The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Jenny Kane

Interview with Rachel Sargeant: The Perfect Neighbours

It’s interview time! Why not get the kettle boiling, make a cuppa, grab some cake and settle down to see what I’ve been talking about with author, Rachel Sargeant…

Hello, Jenny. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog and for giving me these fun questions to answer.

What inspired you to write your book?

My latest book, The Perfect Neighbours, came out of two ideas. I lived for ten years in a British expat community in Germany. It is an unusual, close-knit environment that I’ve always felt would make a great setting for a novel if I could find the right project. When I moved back to England, I read a newspaper report about a criminal case that was going through the courts at that time. The crime was so bizarre and audacious that many people thought it was a spoof. I did some research and discovered that the case was by no means unique. This kind of crime has sadly claimed many victims over the years. This made me wonder whether a similar crime could occur in a small community where everyone knows everyone’s business, or thinks they do. I found the right story for my expat setting.

 

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

My characters are completely made up. Apart from the dubious ethics of using real people, I don’t think I could mould real people to do and say what I want. My latest novel features a dark mix of secretive and menacing neighbours. Thankfully all my real neighbours, past and present, are nothing like them.

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

This book started life as a portfolio piece for my M.A. in Creative Writing and required a lot of research for the accompanying academic essay. I researched a number of topics including hospitality and friendship. (There were other major topics too which I can’t mention without giving away the plot.) By the time I finished working with my editor at HarperCollins, the novel became more commercial and these topics provided only a light touch.

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

I tend to write in the third person, possibly because I like to feature several characters’ viewpoints in the story.

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

I have to plot. In life, I’m a planner and list maker. The same holds true for my writing.

What is your writing regime?

I get home from my job as a school librarian at 4pm, check social media and then write until 7pm. I also put in a few hours at the weekend. Most of this writing will be editing previous drafts as I tend to write first drafts in school holidays.

What excites you the most about your book?

The most overwhelming thing is seeing the reviews on Amazon and GoodReads from real readers who’ve bought my book, read it and written about it. It’s very humbling.

About the author

Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. The Perfect Neighbours is her third novel. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University and a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

Website: http://www.rachelsargeant.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelSargeant3

 

About The Perfect Neighbours

The Perfect Neighbours is a Kindle Top Ten bestseller published by HarperCollins Killer Reads.

“An original, gripping thriller that is both unnerving and shocking in equal measure. I was immediately drawn into the strange, claustrophobic neighbourhood and Rachel Sargeant creates a thrilling sense of foreboding throughout.” Phoebe Morgan, author of The Doll House

The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies… When Helen moves to Germany with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to join the expat community of teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare.

Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret… As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.

When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the neighbourhood, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything.

Available from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Neighbours-Rachel-Sargeant-ebook/dp/B074M2VJ3P/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1507722593&sr=1-1&keywords=the+perfect+neighbours

Or HarperCollins website:

https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008276737

***

Extract from The Perfect Neighbours

Gary squeezed Helen’s hand. “Excited?”

She said nothing. Was she excited? New start in a new country. As a full-time wife. She managed a smile and nodded.

They drove off the A road – the Landstrasse as Gary called it – into a grey, built-up area. She thought of the coach trip she’d made with a Year 10 class to Bulgaria; Communist-built apartment blocks on the outskirts of Sofia.

Gary pulled up at traffic lights and pointed. “And behind there is the Niers International School.”

Through the spike-topped metal fence on the right she made out rows of full bicycle stands. It looked like a provincial railway station.

“But you can’t see it properly from here,” he added.

A pot-bellied man in a dark uniform was standing by a sentry hut, the wooden roof scabby and cracked.

“You have guards?” she asked.

“Don’t mind Klaus. We have two full-time security men to patrol the site. The parents like it. Except our guys spend most of the time playing toy soldiers in their little house.”

Helen laughed until she noticed Ausländer Raus spray-painted on a bus shelter. “Does that mean what I think it means?”

The light went green, and they turned left.

