Review of ‘Wise Before Their Time’ by Ann Richardson & Dietmar Bolle

‘Wise Before Their Time’ by Ann Richardson and Dietmar Bolle was first published in 1992 and focuses on the everyday lives of people suffering with HIV/AIDS.  Victims talk about how they found out about their disease, their thoughts and feelings at the time of diagnosis, and the effect the HIV diagnosis had on their immediate families.   You can check it out by clicking the worldwide link here:  

Reading it over 25 years later it’s plain to see how ignorant the public were at that time regarding not only HIV/AIDS, but also how victims of the disease were treated.  There are heartbreaking stories of people losing their livelihoods once they admit they are HIV positive.  However, the book is not all doom and gloom – there are many inspirational stories here from sufferers who feel very well and enjoy living life to the full.

Of course these days, treatment options have increased the lifespan for the majority of HIV sufferers, and being HIV positive is not necessarily the death sentence it once was.  AIDS victims were always in the news back in 1992, but a quarter of a century later it’s hardly mentioned at all. 

Recommended for those who would like to delve a little bit into the early days of HIV/AIDS. 

Ann Richardson writes about different subjects that interest her.  You can check out the rest of Ann’s books by clicking the link below to her Amazon author page:

Stevie Turner’s review of ‘The Rushing of the Brook’ by Kansas Bradbury

When I started to read ‘The Rushing of the Brook’ (which I received free for an honest review) I originally thought it was a coming-of-age story for young adults, as quite a lot of the book is written in a young ‘teenage’ style and at the beginning focuses on the aftermath of a tragedy that affects four pre-teenage boys who set out for an adventure one afternoon in October 1987, along with their thoughts and feelings at the time.  However, with the addition of a serial killer at large it soon becomes obvious that this book is for adults only.

The plot is excellent and fast moving, and for the plot alone I would give 5 stars.  Unfortunately the formatting suffered on my Kindle as I had not received an e-reader version, with words and paragraphs broken up, and sometimes it was hard to tell which person was speaking.  In my opinion the book would be improved by a re-write to suit adult readers, but I give ‘Rushing of the Brook’ 4 stars as the plot is very good and I enjoyed reading the story to the end.


Stevie Turner’s Review of ‘My Fight for My Family (the Mega Pig File) by David Jordan.

Purchase link:

I read this memoir by David Jordan and I must admit I was appalled at the way Social Services had treated David’s family.  The problems began following an innocent initial inquiry to Social Services by a relative, concerned that David’s partner Martha and their baby Sally were living in unsuitable housing next door to an aggressive mentally ill man.   Instead of finding them a suitable flat, two social workers forcibly removed Sally from Martha as she was pushing her along the street in her pram and placed her with foster parents.  After Sally was taken away, Martha then began to suffer with mental health problems.

This is David’s very detailed and documented account of what followed next, in his efforts to claim back Sally and have her removed from the ‘At Risk’ register.  He was to discover that social workers fabricated and falsified evidence in order to prevent Sally returning home, and that they were in fact a law unto themselves (social workers cannot be sued due to a ruling by the House of Lords).  They also tried to have David and Martha’s younger two children taken away and put into care.

David fought the system for many years, trying to glean new information from the police, from Sally’s teachers and foster parents, and from the corrupted ‘Mega Pig’ file (Social Services’ name for the Jordan family’s file) in order to get his eldest daughter returned home to the damaged family unit.  I can only applaud his efforts.

This is a book that has been well edited and is easy to read.  It is compelling and a definite page turner.  I recommend it most highly.

Do contact me on if you have a true story or a fictional family relationship drama that you would like me to read and review.


Stevie Turner’s Review of D.G Kaye’s Memoir ‘Conflicted Hearts’.

D.G. Kaye

To purchase ‘Conflicted Hearts’, please click on the link below:

5 out of 5 stars!

I must write about how much I enjoyed D. G Kaye’s memoir ‘Conflicted Hearts’.  The troublesome relationship that the author has with her mother mirrors episodes in my own life, and I can empathise regarding feelings that ensue from the author wanting to stay away from the negativity of her mother’s narcissistic ways and try to carry on with her own life, but at the same time suffering an overwhelming guilt at staying away for long periods of time.

D.G Kaye is a strong-minded woman and a fearless lone traveller, who is always trying to please her mother.  However, I have found, as the author has, that some people just cannot be pleased no matter what is done to help them.  Sometimes it’s a case of standing back, taking a deep breath, and either walking away or growing a thick skin.

I admire the author’s courage in writing this memoir.  Being an only child I was never brave enough to walk away and so I had to grow the thick skin, but it was only in my mother’s last years that we actually became closer.  Through major illness and stress D.G Kaye tried to do what was best for her mother and herself, and I applaud her for it.  But at the end of the day it is only by actually living true to ourselves that we can really be happy.

Stevie Turner’s Review of ‘Holiday’, by Joanna Warrington


Worldwide Amazon purchase link:

Here’s the book’s description on Amazon:

Lyn wakes on her 50th birthday with no man, no close friends and middle age staring her in the face. Determined to change her sad trajectory Lyn books a surprise trip for herself and her three children through the American Southwest and Yellowstone. Before they even get on the plane, the trip hits a major snag. The children have invited Lyn’s estranged partner to join them. Now, the two adults and three children have to keep up appearances and pretend to be a happy—if somewhat demented—family on their trip. Along the way, amid the mountain vistas, secrets will be revealed and a hurtful betrayal confronted in this sweet, funny family saga. In addition to laugh-out-loud adventures with the rambunctious family, author of ‘Every Family Has One’ Joanna Warrington writes of the extreme culture shock that comes from visiting America from England. Things like gas pumps immediately throw our heroes for a loop, but they valiantly rise to the occasion. Warrington, who has previous experience in travel writing, makes the Southwest spring to life! This book will appeal to fans of travel writer Bill Bryson as well as fans of British TV sit-com ‘Outnumbered.’

My Review:

Five stars

Lyn is British and a 50 year old single parent of 3 children, Mel, Brett, and Felicity.  Lyn had divorced her husband Ray 11 years previously, as his penchant for birds of the feathered kind had been more important than spending time with his family.  Ray had also had issues with Felicity’s parentage after Lyn had admitted an affair. 

Lyn books a holiday to the USA for herself and her children, but finds her ex-husband at the airport, as her children had secretly arranged for their dad to go too.  Lyn is angry at not being told about Ray accompanying them, but grudgingly allows him to tag along. 

I learned a lot about the bird world, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas by reading this book.  At times I felt as though I was reading from a travel guide, but I enjoyed the overall story and the characters were well developed.  The book held my interest, and I wanted to see how it ended.  There was much humour in the book, and I recommend it for fans of women’s fiction, true-to-life family situations, and comedy.  I shall be reading more books by this author.

Stevie Turner’s Review of ‘Watching the Daisies’, by Brigid P. Gallagher.



Brigid P. Gallagher’s memoir ‘Watching the Daisies’ is not only an armchair traveller’s dream, it is also a mine of information for anybody suffering from symptoms of fibromyalgia; fatigue, aches and pains, and irritable bowel problems in particular.  Brigid is also fortunate enough to have a kind of sixth sense and can tell if people are ill or healthy by the colours of auras around them.  She is also an expert on natural medicines and horticulture.

