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Category: thriller Page 1 of 4

Interview with Anna Legat: Broken

The eagled-eyed of you will notice that today’s guest – Anna Legat – appeared on this blog last Thursday, with the opening lines of her latest crime mystery – Cause of Death.  Books however, can be like buses in the publishing world, and so I’m delighted to welcome anna back today – this time for a chat over a coffee and some cake.

Take a break, and learn a little about Anna’s new thriller – Broken.

First of all – here’s the blurb –

What if you lost the memory of who you are?
What if you had to pick up the loose ends of life that wasn’t yours?
What if you had to fight somebody else’s battles?
What would YOU do ?

Camilla’s life will never be the same after her beloved son Christopher is sent to prison .

Father Joseph’s faith is sorely tested when a deranged psychopath uses the sanctity of the confessional to gloat about his most heinous crimes.

Both Camilla and Joseph are paralysed by doubt and inaction.

But then their lives collide…

BROKEN explores where it takes a stranger to break through one’s bindings and inhibitions in order to do the right thing.
It is a story of a mother’s love for her son and a priest’s blind adherence to the seal of confession.
It is a story about Fate’s intervention.

Broken, a domestic noir suspense thriller, is published by SpellBound Books

***

What inspired you to write your book?

Like many fiction writers I live slightly on the periphery of reality – I observe it from the sidelines and dip into it for inspiration and ideas, but there is that grey area, that no-man’s land between reality and my writing. I like to speculate in my fiction and to imagine scenarios with which to confront my characters. Those scenarios don’t have to be extreme but they have to create a challenge or a dilemma for my characters to respond to.

Broken is the result of my fascination with the idea of the randomness of life – we are born into a particular set of circumstances which we can’t predict or plan for. It is pure chance whether we end up as orphans somewhere in a war-torn country or find ourselves next in line to the throne of the Kingdom of Sweden. So when I conceived Broken I asked myself this: what if somehow two people’s lives became mixed up through Fate’s mysterious intervention? What if one day they woke up in somebody else’s skin to continue with that stranger’s life as if it was their own? What if that other person’s life was a real mess?

So, I created the characters of Father Joseph and Camilla Bramley-Jones, each of them struggling to overcome bindings and inhibitions which have led them to make bad choices. Then I swopped their places and let them deal with each other’s problems.

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

I do, and I don’t. I definitely pick up personality traits of the different people I come across in life and on my travels, but I do enjoy mixing and matching them when I construct my fictional characters. Often people will ask me if I based a particular character on them because they will see themselves in that character or will recognize an event in which they were involved. Most of the time, I will plead guilty but only to the lesser charge of being inspired by them rather than to the crime of outright theft of their personality.

Oddly enough, my husband recognizes himself in most of my fictional creations, sometimes to my utter bafflement. I suppose I often absorb people into my writing without realizing I’m doing it.

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

There wasn’t much research involved in writing Broken other than the exploration of human psyche. I read a little about the personality distortions of sociopaths and the differences between sociopaths and fanatics.

I also ventured into the rites and rituals of the Catholic Church as one of my two lead protagonists is a catholic priest.

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

I enjoy getting into my characters’ heads and writing from their deepest, innermost perspective. Writing in the first person is tempting because it gives me the chance to fully blend with the character – sort of become the character, rather than just a narrator.

Broken features two protagonists, Father Joseph and Camilla who tell their respective stories in the first person. Allowing them to tell their own stories was useful especially because they are both unreliable narrators with huge gaps in their memories and are confused about their identities. I tried to give them their own distinct voices and mannerisms. I hope it worked.

I avoid writing from the point of view of the omnipresent – omniscient narrator. I find that form a bit dry and impersonal.

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

I plot and I plot, and I plot some more before I start writing. It all happens in my head so for days I come across as an idle procrastinator who does nothing all day apart from pacing in her study and dragging the dog out for lengthy walks. But I work really hard on my plot. Then I start writing and at that point things get slightly out of hand and my diligent plot strays into uncharted territory. It is at this point that I start documenting my storyline in writing. Otherwise, I would lose the plot altogether!

Many thanks Anna. Great answers!

You can find the buy links to Broken, here – http://viewbook.at/BrokenbyAnnaLegat

Bio

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. Murder isn’t the only thing on her mind. She dabbles in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dark humorous comedy, through magic realism to dystopian. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

To find out more: www.annalegat.com

Follow Anna on Twitter: @LegatWriter

Join Anna on Facebook: @AnnaLegatAuthor

Instagram: @LegatAuthor

Many thanks for joining me here today Anna – good luck with both of your new novels.

Happy Reading, everyone.

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Morwenna Blackwood: Underrated

I’m delighted to be welcoming Morwenna Blackwood back to my blog today, with the first 500 words from her brand new novel, Underrated.

