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Interview with Oliver Tooley: Devon writer at work!

It’s interview time again!

Today I’m joined my Devon based writer, Olli Tooley. Why not grab a cuppa, take a seat for five minutes, and have a read?

coffee and cakeWhat inspired you to write your book?

The original inspiration was when my boys were looking round a cheesy gift shop on holiday. You know? The kind where you can buy gemstones and seashells, and crystal swans, and resin models of fairies with sparkly wings.

Each of my three boys had a favourite colour; blue, red, and green, respectively, and eventually we relented and bought them a little dragon each. It was so long ago now I can’t recall if I suggested it, or one of them did, but the idea was born to write a story featuring the three brothers. There was “a legend of a magical stone” which had been shattered by an ancient powerful wizard and the three parts had been scattered in different directions.
Each boy would fight a different coloured dragon to recover a different part of the stone. Red, green, and blue, would then be reunited to repair the magical stone and save the blah-de-blah-de-blah, it was AWFUL. It still gives me goosebumps just thinking about how cheesy it would have been.

It sat in a computer file for years untouched while I worked on other ideas.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

Well naturally, the original basis for the main three boys in the book were my three sons. Their sister was based on my younger daughter, who was tiny when we bought those dragons.  
Their father was based on me, but all of them have developed differently, for example my counterpart is as hard as nails; while I am a complete wimp.

Almost every character I write has elements of real people, but none of them are closely based on any one person. Of course a few are real people from history, and for those, I need to be careful not to ignore known facts.  children-of-wise-oak

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I research to a ridiculous degree but I regret, I am not in the luxurious position of being able to fly off to Rome, or join an archaeological dig, to get first-hand knowledge. I have managed to go to Celtic re-enactment days, and did visit Pompeii once so It’s not all armchair knowledge. I spend a lot of time on the internet, using everything from Wikipedia to expert forums, as well as reading specific books that promise to give me more details. Some of the books I have read are insanely expensive, but my local library is a lifesaver for this.

I am a bit of a dilettante with a passing interest in all sorts of subjects including; comparative linguistics, history, folklore, politics, human relationships, and more. Even when I know broadly what I am writing about, I constantly check the precise details to ansure I don’t get a fact wrong.

The hardest thing for me, writing fiction set in a real historical setting, is knowing when I can allow my imagination to take over. For example, I wrote a passage in which a Celtic warrior stabbed a sword through the walls of a roundhouse into the back of a man outside. It was only a few months after publication that I met up with the Dumnonika reenactment group and was shown an authentic reproduction Celtic sword. The demonstrator explained how Celtic swords were always rounded off and could only be used for slashing. Spears were used for stabbing and thrusting. As a writer, I feel like I want to burn every copy of the book that retains the mistake, but most are in the hands of satisfied readers and who knows, perhaps one day they will be worth money?

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

Would it shock you to know that I have never really thought about this properly?

Now I think about it, I believe I usually write from the point of view of a camera. I certainly know that, despite the microscopic chances of it ever happening, I tend to visualise the film or TV version of a scene as I write. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to dream?
Recently, I have been writing a story in the first person. That is because it is based on a real memoir of a Victorian lady.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I am definitely a “pantser” but there is always a skeleton of a plot that guides my writing. Currently, I am constrained by historical events as the redoubtable and slightly sardonic Gwenn, attempts to follow the early life of Gaius Julius Caesar. He has to go to Bythnia to secure a fleet from Nicomedes, and he has to be captured by pirates in the Aegean. All I have to do is write a plausible narrative as to why and how Gwenn goes with him. “All I have to do!”

What is your writing regime?

Hang on, “regime”? I’m just looking it up….

Oh, no. I don’t have one of those. Most days I will write two or three thousand words. More if somebody is being really stupid on Facebook. On a good day, more than half of those words will end up in my book. On a bad day they will all be on social media.

Sometimes I wake up at three in the morning with an idea that won’t wait. Other times, I will be writing at sic in the evening and not stop until well after midnight. Then I can go weeks stuck on a difficult part of the story. Fortunately, I also have other writing projects on the go. Sometimes I have two or three different stories open in Word and will dabble in all of them in the space of an hour or two.

What excites you the most about your book?