I enjoyed reading about Brigid’s solo travelling adventures abroad (she is a very intrepid, brave lady by the way), though did wonder if too many unfamiliar foodstuffs were causing the irritable bowel symptoms! This book shows the reader how to be pro-active in coping with fibromyalgia and also how acceptance of your condition goes some way to finding inner peace.

I’m about the same age as Brigid, and also enjoyed the descriptions of various concerts she attended, especially of Tom Jones and in particular Thin Lizzy, one of my all-time favourite rock bands.

Good health to you Bridgid, and thank you for writing such a delightful memoir, although IMHO I would have preferred a few less exclamation marks. 

Stevie Turner’s Review of ‘P.S, I Forgive You’, by D. G Kaye.

I am a fan of biographies and autobiographies, and I must say I really enjoyed D.G Kaye’s P.S I Forgive You.


D.G Kaye and her siblings had the misfortune to be raised by a narcissistic and emotionally neglectful mother, who’d had exactly the same upbringing herself and so possibly considered her behaviour to be normal, knowing no other kind.  This type of upbringing leaves mental scars on the recipients, which Ms Kaye suffered from for years until she was old enough to learn some insight into her mother’s behaviour. 

I have a cousin, who is one of 4 children who were all unwanted ‘accidents’.  My aunt not only suffered from post-natal depression, but she was also emotionally neglectful, just like the author’s mother.  One child grew up exactly like her mother, one was cowed and never left home, and the other two went as far away from their mother as they could.  Therefore I understand completely why Ms Kaye distanced herself in her mother’s later years, as it was the only way she could achieve peace of mind. 

We grow in wisdom as we age, and with this insight comes forgiveness.  Ms Kaye can obviously never forget her troubled childhood, but I applaud her for finding the inner peace which my cousins were never able to do.  An inspirational memoir, which was shorter than I’d hoped, but still a five star read!

Review of ‘Long-Leggety Beasties’ by Alienora Taylor

I recently interviewed author Alienora Taylor and was interested to read one of her books, Long-Leggety Beasties, which I discovered focuses on a young teacher’s experiences in the classroom.  As Alienora taught for many years, I came to the swift conclusion that many of the events described might possibly or even probably be based on fact.  I’m one of life’s realists, and ‘faction’ is right up my street!

Worldwide book purchase link:

Alienora writes with that dry British humour that I love.  There were children in my own school which were just like the long-leggety beasties that the author describes, and all I can say is that anybody who tries to teach that kind of wayward child is very brave indeed!

The protagonist, Geraldine, is young and naïve, and is just waiting to be taken for a ride by her fifth formers.  However, the reader giggles quite a lot as the pages are turned and the children discover just how soft their new teacher really is.

Ms Taylor writes with a grasp of vocabulary and wit which reminds me of Noel Coward in his prime.  I take off my hat to somebody who survived in this job for so long!  I give this book 5 stars.  Recommended for fans of faction and dry wit.

Interview with J.R Lindermuth


J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 15 novels, including six in the Sticks Hetrick mystery series set in a fictional rural community near Harrisburg PA. A retired newspaper editor/writer, he is now librarian of his county’s historical society where he assists patrons with research and genealogy. He has published stories and articles in a variety of magazines, both print and on line. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

You can find J.R Lindermuth at the following social media sites:

To purchase J.R Lindermuth’s books, please visit his Amazon author page: 

1.  You were born in a coal mining town in Pennsylvania.  Was it the norm that most men in the town worked as miners?

Mining was the dominant industry when I was born, though my father, grandfather and other relatives worked on the railroad. Silk mill factories, which employed many men and women earlier, was in its decline.

2.  What has happened to coal mining in Pennsylvania now?  Are the mines closing down these days like they are in the UK?

The big mines here and in other counties have closed down. There are still a few small operations but the majority fell victim to environmental concerns, the expense of getting coal at deeper levels and lack of demand due to competition with alternate fuel sources–oil, gas and other.

3.  What’s the most interesting story you’ve ever covered in your previous work as a newspaper reporter?

That covers a lot of time; 40 years on the job, not counting additional in the military. Three that particularly stick in the memory would have to be covering a conference on the DMZ in Korea; the Dr. Jay C. Smith murder trial and the resettlement of refugees after the Vietnam war.

Readers may find this of interest–Dr. Smith was a high school principal who was sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of Susan Reinhert and her two children. His conviction was later overturned, but a co-conspirator William Bradfield died in prison.

4.  How has modern reporting changed from your time as a newspaperman?

I began with manual typewriters, switched to electric, then went through various computer phases. All digital cameras now; no more darkrooms. Change continues. It seems to me many, not all, but many reporters now rely more on technology than getting out of the office to interview and observe activities. There’s far too much personalizing of copy, too. A news article should convey just the facts, not opinion. Opinion is meant for the editorial page.

5.  Do you miss the buzz of working to a deadline now that you are retired?

I still often work to the deadline. My own fault. I’m a born procrastinator (according to my daughter) and sometimes need a push to get started on an assignment or duty.

6.  You serve as librarian of a historical society where you assist patrons with research and genealogy.  Have you delved into your own ancestry?

Oh, yes. A paternal aunt and I had started tracing family history when I was still in high school. I’ve now documented my paternal line back to the 1600s. So far I’ve only got my mother’s (Sears) back to ca 1790. Despite my German surname, my DNA results revealed my ethnicity to be 74 percent Great Britain.

7.  Tell us a little bit about your Sticks Hetrick Crime Series, and about your main protagonist.  What is your new book about?

Hetrick is a retired police chief and now a county detective who keeps getting involved in crime-solving. The protagonist in this latest book is one of Hetrick’s protégés, Officer Flora Vastine.

When Jan Kepler, a school teacher, birder and niece of a fellow officer, is murdered Flora finds herself thrust into an examination of the other woman’s life. Despite other suspects, the behaviour of another classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Her probing opens personal wounds as she examines the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.

8.  The Darkness, your 15th novel and the 7th in the Sticks Hetrick Crime Series, will be published on September 13th.  How do you promote a new book launch?

There are no book stores near me. Normally I would have a release day at the local library. But I’ve been under treatment for cancer since January (doing much better now) and not supposed to drive because of the medications I’m on, which pretty much restricts me to online promotions–hitting FB, Twitter and the other hot spots, seeking interviews like this, reviews and, possibly some paid advertising.

9.  If I asked you to write exactly seven words to describe your new book, what would you write?

Intriguing plot, skilled characterization, twists and romance.

10.  Do you send your manuscripts off to literary agents, or do you prefer to remain self-published?

After getting the normal hundreds of rejections from the BIG publishers, I got smart and started submitting to smaller publishers who are more attentive to their writers. I’ve only self-published one novel. I don’t currently have an agent.

11.  How long does it take you to write a novel?

That depends. Some are fully formulated in the mind and the writing goes very quickly. Others, counting germination, research, actual writing, can take years.

