Interview with Author Ned Hayes

Sinful Folk II

A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.

In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children’s deaths.

Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.

Stephanie: Hello, Ned. Thank you for chatting with me today and I’d like to say what a profound premise for your story! First, tell me a little of the historical history of your story and what made you chose to write it. Was Mear a real person in history?

Ned: In the Middle Ages, women’s voices were commonly silenced, and most women were illiterate – so even if Mear was a real person, it would be highly unusual for us to know her, and to hear her voice! However, as far as I can tell, Mear (or Miriam) wasn’t a real person. However, in the novel SINFUL FOLK I used the possibility of her existence to fill many interesting gaps in real history – such as why Edward wanted to be buried in a different place, with a strange (untranslatable) inscription over his head, and other points of interest in history. Interestingly enough, as I wrote this book, I came to believe that perhaps Mear was real, after all – I kept hearing her voice so realistically in my head that I couldn’t help but think she was real.

Stephanie: There are many and I mean many turbulent times in England history that is much talked about by historians and authors who write historical fiction. What stands out to you the most about fourteenth century England?

Ned: I find the high Middle Ages to be endlessly fascinating. Barbara Tuchman called it a “Distant Mirror” to our own time – and I very much agree with this assessment. It was a time of radical change and societal upheaval (much as our own time has been). It was also a time when enough leisure existed that we could begin to complement big ideas and philosophical theories about the meaning of life. If you know medieval thinking well, you see echoes of that period everywhere, from the “hippy” abnegation of corporate life to the questions of the “Singularity.” Both of these ideas were very obvious in theological and cultural discussions in the medieval era, and when we study the past, we gain new insight into the present.

Stephanie: What is one of the dangers that the Villagers face while traveling hundreds of miles across England to seek/demand justice for their children’s death?

Ned: One danger that I thought might strike my readers as a surprising one was the danger that came from noble or wealthy travelers themselves. The lives of peasants were relatively worthless, and any high-born traveler could attack or kill them with impunity. The danger of being on the open road – for a peasant – was a great one: travel itself was perilous. I hope I was able to communicate this danger, and I think to many modern travelers this idea would be a new experience.

Stephanie: Tell me a little about Mear’s weaknesses and strengths. What is one of the challenges she faces?

Ned: Mear’s great challenge is facing her own worth and her own abilities, and claiming her own voice. The outside challenges she faces are actually no match for Mear when she fully claims her own power. But for so many years she has buried her true strength, that it is a bit of a struggle for her to realize that she can step forward again, and become the powerful woman she was destined to become.

One thing I’d like to mention is that some readers and reviewers have pointed out that they’ve found it a little unbelievable that a woman could live disguised as a man for years, without anyone noticing. What’s interesting about that is that these reviewers (often women) give men too much credit for observing people – as a man, I’d say that we often don’t notice what is right in front of our noses (my wife would agree with me). I’d also like to point out that there’s a LOT of historical precedence for women living quite successfully disguised as a man. In the U.S. alone, there are numerous examples of women successfully pulling off this feat of disguise for many, many years – sometimes helped by other women!

Here’s a short article listing some of the women (with pictures), as well as a top 10 list of women who have lived as men. It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon, and one that has allowed many women to make their own way in the world, over the centuries.

Stephanie: What was the inspiration for your story and how long did it take to write your book?

Ned: I originally read Chaucer in Middle English in graduate school, when I first read of this strange incident of people carrying the bodies of their children across England. I thus began writing the first chapters of this novel years ago, when I was much younger and before I had children. After I wrote the first draft, I put the novel on the shelf for nearly 15 years. Then, when I returned to the story, I found that I had a radically different perspective on the journey, and when I began to write the story from the point of view of a woman who had hidden herself for years, I found her voice just flowing through me.

Stephanie: In their Journey, what are some of the towns they travel through?

Ned: In the novel SINFUL FOLK, my group travels from a now-defunct medieval village named “Duns” (I found it on a map made in 1375), to the road that passes to the city of Lincoln, and then to a Cluniac monastery which was on the route towards London at that time. (I researched which institutions and monasteries they could have encountered, in order to find the right sect for them to know on their route.) My troupe then encounter a manor house, which I placed somewhere near Coventry, in Northampton. Following their escape down a river there, they came into the outer villages around Cambridge – and in fact, they see the university of Cambridge from their campsite. From Cambridge, they travel to London. For them, London is an immense place, but to our modern sensibility, it would have been seen as a muddy bedraggled little town – hardly a city from today’s perspective.