“Foreigners Out – but you hardly ever see that stuff. Most of the Germans love the international school,” he said. “Lots of locals work here in support roles, and the parents spend good money in the town.”

He’d told her about the parents before. Most worked for big international companies in Düsseldorf, and others were rich locals prepared to pay for an English-speaking education. And some were teachers.

“Think about it, Helen,” Gary had said when they sat down with their pros and cons sheet on one of his weekend visits, agonizing over where to live. “Not yet, but in a few years, if we have children, it could be their school. There are so many perks, as well as the salary.”

That had been the clincher: Gary could earn more staying out here than the two of them put together in the UK. Helen had stopped being stubborn in light of the cold hard figures. She quit her job and put her house up for rent.

He went over a speed bump, and she felt the seatbelt rub against her collarbone.

“Have you noticed the street names?” He pointed at one, multisyllabic, a jumble of Ls and Es. “Can you read them?”

She shook her head. They had been driving non-stop since Calais. The traffic signs after the border into Germany had become a strident Teutonic yellow. Here the street names were in white, more like British ones, but they were unpronounceable.

Gary crawled along at 20 mph and seemed unfazed by the need to slalom his way around parked cars, playing children, and speed bumps. She glanced at his profile – round cheekbones, smooth jaw, patient eyes. Who would have thought affability could be so magnetic? Her stomach settled.

***

Many thanks Rachel. Great interview and wonderful extract.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Opening Lines: The Allotment Girls by Kate Thompson

It’s time for this weeks “Opening Lines” blog!

This week I’m delighted to welcome Kate Thompson to my site to share the first 500 words (precisely) of The Allotment Girls…

During the Second World War, life in the iconic Bryant & May match factory is grimy and tough. Annie, Rose, Pearl and Millie carry on making matches for the British Army, with bombs raining down around them.

Inspired by the Dig for Victory campaign, Annie persuades the owners to start Bryant & May allotment in the factory grounds. With plenty of sweat and toil, the girls eventually carve out a corner of the yard into a green plot full of life and colour.  In the darkest of times, the girls find their allotment a tranquil, happy escape. Using pierced dustbin lids to sieve through the shrapnel and debris, they bring about a powerful change, not just in the factory, but their own lives. As the war rages on, the garden becomes a place of community, friendship – and deceit. As the garden thrives and grows, so do the girls’ secrets . . .

Prologue

January 1897

It must be said, nowhere does a funeral quite like the East End. This one, taking place on a bitter Monday in January, quite surpassed anything the poor folk of the parish of Bethnal Green had ever before seen. Even in the depths of his guilt, he had to acknowledge this fact.

The entire funeral route was lined with thousands of people, a respectful crowd largely, all dressed in their best clothes and washed for the occasion. The sea of black bonnets, shawls and caps was chequered with the odd cluster of bright colour from the hats of assembled factory girls.

Even the weather had put on its funeral best, with scrawls of black cloud dirtying the sky and a rattling wind hammering the windows like fists. The police had been deployed in great numbers, but their presence was not required, he noted, as he tried to blend into the sea of faces.

He had never seen so many people before, sitting on walls, clinging to gas lamps and perched on sills, all craning their necks for a better view.

‘Almost be worth being burnt to have such a handsome turnout,’ muttered a man in the crowd next to him, before his wife slapped him into silence. ‘Wash your mouth out,’ she hissed. ‘The cortège is coming.’

A hush fell over the crowd. A painful lump lodged in his throat as the first notes of ‘Dead March in Saul’ drifted over the cobbles. The cortège was led by the Wapping Gas Workers’ brass band, the dramatic clash of their instru­ments driving deep into his heart.

And then came the bodies. A mixture of horror and awe settled over the crowd. For once, no one was looking at the lavish wreaths or the magnificent black horses, resplendent in their rich purple plumes and velvets. All eyes were fixed only on the coffins, growing gradually smaller in size as they passed by.