Umm, oh, err. Well, I’ve read it already, so I sort of know what happens now. I get more excited about other author’s books. Loving the Ruso series by Ruth Downie, and just getting into Troy by Ben Blake. But there are loads of fantastic books, I could go on to write a ridiculously long list.

If I had to pick something that really pleased me about my own book, I’d say the cover art by Iver Klingenberg, the cover design by Andy Jones, and the proof reading by Sarah Dawes. (Ha ha! Modest or what?) All local Devon and Somerset people. The printers are in Exeter as well, so yes, the very strong local team effort to produce it, is a big deal for me.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Captain Carrot Ironfoundsperson – for his indefatigable good humour and strength of character.

Leonardo Da Quirm – for his inventive genius.

Rincewind – because if he’s with me, at least I will know which way to run to avoid death

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

My little publishing imprint Blue Poppy Publishing is interested in teaming up with other self-publishing authors to try and create a sort of local co-operative publisher.
There is no money yet, and so it only applies to self-publishers who see a benefit to them of being under the Blue Poppy umbrella.


I am also the author of four short books for junior school (middle grade) readers.


The Time Tunnel series features the adventures of David Johnson who stumbles across a series of holes which allow him to visit different periods of history. The first two; “Time Tunnel to Londinium” and “Londinium Revisited” obviously look at Roman Britain, “Time Tunnel at the Seaside” visits World War Two, and “Time Tunnel to West Leighton” covers the Anglo Saxons. All these aim to cover aspects of Key-Stage Two school history, while also being enjoyable stories.


More books are planned for the series, including “Time Tunnel to Ironbridge” which will look at Victorian England.





Oliver was born in London where he grew up next to a bombed out church.  At the time he never thought it odd that there was a world war two bomb site still there in 1965. He was usually described by teachers as brilliant but lazy, and they said he would forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on. After attempting to unscrew his own head, he decided that most teachers were stupid but bigger than him. It was long after leaving school that he found out he had undiagnosed mild autism.

He had always hated writing at school because he found holding a pen for longer than the time it took to write “Happy birthday, from Olli” was painful. In addition, he would almost invariably lose any homework before being able to submit it.

The advent of modern computers was a turning point; allowing him to write at length and not lose documents. His first ever paid writing job was a contribution to “The Great Explorers” Robin Hanbury-Tenison (Thames and Hudson) 978-0500251690

He now lives in Devon with his wife, four offspring, and a demented spaniel.


Thanks for a great interview Olli – love the Terry Pratchett choices for your desert island!

Happy reading,



Interview with Heidi-Jo Swain

It’s interview time again, and I’m delighted to welcome Heidi Swain into my coffee and cake space today. Why not put your feet up for five minutes, and join us for a cuppa and a chat!

coffee and cake

Hello Jenny, thank you so much for inviting me to feature on your blog this week. I’m delighted to be able to join you and finally share some news I have been sitting on for quite some time!

What inspired you to write your book?

I have wanted to write a book set around a farm for as long as I have been writing novels so when my wonderful editor, Clare Hey, said those magical words ‘we’d like to offer you a two book deal’, I knew exactly what that second book was going to be about.

I have such fond memories of growing up in the countryside, harvesting crops for my grandad and then as an adult raising chickens and growing vegetables of our own whilst enjoying the ever changing seasons.

I knew it would be wonderful to be able to write about those experiences and hopefully, if they hadn’t really thought about it before, help make people aware of how they could get out there and forge a connection with the countryside around them.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I always write in first person although my planning is in third. I never made a conscious decision to write from the point of view of my main protagonist but I love climbing right inside the story and living and breathing whatever it is the main character happens to be going through, good or bad.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I like to have the book plotted out to a certain degree. I make organised notes which form the basic ‘story skeleton’ but it is when I actually start writing that the book takes shape and develops a life of its own. There is always plenty to add and I never try to twist and manipulate the characters to fit in with my original ideas. There would be no point because they would only refuse to cooperate until I let them have their own way!

Cherry tree cafe green cover

What is your writing regime?

I’m pretty strict when it comes to my protecting my writing time, especially if I’m buried in the frantic scribbling and total absorption that comes with writing the first draft.

On ‘day job’ days I will get up an hour early to ensure I can write for at least forty minutes before leaving the house and then I will write again during my lunch break in my car and then type up what I have written in longhand during the evening.