Underrated is the third novel in the Glasshouse series. The novels stand alone as stories, but they are interconnected. In Underrated, we get Will’s version of events and find out why you should never underestimate a friend…

BLURB

I stand as close as I can to the Liver Building without looking proper weird and tip my head back. My eyes can’t focus properly, but I can make out a turquoise shape right at the top, soI mouth ’iya to Bella. I’m a bit soft on the Liver Birds. They’re 300-odd feet up in the air, so they should be able to see everything, but they’re chained down…

A story of the far-reaching effects of unrequited love and drug (ab)use, Underrated follows five lads who are just trying to make things better for themselves. In Liverpool and on the south Devon coast, their lives entangle as they turn to cocaine.

While some people take drugs to escape their circumstances, others deal drugs to escape theirs. But is escape ever really an option?

First 500 words of Underrated

It’s like tinnitus.

The silence with Mum and Dad in the front room is deafening and all-encompassing. Dad’s pretending to read the Sunday paper, and Mum’s pretending to read the magazine that came with it. I’m scanning the free paper for cheap, second-hand cars, but the pressure in the room renders me incapable of it, so instead I stare out of the patio doors at a load of crows that are hopping about on the lawn. There’s that phrase – you could have cut the tension with a knife. In all honesty, I wish one of them would cut the other with a knife – or me, or, better still, darling Dominic – because then it would be over with. The atmosphere in here is so tense that it’s given me a blinding headache. I stand, deciding to retreat up to my cave, and the sudden movement makes the crows take flight. I wish I could just fly away. Why the fuck do we all go on with this charade?! I can feel myself going mental; at some point I’ll crack and then I’ll take things into my own hands and force a change. Because this is absurd. It’s pathetic. It’s fucking killing me!

My bedroom – I think of it as my cave – is small; a dark box with a north-facing window. Even though I’m the oldest, I got last pick – or rather no pick – of the bedrooms, but mine does have a built-in wardrobe, so that, apparently, makes everything all right. Anyway, this room is all I’ve got, so it’s my refuge.

Though I want to slam it, I close my door quietly. It doesn’t matter how loud I am – no one notices me, so I don’t bother any more. I stare out of my bedroom window onto what is probably the most uninspiring view known to man: the length of our parquet-paved cul-de-sac, with its widely spaced four-bedroom houses and their uniform lawns that run flat from the house to the kerb. All the front gardens sport the designer slash that the housing developers refer to as ‘landscaping’, which is basically a strip of clay soil planted with hardy shrubs and a rowan sapling that wears a wire mesh dress. Outside every door are the generic pansies and lobelia in pots, in varying states of health. And then there’s the big, posh house – the former show home – at the open end of the cul-de-sac, blocking out the rolling hills and anything else that might be behind it, except the main road that connects our estate to everything and everywhere else in this shitty little town, which is basically nothing and nowhere.

I can hear my younger sister, Sally, in the kitchen; her overbright voice chirping on about biscuits and essays, while she makes another fucking cup of tea. I want to scream at her to stop it! I grab the nearest sheet of plain A3 to me – I draw a lot, there’s stuff everywhere – and shove it up against the window…

Buy-links:

The (D)Evolution of Us – mybook.to/devolution

Glasshouse – http://mybook.to/glasshousenovel

Underrated – mybook.to/underrated

Author biog:

BIO

When she was six years old, Morwenna wrote an endless story about a frog, and hasn’t stopped writing since.

She is the author of bestselling noir psychological thrillers, The (D)Evolution of Us and Glasshouse, has an MA in Creative Writing, and can usually be found down by the sea. Her third novel, Underrated, was published by #darkstroke 14/02/22.

She often thinks about that frog.

Social media links:

www.morwennablackwoodauthor.com

www.amazon.com/author/morwennablackwood

www.facebook.com/morwennablackwood

Twitter: @MorwennaBlackw1

Instagram: morwennablackwood_

TikTok: @morwennablackwood

Many thanks Morwenna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Ashley Lister: Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

I’m delighted to be welcoming Ashley Lister back to my blog today, to share the Opening Lines from his latest novel, Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

Over to you Ash…

Thank you to the awesome Jenny Kane for inviting me here today.  She genuinely remains one of my favourite writers and I feel honoured to call her a friend.  I hope she still feels the same about me after reading this blog post.

The idea for Conversations with Dead Serial Killers came to me as I was watching a TV show about psychics.  I’m neither a believer nor a disbeliever in the spirit world. I’m simply an idiot who gets drunk and is too lazy to shift away from the TV, regardless of what it’s playing.

So, there I was, watching this show with a person purporting to be a psychic, telling the viewers that they were being helped by a spirit guide and I thought, “What if that spirit guide was a dick? What if that spirit guide’s sole purpose in life (or should that be ‘in death’?) was to make things uncomfortable for the psychic they worked with?”

Whilst that’s ended up as one of the predominant themes in the story, I think it’s fair to say that Conversations with Dead Serial Killers has become something a little more than that.  I’ve tried to blend the tropes of true crime stories with a narrative about mediumship, some of the grisly and distasteful things you’d expect to find in horror stories, and a soupcon of my dark and twisted humour.

Blurb

“A clown can get away with murder.”
John Wayne Gacy, the killer clown.

Derek Turner makes his living as a psychic. But, when he makes his first genuine contact with the spirit world, it is an encounter that starts him on a pathway to holding conversations with dead serial killers.