‘Just children,’ wept the woman next to him, pressing a broad black handkerchief to her mouth in dismay. But to him they had names, and he murmured them quietly, like an undercover priest, as each coffin filed past.

Eliza, fifteen. Mary, twelve. Alfred, ten. Beatrice, nine. John, seven. Margaret, five. Marie, three.

By the time baby Emily’s body passed him, he could no longer hold back his anguish, and a strange cry escaped him. In comparison to her parents’ coffins, Emily’s seemed absurdly small, and he longed to reach out and cradle her, to save her the journey into the cold, dark earth.

But they were already gone, one step closer to the closing scene of the mass burial that would be discussed in every public house in the borough for months to come.

And then came the mourners. And how! Conveyances of all descriptions, filled with anyone who had a connection to the dead. Mourning carriages, hansom cabs, broughams and even three omnibuses, willing to take passengers, mainly women it had to be said, to the final resting place.

 ***

The Allotment Girls is available now: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Allotment-Girls-Kate-Thompson/dp/1509822259/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520333328&sr=8-1&keywords=the+allotment+girls

Paperback can also be purchased at Sainsburys, WHSmith and other retailers.

Connect with Kate:

@Katethompson380

www.katethompsonmedia.co.uk 

Many thanks Kate. Great stuff.

Come back next week to read the first 500 words from a noel by Linda MacDonald

Happy reading,

Jenny x


In Search of King Arthur: Tim Walker

I’m delighted to welcome Tim Walker back to my site today. On this visit he is sharing a little of his search for King Arthur.

Over to you Tim…

The search for a tangible King Arthur remains as inconclusive as ever due to lack of compelling, physical evidence, although some continue to try and convince us otherwise. There are many places in Britain that lay claim to have connections to a ‘real’ Arthur – Tintagel where he was said to have been conceived; Camalat (South Cadbury in Somerset), an impressive iron age citadel; Glastonbury Abbey where monks in 1190 claimed to have found his grave; Camelford – a village in Cornwall that claims to be the site of the Battle of Camlann, where Arthur was mortally wounded around the year 515 AD (a date arrived at through research by historian John Morris). Avalon, or The Island of Apples, where Arthur’s body was taken, is thought to be near Glastonbury – its proximity to Camelford lending support to the claims of this patch of the West country. There are other ‘Arthurian’ sites at various locations in Wales, at Birdoswald on Hadrian’s Wall, and north of the wall at Caledonian Wood.

At the visitor centre near Camelford at the aptly-named Slaughterbridge, I followed a path to a low cliff above the River Camel and look across to the meadow on which Arthur is said to have fought his last battle. On the muddy riverbank below lies The Arthur Stone – a granite tombstone dated to 540 AD engraved with Celtic runes that have been interpreted as stating ‘here lies the son of Arthur’, throwing up the intriguing possibility that it was not Arthur but his heir who fought and died on this spot some years after his illustrious father (or that both father and son fought battles there, as the keepers of the visitor centre would like us to believe). Legend has it that the victorious Saxons desecrated his burial site and rolled the tombstone down to the riverbank where it remains to this day. Hold on a minute, did King Arthur have a son? In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account, Arthur is succeeded by his cousin, Constantine of Cornwall.

In the absence of something more substantial from historians and archaeologists, these remain theories in the realm of legend. One theory is that Arthur may not have been a king at all, but a ‘leader of battles’ a ‘Dux Bellorum’ or a hired sword, working for a group of tribal leaders, in the immediate post-Roman era. Bernard Cornwell’s excellent novel, The Winter King, adopts this point of view.

Another perspective is offered by historical fiction author Chris Flynn (The Bear, The Dragon and The Wolf) who argues the case for a Northern Arthur who is a cavalry commander, possibly drawing on the influence of Sarmatian cavalry units once garrisoned at Hadrian’s Wall, who organises resistance to the spread of Anglo-Saxons in the north-east (www. botrbooks.com/blog). Also in this corner is Alistair Moffat, who puts forward the case for Arthur being a warlord based in the Scottish borderlands north of Hadrian’s Wall in the years after Roman evacuation, in his book, Arthur and the Lost Kingdoms. His book builds a case based on literary sources, historical documents and interpretations of place names to build a compelling and intriguing case for a Scottish Arthur. Add this to the Welsh chroniclers’ Arthur, and you have a folk hero claimed by three home nations.