Designated writing days are spent pretty much chained to the keyboard. Head down, words (hopefully) flowing with no interruptions allowed.

Short story writing, blog posts and features are composed during the weekend as I can write them with a little more disruption happening around me.

Skylark Farm final cover

 What excites you the most about your book?

Summer at Skylark Farm is a novel I have long dreamt of writing. In fact, my first attempt at writing a novel was set around a farm, although now consigned to a memory stick and gathering dust. Skylark Farm has proved far more successful than that early effort and it really is a dream come true to read reviews and meet readers who tell me how much they have enjoyed it. It has always been my hope, with all of my books, that if I love the characters and the settings, then the readers will as well and so far so good!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I am absolutely delighted to be able to finally share the news that Summer at Skylark Farm is currently on sale in paperback format in Sainsbury’s stores up and down the country! This has been an absolutely wonderful surprise courtesy of my fabulous publishers and even more thrilling as both Skylark Farm and The Cherry Tree Café were originally going to be e-book publications only.





Amazon author page:

Heidi-Jo Swain


Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of Galaxy bars, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes contemporary fiction and enjoys the company of a whole host of feisty female characters.

She joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme in 2014 and is now a full member. The manuscript she submitted for critique, The Chery Tree Café, became her debut novel and was published by Books and The City, the digital imprint of Simon and Schuster in July 2015.

Her second novel, Summer at Skylark farm was published in June 2016 and her third, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market will be released in October. She is currently writing her fourth book which will be published during the summer of 2017.

She lives in Norfolk with her wonderful husband, son and daughter and a mischievous cat called Storm.


Many thanks for taking the time to chat with us today Heidi.

Good luck with your wonderful novels.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Interview with Shelley Wilson: Guardians

I’m delighted to welcome Shelley Wilson into the hot seat today- to talk vampires….Time to pop on the kettle and have a read…

Coffee blog- Full Bean Cafe Somerton- Hot Choc

Thank you so much for letting me invade your lovely blog, Jenny. I promise to behave myself.

What inspired you to write your book?

I write for two genres so have to call upon my split personality to find my inspiration. My personal development non-fiction books tend to come from real life events, issues, and my self-help motivational tools, whereas my young adult fantasy fiction comes from a deep desire to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

I’ve always loved mythology, the supernatural, and all fantasy subjects and have an insatiable thirst for young adult fiction. Although I’ve always wanted to write for this genre, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally published my first YA book. I’m a great believer in ‘if there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it!’ I think this was the driving force before my YA trilogy.

Having three teenagers under my roof is also a huge inspiration. If I can get them engaged in the writing process, then they will become more voracious readers – they are also very handy to have around when I get stuck on dialogue and have often told me ‘kids wouldn’t say that mum, try it this way.’


Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I think my characters are a blend of everyone I’ve ever met. The ‘bad guys’ tend to be the bullies that often linger in the recesses of your subconscious right through to adulthood. My main character in the Guardian Series, Amber, is how I wish I would have been at sixteen. She is much stronger and more opinionated than I ever was.

If my children say something that I think would be quite humorous in the book, I will ask them for permission to use it. I also asked one of my daughter’s friends if I could use her name for one of the characters in my current WIP – she was thrilled.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

In the Guardian Series, I opted for third person so I could capture the thoughts, emotions, and actions of a wider circle of characters. It ended up being the right thing to do as I needed the third person POV for a specific scene at the end of book three, Guardians of the Lost Lands.

The YA book I’m working on at the moment is written in the first person. I’ve found it quite easy to switch, which surprised me, as I’ve only ever written in third person. I sent the first three chapters off to my editor for a developmental edit as I was worried that I’d mess it up, but she loved it, so I’ve stuck with it – I’m delighted with the result.


Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

Plot, plot, and then plot some more! I used to go with the flow but ended up with hundreds of unfinished projects. It was as I prepared to take part in my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month whereby you pen a 50,000-word novel in 30 days), that I stumbled upon the art of plotting. It’s revolutionised my writing output. I couldn’t go back now.

What excites you the most about your book?

I would have to say the most exciting thing is how it evolved to become a trilogy. I never intended to write three books, but I became so immersed in the fantasy realms that additional ideas began to bubble up to the surface. As I got to the end of Guardians of the Dead (book 1), I began to picture another ‘big bad’, and the plot of a different story presented itself around the same characters. I had to keep going. The same happened when I wrote book two, Guardians of the Sky. I wrapped up this story but left a thread that led to the grand finale. It was the most fun I’ve had!

