which I suck at but hugely admire the people that can pull it off), writing for the screen, radio, for stage and nonfiction writing such as journalism.  I enjoyed studying them all (except poetry) but prose and writing for the screen stuck out to me the most.
I’m a multiple genre writer and reader.  As Kateri Stanley, I write horror, supernatural thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy.  I write crime thrillers and dramas and the occasional romance under another pseudonym. I may reveal the name in the future, who knows.
When I first started writing for practice as a kid, I wrote fan fiction in the form of short story novellas about TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  In my early 20’s, I wrote my first original short story called Hard Way Home and continued to pen shorts, you can find all of my original short stories on my website if you want to have a peep.
Kateri's work station
In my mid-to late 20’s, I discovered audio plays online and began to scribble my own ideas and then aspiring voice actors were bringing them to life.  During this time, I made the decision (while I was working and studying) to write my first novel, Forgive Me.
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?
KS   Before I had a durable place to concentrate, I wrote everywhere.  In my bed, on my phone on the train going to and from work, on my ipad, in my head, on a napkin in a coffee shop when I forgot my notepad.  After I moved in with my partner, I can finally write in a study/office!
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?
KS  I’d probably choose Tyrion Lannister from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice Series.  You might know it as the internationally acclaimed TV series called Game of Thrones.
Tyrion is an intelligent, brave and witty guy, he could tell me lots of things about what’s it like to live in Westeros and how he copes with all of the back stabbing and treachery and the hard work that comes with running a kingdom.  We’d spend the afternoon drinking and eating, it’d be fab!
And… Peter Dinklage (who plays Tyrion in the show) is pretty gorgeous too! :D 

about the author… Kateri Stanley is a British author who graduated from The Open University with a degree in Arts and Humanities and worked for the National Health Service for eight years. When she’s not writing stories, you can find her binge-watching films and TV shows, making tons of playlists for her writing projects and dabbling in the occasional video game. She currently resides in the West Midlands with her partner, they are hoping to be cat parents very soon.
about the book… A secret video tape.  A painful truth.  A quest for revenge.
Susan ‘Stripe’ McLachlan who is constantly hounded by eager documentarians for interview requests about the Night Scrawler murders.  One of the victims of the mysterious serial killer was a member of her own family, her father.
At the peak of her career, her services are sought by Isaac Payne who commissions her to write an article for his website.  Usually, her projects delve into more uncomfortable, questionable topics, but there’s a deep, almost hauntingly familiar pull about her new client that intrigues her.
As she learns more about Isaac, Stripe digs up fresh secrets about the murders, arousing her suspicions.  After an awkward confrontation, she wakes up in Isaac’s bed — with a chain around her ankle.
Isaac shows her harrowing footage on an old VHS tape.  The contents hits close to home…closer than Stripe ever imagined.  Now, she has to wrestle with her own moral compass and unpick the truth from the web of lies that turn into a crescendo where memories created from misery and suffering cannot be silenced.
Will Isaac ever lay the past to rest?  And how will Stripe cope with the revelations that challenge everything she has ever known?

You can follow Kateri on her Website on Facebook Twitter Instagram and on Goodreads 

You can get the book on Amazon and you can read more on Darkstroke Books