Stephanie: What do you like most about writing Historical Fiction?

Ned: I love the opportunity visit past places and cultures, and see the world through different eyes. I find the whole process of getting into another time to be endlessly fascinating. I feel that my humanity – and the humanity of my readers – is deepened and enriched by experiencing a very different time and place.

Stephanie: Do you have any rules you follow when writing in this genre?

Ned: As much as possible, I try to avoid making anything up from whole cloth or changing any history at all. Instead, what I try to do is weave my story through the threads of the existing history, and I try to have my story fill in the gaps in that real history. The historical fantasy writer Tim Powers has a name for this kind of work – he calls it “playing card tricks in the dark” – and I agree with his idea of not changing a single iota of the real history, but instead in trying to have your story weave naturally into the weft of the real historical narrative. I also try, as much as possible, to have my characters have a sensibility and a voice that is realistic to the time period and their station in life. I dislike historical fiction that does not actually show how people thought differently of their era at that time, compared to how we think of it now. One example in SINFUL FOLK is the fact that Mear, without question, accepts generally the Christian worldview, even though her background and training would today find that worldview antithetic to her heritage (when you read the novel, you’ll see exactly what I mean). Few people questioned that worldview, and if you did question it, you were killed.

Stephanie: Are you working on another Historical Fiction story? Will it take place around the same time period as this story?

Ned: Yes, I’m actually working on two books right now. One is called GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHT, and it is a sequel to SINFUL FOLK, and follows up on the story of Mear a few years later, during the time of the Peasant’s Revolt in England. Mear is now on the other side of the table, as a noblewoman. But during this revolt, she has to go back into disguise, as a peasant, in order to protect her property and family. I won’t say anymore about this novel, so that I don’t spoil it for readers, but I’m quite excited about it. To get early notice about the publication date of GARDEN – and receive the first chapters for free, when they are available – you can sign up on my mailing list right here.

Stephanie: Thank you for chatting with me!

Buy the Book

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About the Author

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Ned Hayes is the author of the Amazon best-selling historical novel SINFUL FOLK. He is also the author of Coeur d’Alene Waters, a noir mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. He is now at work on a new novel, Garden of Earthly Delights, also set in the Middle Ages.

Ned Hayes is a candidate for an MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop, and holds graduate degrees in English and Theology from Western Washington University and Seattle University.

Born in China, he grew up bi-lingually, speaking both Mandarin and English. He now lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and two children.

For more information please visit www.sinfulfolk.com and www.nednotes.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestBooklikes, YouTube, Google+, and Goodreads.

Sinful Folk Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20 Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, October 21 Review at Historical Novel Review

Wednesday, October 22 Spotlight at What is That Book About Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 23 Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective Guest Post at Books and Benches

Monday, October 27 Review at Just One More Chapter Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, October 28 Interview at Layered Pages

Wednesday, October 29 Review at Back Porchervations

Thursday, October 30 Interview at Back Porchervations

Friday, October 31 Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, November 3 Interview at Triclinium Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, November 4 Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 5 Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Thursday, November 6 Review at bookramblings

Saturday, November 8 Review at Book Nerd

Monday, November 10 Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, November 11 Review at Impressions in Ink Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, November 14 Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, November 18 Review at CelticLady’s Reviews Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 19 Review at Books in the Burbs Review at Bookworm Babblings

Thursday, November 20 Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, November 21 Review at Library Educated

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Sunday’s Book Highlight

When the Clock Stopped

The wild and haunting Romney Marsh in the South of England

It’s the beginning of a long hot summer when Hazel Dawkins, a spirited young solicitor, takes maternity leave anticipating a period of tranquillity. Instead, the dreams begin. In them she encounters Annie, a passionate young woman whose romantic and tempestuous life was adventurously lived, more than two centuries previously, in the cottage that Hazel now occupies.

As their destinies entwine, Hazel not only confronts a terrifying challenge which parallels history, she finds herself desperately fighting for survival in a cruel and unforgiving age. Even more disturbing is the realisation that her battle will affect the future for those in the past whose fate is, as yet, unwritten.

Her only ally is Annie. Together they face events that echo through the centuries, events that are as violent and compelling as they are unexpected.

And, as the past collides with the present, the time for the birth of Hazel’s child draws ever nearer.

 

About Author:

Marion Beaton

Marion Eaton is a retired Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Judicature of England and Wales, a holistic health practitioner, and a writer. She is also a wife, the mother of two independent daughters, a keen gardener and maker of herbal and aromatherapy potions, and the owner and walker of a beautiful Saluki dog.