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

First off, I would have to say Dracula but only if we have enough shade, so he doesn’t burst into flames under the hot sun! I’d love to get to the truth of his origins and find out how he keeps his fangs clean.

Then, I’d choose J.K.Rowling so we could chat about magic, writing, and muggles for hours on end and be totally oblivious to the fact we are stranded.

Finally, we’d have Johnny Depp – not just because he’s gorgeous, but because he knows where the Rum is!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

 Guardians of the Lost Lands, book three in the Guardian Series is out on 11th November in eBook and paperback. Here are the blurbs for all three books in the series.

The Guardian Series by S.L. Wilson

Guardians of the Dead (Book 1)

One girl holds the key to an ancient pact that could destroy the world…

When sixteen-year-old Amber Noble’s dreams begin to weave into her reality, she turns to the mysterious Connor for help.  His links to the supernatural world uncover a chilling truth about her hometown and a pact that must be re-paid with blood.

As her father alienates her, and the Guardians take her best friend, her true destiny unfolds, and she begins a quest that will see her past collide with her present.

Drawn deeper into the world of witchcraft and faeries, it is only at the end of her journey that she realises how much she could lose.

Guardians of the Sky (Book 2)

Can one girl sacrifice herself to save the one she loves…

Following their daring escape from the demon realm, Amber and her friends become caught up in a war between good and evil.  They must join forces with the Queen’s warriors to overthrow a malevolent force that has spread across Avaveil, the land of the Fae.

As her powers grow, Amber is faced with the real possibility that she is a danger to the ones she loves.  Her full strength is yet to be tested in a way she can’t comprehend.

Dragons, faeries and humans stand side-by-side as they are drawn into a cunning battle of magic and surprising revelations.  Can Amber survive long enough to see her dreams fulfilled?

Guardians of the Lost Lands (Book 3)

Amber’s final quest could claim her soul, but it’s a journey she must make.

The evil that lurks in the Lost Lands threatens to infest the realms unless Amber, Redka, and Connor can destroy it. But Amber is more concerned about her father’s safety as he is held captive by the wickedness that terrorises them all.

Amber faces isolation and mistrust from her friends as they travel across land and sea to meet their most dangerous foe.

Will she be able to stay true to her destiny as the last Oracle, or will she be tempted by the darkness? The fate of the realms is in her hands.

Amber’s final quest will be her most terrifying yet. This time, it will be deadly.



My Website is

My Author/Reviewer Blog is



Amazon Author Account


Goodreads YA





My name is Shelley. I divide my writing time between non-fiction for adults and the fantasy worlds of my YA fiction.

My books combine lifestyle, motivation, and self-help with a healthy dose of humour. My approach to writing is to provide an uplifting insight into personal development and to help you be the best you can be.

I write my YA fiction under, ‘S.L. Wilson’ and combine myth, legend and fairy tales with a side order of demonic chaos.

I also write a motivation and lifestyle blog

I was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire but raised in Solihull, West Midlands, UK, where I live with my three teenagers, one fat fish and a black cat called Luna.

I was asked during an author interview to list my favourite things:

  • Pizza
  • List Writing (yes, it’s a thing)
  • Anything supernatural or mythological – especially Vampires!
  • Watching Game of Thrones/The Walking Dead/Vampire Diaries/Shadow Hunters
  • Johnny Depp!
  • Chocolate – in large quantities.


Many thanks Shelley. Fabulous interview.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Interview with Carol Cooper: Hampstead Fever

It’s interview time again, and today I’m pleased to have the lovely Carol Cooper dropping by for coffee and cake. Why not take five minutes to join us?

 coffee and cake

What inspired you to write your book?

I wanted to write the kind of novel that I enjoy reading myself, with a diverse cast of characters, each one complex and flawed, with problems and dreams that people can identify with. Chef Dan, for instance, is on the up, with a new job in a trendy Hampstead bistro. But his partner Laure is wrapped up in their young son and has no time for him. You can tell that’ll lead to trouble.