FIRST 500 WORDS

The thing that few people appreciated about Ed Gein was his skill as a seamstress. Clive had sat through every episode of the Great British Sewing Bee and, whilst the finalists on that show invariably produced some nice-looking creations in the last episode of each series, and sometimes that was when they were working with awkward fabrics such as organza, pleated lace or chiffon, none of them had (yet) been challenged with creating something original from human skin. To Clive’s mind it was an injustice that everyone looked at Ed Gein’s work (the belt made from nipples, the lampshade made from Mary Hogan’s face, and the chairs, fully upholstered, in human skin) and all they saw was the Grand Guignol horror that came from murder, the desecration of graves, and the violation of corpses. No one appreciated the man for his craftsmanship and finesse with a needle and thread.

Clive sat back at his desk, surveying the screen that held his notes on Gein and wondering how close his latest book was to being ready for publication. There were hundreds of biographies covering Gein, describing him as the Plainfield Butcher, the Plainfield Ghoul and the Grandfather of Gore, and explaining how he had been the role model for fictional monsters such as Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Norman Bates in Robert Bloch’s Psycho, and even Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

Clive’s approach to the biography had been different. Rather than go on about the lawlessness and illegality of Gein’s actions with the usual ghoulish voyeurism concerning murder, grave-robbing and skin-removal, Clive wanted to celebrate the Ed Gein that the history books had overlooked. Gein was a hard-working labourer. Gein was a loving son who aspired to be just like his mother. And Gein was a diligent researcher who had studied subjects as diverse as the Nazis, cannibalism and, if his well-thumbed copy of Grey’s Anatomy was any indicator, human biology.

Not that Gein was the only subject of the biographies he had written. Clive had published one volume on the comforting bedside manner of Dr Harold Shipman foregrounding the under-reported benevolent side of the world’s most prolific serial killer.  He had also written about the forbidden romance between Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, and wanted to write about the passion that kept Fred and Rose West together.  Importantly, and it was a consistent theme throughout all of the books he was writing, Clive wanted to talk about the fact that some of these ‘notorious killers’ had managed to grow up to appear like unassuming and normal adults despite the trauma of abusive childhoods. He knew they’d grown up to appear unassuming and normal because neighbours, witnesses and others involved in testifying against these people, always described them as being ‘unassuming and normal.’

He supposed the project struck a personal chord for him because, if not for fate and circumstances, he figured he too could have been another name on the long list of serial killers who had…

***

Conversations with Dead Serial Killers is currently available for Pre-Order and will be released on Valentine’s Day, 2022.

Pre-Order link: http://mybook.to/cwdsk

To find out more about Ashley Lister you can check out his website: www.ashleylister.com, his FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.lister, and Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashleylister.

Huge thanks Ashley, for sharing your Opening lines today – I’m still talking to you after reading that- although I have hidden my sewing kit… just to be on the safe side. (Remembers pin cushion is on the table and dashes off)

Happy reading everyone, 

Jenny xx

The Genesis of World War When by Elliot Thorpe

This week I’m delighted to be welcoming Elliot Thorpe to my place to tell us about his latest story, World War When.

Over to you Elliot…

I was involved in a book project back in the distant past of 2016, an anthology of stories and verse to commemorate the (then-upcoming) centenary of the end of the First World War. While the project went in other directions, the work I had put into my contributions I didn’t want wasted. Any writer will tell you that an author never throws away an idea! I’d toyed with any number of scenarios and plotlines and saw mileage in expanding beyond the short story remit to a full-length novel.

I’d always found both World Wars to be fascinating, extremely dark chapters in recent history that have hopefully taught us lessons. I’d never written anything directly linking to modern warfare before, although I did delve into the skirmishes between the Ottoman Turks and the Wallachians in a horror novel in 2013. That previous novel, currently out of print, took a hugely fantastical liberty with the source material – something that seemed permissible bearing in mind that the protagonists and antagonists lived in a world wholly unlike our own some 500 years ago.

The idea then of taking a slice of history that is well-known, deeply researched, intimately documented and only a handful of years falling out of living memory I have to confess gave me moments of internal conflict. I didn’t want to make light of the events between 1914 and 1918. I didn’t want to flippantly create characters that existed as unflappable heroes. Nor did I want to step on the experiences those who served had been through. But that’s the art of storytelling, to weave a fiction that is believable, to conjure up heroes who aren’t two-dimensional, to place a tale in front of a backdrop that both thrills and chills.

I did my research. I would have been daft not to – because historians at all levels would find something that I got wrong in my prose. I created a past that was recognisable, a close as I could make it to reality following said research, with healthy influences thrown in for good measure: anything from Buchan to Elton to Faulks to Meredeth to Moffatt to Mukherjee to Sapper. I wanted a world of action, intrigue, drama and romance, of excitement, danger, love and loss. Then I went off-piste: the story mutated into how the Allies had lost the Great War and what happened after.

This alternative history, as I saw it, hadn’t been truly explored before in fiction. We have countless ‘what if Hitler had won’ tales, but no one had seemed to have asked what if the Kaiser had won in 1918?