At the time Marion entered the legal profession in the early 1970s, it was still very much a male preserve, and she soon discovered that the doors too many clubs and associations were barred to her by virtue of her sex. This was a time when the Cold War was much in evidence and the fear of nuclear conflict was very real, but it was also a time when a young woman found warmth, friendship and laughter in a small community that was inordinately proud of its heritage.

40 years on, by way of acquisitions and mergers, the practice she originally set up on Romney Marsh has become a very large and flourishing concern, but has lost much of the personal element in which she took great pride.

In the early 1990’s Marion’s interest in complementary health led her to qualify in several alternative and complementary healing modalities including aromatherapy and Reiki, and to set up a Health Centre in Hastings, East Sussex. The Centre was sold in 2008 when Marion planned to retire but she found retirement impossible and still practises and teaches these subjects.

Having always wanted to write, she is delighted that she now has the space and freedom to give her imagination free range. Her first novel, When the Clocks Stopped, was self-published in July 2013 and was quickly followed by a second in the same Mysterious Marsh Series, entitled ‘When the Tide Turned’. Both include a good deal of local history, a sprinkling of the supernatural and a rollicking adventure. She has recently published ‘Soliciting from Home’, a memoir on which ‘When the Clocks Stopped’ was based, under the pseudonym Melanie Russell. And her most recent offering is a fictional memoir of a small girl in 1950s India entitled “The Elephants’ Choice’. In the pipeline now is a third in the Mysterious Marsh Series and an adventure set in colonial Burma between the two World Wars.

Links: website

My book on indieBRAG

 

 

Review: The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones

The Sharp Hook of Love-large

The first retelling of the passionate, twelfth-century love story since the discovery of 113 lost love letters between Heloise d’Argenteuil and Pierre Abelard—the original Romeo and Juliet. He was the most famous philosopher in the world, a headmaster and a poet whose dashing good looks would make any woman swoon. She was Paris’s most brilliant young scholar, beautiful and wry, and his student. Forbidden by the church and society to love each other, these enchanting lovers defied all the rules to follow their own hearts and risk everything that mattered to them, including each other. An illicit child, a secret marriage, a vengeful uncle: nothing can come between them—until a vicious attack tears them apart forever…or does it? Incorporating original text from their achingly beautiful love letters, this is the tale of Heloise and Abelard, whose love affair, like that of Romeo and Juliet, and Antony and Cleopatra, has become one of the greatest stories of all time. The Sharp Hook of Love is an imaginative, intimate, and erotic portrayal of the star-crossed lovers whose tale of passion and tragedy still touches hearts today.

My review:

I have been dreading writing this review with a passion for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because I’ve been fretting over…I’m just going to say it. I enjoyed Jones tragic love story of Heloise and Abelard in The Sharp Hook of Love better than Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet. *cringes and ducks head, waiting for the Shakespeare enthusiasts to bring down the ax on me* Now don’t get me wrong! I love Shakespeare’s work. The second reason why I have dreaded writing this review is because I feel my review won’t do this book justice. Sherry Jones has put her whole heart and soul in to this story. I heard about this book being written last year and I could hardly contain my excitement. I’m extremely particular about love stories. I normally don’t read them but when it’s historical fiction… I’m all for it and Jones doesn’t disappoint.

Jones does an impeccable job with the historical detail of the two lovers and their plight. A week after I read her book, I was at a county book sale and came upon, French Lovers (From Heloise & Abelard to Beauvoir & Saptre by Joseph Barry. Boy, was I delighted to come across this book! How often does that happen?! Needless to say… I devoured it in two days and from what I read from it and from having read Jones’s story-I knew what she had written was golden.

Jones has the ability and a magic touch for bringing voices of the past alive again. My emotions ran high while reading this story and they still do when I think about Heloise & Abelard and more so what she sacrificed for her love of him. Heart-wrenching, indeed. Beautifully and brilliantly told.

Stephanie Moore Hopkins

Review: The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

The Night Garden

Nestled in the bucolic town of Green Valley in upstate New York, the Pennywort farm appears ordinary, yet at its center lies something remarkable: a wild maze of colorful gardens that reaches beyond the imagination. Local legend says that a visitor can gain answers to life’s most difficult problems simply by walking through its lush corridors.