12.  Do you write only in the thriller genre?

No. I’ve written non-fiction on various subjects that interest me and fiction in the mystery/suspense, historical, Western and romance genres.

13.  Who is your favourite author?

That’s like asking which of my children is the favourite. I read widely, both fiction and non-fiction, and constantly find new writers to admire. Some of my favourites in the mystery genre would include James Lee Burke, Ruth Rendell, Harlan Coben, Ian Rankin, John Harvey, Elmore Leonard, Charles Willeford and Val McDermid.

14.  One of your hobbies is ‘listening to good music’.  What type of music or bands do you consider good?

My personal favourites are classical, blues and folk music. But I have catholic tastes and will try anything to see how it jars my senses.

15.  You have travelled extensively.  Where in the world would you like to travel to now if you had the opportunity?

The UK would be a priority, Mexico or the Caribbean close seconds.

16.  Where is the best place on earth?

The place where you feel full-filled and happy.

17.  Is your glass half full or half empty?

Half full.

18.  If you could save one possession in a fire, what would it be?

Most possessions can be replaced. Since I live alone I’d have to say family photos.

19.  Do you prefer to be alone, or to be around people?

I enjoy solitude, but I also like being with family and friends. Not in crowds, though. Abhor crowds.

20.  You are a  past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.  What were your duties?

As vice president I worked with the president and other officers to develop policies and helped coordinate our prestigious Derringer awards program and filled in for the president when she wasn’t available.  Through a process of judging, Derringer awards (named for the popular pocket pistol) have been annually presented since 1998 to authors in four length categories, from flash fiction up to novelette. The purpose the society is to promote and support short form mystery fiction and provide a forum for short story writers.



Thanks John, for answering my questions today.

Interview with Cuban author Alejandro Puerto Hernandez

Alejandro Puerto Hernandez is a young man of 19 years who since childhood has had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, particularly about other nations’ economic and political histories.  He has written ‘Western Cycles: United Kingdom’ detailing the U.K’s political history from World War II onwards, analysing the economic situation at the time, and the nation’s challenges with each successive government.


Today Alejandro has been kind enough to answer 20 of my questions.  You can find him on the links below or contact him on the email address given:


1.  Living in Cuba, how did you become interested in British economic and political history?  Was it for a college course?

No, it wasn’t for a college course (I start studying in September), but living in an under-developed country as I do, since my childhood I have had a genuine interest in learning about the economic and political systems of other nations, and using this knowledge as material for reflection and looking for answers in that magical space we call history.  In the particular case of the U.K I was interested in the way they managed to stabilise and even improve their economic and social situation and deal with challenges after the destruction of World War II.  An interesting case was retaining global influence despite losing power after the independence of the colonies.

2.  Did you spend a lot of your childhood writing stories on your own as I did, or did you live in a noisy household where finding time to write and pursue your interests was difficult?

 Much of my childhood was spent looking for historical information on the internet, mainly regarding the U.K. At first it was confusing because the sources gave very varied and sometimes contradictory criteria regarding the different heads of government according to their own policies.  That was the basis on which I began accumulating the most relevant information from an unbiased and entertaining view.  There came a point where I always had a book before my eyes.

With regard to living in a noisy household, I can say that Cuba is indeed loud in more ways than one.  But when writing, I have been able to channel noise into an inner peace which is very rewarding in more ways than one.

3.  Have you ever been to the UK?  If so, where did you visit?

 No, I have never been to the UK, but I would like to visit.  It would be very rewarding to travel by train from Liverpool to Manchester, as the first inter-city rail line was built here in 1830.  This opened the UK’s leadership in the Industrial Revolution. 

I would also like to visit London, because in the same way that all roads lead to Rome, there was a time when all trains carried passengers to London.

4.  How long did it take to write Western Cycles: United Kingdom?  Have you written any other books?

 As mentioned previously I have been writing since childhood.  However, I spent about three months writing this book, and also compiling much economic information into charts throughout the work with knowledge I have acquired recently.

I have not written any other books, but as I feel good when I write, I expect there will be others.  Right now I’m torn between Canada or France for my next Western Cycles book.  I hope that readers of this interview and of my blog will help me to decide.

5.  Were you surprised when Britain voted to leave the European Union?

 I was surprised, but when analysing the situation I don’t think it is as dramatic as the media describe.  I think the UK could retain its access to the common  European market by joining the EFTA countries.  Of course losing the unified trade policy, its economy would not be as integrated as it is today, but the majority of the UK population voted to leave and we should show respect.

6.  If you could live in the time of any of our British prime ministers, which time, past or present, would you choose?

 I would choose to live under the government of  Clement Atlee, because I would like to see in person the reaction of the British after Winston Churchill was not elected at the end of  World War II.  It would also be interesting to note the establishment of the welfare state in a period of scarcity and rationing, just as described in my book.  Of course after a few days or weeks I would like to go back to the present, as there was no internet.  I would write about the experience in my blog.

7.  Did you learn English as a young child, or just recently in your late teens?

I learned English in my childhood and perfected it during my adolescence.  It is a very easy language to learn, and it is a very practical ability to be able to speak two languages.  Of course I am proud to have Spanish as my mother tongue.  No other language is heard with such poetry.

 8.   Did you design the cover and edit Western Cycles: United Kingdom yourself?

I designed the book cover by placing the beautiful flag of the nation as the primary element.  I have always considered that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  I also used the Ubuntu Operating System and typography because its design philosophy is humanistic, so that gets the message across that I want to express in the book.

Regarding editing, I am asking the readers to send me their opinion and also find any errors from an editorial point of view and report them to my email

9.  In your opinion, what is the best way of marketing a book?

I think the ideal way is to use relevant points of the book in a blog or on social media, looking for ways in which readers feel comfortable being inside the book but not departing from the perimeter.  The online world should appreciate books that are not sold in bookstores.

The content offered online in my blog is not original and I have not worked hard to update it as there is no internet access in Cuban homes.  However, once I begin college I will be able to work harder on my blog and participate more fully online.

10.  Is your aim to ultimately become a full-time author, or do you have another career in mind?

Soon I will begin studying engineering in telecommunications and electronics, because this is interesting to me and a professional qualification in this subject is very versatile.  However, it doesn’t help with writing books, but I think I can combine both.  I am sure I will not stop writing.

11.  Which websites have you used most in your book research?

I used the National Archives of the UK Government, the Statistics Agency site, and the Government Site, and, which are all excellent.  I read many articles from The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, and the BBC from many years ago.  My main challenge was to bring all that information in an original and impartial format.

12.  Your Western Cycles blog states concise news items and general information from the Western world.  In Cuba, are you able to access European news programmes on TV, or do you rely on the internet for your information?

I used only the internet, as Cuban press and television are completely biased in reporting the international scene.

13.  Have you sent your book to any literary agents?  If so, have you had any replies?

I have not sent my book to any literary agent.  Any kind of replies, whether professional or friendly, can be sent to

14.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?  What will you be doing?

I think I will be travelling all over the world, learning the culture of different peoples and collecting photographs of historical sites.  Tourism is a very authentic way to encourage the learning of foreign languages, respect for the customs of other countries, and closer ties of understanding between nations.