And so World War When was born: a new, exciting reinvention of the end of 1914-1918 conflict.

But then I realised I had re-ignited my own conflicts: by telling a story of how the Central Powers had stormed across Europe to raise the Kaiser’s flag atop Buckingham Palace, I was erasing all the pain and suffering that our great grandparents had gone through. Perhaps I was looking too deeply into this. My solution? I made my characters, my protagonists, question the world they were living in. Could it be better? Could it be changed? Was the Great War fought for nought? Was all the pain and suffering they had gone through prior to 1918 a waste? When one of the characters answered ‘yes’, I knew I had my novel’s hook.

World War When poses the question: What if the Allies has lost the Great War?

Find out the answer when the novel, published by AG Books, is released 22 January 2022 in paperback, hardback and on Kindle. You can buy it from Amazon and all good bookstores.

Keep reading for an exclusive extract…

The war began with two shots and it would end with one.

At least that was what Daniel Restarick hoped, waiting in the bombed-out shell of what had been a shop, judging by the strewn cans of food.

The US Army had withdrawn some hours ago, successful in pushing the German offensive back towards Metz. The air was thick with death and rain. Spirals of smoke drifted on the air of the autumn afternoon; devastated buildings forlornly lined either side of the main street. At one end, a Renault FT tank was upended in a crater, having been shelled by enemy artillery. Even at this distance, Restarick could smell the petrol settling in a pool at the bottom of the jagged hole.

He was across the street from the church—one of the few fully standing structures, as if some providence had kept it free from the conceit of humanity. He was tired but focused, the rum from his weekly ration having been spilt during the night. Patience, too, was a prerequisite of a man like him.

At twenty-nine, Restarick was considered a veteran, having seen conflict almost from the moment war broke out. Formerly of the Essex Regiment, he had been hand-picked, during the summer of 1916, by Naval Intelligence—to work in the field for the Factory or, more formally, Room 40, the predominant section in the British Admiralty that handled cryptoanalysis. Covert operations had led him here, with the knowledge that vital information and thus advantage was going to be passed to the Central Powers,. His mission was simple: prevent this by any means necessary.

If the war ended on this one shot, the euphoria and relief across the world would be his doing. It was a heady thought.

It began to rain again, thunderstorms having relented only yesterday evening, almost concurrently with the exchange of fire. Restarick hated the feeling of the cold water against his back, hated the sight of his rifle becoming obscured, hated the stinging in his eyes. Further, he wore no gloves, so the damp had a habit of making his grip more precarious on the lengthy barrel.

He wanted a cigarette but the smoke would give away his position. It would have to wait.

Wiping the sight, he scanned the rubble-strewn street before him, waiting for his quarry and thinking of his return to England, to Surrey and to what he had already lost.

He and Lita had only been married for five months when she died and they had spent very little time together as a couple, stolen moments while he was on leave. There had been no honeymoon. They’d written, of course, as much as the Army Postal Service allowed, but it was a poor replacement.  Still, she had not given any indication of unhappiness or discontent. Although, perhaps that was the role of those left behind. Just as those on the battlefield had to callously dismiss them from their minds.  Lita had worked at the Silvertown munitions factory. The previous year, she had survived an accident that had killed over seventy and injured in excess of four hundred more. Survived to perish later, in a fire in their home in Surrey; she’d been trapped as the ceiling above her collapsed, bringing the bedroom down around her. The ARP wardens and the fire brigade had been unable to save her.

Her funeral had been a small affair. She’d left Spain as a young teenager and found her own way in life. Most of the mourners had been from Restarick’s side of the family, and a handful of officers with whom he’d served. The memory of the day itself was now obscured by the rage that had consumed him. He and Lita, however, had shared a passion for freedom, that fragile bloom, and this pushed him on, to fight against those who would crush it underfoot.

Her portrait, folded away in his pocket, served as his constant reminder.

The land surrounding the town was forest with the occasional patterns of farmland, not easily traversable by vehicle. The target, he had to assume, would arrive in the town on foot and, with both the Rue des Chanoines and Eglise Saint-Etienne mentioned in intercepted messages, the church was the most logical choice for the information exchange to take place.

In the distance, he heard the world rumble. Not thunder, that was too natural a sound. This was the result of mortar shells, ripping into bodies, into metal and into the earth some miles away. The shelling continued for a good hour or so, during which Restarick pushed his mind away from the devastation.

And there was his target, clear as day through his rifle sights. A trench coat, its large collar turned up, obscured any sign of expression or guise, a large grey woollen hat pulled low over the spy’s face. Over one shoulder, they held a khaki hold-all and it was this, Restarick knew, that held the papers he needed to intercept. On reaching the church door, the figure appeared to look around briefly, before ducking into the building.

Restarick cursed and shuffled forward on his belly, careful not to be seen. He couldn’t risk going into the church itself in case the spy wasn’t alone, though he suspected the spy would be making the exchange while out of sight. He would need to be damned fast to shoot down whoever came out of there.