Yet the labyrinth has never helped Olivia Pennywort, the garden’s beautiful and enigmatic caretaker. She has spent her entire life on her family’s land, harboring a secret that forces her to keep everyone at arm’s length. But when her childhood best friend, Sam Van Winkle, returns to the valley, Olivia begins to question her safe, isolated world and wonders if she at last has the courage to let someone in. As she and Sam reconnect, Olivia faces a difficult question: Is the garden maze that she has nurtured all of her life a safe haven or a prison?

Review:

The Night Garden is completely different from what I normally read. I was captivated by the idea of a maze and gardens nestled on a farm in a small town as center stage for a story. The story is much more than that of course….Olivia Pennywort the caretaker of this farm is such a complex character. Sometimes I felt like I wanted to throttle her but could understand a little why she was the way she is. Not only was she complex but the story itself is. I loved the magical mystery of it and the theme of forgiveness. On top of that this is a sweet love story. This story is creative and has a fairy tale feel to it. On one more note, I will say that towards the end the book fell flat for me and I was a bit disappointed. But having said this, overall I really enjoyed reading it.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Interview with Author Lorna Fergusson

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Born and brought up in the north of Scotland, Lorna Fergusson studied English at Aberdeen and Oxford Universities. She now runs Fictionfire Literary Consultancy. In addition to her own workshops, she teaches creative writing at the University of Winchester’s Writers’ Festival and for various Oxford University writing programmes. Her novel The Chase was originally published by Bloomsbury and is now published under her own imprint, Fictionfire Press. Her stories have won an Ian St James Award, been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and long listed for the Fish Short Story Prize. Her unpublished children’s novel Hinterland reached the shortlist of four for Pan Macmillan’s Write Now prize. Her chapter on Pre-Writing appears in Studying Creative Writing, in the Creative Writing Series published by The Professional and Higher Partnership. Her story ‘Reputation’, longlisted in the Historical Novel Society’s short story award 2012, appears in the e-anthology TheBeggar at the Gate. She is working on a collection of historical short stories and a novel, the opening of which has recently won Words with Jam magazine’s First Page Competition. She has just won the Historical Novel Society’s London 2014 Conference Short Story Award with her story ‘Salt’.

Stephanie: I am so delighted to be interviewing Author Lorna Fergusson about her book, The Chase.

Hello, Lorna! It is truly a pleasure to be chatting with you today.

Lorna: Thanks Stephanie! I’m delighted to be here – thank you so much for inviting me.

Stephanie: Congratulations on the HNS Short Story Award. That is absolutely wonderful! Before we officially start this interview about your book, The Chase, could you tell me a little about ‘Salt’?

Lorna: I come from the north of Scotland and the story is inspired by memories of my grandmother, who was a ‘herring lassie’ at the time when the herring trade was huge. The fish were known as ‘the silver darlings’. The men went out to sea and the women followed the fishing fleet to gut the catch and pack it in barrels. Incredibly hard work and not in the least bit glamorous! My grandmother was working in Great Yarmouth, on the east coast of England, at the start of World War 1 and something she said about that experience when I was a little girl is what triggered the story.

Stephanie: How wonderful to have such amazing memories and to share them. I would love to hear more about your grandmother sometime…

Your story, The Chase, sounds amazing! I love stories like this and I have lots of questions and I MUST read your story soon. Please tell your audience a little about it and what genre it falls under.

Lorna: The story is about an English couple, Netty and Gerald Feldwick, who move to the Dordogne region of France. Gerald has fallen in love with a house there, deep in the woods near the village of Malignac. Netty is less happy about the move and is soon oppressed by the house, which is imbued with an almost supernatural sense of the past. We learn that their real reason for leaving England is to try to escape memories of a traumatic loss. They need to heal their marriage.

In France, they meet a range of characters, some English like themselves, some French, including the wealthy owner of a nearby château and a local wine farmer. Netty becomes friendly with a Cambridge professor who has retired to a cottage nearby. Gerald returns temporarily to England – and while he’s there he does something that will only add to Netty’s pain.

As the shadows close in and Netty learns the truth about her husband, her state of long-suffering passivity is about to change …

As for genre, well, that’s always been a tricky question to answer! It’s ‘literary fiction’, I suppose, though that can be an off-putting description. It has thriller, suspense and mystery aspects, along with satire of the English expatriate community and the social class system. The Chase has been compared to Daphne du Maurier – who famously wrote Rebecca – because the atmosphere of place and the sinister brooding quality is there, and also to Joanne Harris, who wrote Chocolat, because of the descriptions of the sensory pleasure of living in France. It’s Chocolat, with a darker bite!