15.  Which author has had the most influence on you?

Walter Isaacson is not a historian and serves more as a journalist than a writer, but his book ‘Steve Jobs’ (2011) changed the way we perceive literature, especially the historical genre.  Walter has the ability to present each subject starting with an overview of the overall concept in each case, and then argue in a simple and precise way without losing the chronological order.  I believe that history books should appreciate this style.  That’s why I transferred this ability to Western Cycles: United Kingdom.

 16.  In your opinion, which genre of books is the most popular?

 First Epic Fantasy, and Dystopian Science Fiction second.  In this genre I appreciate popular works such as Game of Thrones, but the folklore is subject to conflict.  For example in the saga abound dragons, giants and witches, but the main thing is the civil war for the Iron Throne inspired by the Wars of the Roses as a primary historical source.

17.  Apart from writing, what other interests do you have?

I like video games a lot.  I enjoy Civilization Saga and Sid Meiers Pirates created by 2K Games.  In addition StarCraft and Warcraft developed by Blizzard, but I’m not as good as I’d like to be.  Using emulators I play The Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem from Nintendo and Final Fantasy (the older the best).  I admire Electronic Arts games. 

18.  If you could choose where to live, where would you like to be?

I think it’s not in Cuba, but should be a place near the sea.  Among the different places in Cuba I consider myself fortunate to live in Cienfuegos.  It is a small city founded by the French.  It is much less noisy than Havana, and cleaner.

19.  What is the one thing you cannot do without?

I cannot write without a glass of water next to me. Many times I am not thirsty, but I feel more comfortable that way.

20.  Can you dance the Samba? 

Definitely not!

Thanks Alejandro for your answers.  I also like a glass of water next to me while I’m writing!





Stevie Turner’s Review of ‘Random Tales’ by Don Massenzio

Random Tales

Don Massenzio has written 4 very readable short stories with different themes. There is the motorbike rider in ‘Heal Thyself’ who discovers his body is startlingly different after an accident, the jazz pianist in ‘Play it again Des’ who gets more than he bargained for, and the delightful ‘Lucy’s Christmas Miracle’ involving Detective Frank Rozzani and a possible child abduction scenario.  However, my favourite was the excellent ‘August 1963’ about how a young white boy, lonely and feeling a misfit amongst his peers, befriends 3 black children in the racial troubles of the 1960’s in the South.

There are a couple of editing errors and so I cannot give the full 5 stars, but nevertheless enjoyed these four stories.  Recommended for fans of suspenseful short stories.

Mr Massenzio also explains how he came to write the four stories, and that in particular ‘Lucy’s Christmas Miracle’ was written in a couple of hours on a turbulent airplane flight.  I would think writing the story must have been very therapeutic in the situation he found himself in!

‘Life’, by Stevie Turner – 18 short stories about significant life events

We have all at some point or other gone through a significant life event, be it a love affair or marriage, parenthood, divorce, bereavement, a life-threatening illness, or a change of job.  I decided earlier this year to write several short stories,  originally intending them to be about birth, marriage and death.  However, other important life event subjects came to mind, and I ended up with 18 stories which I put together in a collection entitled Life. 

Life was published last week as an e-book:

Life book cover

Life will be free to download from June 18th – June 22nd 2016.

Here are the first few paragraphs of ‘For All Time’, one of the stories in the collection:



Fog had started drifting in from across the valley as Jack Richards eased the bus into the yard and turned off the engine.  The late shifts didn’t sit well with his digestive system, and his stomach rumbled angrily.  He pushed open the little payment counter to the left of his seat and stood up, emitting a loud yawn.

            His last job for the night was to ensure that nobody had left any possessions on the bus.  Strong floodlights in the yard picked out row upon row of empty seats until he checked at the back.  There on the last row lay a small envelope, unsealed and partly spilling its contents onto the floor.  Jack picked up the envelope and peered inside, noticing two photographs of an obviously overweight Siamese cat with a yellow collar around its neck.  He reached down and picked up another two photos; one of the same cat, and another which he assumed was possibly the animal’s owner.

            He angled the photo of the owner under the glare of a security floodlight for a better view.  He did not remember seeing her on the bus at all or taking her fare.  The woman looked to be somewhere in her late thirties or early forties, quite pretty with dark Italian or Spanish-type features.  The corners of her mouth were upturned, and Jack found himself smiling back at her image.  He gathered all the photos together and placed them back in the envelope, intending to turn them in to the girls running the lost property office the next morning.


By the time his next shift came around, Jack had glanced at the woman’s picture several more times, and felt as though he knew her.  He had decided that he would prefer to hand the photos to her personally the very next time she stepped onto the bus, and so kept them near to him in the inside pocket of his work’s blazer and found himself looking at them quite often.  In no time he had fashioned a life for her in his head, telling himself that her name was Maria Hernandez and that she had been unlucky in love, thus the reason for possessing so many photos of cats.  He imagined her living alone and unloved in a small flat with just her cat for company; her flat situated just around the corner from his own. He knew that she would be so eternally grateful for the safe return of the pictures that she would invite him in for coffee and a piece of cake.  Jack, just as lonely, would accept her invitation with alacrity, reasoning that fate had brought them together and that only fate alone would know what might then transpire between the two of them.

            From that moment on he began to scrutinise the faces of every passenger who boarded his bus, but to his chagrin Maria did not reappear.  After two months had elapsed, Jack masked his disappointment, told himself not to be so stupid, and handed the photos in to the girls in the lost property office……

Find out what happens to Jack by downloading ‘Life’….it’s not what you think!

New Book Fanfare – Repent at Leisure by Stevie Turner

Thanks to Sally Cronin for the promotion today.

Stevie Turner interviews author Amy Reade

Hello today to Amy Reade, who writes women’s contemporary and gothic fiction. Her books have been compared to authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Amy’s novels feature vivid descriptions of exotic and fascinating locations, such as the Thousand Islands region of New York State, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Amy Reade   House of the Hanging Jade cover.jpg  Secrets Of Hallstead House (eBook)The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor_ebook cover

1. You grew up in the Thousand Islands region of upstate New York, but moved to southern New Jersey.  Which one feels more like home?

I would say they both feel like home. When people ask me where I’m from, I tell them I grew up in northern New York and I now live in New Jersey. We try to take our kids to visit family in New York as often as possible, and when we’re up there we all like to spend time on the St. Lawrence River. I like my kids to have some of the same experiences I had growing up in that area of the country. But that being said, they are growing up in southern New Jersey, which will always be home to them.

2.  You are a qualified lawyer.  Do you think you will ever go back to the law when your children are grown?

I can’t see myself going back to the practice of law no matter how old my kids are. I love writing too much, and I don’t think I could ever feel that way about the legal field.

3.  How long did it take you to acquire your law degree?  Were you fixed on becoming a lawyer throughout your teenage years?

I was not fixed on becoming a lawyer when I was a teenager. I really wanted to be a veterinarian. After my first few years in college, though, it became clear that I just didn’t have a passion for science and that veterinary school wasn’t for me. So after I graduated I spent the next three years in law school.