He aimed for the bell tower, firing and quickly reloading. The bell tolled deeply and Restarick refocused his sights on the church door.

Then it was no longer the church door in the crosshairs. Now it was the traitor’s head.

This was it, the moment that would bring the war to an end.

Restarick quickly checked his watch and smiled to himself. 1700hrs. The Great War, 28 July 1914 to 13 September 1918.

He would be the bringer of peace.

He pulled the rifle into his shoulder, the weapon tight in his arms, and squeezed the trigger.

To be continued…

You can find all the buy links for World War When here – https://worldwarwhen.co.uk/shop/

BIO

Elliot Thorpe is a freelance writer, having previously worked for Starlog and written for the sites ‘Den of Geek’, ‘Shadowlocked’, ‘Doctor Who TV’, ‘Red Shirts Always Die’ and ‘TrekThis’, as well as for Encore, the magazine for the theatre professional.

He scripted the full cast audio drama Doctor Who – Cryptobiosis for Big Finish in 2005 and in 2013, his first novel Cold Runs the Blood was published.

He also has contributions in Seasons of War: Tales from a Time War (2015), Grave Matters (2015), Doctor Who – A Time Lord for Change (2016), The Librarian (2017), The Wretched Man (2020) and Sherlock Holmes and the Woman Who Wasn’t (2021).

For many years he enjoyed a working relationship with the West End production of The Definitive Rat Pack and in 2017 co-wrote Just Dino – A Recollection of Dean Martin with Bernard H Thorpe, which was expanded and re-released the following year as Dean Martin – Recollections. To date, three further volumes have followed: Dean Martin’s Movie Moments, Dean Martin – A Discography and For The Good Times: The Dean Martin Compendium. https://www.facebook.com/The-Dean-Martin-Association-110034111572241

He is a long-term regular columnist for the US-based magazine Search (searchmagazine.net), writes for thedoctorwhocompanion.com and co-hosts Sid & Terry’s Doctor Who Podcast on YouTube.

Please visit worldwarwhen.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/World-War-When-A-Novel-112564057994522

Author photo courtesy A E Abbottson

World War When © 2022 Elliot Thorpe

Thanks for visiting today, Elliot,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Happy Birthday Outlaw Justice

Somehow, it is a whole year since the fourth novel in #TheFolvilleChronicles was published!

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331 – and a storm is coming in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Outlaw Justice

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim in The Outlaw’s Ransom- Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. Often, it is those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him.

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

Opening Lines with Alison Knight: The Hidden

I’m delighted to welcome friend, fellow co-runner of Imagine and author, Alison Knight, to my place today.

Why not take five minutes, grab a cuppa, and enjoy the Opening Lines from Alison’s latest novel, The Hidden?

Thank you, Jenny, for inviting me back to your blog to talk about my latest book, The Hidden. This is my third novel published by Darkstroke in just ten months and it completes a trilogy of standalone but linked stories. The first book, Mine, is based on real events in London in the 1960s. The second, The Legacy, is a story inspired by a scene in Mine, so there are some cameo appearances by characters from the first book. The Hidden is set in the early 1970s and follows what has happened to one of the characters in The Legacy. I hope you enjoy the opening lines of The Hidden.

BLURB for THE HIDDEN

Secrets, nightmares, and a big black dog…

Montana, 1973.

Faye has found sanctuary in a simple cabin in the wilds of the Crazy Mountains in Montana with a dog called Bear. She’s a long way from her old life in England. But she knows that one day her peaceful life could be invaded by her enemies, and she keeps her guard up at all times.

Jeff returns home from Vietnam, a wounded, damaged hero, just weeks after his father’s sudden death. He finds hostile, secretive Faye living in his cabin and refusing to leave. The reading of his father’s will adds another layer of mystery to this woman’s presence.

The tension between them grows as Jeff tries to overcome his nightmares and expose Faye’s scars and secrets. The more he learns about her, the more enigmatic she seems.

When her enemies come calling, she needs Jeff to protect her. Can they learn to trust each other? And will Faye ever be safe?

FIRST 500 WORDS

As she left the witness box there was a flash of blinding light and the courtroom filled with smoke. She froze, terror holding her trapped, unable to escape. Around her, court officials called for order, women screamed and there were thuds and crashes as furniture was overturned.

            “Get out!” she heard her brother shout.

            She looked around in a daze. “Percy?” It couldn’t be him. He was dead. That’s why she was here, why she’d spilled their secrets.

            For a moment the smoke cleared, and she saw a figure in a balaclava running towards her. He was clad all in black. His eyes were filled with hatred. She knew why he was there. It was her time to die. He raised his arm and she saw the glint of steel in his hand. She closed her eyes as the knife descended and slashed the side of her face.

At last her survival instinct freed her from her terrified paralysis. She turned, desperate to get away, but she felt the blade pierce her body. She wanted to crawl away from the stinging slashes, but she was trapped, unable to move. She felt moisture on her skin – her blood or her tears?

“It’s all right,” she heard Percy whisper. “It’s not your time yet. You’ve won, Sis. Don’t give up now.”