Do you model any of your characters on people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

In Hampstead Fever, as in my first novel, I’ve used my imagination to create the characters. But I’ve been inspired by real people, including the patients I look after in my other life as a doctor. I’d be lying if I said anything else. Writers can’t help being influenced by what’s around them, just like everyone one. It was a lightbulb moment when I learned that everything you ever see, hear, or experience creates new connections between brain cells. Basically, daily life subtly changes the anatomy of your brain. The only characters who are modelled on real people are Laure’s aunts, who are like my own great-aunts, two wonderful individuals who seemed to be crying out to be put in a book. They’re no longer with us, so they can’t read my book.

 Hampstead Fever FINAL EBOOK COVER

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I used the internet to look up details like bus routes to make sure characters are going home in the right direction, and I’ve checked which songs hit the charts when. That’s important for Sanjay, who loves music. I also hung around Hampstead village a lot, which is no hardship because I live nearby and it’s a lovely area. There’s a lot I didn’t need to look up, like the medical details that appear in part of the story. That’s stuff I knew already.

Which point of view do you prefer to write in, and why?

The third person, but it‘s a deep and intimate third person. Hampstead Fever evolves from each of the six main characters’ viewpoint, and each scene takes you right into the mind and heart of that one person. I think I write multi-viewpoint fiction because for most of my working life I’ve tried getting inside other people’s heads. As a GP, every ten minutes I see someone with a new story and a different perspective.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

A bit of both. I like to have the gist before I begin, but then the characters grow and take over, telling lies, jumping into bed with the wrong people, and generally getting into trouble that I hadn’t anticipated.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Rick Stein to supply me with fish and seafood dishes, Barack Obama for brilliant conversation, and hairdresser Nicky Clarke to make my hair look great.

Amazon link for Hampstead Fever


Carol has a Goodreads running for Hampstead Fever until 3rd Sept- check it out here-



Twitter @DrCarolCooper

Facebook page

There’s more about all my books on my Amazon author page

Carol Cooper

Bio: Carol is a journalist, author and doctor. She graduated in medicine from Cambridge University. To support her studies, she worked at supermarket checkouts, walked dogs, typed manuscripts in Russian, and made men’s trousers to measure.

After a string of non-fiction books, including an award-winning textbook, she turned to fiction with her debut novel One Night at the Jacaranda. She is president of the Guild of Health Writers and has three amazing grown-up sons. Like her fictional characters, she lives in Hampstead and Cambridge. Unlike them, she remarried in 2013. She likes a happy ending.


Thank you ever so much Carol. A fantastic interview!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Guest Post from Karl Drinkwater: Thinking Manchester in the year 2000…

I’m delighted to welcome Karl Drinkwater to my blog today to chat about his writing, and the influence the city of Manchester has had on his words. Why not put your feet up for five minutes and join us for a chat?

Karl Drinkwater

Hi Karl, where are you from?

I’m originally from Manchester. Therefore I grew up miserable. This gradually softened to a perpetual grumpiness and a desire to create a better world through fiction. I now live in Wales. It’s like Manchester with hills and greenery.

Manchester (1)

Which books did you want to talk about today?

Cold Fusion 2000, and 2000 Tunes. They were my most recent novels, both set in Manchester in the year 2000, shortly after I left for Wales. When you leave a place you see it in a different light, the good and the bad. And you see yourself in a different light too. A teeny bit of that will bleed between the covers.

Karl Drinkwater ColdWhat inspired you to write the books?

I think I was getting things out of my system with these books. They’re love letters to Manchester, its music, its city, whilst also being critical of some aspects. And they’re also more traditional love stories after a fashion, about nerds and difficult people being able to find love and happiness and contentment. Both books are set in the same summer with crossover places, themes, situations and characters that sometimes mirror each other.

Karl Drinkwater 2000 TunesWhat type of research did you have to do for your book?

Since both novels were set in a very real place I wanted to reflect that, and show how the geography of an area affects our perception of it. The difficulty was that the city centre had changed a lot in the last sixteen years. Many of the places in the novel have already been lost, renamed, altered or closed. 2000 Tunes opens outside The Haçienda, one of the world’s most famous nightclubs: just before it was demolished for luxury flats. I had to combine my memories of the city at the time with archival photos and discussions; my diaries were useful too. I built the city back up as it used to be and then let the characters breathe into that space.