4.  When did you first realise that you wanted to write?

When I practiced law I wrote all the time, every day. The ability to write is an essential skill for a lawyer, but much of that writing is dull and uninspiring, at least in my opinion. It was several years after I stopped practicing when I first realized I wanted to write fiction. I attended a three-night writing workshop at a local library and I was hooked from the first class.

5.  You’ve set your new series of books (as yet untitled) in Edinburgh.  What is it that attracts you to Scotland?  Have you ever visited there?

There are so many things I love about Scotland- its history and lore, its legends, its customs, its rugged and majestic beauty, the people, the food, you name it. And I have visited- in fact, just last week I returned from a trip to the Highlands, where I was immersed in some of the most beautiful vistas I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing.

6.  Your three standalone books are of the women’s fiction genre with added suspense, just like mine.  Do you ever read or write out of this genre, e.g fantasy?

I read outside my genre quite often (especially biographies, cookbooks, and historical), but I must say I almost never write outside the genre. I have written a few essays and I have a book of historical fiction tucked away on my computer, but I’m not ready to work on that just yet.

7.  What is your all-time favourite book?

A tough question! I would have to say it’s Pride and Prejudice, although my favorite changes from time to time. I also love anything by Ernest Hemingway, M.C. Beaton, and James Herriot.

8.  Have you ever entered your stories into any writing competitions?

I have not. Most competitions I hear about are for short stories, and I am dreadful at writing short stories. Too long-winded, I guess! I recently wrote something to enter in a magazine contest, but I didn’t find out about the contest until the weekend before the submission was due and I just ran out of time to revise my essay.

9.  What do you find is the best way of promoting your books?

One of the best ways for me to promote books is to make personal appearances at book signings, etc. Unfortunately, that’s also the most time-consuming and expensive way to promote books. But I love to meet readers and to talk with them, so I like to schedule appearances whenever I can. The other best way, of course, is by word-of-mouth. It’s how many of my readers have been introduced to my books and the reason they’ve reached out to me on social media. I’m very grateful for anyone who passes along the word about my books.
10.  How do you find inspiration for your stories?

Inspiration comes from different places. The inspiration for my new release, House of the Hanging Jade, for example, came from a home I toured in Hawaii a few years ago. The inspiration for my first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, came from the beauty of the place where I grew up.

11. One of your books is entitled ‘The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor’.  Have you ever seen a ghost, and so wrote the book from personal experience?

I have never seen a ghost, so I didn’t write that aspect of the book from personal experience. In The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, only one person, maybe two, can actually see the ghost, so there is some question as to whether she really exists. I wanted to leave that question hanging so readers could answer it for themselves.
12.  How do you find time to write with three children, a dog and two cats to look after?

My kids and my husband are all great about leaving me alone when I’m writing. And I try to write as much as I can when the kids are at school, so if they need me for something when they’re home, I can put the work aside and help them with whatever they need. My dog is not demanding at all, so as long as I give her some attention every now and then, she’s perfectly content. And as for the cats, they pretty much ignore me unless they’re hungry.
13.  Are any of your children interested in creative writing?

They have quite a bit of writing to do for school, so most of their writing is for assignments at this point. I think the last thing they want to do at the end of a long day is sit down to do more writing.
 14.  You prefer not to be too far from a river, stream, or the sea. Why is this?

I’m a product of where I grew up, near the St. Lawrence River, the Black River, and Lake Ontario in New York State. And now I live just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean. The only time I haven’t lived close to water was in law school, and I felt its absence keenly. Water is peaceful, calming, and mesmerizing, no matter what its mood, and I love the sound it makes.

15.  You love to cook.  What is the most unusual dish you have made?

I don’t know how unusual it is, but I do make a bouillabaisse with different kinds of fish and seafood. I serve it with a homemade rouille and it’s wonderful. I learned to make it in a cookery class in Ireland.

16.  I find that most wines spoil the taste of good food due to their overpowering flavour.  Do you agree?

When I’m at home I generally do not drink wine with dinner. I prefer water or milk. I like wine with cheese before dinner, and I think it does pair well with cheese. One of my favorite combinations is port and Stilton, but that’s an evening indulgence, not a before-dinner treat.

17.  Were you terrified or serene and laid back during your television interview?  Were you aware of the questions you were going to be asked?

I felt laid-back, but when I watched the interview I some signs of nervousness I didn’t feel. I knew basically the direction the questions would take, but I didn’t know the questions specifically.

18.  Did you find an increase in book sales after the interview?

To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t understand most of the metrics and analytics, as hard as I’ve tried to learn them.

19.  The playlists for your books given on your website are eclectic.  What is your favourite type of music?

It depends on what I’m doing. If I’m writing, I prefer unfamiliar classical music or instrumental music from the place where my story is set. If I’m cleaning or using the spin bike, it has to be fast-paced. If I’m driving, I actually prefer listening to the BBC.

20.  Can you play a musical instrument?

I played both the oboe and the clarinet for years, but it’s been a long time since I played either one. I also play in a handbell choir, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself proficient. And I can play exactly one Christmas carol on the piano.

Thanks Amy for agreeing to be interviewed.  If any other authors or publishers reading this would like to be interviewed, then please contact me on my website

Here’s a list of places to find Amy:










Stevie Turner interviews Marnie Cate

Marnie Cate.png

Marnie Cate is  a fellow Creativia author, whom I would like to showcase today.

You can find Marnie on the following social media:

Twitter: @ Marnie_Cate
1. I think of Montana and ‘The Horse Whisperer’ comes to mind.  Did you grow up on a ranch?
There are beautiful ranches in Montana but I lived in an Irish
mining town.

2. Where is home to you – Montana, Arizona, or California?

I think my heart will always be in California.

3.  An image of a silver nest and an unknown secret came to you, and you felt compelled to write a book.  What is the book about?

Mara Stone finds out her family were given the gift of elemental magic.  After many years of her gift being taken from her, it has been restored by necessity.  The story is about her learning the magic, the reasons for its containment, her family, and the boy she loves.

4.  What book are you reading at the moment?

The Running Game by LE Fitzpatrick

5. Do you prefer writing for teens or adults?

I have always loved reading young adult books.  When I am writing, I am not focused on who I am writing for but instead the story.

6.  When you’re working on a novel, do you forget the time and stay up all night, only to regret it the next day?

I am more likely to get up early to write than stay up too late.

7.  Are you working on a new novel?

I am working on Book 3 of the Protectors of the Elemental Magic series.

8.  How do you market your books?

Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth.  I am very lucky to have a
fantastic publisher that helps with this.

9.  Which writer would you like to have dinner with?

Jennifer Estep.  I am in love with her Elemental Assassin series. She has such real characters.

10. Do you people-watch from the outside, or are you in with the in crowd?

I bounce back and forth with wanting to be part of the crowd and wanting to be alone.  If I had to pick one, I would say I am more of an outsider looking in.

11. What’s the best day you can remember?

There are so many days.

12. Looking back, do you think you got married too young, or do you think that 19 is a good age to marry when a person is young and adaptable?