Clearly, it was a troubled time for the Britons, left exposed by the removal of Roman protection. However, there is no physical or archaeological evidence for who the leaders were, where battles took place and when. It has been suggested that the legend of King Arthur is a composite of the feats of a number of Briton leaders over a broad period stretching from the mid-fifth to the mid-sixth centuries, embellished by bards over the years until written down in 1136 AD by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his book, The History of the Kings of Britain.

Victories in as many as seventeen battles on British soil have been attributed to Arthur, plus his overseas adventures, giving credence to the notion that this was not the work of one leader but of several – collapsed together for the purposes of engaging storytelling by bards to make one great heroic figure who battled to preserve a Romano-Briton way of life.

Contemporary historian, Miles Russell (writing in History Revealed magazine), has re-examined Geoffrey’s claim that the inspiration for his work was based on an ancient book ‘in the British tongue’ and found that it may have some credence (despite the source text never having been found or mentioned by any other). To support his theory he uses as an example Geoffrey’s telling of the coming of Julius Caesar in 55 and 54 BC – an account that has similarities to the ‘official’ Roman version but differs in some details and is told from a British point of view. Geoffrey certainly did his homework, poring over source material as diverse as folklore, chronicles, church manuscripts, king-lists, dynastic tables, oral tales and bardic praise poems.

In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘history’ we get a compelling story of a time of desperate struggle following the end of Roman Britain. He gives us a linage of Fifth Century kings – Constantine, Vortigern, Ambrosius Aurelianus, Uther Pendragon and then King Arthur.

Arthur becomes king at the age of fifteen and marries Ganhumara (‘Guinevere’) who is from a noble Romano-Briton family. Arthur forms an alliance with his nephew, King Hoel of Brittany, and they inflict defeats on the Saxons at Lincoln and Bath before crushing a combined force of Picts (Scots) and Hibernian (Irish) tribes at Loch Lomond. They then attacks Ireland, the Orkneys, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and parts of Gaul (France), forcing the people to pay them homage. He lays waste to fields, slaughters the population of these places and burns down their towns – the exact opposite of a chivalric king. Geoffrey’s Arthur is an arrogant, aggressive and brutal warlord who kills and takes what he wants.

But Geoffrey’s story does not end there – Arthur is summoned by the Roman Emperor to face charges of war crimes and responds by raising a large army, sailing to Gaul, and meeting the Roman army in battle, defeating and killing the emperor. Arthur’s mind is set on capturing Rome, but he is forced to return home at news that his nephew Mordred has taken his queen, Ganhumara, and seized the kingdom. In a bloody civil war in which thousands die, both Mordred and Arthur fall in battle – Arthur’s body is taken to the Isle of Avalon and he is succeeded by his cousin, Constantine of Cornwall.

This is a summary of Geoffrey’s account in his Historia, and it is an intriguing thought that he MAY have taken it from a lost manuscript. Later generations lightened the blood-soaked narrative, adding more sorcery, the romance of Camelot, chivalric heroes (the knights of the round table), the quest for the Holy Grail, an evil foe in Morgana, and a doomed love triangle involving Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot.

Despite the fanciful tale of Arthur taking on the might of the Roman Empire, there is still the possibility that Geoffrey’s account was largely based on genuine source material that offers a glimpse of native Briton resistance to foreign invaders in the fifth and sixth centuries. Geoffrey’s King Arthur could not possibly have done all those things – he is most certainly a composite of several characters, including Ambrosius Aurelianus, who perhaps has better credentials as a noble leader who led the Britons to early victories over the Saxons.