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Stephanie: Why did you choose the Dordogne region of south western France in 1989 for your period and setting? And please tell me, if it won’t give anything away, how the past is revealed to Gerald Feldwick and his wife Netty?

Lorna: I chose the Dordogne region because for several years my husband and I part-owned a house there. Le Périer stood on a hillside overlooking a vineyard – that’s the view I had when I flung open the shutters and sat at my desk to write! We grew to know the area very well, and I was fascinated by the rich layers of history all around, from prehistoric caves to Roman ruins, to medieval castles. Our house had an old bread oven built into the back wall of the kitchen and we were told the German soldiers used to get their bread there during the occupation of the region in World War II. I wanted to celebrate the richness of the location from its natural beauties to the pleasures of its food and drink. 1989 was a time when even more English people than usual were choosing to have holiday homes there or even move out there permanently, so there were villages which were like little England. The English and French have had a long-term relationship in that part of France, going back to the Middle Ages. There are castles there which changed hands repeatedly during the Hundred Years’ War.

In the novel, it’s Netty who is more sensitive to the echoes of the past, when she converses with the Professor or visits Claudine Bellenger, the châtelaine of Bel Arbre. She senses the dark memories of Le Sanglier – is almost haunted by them, you might say …

Stephanie: What is an example of the house’s history they live in and how old is the house?

Lorna: Le Sanglier, we learn, was built as a hunting lodge just prior to the French Revolution, by the Comte de Saint Eymet – and he got up to fairly nefarious activities there. What Netty and Gerald don’t know is that the location has been the site of dramatic events for centuries. The novel opens with the caves beneath it being painted with images of the animals of the hunt, like the famous cave at Lascaux. Only the reader knows those caves are there.

Stephanie: The past covers a pretty wide range of history from the Roman period, through the Hundred Years’ War, the French Revolution period, to the early nineteenth century and the Second World War. Was there extensive research involved for you to cover these periods? Or were some of them mentioned briefly in your story? And what is one of the ways the past affects the people living on the land in the modern period of your story?

Lorna: I did quite a lot of research, especially on the Roman aspect and the French Revolution, partly by reading, partly by visiting places such as the Roman Tour de Vésone in Périgueux and the museum there. Each of these periods features as an inset narrative, a self-contained short story – but I enjoyed relating those periods to the modern era by showing the ruin of a Roman temple, the descendants of a character featured in the Revolutionary period – and even the consequences of what happens in the World War II episode. I wanted to show that everything is connected and everything repeats itself.

Stephanie: Please describe Gerald and Netty’s relationship. And what are their strengths and weaknesses?

Lorna: Their relationship is in serious trouble, even though they’ve loved one another for a long time. I wanted to explore the effects of trauma – how individuals deal with loss, plus the paradox that grief can tear people apart rather than bring them together. Netty and Gerald have very different ways of handling their situation. Gerald is a doer and a talker – he has energy and drive but is self-pitying and lacks dignity, Netty feels. Netty is buttoned-up and passive – but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. She has a lot of anger brewing. She is also sensitive and creative; during the course of the story she learns a lot about who she really is – and she doesn’t always like that person.

Stephanie: Could you give an example of what their relationship is like with their children?

Lorna: I don’t want to go into too much detail, but alienation and secrets play their parts!

Stephanie: Please introduce me to Professor Rutherford Appleby. What is he a professor of and what is his role in the story? And does he know the history of the land?

Lorna: Professor Rutherford Appleby is genial and sensible and he understands Netty better than her husband does. He’s a kind of wise old uncle figure – but Netty has to learn he isn’t perfect either. He’s a Professor of Comparative Mythology and understands not only the history of place but the history of beliefs about place. He’s particularly expert in the Gallo-Roman history of that part of France and has chosen to retire there because he knows it so well.

Stephanie: In my questionnaire to you, you told me beautifully how you came to write your story and I absolutely love what you said. Could you please tell your audience what that is?

Lorna: The Chase is, first of all, an expression of love for France and for a special time in my life. The story came to me out there, via a vision of its ending. I started to explore what would bring the characters I visualised to such a pass, and the whole novel developed from there. I incorporated images of hunting and of tapestry to illustrate the tension between death and life, between destruction and creation. I focussed on how hard it is for people who love each other to handle loss – how people cope, or don’t cope, in different ways. My characters question the very notion of a benign order to the world and they demonstrate that even when you try to escape your past, the past is always with you.