Nineteen is way too young.  I will always love the person I married but we had grown into different people.  I think that some people can make it work but I would not recommend it.

13. Apart from family and pets, what’s the first thing you’d save in a fire?

My laptop, my Judi Dench movies and my grandmother’s painting (one she purchased and passed on to my sister).

14. What is it about Dame Judi Dench that you love?

I was at a sad period of life when I found Judi Dench by accident. I watched her tv series, A Fine Romance and I became mesmerized by her.  There is something amazing about her.  As I sought out more, I grew to like her as a person and an extremely gifted artist.

15. If you could ask Dame Judi one question, what would it be?

After I stopped crying, I would ask her what her favourite character was that she played.

16.  Can you speak another language?

Sadly, no.

17. Where would you like to go if money was no object?

London, Ireland, Scotland.

18.  If you could change one thing, what would it be?

There are things that I think I would change but the path it would have closed for me would not be worth it.  Every mistake is a learning lesson.  Every life event leads to another.  But if you insist on an answer, I wouldn’t have wasted my money on a Microsoft Surface 2 and I would have bought the MacBook Air.

19. When you’re not writing, what hobbies do you have?

With work, writing and family, I have no time for hobbies.

20. Which one song can you listen to over and over again?

Parov Stelar’s Booty Swing or Judi Dench singing Send in the Clowns.

Thanks Marnie, for agreeing to answer my 20 questions.  If any other authors or publishers would like to be interviewed, please contact me on my website with a little bit of information about yourself.

Stevie Turner interviews author Colin Guest

Colin Guest photo


Colin has many tales to tell, having travelled the world widely in the course of his work.  Colin’s book’s Follow in the Tigerman’s Footsteps and An Expat’s Experiences of Living in Turkey can be found on his worldwide Amazon author link:

You can find Colin on the social media listed below:


1.  At what age did you first start writing?

I loved writing while at school, with my quite good at writing composition. In 1985 just before going to work in Brunei, I joined a correspondence writing course. However, my tutor who had been pleased with my progress was replaced with one who for some reason, did not believe the true stories I wrote were true. I was so annoyed with her comments that I stopped the course. I then started writing again after joining a course by Jo Parfitt, with my writing a number of articles that were published in online magazines starting in 2006.

2.  You did a 5 year apprenticeship as a joiner/shopfitter. Do you think there’s the same apprentice opportunities for young people today?

Unfortunately, no. Most companies stopped apprenticeships many years ago. This I think a great pity, as it enabled young people to learn a trade. Nowadays, although it seems there are numerous short term training sessions available, due to the length of them, I do not think they allow for adequate training.

3.  Your memoir, ‘Follow in the Tigerman’s Footsteps’ tells of your experiences and adventures whilst living and working for 19 years in the Middle East, Far East, and North Africa.  Why did you prefer to work in these countries rather than in the UK?

Because I could earn far more money than if I worked in the UK. Also, by working in other countries with foreign workers, I knew it would improve my future career prospects.

4.  Were any of your adventures life-threatening?

Yes, several. For Iran, see below. In Saudi Arabia, one of our men went crazy at a joke comment I made and thrust the tip of a spoon in my throat. I was petrified and thought he was going to rip my throat out. However, after what seemed like a life-time he removed it and walked away. In Qatar I almost drowned while snorkeling, and only by making a supreme effort survived. While in Manila the capital city of the Philippines, an earthquake occurred. Fortunately, it was a short one. I later heard that had it lasted a few seconds longer, it could have proved fatal.


5.  Have you ever been caught up in a war zone?

The nearest I came to a war zone was when working in Iran, a revolution broke out that led to the downfall of the Shah of Iran. At one time on the way to work in our coach, we had to pass several crossroads guarded by tanks with armed soldiers standing next to them. I was about to take a photo of one of the tanks when one of the guards must have seen me. On seeing him raise and point his rifle at me, I quickly decided not to take the photo and dropped to the floor of our coach. My work colleagues were not amused to say the least. Later, due to the deteriorating situation, along with a team of expat workers that I was the superintendant- in- charge of, we had to leave the country.

6.  Why do you call yourself ‘Tigerman?’

I love tigers and like them love to roam far and wide. I have adopted a tiger from Care for the Wild/Born Free organisation for the past ten years.

7.  What kind of articles do you write for online magazines?

Numerous have been about my working/living in various countries, including how I came to live as an expat in Kemer down on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast. I also wrote about the rules and regulation requirements on how a foreigner can get married to a Turkish citizen. Retirement in Turkey, and Living in Istanbul, one of the most vibrant cities in the world. I also write love poems, with several receiving excellent comments. One ended up in the final five of a poetry contest, with my recently submitting a love poem in a contest where the winner gets their poem made into a film.

8. Are you writing anything at the moment?

Yes, I am working on my first novel. This is a mixture of love/ romance and about a best selling author of steamy novels helping a younger writer find a publishing agent. The present ending is a thrilling climax in the Italian Alps.

9.  Who is your favourite author?

I have several authors whose books I read. These include Lee Child, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum and Eric Van Lustbader

10.  One of your articles, published in the ex-pat Nexus magazine is called ‘How I Travelled to 14 Countries with no Money’.  How did you travel to 14 countries with no money?

I obtained contracts to work on mainly high-class interior fit-out projects in these countries. So not only did it cost me no money to travel there, I was well paid to go there.

11. Now that you are retired, has the wanderlust stopped, or do you still have itchy feet?

No. My wife and I love traveling. We normally go abroad on holiday twice a year.

12.  Where will you be spending your holidays this year?

Probably Italy and England.

13.  How do you market your books?  Do you enjoy the marketing side of writing?

I belong to several writing organisations and expat sites that promote my book. I also use social media and take part in online interviews, with my recently taking part in an American live radio interview show re my book.

Although it can be rather challenging, I enjoy marketing my book. I know it is an important part of being an author, and do my best to get the word out about my book.

14.  What is the downside of being an ex-pat in a foreign country?

You cannot always get the food you’re used to eating. If married, unless your wife and family are with you, it can be lonely, and put a strain on relationships. Having to try and learn the language, so as to better understand things.

15.  What advice would you give to people thinking of going to live in Turkey?

Be warned that on the Mediterranean and Aegean Coast where many English expats live/holiday, the temperatures can be very high compared to England. 50 degrees centigrade is not that unusual down on the Med. A major plus is that Turkish people are very friendly and hospitable.
16.  How many languages can you speak?

One. Although I understand quite a bit of Turkish and know many words, despite trying for many years, I‘m sorry to say I have still not learnt to speak Turkish.
17.  Do you ever get homesick for Plymouth?

18.  Apart from writing and travelling, what are your hobbies?

I love walking with my wife, exploring parts of old cities and looking for interesting antiques, reading and wood carving.
19.  What’s number one on your bucket list?

At present, I am in the process of working with a media company who think my book could be used as the basis for a television series. If successful, it would be the icing on the cake.
20.  What one possession could you not do without?

My wonderful wife who I love dearly.