Clearly, there was organised resistance to invaders, and tales of bravery told by chroniclers and bards from the Briton resistance point of view – and perhaps missing texts. Arthur is the embodiment of this oral tradition from the fifth and sixth centuries, offering us intangible glimpses of deeds in a period wedged between the gloating records of Roman and Anglo-Saxon conquerors.

*****

Uther’s Destiny – Blurb

In the year 467 AD Britannia is in shock at the murder of charismatic High King, Ambrosius Aurelianus, and looks to his brother and successor, Uther, to continue his work in leading the resistance to barbarian invaders. Uther’s destiny as a warrior king seems set until his world is turned on its head when his burning desire to possess the beautiful Ygerne leads to conflict. Could the fate of his kingdom hang in the balance as a consequence?

Court healer and schemer, Merlyn, sees an opportunity in Uther’s lustful obsession to fulfil the prophetic visions that guide him. He is encouraged on his mission by druids who align their desire for a return to ancient ways with his urge to protect the one destined to save the Britons from invaders and lead them to a time of peace and prosperity. Merlyn must use his wisdom and guile to thwart the machinations of an enemy intent on foiling his plans.

Meanwhile, Saxon chiefs Octa and Ælla have their own plans for seizing the island of Britannia and forging a new colony of Germanic tribes. Can Uther rise above his family problems and raise an army to oppose them?

Book three in A Light in the Dark Ages series, Uther’s Destiny is an historical fiction novel set in the Fifth Century – a time of myths and legends that builds to the greatest legend of all – King Arthur and his knights.

***

In my historical book series, A Light in the Dark Ages, I have attempted my own alternative history of the period starting with the departure of the Romans and building to the coming of King Arthur, putting flesh on the mythical bones of early kings Vortigern, Ambrosius Aurelianus and Uther Pendragon – lighting the way for the coming of King Arthur.

Book one – Abandoned! – http://myBook.to/Abandoned

Book two – Ambrosius: Last of the Romans – http://myBook.to/Ambrosius

Book three – Uther’s Destiny – http://myBook.to/Uther

Author website: http://timwalkerwrites.co.uk 

***

 

Great blog- thanks Tim.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 


Opening Lines: The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

It’s Thursday – which means it is ‘Opening Lines’ day.

Today I’m delighted to welcome Nicola May back to my site to share the first 500 words (exactly) of her brand new novel.

Over to you Nicola…

Blurb

Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy.  While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, the will states that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

 Rosa decides to throw herself into getting the shop up and running again. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed – and who among the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay will work secretly to see her fail?

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, slowly unravels the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also brings her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.

***

The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay – The First 500 words

‘Are you sure you’ve got the right person?’

Rosa took off her bright blue woolly hat and scratched the back of her head, causing her dark brown curls to become even more unruly.

The tall, pinched-faced solicitor nodded. ‘Yes, of course we have. Evans, Donald and Simpson do not make mistakes. You, Miss Larkin, are now the official owner of the Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay.’

He handed the bewildered twenty-five-year-old a battered leather briefcase and pointed to a small combination padlock on its brass clasp.

‘Here. The will stated that you – and only you – can open this, using your date of birth.’

‘This is all very strange,’ Rosa said.  ‘And where exactly is this Cockleberry Bay?’

‘Devon, dear, Devon.’  The solicitor looked under his rimless glasses. ‘I take it you know where that is?’

‘I may have a cockney accent, Mr Donald, but I’m not stupid.’

‘Well, open it then.’ The solicitor was shifting from foot to foot in anticipation. He confided, ‘We’ve been wanting to know what’s in there for days.’

Showing no emotion, Rosa gazed at him with her striking green eyes and asked coolly: ‘Is there anything else I need?’

‘Er, no – but are you not going to . . .?’

‘I need to get to work.’ Rosa put her hat and scarf back on, zipped up her fur-lined bomber jacket and headed for the door. ‘Thank you so much for your help.’

And she was gone.

‘Rude!’

The solicitor peered crossly out of the window of the offices in Staple Inn and watched as the young woman, the briefcase in her arms, strode across the frosty cobbled courtyard and out into the bustle of London’s ancient legal quarter.