There were also the elements related to the protagonist nerds. In Cold Fusion 2000 we have Alex, who is obsessed with with poetry … and hardcore physics. Luckily I’ve studied literature and astronomy at university, but I still had to learn more to fully get into his head. In 2000 Tunes Mark is obsessed with the music of Manchester. Again, it’s a love of mine, but the amount of detail I had to research so that I could draw parallels between songs based on dates, musicians, locations and so on as Mark does … that was a whole other level. Some of the research led to a series of blog posts all about the songs Mark thinks are the best examples of Manchester music (and which also form the chapter names in the novel). You’ll find the posts here.

Manchester (4)Why the year 2000?

It was a time when people thought the world might suddenly change for the better. What fools we were. But it’s an interesting liminal time, totally appropriate for coming-of-age stories about obsessive nerds, the amazing women they fall in love with, and the life-changing decisions they confront.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

It has to be a bit of both. I plot so that macro-scale events work well, with escalation, reversals and so on. So if I sit down to write a scene I know that the two characters will begin arguing, and eventually come to blows, and say things they’ll regret, or reveal things they shouldn’t – but the details of what, and when, and how aren’t decided in advance. They come naturally from the characters interacting. Reviews often praise my realistic dialogue, and I think if you let the words and actions be authentic to the characters then the scene will flow; and often surprise the author.






Purchase: Amazon UK / Amazon US


Manchester (6)

Extract from 2000 Tunes

Samantha Rees thrust money into the taxi drivers hand and hurried away. Stopped, smoothed down her black skirt. Was it too short?

Too late if it was.

The white-washed Presbyterian chapel was built on a hill and the graveyard sloped down to dry stone walls. A bank of dying daffodils bent their heads towards her in the breeze. When she was a little girl her uncle had tricked her, making her believe they were really called Taffodils. She shook her head and climbed the steep stone steps, worn from two centuries of comings and goings.

People in black milled around outside under incongruous sunshine. She spied smokers having a quick ciggie behind the holly trees. She’d have joined them if she wasn’t so late. Just a one-off to settle her emotions.

The mourners admitted her, welcomed her. Hugs and questions but she pushed her way through as quickly as she could without seeming rude. It smelt like a flower shop. Overpowering sweetness of the white lilies. Snippets of conversation heard in passing.

“Such a nice day for it …”

“Aye, booked the weather in advance, knowing her.”

“Joined her husband, that’ll be a reunion.”

“Always said they didn’t want to outlive each other.”

“Shouldn’t be in here really, I’m a pub man …”

Inside was dark polished wood set off against pale walls. Pews and a small gallery were filling with those too tired to stand around. She spotted her mam and they hugged. Seconds without words, but which said everything, before Sam moved to arm’s length. “Sorry I’m late. I dropped my bags off at your house first, and the trains were –” but Mam silenced her with a waved hand.

“I knew you’d be here, bach. We waited. She’d have wanted that.”

Despite all the murmurs the atmosphere was hushed, heavy, like a gap in sound before an approaching storm. Noises seemed further away than normal, vitality cut off from conversation, words disconnected from their source, just as Sam’s mother was now disconnected from her source. Organisation rippled through the crowd as people moved to seats. Some mourners had to spill over into the small gallery.

Mamgu was in the coffin at the front. It hurt to look at the box, to picture Mamgu’s face without a living smile on it; so when the minister stepped into the pulpit and began speaking Sam was glad to focus on him instead. The service was in Welsh. Soon there was sniffing and nose blowing as the eulogy continued.

They stood to sing. Calon Lân began, beautiful music and strong voices. Sam tried to sing along but her throat tightened so she mumbled, “Calon lân yn llawn daioni, Tecach yw na’r lili dlos.” A pure heart full of goodness, Is fairer than the pretty lily.

She had to look up as her eyes brimmed, lights hung in threes, the images spilt over and she realised she hadn’t brought a hankie but would definitely need one…



Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but has lived in Wales for nearly twenty years, ever since he went there to do a degree: it was easier to stay than to catch a train back. His longest career was in librarianship (twenty-five years); his shortest was industrial welding (one week).

Sometimes he writes about life and love; sometimes death and decay. He usually flips a coin in the morning, or checks the weather, and decides based on that. His aim is to tell a good story, regardless of genre. When he is not writing or editing he loves exercise, guitars, computer games, board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice and zombies.


Many thanks for a great blog Karl.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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