Thanks Colin for agreeing to answer my questions.  If any other authors/publishers would like to be interviewed, please contact me on


Stevie Turner interviews Cynthia Morgan

Cynthia Morgan's photo


I am pleased that Cynthia Morgan, one of my fellow Creativia authors, has agreed to answer 20 of my questions. Cynthia A. Morgan is the creator of the mythical realm of Jyndari and author of the epic fantasy, “Dark Fey: The Reviled”, Book One of the Dark Fey Triology.  “The Reviled” draws the reader into a mystical realm of primordial forests, magic and the lives of Light-loving and Darkness-revering Feykind.  Not to be confused with pixies or “Tinkerbell” type fairies, the feyfolk of Jyndari are winged beings the size of any human who live in a realm where tradition, magic, and spirituality are fundamentals of everyday life.

Reviews of Dark Fey continue to earn 5 stars by lovers of fantasy as well as readers who do not typically enjoy that genre.  Compared to a fantasy version of a play by Shakespeare, “Dark Fey The Reviled” is a brutally beautiful story of Love, Hope, and finding Peace in the Darkness.

The Reviled by Cynthia Morgan

You can find out more about Cynthia and her books by clicking on the links below:

Worldwide Amazon book link:

Dark Fey The Reviled on Barnes and Noble:



Twitter &


1.  Did you believe in fairies as a child?

I am sure I did, but it wasn’t something that I specifically focused on. More importantly was the fact that my parents encouraged my imagination and creativity, which eventually blossomed into poetry and stories, and ultimately, the Fey of Jyndari.

2.  At what age did you start writing poetry?

I have been writing and rhyming since I was very young. In fact, I recently discovered cards I wrote to my mother as a child, in crayon, that contained poetry I had written for her.

3.  Are you an only child?

No, I have one older sister, with whom I am very close.

4.  Were you ever in trouble for daydreaming as a child?

Many times in school, but more for writing (stories) when I should have been studying. When I was at home daydreaming was fine J

5.  Why do you prefer to write fantasy above other genres?

I actually do not necessarily prefer it. I have written Regency Period Dramas, Post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi, and YA Romance, all of which I hope to eventually publish. My focus right now just happens to be Fantasy, although having said all that, I do very much enjoy creating a tale in a realm where I am free to make up the rules as I go along.

6.  Tell us a little bit about your latest work, book 3 of the ‘Dark Fey’ trilogy.

Book Three will take the story and characters of Dark Fey into the final phase; that quintessential battle that ultimately must take place. It will also broaden the spectrum a bit, allowing several of the minor characters the “flex their wings’ so to speak, and it will take an unexpected turn in order to accomplish the Purpose I have planned for it.  I know that’s rather vague, but can’t give too much away before I’ve even written it.

7.  Where or how do you find the inspiration for your plots?

The original inspiration for the story came to me through a vivid dream, which I could not stop thinking about days afterward. As I thought about it, the characters developed and the idea expanded, so I finally sat down and wrote out the first scene, which is now Chapter Six of The Reviled.

8.  Did you promote your blog ‘Booknvolume’ in order to attract 15,000 followers, or did they just subscribe?

I do very minimal promotion via Twitter, but by and large, those who follow me subscribed on their own for their own reasons. I am Blessed and Amazed each time I log in and see the following continuing to increase, particularly because when I started out less than three years ago I didn’t have a clue about blogging.

9.  Which social media do you think is best for promoting your books?

I have had the most response through Twitter and have been able to network with the broadest range of other writers/authors there. I think with any social media a certain level of caution is merited, but I am always willing to learn about new avenues from other Indies; this is simply where I have had the most success.
10. Where in the world is home to you?

I reside in Pennsylvania, but Wales is Home to my Heart and Spirit. The Poem “Home” which I wrote about the love I feel for the homeland of my Fathers and the Call I constantly feel to return to that place, although I’ve never stepped foot there (yet) may explain better:

11. Do you write full-time, or do you also have a day job?

I look forward to the day when I will be able write full-time, as there is nothing I desire to do more, but until then, I also work a day job as a medical/administrative secretary.

12. Do you think there is life on Mars?

I believe the possibility exists that there was once life on Mars, though long ago. Having said that, however, I do also believe there is Life on many other worlds throughout the Cosmos.  The mathematical probability is simply too great to discount.  Besides, I believe all the Heavens were Created by the Great Artist of all Life and I do not know of any Artist or Creative Individual that creates just one work of art and then says they are done.

13. Does it concern you that we are just floating around in space ad infinitum?

Personally, I believe everything has Purpose, even if we do not understand that Purpose or plan. So no I am not worried. I truly Believe it is all very well in hand.

14. Have you ever seen a ghost?

Yes I have, actually, and it (she) scared the bejebbers out of me! More frequently, however, I have experienced the presence of energy without form.

15. Do you believe our spirits live on after death?

I believe our spirits do live on after the physical body ceases and it is a subject I am currently exploring on my blog (Those We Do Not Speak Of – )

16. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

I am very eclectic and enjoy everything from Mozart to Marilyn Manson, Beethoven to Depeche Mode, and Hans Zimmer to Delirium. The only form I am not enamored with, really, is rap.

17. Is there anywhere you’d love to visit, but as yet haven’t done so?

First and Foremost, Great Britain. But I’d love to see Italy, the French countryside, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Australia, part of the Caribbean, Hawaii, Romania, Kenya ….If it’s out there, I’d probably love to visit.

18. Do you find yourself laughing at things that others don’t find funny?

All the time. Laughter is the Music composed by the Soul that is Shared through the Heart.

19. Are you a positive Blue Sky thinker?

I do try to be, if only to keep the pragmatist in me in check!

20. Which one of your possessions would you take with you to a desert island?

Presuming that I am not stranded, but just staying on holiday, I would say my camera so I could capture the moment(s). If however you mean I am going to be stranded and can take only one thing, then I’d say my Swiss Army Knife.  There I go being pragmatic, but MacGyver would approve.

Thanks Cynthia for taking the time to answer my questions.  Like you I worked as a medical secretary, and I also am not enamoured with rap!

If any authors/publishers would like to answer 20 of my questions, please contact me on my website  with some information about yourself.


Stevie Turner interviews author Malcolm Archibald

Malcolm Archibald photo


Today is the turn of fellow Creativia author and Dundee Book Prize winner, Malcolm Archibald, to answer 20 of my questions. Check out the many books that Malcolm has written by clicking on his Amazon author page here:

1.  Which of the many jobs you have done did you like the most?

Most jobs have highs and lows. I was a rural postman in the Scottish Borders for years and I miss watching the world wake up, watching the sun slowly rise over the valley of the Tweed and visiting the out-of-the-way farms and cottages that virtually nobody ever sees. Delivering to hill farms above the cloud base was fun; watching children’s faces when they receive Christmas presents made the long hours worthwhile. In saying that, working as a historical researcher had the thrill of finding material that had not been read for decades or centuries, piecing together a jig-saw of facts to reach a new conclusion [and always finding new material for a book in the bye-going] was endlessly fascinating, while lecturing had many ups. When one had a student who thought he or she could not do something, there was no greater pleasure than in helping them break the barrier so they realised they had a good brain there, despite what others had told them. That was perhaps the greatest pleasure of them all.