Stephanie: Who are your influences? And what are you currently reading?

Lorna: My influences are probably too many to mention! I love writers who create a sense of place, definitely. I studied English Literature and specialised in Medieval English, so have an affinity with that, which meant I loved writing the Hundred Years’ War vignette in The Chase! Currently I’m reading an excellent non-fiction work, Philip Marsden’s Rising Ground, which is about the search for the spirit of place and why places are so important to us and have been throughout history. He lives in Cornwall and describes it so well – and Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the world.

Stephanie: How much time do you spend writing and where in your home do you like to write?

Lorna: I write in my study upstairs, which is a lovely room fast disappearing behind ramparts of books and piles of paper! It’s painted ivory white and a Greek island blue, which I find both restful and stimulating. As for time, well, there’s never enough. I run a literary consultancy so spend much of my time thinking about, editing and responding to other people’s fiction! When I do write, it tends to be in the middle of the night, because I’m quite an owl. It’s usually past 3 a.m. before I go to bed.

Stephanie: How has writing played an important role in your life?

Lorna: Writing is central – it’s central to my sense of who I am and what I’m here for. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer and even when I’m not being productive, I think like a writer – I notice things, formulate things in my head, jot notes and phrases on scraps of paper which then get lost, and wonder ‘What if …?’ all the time!

Stephanie: Thank you, Lorna! Your story sounds absolutely wonderful and I look forward to reading it soon!

Reviews:

‘Lorna Fergusson weaves a vivid but dark tale set in the beautiful Dordogne, where past and present fuse in a page-turning mystery. I could go back to this again and again.’ Alison Weir, novelist and historian

‘Superbly written, ambitious in scope, morally complex, emotionally challenging, this is a real page-turner.’ Linda Gillard

‘Steeped in the atmosphere, history and excitement of France … It is definitely the sort of book that is difficult to put down.’ Living France magazine

‘Lorna Fergusson has a natural gift for telling a story – think of Daphne du Maurier.’ Scotsman newspaper

The Chase is available as a paperback and an ebook and also on Kobo

Fictionfire Literary Consultancy

Fictionfire Press

Lorna’s blog, Literascribe

YouTube

Facebook and Facebook Fictionfire-Inspiration-for-Writers

Twitter: @LornaFergusson

 

 

 

 

 

City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

Sarah Kennedy's Book Cover

Expected publication: October 14th 2014 by Knox Robinson Publishing

Catherine Havens has found herself in a unique position as a married former nun.  She seems to have beaten all of the odds against her and now has possession of the home lost by her mother’s family.  She has a husband and two children, a boy to inherit the property and an infant daughter.  But her husband’s aspirations run to the court, and he determines to get his wife a place with the king’s cast-off daughters.  The younger, Protestant Elizabeth is his target, and to have Catherine in service to her seems to be the realization of his dreams.

But Mary Tudor is still alive and well—and her submission to her father remains a question.  Her presence does not jeopardize Catherine—until she appears at Hatfield House and claims the loyalty to the Roman Catholic faith that still pulls at Catherine’s heart.

Catherine Havens still loves learning.  She loves reading and healing.  She loves her husband and her children.  But she also still loves her old faith, which is now embodied in the person of the king’s older daughter.

What choice does she have—to defy her husband and lose her children and her home?  Or defy the king’s daughter and lose her true self?”

Sarah Kennedy

Sarah Kennedy is the author of The Cross and the Crown series from Knox Robinson Publishers. She has published seven books of poems and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, and a Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship.

Sarah Kennedy

 

Sunday’s Book Highlight

Fernandez front cover final

Little Angelina always dreamt about adventures in a faraway land. What she never imagined was that those dreams would take her to the past… her past.

After being inexplicably removed from her family in a small fishing town in Argentina, six year-old Angelina is sent to a Catholic convent, where she spends her next twelve years. During her lonely days at the convent, she finds solace in the company of a mysterious presence, by the name of Sarah Fernandez, which gradually reels her into the life of a marrano family living at the end of the Fifteenth Century in Cordoba, Spain. As Angelina embeds herself in the life of the Fernandez family, she understands that the presence is not a product of her imagination. Rather, Sara is the link to her secret past and her only hope for survival. Set amid the notorious Spanish Inquisition and the murderous Dirty War in Argentina of the late 1970s, two women, more than four centuries apart, transcend the barriers of time and fight political and religious persecution to ensure the survival of their lineage. The Last Fernandez is a story about courage, passionate love, unspeakable betrayal, and hope.