“Percy!” she screamed, reaching out for him …

Montana, USA, 1973

Her hand touched fur. Fur? She opened her eyes, blinking as she registered the soft whining of the dog on the bed next to her. The vivid images of the London courtroom faded away as she took in her surroundings – the moonlight flooding through the window where she’d forgotten to close the curtains again; the patchwork quilt on the big wooden bed; the large pine chest and smaller matching bedside cabinet.

She sat up, bringing up her knees and leaning her elbows on them as she rubbed her face. The dog nuzzled her cheek, trying to lick up her salty tears. She pushed him away.

“It’s all right, Bear,” she said, scratching behind his ear. “It was just a dream.”

The same dream. Every. Bloody. Night. It’s been three years now. Will it ever go away?

            Knowing she wouldn’t get back to sleep, no matter how tired she felt, she got up and padded barefoot to the window. It was a clear night. She could see the dark silhouette of the mountains that stood guard above the fertile valley. Above them were millions of stars. It never ceased to soothe her, looking out at the moon and the endless sky above her. It reminded her of how huge the universe was, and how small and insignificant she was in comparison.

There had been a time when she hadn’t bothered to look around and to enjoy the beauty and majesty of her surroundings. Instead, she’d focused only on herself – her wants, her opinions, her pleasures. No one else had mattered. And look where that got me, she reminded herself. Today, she …

***

BUY LINK: https://mybook.to/thehidden

BIO

Alison Knight has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Alison currently has a trio of novels published by Darkstroke. The first, Mine, is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

The Legacy, a drama set in London in 1969, was inspired by a scene in Mine, and explores how an unexpected legacy can be both a blessing and a curse. The Legacy looks at themes of greed and expectations, and the lengths people will go to when they are desperate.

The Hidden, available from 23rd September 2021, is a romantic suspense that picks up the story of one of the characters in The Legacy. Set in Montana in 1973, two wounded, damaged people are forced together, each guarding their secrets. Can they learn to trust each other? And will their nightmares ever end?

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops with her friend and fellow author, Jenny Kane (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk). She also works as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

www.alisonroseknight.com

@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/ 

Many thanks for sharing your Opening Lines today, Alison.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Lizzie Fry: The Coven

I’m delighted to welcome friend, and fellow author, Lizzie Fry to my place today, with the Opening Lines from her debut thriller, The Coven.

BLURB

An electrifying dystopia that imagines a world where a populist demagogue outlaws peaceful witchcraft, The Coven is a page-turning thriller with profound things to say about contemporary global society.

Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

FIRST 500 WORDS

Green light was leaking under the bedroom door.

The sight of it made Li stop in her tracks and back up, dropping the washing basket she’d been holding. Her brain attempted to push the realisation away in sluggish disbelief. She had prayed to the triple goddesses she would never have to deal with this. Her heartbeat thundered in her ears as anxiety crashed through her body.

The day Li had been putting off had finally arrived.

Until that moment, it had been a completely ordinary Friday in March. Li had been stripping the beds, her usual end-of-the- week routine, when Chloe had returned from college around midday, her lectures finished for the weekend. As usual, Li had asked her daughter how her day had been; as usual, Chloe had rebuffed her with that sneering way of hers. Li tried to not let it bother her. Since puberty had struck around the age of four- teen, Chloe had made it clear she had no time for her parents. At nineteen, almost twenty, she should have grown out of such juvenile power-plays, but Li understood it wasn’t entirely her only child’s fault.

Seeing the green light now, pooling on the floor like liquid, Li knew it was all hers.

Fear gripped her, guilt rushing up behind it. As if in a nightmare, her bones felt as heavy as concrete. She hesitated, unable to raise her arm to push the door and go inside. Blinking back the tears pricking her eyelids, she took her phone from her jeans pocket and pulled up her call log; DANIEL was first on the list.

Bar the odd errand in town, Li saw only two people most days: Daniel and Chloe. Apart from a dozen Facebook and Twitter followers she spoke with online regularly, she had few real-life friends and worked from home. Her love of travel and a degree from a British university twenty years ago had led her to make a life for herself on the other side of the world. Too late, she realised she was isolated and alone when it really counted.

Li finally managed to press the button to call her husband. ‘Hi.’ Daniel’s gravelly voice filtered down the line.
‘You need to—’
The voicemail kicked in. He hadn’t really answered at all.

Keying off, Li swore in Mandarin, the sound of her native tongue discordant in her own ears. Her hands were shaking so much she almost dropped the phone. She redialled again with difficulty, irritation and fear clashing together. Daniel had to pick up this time. Had to. She couldn’t deal with this alone. Not any more.

She would tell him everything…

BIO

Lizzie Fry is a debut author of high concept thriller The Coven (published by Sphere books), but you might know her better as LV Hay. LV’s books previous books were crime fiction: The Other Twin, Do No Harm (Orenda Books) and Never Have I Ever (Hodder). The Other Twin is currently being adapted for the screen by Agatha Raisin producers Free@Last TV.

LINKS

Universal link >> http://myBook.to/covenwitch

Signed copies from Liznojan Books >> http://www.liznojanbooks.co.uk 

***

Many thanks for joining us today, Lizzie,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Will there ever be outlaw justice?