*

‘You’re late again, Rosa. This is a discount store, not a charity shop.’

‘Oh, turn that frown upside down, Mr Brown. I’m here now, aren’t I?’

But there wasn’t even a glint of the usual smile from her now reddening supervisor.

‘I’m going to have to let you go, Rosa. I need committed staff and to be honest, I don’t think you know what that word means. You’ve had all your warnings. I will speak to Head Office, and they will settle your final pay.’

Rosa sighed. ‘Really?’  When Mr Brown said nothing, she picked up the briefcase from the floor and added: ‘Whilst you’re at it, maybe you could tell them I’ve been wanting to stick this shitty, unfulfilling job right up their pound-coin-shaped backsides for weeks anyway.’

*

Rosa’s elderly neighbour was putting a holly wreath on her front door when she arrived at home, mid-morning.

‘You’re back early, dearie.’

Rosa murmured under her breath, ‘And Ethel Beanacre wins the award for the Nosiest Neighbour of the Year.’

‘What was that, love?’

‘Nothing, Ethel, just talking to myself.’

The sight of the worn briefcase secured further interest.

‘Robbed a bank, have you?’ Ethel’s awful cackle reminded Rosa of Catherine Tate’s ‘Gran’ character.

Rosa scrabbled for her key. ‘Don’t tell anyone, will…

***

Available from 9th April – you can pre-order your copy of The Cockleberry Bay here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corner-Shop-Cockleberry-Bay-ebook/dp/B07B8KML35/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Bio

The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay is Nicola May’s ninth novel. In 2012 she won Best Author Read at the Festival of Romance for The School Gates and again in 2014 for Christmas Evie. Nicola likes to write about love, life and friendship in a realistic way, describing her novels as ‘chicklit with a kick’.

Nicola May lives near the famous Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.  Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks – and, naturally, enjoying a flutter on the horses.

Follow Nicola on Twitter: @nicolamay1

See her on Instagram: author_nicola

She also has her own Nicola May Author Page on Facebook

Find out more about her and all of her books at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicola-May/e/B004QUBKWW

***

Fabulous stuff. Thanks Nicola.

Come back next week to read the first 500 words from one of Kate Thompson’s novels.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: CRONE by Jeannie Wycherley

Welcome to my brand new ‘Opening Lines’ blog series.

Each Thursday an author will share a little about their work – and JUST the first 500 words of one of their novels – even if that means leaving things mid-sentence…

I’m delighted to welcome Jeannie Wycherley as my first guest of the series.

Over to you Jeannie…

Crone is my debut novel, set in and around Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth in Devon (the fictional Abbotts Cromleigh and Elbury of the novel). It’s a story that emanates very much from the landscape. The physicality of Aefre, whom we meet as she is being reborn in the opening lines, is actually drawn from the detritus of the forest floor.

Birth and death are central to the novel, and in between those events some of the intriguing characters, such as the enigmatic Mr Kephisto (also known as the Story Keeper) live extremely long lives. Crone is a dark fantasy novel, so as the author I was able to play with the longevity of each character’s existence, but at its heart it is actually a mystery with supernatural elements, and I have been contacted by many readers who start their email with the words, “This isn’t the sort of book I would normally read, but …” I am so thrilled that Crone has drawn such a diverse audience and appeals to such a cross section of readers.

It was vitally important to me to maintain truth within the supernatural, so yes, you have to suspend some disbelief as you do in any fantasy novel, but all the magic involved, among the elderly Guardians who are hunting Aefre for example, is ultimately feasible. I wasn’t interested in writing about sparkly wizards, and glittery unicorns. This is witchcraft with dirty hands and broken nails. It’s about real human experience. But ultimately, it is the age old story of a mother’s love for her child.

Crone Blurb

Heather Keynes’ teenage son died in a tragic car accident. Or so she thinks. However, deep in the wilds of the Devon countryside, an ancient evil has awoken … and is intent on hunting the residents of Abbotts Cromleigh.