Sandra P Gluschanoff

I was born and raised in Argentina. A descendant of immigrants from several corners of the globe, different languages, colors and food were my every day. So, was silence and fear as my childhood happened during the years of the dirty war, the military regime. While my academic background is in psychoanalysis (a Freudian girl, gotta love the divan!), anthropology, Judaic studies, and Hebrew language teaching, my interest turned to writing. Through the years I have written a number of screenplays, I have served as a Judge for the Brass Brad Screenwriting Mentorship Award and in 2012 I was honored to be part of the judging panel for the University of California Santa Barbara Student Screenwriting Competition.

Before writing my first novel The Last Fernandez, I kept busy as a freelance writer and script consultant.

Website

Book available through:

Every online book seller.

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My Guest Author Valerie Willman

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Valerie Willman is the author of Smell the Blue Sky: young, pregnant, and widowed, winner of the B.R.A.G. Medallion for Top Indie-Published Books. She co-chairs the Mid-Valley Chapter of Willamette Writers and teaches various workshops on writing, and on grief, such as “Booze and Chocolate Aren’t the Only Ways to Cope: Turning negative emotions into art.” She’s a successful freelance editor through her company, Yellow Pen Editing, and is also a certified bereavement facilitator, and licensed massage therapist.

Valerie has served in the United States Army, owns land in Costa Rica, and lives with three big dogs, two kids, and one Turk. She’s walked the length of two marathons—on purpose—and loves olives, chai, and chocolate.

You can find more about Valerie on her website and on Facebook

Why do you write?

I’ve answered this question to others, and to myself, many times throughout the years, and the answer actually seems to change each time it’s asked. I think this is probably because, while all the answers are true, I am more aligned with that reason at that particular time.

For instance, today the reason I write is because it’s a way to both experience life and to express that experience to others. All of the other jobs I do, or did in the past, are about service to others. And writing still is that for me. I write for others. To educate them. To inspire them. To make them laugh. To remind them that there are others out there in the wide, wide world that think and breathe like they do. To banish loneliness. To instill connectivity.

How has writing impacted your life?

It’s given me more confidence, which ironically is not true while I’m actually doing the writing. While I’m writing I’m wondering if how I’m saying what I’m saying is accurately and effectively getting what is inside of me out onto the page, and mostly believing that I’m failing at that. But then once it’s finished and published, I can say, “Hey, look what I did!” and it feels pretty neat. Also, having published works allows me to do that service thing I talked about—using a book to work from when I teach a class, or to read from during a public speaking gig.

Smell the blue sky

What advice would you give beginning writers?

If fiction is your thing, I honestly recommend participating in Nanowrimo. It taught me once and for all that I do have time to write every day, and that my inner-critic/editor can go bleep himself. Writing fast and hard effectively turns off that voice that says you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re writing a memoir, you can—and are expected to—compress time. This isn’t an autobiography of your whole life, just a snapshot of it that has a beginning, middle, and end that asks a dramatic story question.

If you are writing non-fiction, ask yourself, “How can/will this help my audience?” It’ll guide you to a better Table of Contents.

The more general advice is to have fun, read a lot, and go to writing conferences! Also, find yourself some rituals that can get you quickly into the game (i.e. writing your book/essay/blogpost) each day.

One last thing: mentors are great. You can connect to writers through Skype, social media, email, or old-fashioned snail mail. Or maybe you live in a city that is rich with authors you can have a cup of coffee with. If that sounds terrifying to you (as lots of writers are introverts), there are podcasts and websites everywhere that can “mentor” you just fine. One of my favorites is The Creative Penn.

Spotlight: Misdirection by Austin Williams

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Publication Date: June 22, 2014 Diversion Books Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction Series: The Rusty Diamond Trilogy (Book One)

A street magician needs more than sleight-of-hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.

After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord’s brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he’s been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he’s been desperately trying to escape.

Austin Williams creates an unforgettable protagonist in Rusty, a flawed but relatable master of illusion in very real danger. As the suspense builds to an explosively orchestrated climax, Williams paints a riveting portrait of both a city—and a man—on the edge.

Buy the Book

Amazon USBarnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

About the Author

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The new thriller by Austin Williams, Misdirection, is now available from Diversion Books. It is the first novel of The Rusty Diamond Trilogy. Williams is the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip. He lives in Los Angeles.

Follow Austin Williams on Twitter and Goodreads.