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331 – and a storm is coming in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Outlaw Justice

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim – Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. Often, it is those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him.

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

Opening Lines with J.A. Corrigan : The Nurse

This week’s Opening Lines come from The Nurse, a fabulous new thriller from the pen of J.A. Corrigan.

Over to you Julie…

I began writing this novel back in 2018 after Rose, the main character, knocked heavily on my door. It’s the book that found me an agent, and then subsequently a publisher too.

I loved using my medical background in the story, and also loved setting parts of the story in geographical locations with which I’m familiar.

Theo’s character took a little longer to develop, although once he introduced himself my fingertips spun across my keyboard! I do like reading dual timeline stories, and with Rose’s tale I knew instinctively that this had to be a story of past and present, interweaved and interspersed, and with both Rose and Theo as the viewpoint characters.

***

Blurb:

When you hear her story, will you believe her?

Rose Marlowe is a hard-working nurse, a loving wife, and a merciless killer. Or so she says. Despite her confession, it is hard to believe that this beautiful, kind woman could have killed her vulnerable patient in cold blood.

Down-on-his luck author and ex-journalist, Theo Hazel, is convinced that there’s more to what happened than Rose is telling, and so decides to visit her behind bars to write her story. His first surprise comes when Rose reveals that the victim was not a stranger to her.

As time goes on, it seems that Rose is letting Theo see behind her perfect mask. With each new visit, he learns terrible new things about her heart-breaking past. With each new visit, he becomes more and more convinced that she can’t be a killer. But is he trying to free an innocent woman, or falling prey to a calculating murderer?

A gripping and unputdownable thriller that will keep you guessing into the early hours of the morning. Perfect for fans of The Silent Patient, Shari Lapena and JP Delaney.

FIRST 500 WORDS

Prologue

Queen’s Hospital, Derbyshire, May 2015

This new space is too quiet. No music, no background chatter, nothing. The young man tries to move his lips to ask if someone can put the radio on, but the muscles in his face won’t obey his command. He can breathe, obviously, and hear, but he can’t move, or speak. Can’t seem to open his eyes either. A male voice, he thinks his doctor, told him that he’s been brought out of an induced coma and moved from intensive care. He’s now in the hospital’s high dependency unit. As well as silence, a dense humidity envelops him in this new room. He wishes a nurse would take off the sheet.

He attempts to remember something about his life, anything, but the fog inside his brain is making it difficult. He tries to move again, but his limbs are utterly unresponsive. Then a familiar aroma enters the unfamiliar room. It’s the nurse, he thinks. She smells of cinnamon and she’s the one who talks to him. He likes that. The other members of staff never talk; they perform their duties and leave.

She’s moving around his bed, but she hasn’t spoken. His mother smelt of cinnamon a long time ago, and it’s as if his senses and subconscious are working to create another plane of time. A fragmented memory stabs. His mother has been here to see him – before, when he was in intensive care – and told him something she thought he couldn’t hear. She didn’t think he’d pull through.

He listens hard. He won’t know for certain who’s in the room until they speak.

What did his mother tell him? Her words are somewhere inside his mind. He will remember. Soon.

He gives up attempting to think and instead allows himself to give in to sleep, and to his relief, a curtain begins to close across his consciousness. It is only the smell of cinnamon that stops him from drawing the other in the matching pair. Then a voice speaks.

‘I’m so sorry.’

He’s uncertain of its timbre, unsure if it’s a man or a woman, doubtful of the smell, and panic begins to press inside him. Something is very wrong.

All the moments of his existence come together in a kaleidoscope of images, and he sees his wife, her already burgeoning belly taut, the dark skin of her face translucent with happiness, and as his life ebbs away, he acknowledges that his efforts to find the truth have all been in vain.

The curtains close, with no gap remaining for the light to enter.

He has gone.

Chapter 1

Rose

8 December 2015

My eyes sweep the courtroom and settle on my husband, and I accept my life is over. Despite his love, and perhaps because of it.

I look at the woman who will soon deliver my sentence. She is petite, pretty, and too young to be a judge, surely. A mixture of expressions have passed over her features during the course of my hearing: well-veiled disgust …

***

You can buy    from all good retailers, including:

Amazon UK:  https://amzn.to/2QbhPQN

Amazon US:  https://amzn.to/3tDeHe3

Kobo:  https://bit.ly/3tF0OMD

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3w17c2o

Google Play: https://bit.ly/33z6k91

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/3bl4Sv8

Foyles:  https://bit.ly/3hgtl8N

WH Smiths: https://bit.ly/3vZ8eM9

Bio:

Julie-Ann Corrigan was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. She studied in London, completing a BA (Hons) Humanities degree, majoring in Modern History and English Literature. Travelling in Europe for several years she taught in both Greece and Spain – countries and cultures she found fascinating. On return to the UK she trained and then worked as a Chartered Physiotherapist, before finally succumbing to the writing bug. Currently, she writes full-time and lives in Berkshire with her family.