No one is safe.

When Heather delves into a series of coincidental deaths, she is drawn reluctantly into the company of an odd group of elderly Guardians. Who are they, and what is their connection to the Great Oak? Why do they believe only Heather can put an end to centuries of horror? Who is the mysterious old woman in the forest and what is it that feeds her anger?

When Heather determines the true cause of her son’s death, she is hell-bent on vengeance. Determined to halt the march of the Crone once and for all, hatred becomes Heather’s ultimate weapon.

Furies collide in this twisted tale of murder, magic and salvation.

 

 

500 words – Opening Lines

Prologue

The cracking and snapping of dry bones reverberated through the stillness of the night. In the freezing air, at the very heart of the wood, in the slumped ruins of a long-forgotten dwelling, something dark began to manifest itself.

Little more than a mummified corpse, she unfolded her outer layer in a shower of dust and dry mould. Her skin, what remained of it, creaked like ancient leather and her flesh stretched taut over foul stringy innards. Then reaching, stretching, groaning, retching—she hauled herself upright. Once risen, she floated inches above the ground, while the mist—salty from the nearby sea—enveloped her like a pall and covered her foul nakedness.

She slipped out of her shack, and the wildlife in the undergrowth shrank from her black charisma, keeping their distance from her rancid stench, the stink of putrefaction.

In the treetops, caught out by her rapid manifestation, an owl blinked uneasily. Fearful, he observed her as she moved beneath him, then hopeful of evading her gaze he casually pivoted his head, pretended she was unseen and he was unseeing. But Aefre, even in her newly woken state, was both observant and deadly.

She was fast, lashed out at the owl, a missile of energy directed from her mind. His body exploded in a cloud of downy feathers. Her deformed claw-like fingers caught his remains as he fell from his perch, and she stuffed him into her mouth, whole. She chewed once, twice. Swallowed. A single line of blood dribbled from her chin, and the thinnest layer of fresh skin started to form a mouldering translucent veneer.

There was a halo of light to the east. Civilisation. For Aefre, the time was ripe. She was awake. It was time to bask in the thrill of the hunt. This time she would locate her sisters and join them in a merry dance of carnage.

First things first, however. She needed sustenance. She headed for town. She would find everything she needed there.

***

The boys tumbled out of the multiplex, blinking in the garish sodium lights of the car park, high on an adrenaline kick after enjoying the latest blockbuster. Max was grateful that James now had a driving licence and a car to go with it and they weren’t dependent on the non-existent bus service. It was hell being stuck in Abbotts Cromleigh with nothing to do.

Max was completing his A levels this year, and come September he would be off to University in a city where you didn’t need a car. Everything he needed would be on his doorstep. Live music venues, sporting facilities: Sheffield promised to be everything his small Devon home town couldn’t be.

He’d miss The Storykeeper though. Sheffield had bookshops, sure, but The Storykeeper was something special. It was housed in a higgledy-piggledy Elizabethan structure that had been added to time and again over the years, and thus appeared to stretch back and up endlessly. Shelves meandered like mysterious rivers throughout the building…

Buy link

Crone: myBook.to/CroneJW 

Jeannie Wycherley Bio

Jeannie Wycherley is the author of Crone (2017) and Deadly Encounters (2017) and numerous short stories that favour the weird including A Concerto for the Dead and Dying (2018). Crone is the recipient on an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion, and a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award. Jeannie’s next novel Beyond the Veil is due April 2018. Jeannie runs a gift shop with her husband in Sidmouth, adores her dogs, and make her evening meals in a cauldron. She lives somewhere between the forest and the sea in East Devon, England and draws literary inspiration from the landscape.

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/jeanniewycherley/

Website: https://www.jeanniewycherley.co.uk/

Thank you for such a fabulous blog, Jeannie. Intriguing first 500 words…

Next week, Opening Lines, will feature contemporary fiction/romance writer, Nicola May.

Happy reading,

Jenny

 


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