Misdirection Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 22 Review at The Bookworm

Tuesday, September 23 Review at Sitting in the Stacks

Wednesday, September 24 Spotlight at Tales of a Book Addict

Thursday, September 25 Review at Reading Room Book Reviews

Monday, September 29 Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, September 30 Review at The Librarian Fatale

Wednesday, October 1 Review at Any Good Book Review & Giveaway at The Crime Scene

Tuesday, October 2 Review at The Discerning Reader

Friday, October 3 Interview at Any Good Book

Monday, October 6 Review at Me and My Books Review & Interview at Back Porchervations

Tuesday, October 7 Spotlight at Layered Pages

Wednesday, October 8 Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, October 9 Review at Boom Baby Reviews Review & Interview at A Cup Of Tea & A Big Book

Monday, October 13 Review & Giveaway at Book Reviews & More by Kathy

Tuesday, October 14 Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, October 15 Review at Book Nerd

Friday, October 17 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views Review at Beth’s Book Reviews

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The French Executioner by C.C. Humphreys

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About the Book: The year is 1536, and notorious French executioner Jean Rombaud is brought in by Henry VIII to behead Anne Boleyn, the condemned Queen of England. But on the eve of her execution, Rombaud becomes enchanted with the ill-fated queen and swears a vow to her: to bury her six-fingered hand, a symbol of her rumored witchery, at a sacred crossroads.

Yet in a Europe ravaged by religious war, the hand of this infamous Protestant icon is so powerful a relic that many will kill for it. Bloodthirsty warriors, corrupt church fathers, Vikings, alchemists, and sullied noblemen alike vie for the prize as Rombaud, a man loyal to the grave, struggles to honor his promise.

From sea battles to lusty liaisons, from the hallucinations of St. Anthony’s fire to the fortress of an apocalyptic messiah, The French Executioner sweeps readers into a breathtaking story of courage, the pursuit of power, and loyalty at whatever cost.

What was the most surprising thing you discovered in your research for the novel?

This is a good question.

The French Executioner was my very first novel. Thus I had no real idea how to write one and assumed that one needed to know absolutely everything about a book before you began to write it. (I have since discovered that such obsessive research can be a form of procrastination and now only read for about three months, trusting that the novel and especially the characters will teach me what I need to study as I go along!) Also, I didn’t believe that I would ever truly summon the will (and courage) to actually start. So I spent a lot of time in second hand bookstores scanning shelves, thinking: If I ever do write that book about Anne Boleyn’s Executioner – which I probably never will – but if I do I will put everything into it I want to write about! Ooh, look at this book about slave galleys. I’d want a battle with them. Ooh, here’s one on the Black Mass. That’s definitely in!

So, in the six ears between having the idea for the novel (Anne Boleyn begs her executioner to take her six fingered hand when he takes her head and get rid of it. What happened next) and beginning to write it, I acquired a large library of books I read on various subjects.

The most surprising thing? It was a book about St. Antony’s Fire. This was the mass hallucination that would take villages when the villagers ate bread made from rye, that had been infected by the grain disease ergot – later to be synthesized into LSD. The poor people would eat the bread, and anyone who did would start having terrible contractions and massive hallucinations a few hours later. They would not know what it really was so assumed the Devil had come to take them to his fires. There are reports from all over Europe but the disease began to disappear with better crop techniques in the 18th century. However there was one outbreak in 1952 in a village in France. I bought that book, read it, shuddered – a lot of people died – then used it in my novel, as some of my characters get caught up in the Fire.

Horrible – but very colorful. My main villain is the Archbishop of Siena – a corrupt, decadent, highly educated killer. His hallucinations – full of Biblical and Satanic figures – were especially interesting to write!

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C.C. Humphreys is the author of eight historical novels. The French Executioner, which was his first novel and a runner-up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers award in 2002, has never before been published in the U.S. The sequel, The Curse of Anne Boleyn, will be published in the U.S. in May 2015.

Humphreys has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. He is also an accomplished swordsman and fight choreographer. For more information, visit http://cchumphreys.com/

Praise for The French Executioner

“Set against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, his superbloody Princess Bride-like adventure is, at its heart, a tale of redemption, well-earned and hard-won.” – Library Journal

“This unusual tale conjures visions of an Errol Flynn-type Hollywood swashbuckler…the tale’s well-told, engagingly written, and includes a colorful immersion into a time when life was cheap and danger or death literally waited around every corner. A gory but fascinating…look at the world in the early 16th century.” -Kirkus