Website: http://jacorrigan.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/juliannwriter

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/corriganjulieann/?hl=en 

Many thanks for your wonderful Opening Lines, Julie.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Alison Knight: The Legacy

This week’s Opening Lines come from friend, and fellow author,

Alison Knight. 

Pop your feet up for five minutes, and have a read…

Hi Jenny,

Thanks so much for inviting me to share the first 500 words of my new book, The Legacy. It starts with a Prologue which is a scene from my previous book, Mine.

Blurb:

An unexpected inheritance. A web of deceit. A desperate escape. 

London, 1969.

James has his dreams of an easy life shattered when his aunt disinherits him, leaving her fortune to her god-daughter, Charlotte. He turns to his friend, Percy, to help him reclaim his inheritance – and to pay off his creditors. But when their plans backfire, James becomes the pawn of Percy and his criminal associates.

Charlotte is stunned when she is told of her windfall. After an attempt at cheating her out of her inheritance fails, James tries to intimidate her. But she is stronger than he thinks, having secrets of her own to guard, and sends him away with a bloody nose and no choice but to retreat for now.

Resigned, James and his spoilt, pampered girlfriend, Fliss, Percy’s sister, travel across France on a mission that promises to free James from the criminals for good. But James isn’t convinced he can trust Fliss, so he makes his own plans to start a new life.

Will James be able to get away, or will his past catch up with him? Will Charlotte’s secrets turn the legacy into a curse?

FIRST 500 WORDS FROM THE LEGACY…

APRIL 1969

A nursing home in Essex

The matron showed them into a private room where Miss Jarvis reclined in bed, propped up by half a dozen pillows. It was obvious that the old woman was very ill, but her eyes were clear, and she smiled when she saw them. Someone had tidied her snowy-white hair, and she wore a pink bed jacket over her nightie.

The man, solicitor Leonard Warwick introduced his companion, Lily Wickham, and she stepped forward and took the old lady’s proffered hand. She was shocked by the frailty of this tiny woman, because her gaze was direct and her voice strong when she spoke.

“I’m delighted to meet you. I understand Mr Irwin is too important these days to visit an old woman.” She sniffed. “I remember that boy when he was in short trousers.”

Lily blinked, and Leonard raised his eyebrows.

Miss Jarvis smiled. “I take it he didn’t mention that I went to school with his mother? No, I thought not. He always was a tricky one, full of his own importance. I’m surprised he wasn’t worried I’d reveal his secrets.” She looked them up and down. “However, I assume he felt he could rely upon your professionalism and my discretion, so I’ll excuse him this time.”

Leonard smiled and opened his briefcase. “He sends his apologies, Miss Jarvis, but he simply couldn’t get away today, I’m afraid. But he didn’t want to let you down, so here we are in his stead. I have your new will here, together with a copy for you to keep. Mrs Wickham and I will be your witnesses.”

They sat in chairs on either side of the bed while Leonard went through the will, clause by clause, making sure Miss Jarvis understood everything. She nodded and waved him on occasionally, saying, “Yes, yes, that hasn’t changed. Go on, go on.”

Eventually Leonard finished. “So, to make absolutely sure, Miss Jarvis, this new will leaves the sum of five thousand pounds to your nephew, and the residue of your estate to your god-daughter.”

“Correct.”

“And this is to supersede your previous will which left five thousand pounds to your god-daughter and the residue to your nephew.”

“That is also correct.”

Leonard hesitated.

“You have a question, Mr Warwick?”

“Forgive me,” he said. “I’m simply wondering if there is a particular reason why you’ve chosen to effectively disinherit your only blood relative.” He raised a hand when she would have replied. “Of course, you are entitled to make whatever provision you wish. I’m simply trying to establish that your nephew won’t have any recourse to a claim against your estate, Miss Jarvis. Such cases can seriously deplete the value of an inheritance for all concerned.”

The old lady leaned forward, pinning Leonard with a steely gaze. “I have also read Bleak House, Mr Warwick. I can assure you, I am in full command of my faculties, and this decision has not been taken lightly.”

She turned to Lily…

***

So there you have it, the first 500 words of The Legacy. This first scene was a minor incident in Mine, but I kept wondering what would happen to Miss Jarvis’s heirs after her death. It was a joy to write and some of the characters from Mine make cameo appearances in The Legacy. I seem to be on a roll now because my next book will follow what happens to James’s girlfriend, Fliss, a few years after the end of The Legacy. Watch this space!

BUY LINK – The Legacy by Alison Knight is published by Darkstroke Books and is available from: https://mybook.to/legacy

Bio

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. She signed her first three-book publishing contract a year after she completed her master’s degree.

The Legacy is her fifth novel and the second book published by Darkstroke Books. It is a drama set in 1960s London and France, exploring how we don’t always get what we want and how we shouldn’t count our chickens before they’re hatched. Her previous Darkstroke book, Mine, is a drama also set in 1960s London, based on real events in her family, exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics. Some of the characters from Mine also appear in The Legacy, although this is a standalone story.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS 

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

www.alisonroseknight.com

@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

Many thanks Alison,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

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