2.  You write mainly historical fiction and non-fiction. Do you carry out all your research before you begin to write, or do you research as you go along?

Mixed! I always start with an amount of general knowledge about the subject, but as characters and scenes develop there is always a need to research more, looking for details. For instance in ‘The Darkest Walk’ I had to delve into the type of train that Queen Victoria travelled in, and the layout of a Chartist village, and in ‘Our Land of Palestine’ there was a need to find out about Jerusalem in 1915 and the organisation of the local Ottoman army. The only danger about that [danger is not the right word] is that research becomes an end in itself.

3.  Which period in history interests you the most? Would you have liked to live in that time?

The nineteenth century, undoubtedly. There was so much happening there, so many changes; the world opened up, conditions improved for so many people, there was opportunity to move, to see new things, to experience mechanical and transport innovations, geographical discoveries, to sail on clipper ships and the first steam vessels, to see the development of steam trains and still ride a stage coach, to see the world opening up and hear about, or travel to, new places with exotic people. This century seems so dull with its push-button living and a monoculture that seems to embrace everybody.

4.  Did it bother you being a mature student amongst teenagers when studying for a history degree?

A wee bit. I felt a bit out of place but there were major advantages: compared to working 50 or 60 hour weeks in the Post a student’s life was easy [although I was working part time as well] and having free access to the amazing university library and other resources was breath-taking. The lecturers treated me just like another student – and there were other mature students there. I had a gentleman of 80 in one of my classes; he bicycled to the university and back, got his degree and enrolled for another afterward. The last I heard he had collected four honours degrees in subjects as diverse as history, computing and town planning.

5.  You won the Dundee Book Prize with Whales for the Wizard. What is this story about?

‘Whales’ is a novel set in Dundee in 1860, when the Dundee whaling industry was on the cusp of a revival with the use of steam powered whaling ships. It is based partly on truth, the story of a whaling ship that vanished in the Arctic but was discovered intact, hundreds of miles from where it disappeared. Of course I made it into a murder-mystery story to add spice.

6.  Did any literary agents contact you after you won the Dundee Book Prize?

I am afraid not! Still hopeful. . .

7.  Are any of your novels partly autobiographical?

I have little bits of me in some of them, yes. My Victorian detective, James Mendick, shares some life experiences with me in ‘The Darkest Walk’, while young Mathew Pryde in ‘Pryde’s Rock’ echoes part of my early life. However I am saying no more than that!

8.  What made you choose Creativia publishers for your latest novel Windrush?

Word of mouth! I heard a lot of good things about Creativia. I heard they were fast, efficient, created excellent covers and had a good track record of sales. So far all I have heard has proven to be correct.

9.  If you were alive in 2110 and had carried out historical research for a novel, how would you go on to describe the decade from 2006 – 2016?

It is too early yet to understand this past decade. We will have to wait and see what transpires; things that seem important today may only be a passing phase, while things that seem insignificant may escalate to become major troubles or quite the reverse. To me, it seems that the rise [or rather resurgence] or radical Islam is the most important thing, but combine that with the growing power of China and the recovery of Russia and it points to a whole raft of interesting scenarios. The USA having its first black President could be of monumental importance in the future, and the massive immigration into Europe could alter the demography of that continent for centuries: or the tide could turn and many could return home to the Middle East. In my own country, Scotland had a close vote for independence that could yet happen as the people are discontented with the present political set up within the UK.

10. What are you working on at the moment?

I have a number of on-going projects. I am working on the second in the Windrush series for Creativia, I am waiting for Fledgling Press to publish the next Mendick detective novel, I am waiting for Fort Publishing to publish a non-fiction book about Dundee I wrote last year, I am working on a piece of non-fiction on Midlothian crime and I am writing the last in a series of historical articles for a Scottish-American magazine.

11. What type of articles do you write for newspapers (I wrote one about 10 years ago, but The Daily Mail told me it was too controversial to be published!)?

Too controversial? That sounds like fun! What was it about – you have me intrigued! I write historical pieces, usually the slants of history that the mainstream history books do not speak of. Local history rather than the big things.

12. What’s the best day you’ve ever had as a lecturer?

No single day. My best experiences were when I saw the look of joy on a student’s face when they grasp something they believe was beyond them, or realise that Further Education is nothing like school and they matter, they are valued and the lecturers actively want them to succeed. I had one class in Dundee that sticks in my mind; they were all nurses and there were tears when we parted – not all from the students. It is possible to create a strong bond with a class; that makes it all worthwhile.

13. What book are you reading at the moment?

One that my son gave me: Lincoln Paine’s ‘The Sea and Civilization’, and one my younger daughter gave me: ‘The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean’ by David Abulafia – do you see a common thread there? In his next case, Mendick is at sea, while the next Windrush book is based partly in Malta and partly in the Crimea.

14. How do you market your books?

Badly. I am terrible at that. I have no major problems in writing books; that is what I do but my marketing skills are poor.

15. When you go hill walking, does it clear your mind, or are you thinking about the folklore and mythology associated with that area?

Both. The rhythm of walking, combined with the beauty and peace of the hills, the constant possibility of seeing wildlife and the always-changing weather [this is Scotland after all] chases away the normal worries of life, but there is amazing depth in the hills. Every animal and bird has its own fund of folklore [I wrote a short book about that once], every plant and tree had a use and a story and up here there is nowhere without a fund of legend and myth. We live in the shadow of a thirteenth century abbey that was burned by the notorious Wolf of Badenoch [see my Creativia published ‘Shadow of the Wolf’], with Pictish symbols stones, battlefields and fishing villages only a few miles away. There are tales of witches and covenanters, great floods and droughts, clan feuds and stage-coach crashes. . . there are so many layers of history and so many interwoven stories that one is never short of material.

16. After your youngest daughter moves out next week, how will you cope with an empty nest?

Oh – sad question. She has been gradually moving away as she has been at university for years – she obtained her Honours at St Andrews last year and is now completing her Masters in Dundee. Guess who is the proud dad? She used to come home for the summer and Cathy – my wife – was always emotional when she returned back south. Now she is moving into a permanent flat – and quite right of course- there is a feeling of good-bye. Cathy and I have been married upward of 35 years and always had children, so this is a massive change.

17. What’s number one on your bucket list?

That has never changed: my top priority is to keep Cathy happy. That is ongoing and will never change.

18. Can you sing in harmony or play a musical instrument?

Ha ha ha! When I had a rowdy class I always threatened to sing to them. One minute of my out-of-tune croaking and they were quiet as a spring night. I am the most tuneless singer the world has ever seen. When I try to sing at home the wife-woman puts me out of the room.

19. Did you take part in the Millennium celebrations in Edinburgh?

I was sick with the flu that night which spoiled things for the rest of the family. A pity: millenniums don’t come around very often and I may be a little old to enjoy the next.

20. Does it bother you to be in the middle of a crowd of people, or do you prefer to be on the outside looking in?

That depends on my mood, really. When I was younger I was an avid football fan [Edinburgh Hibernian in case anybody is interested – so I am used to disappointments!] so was happy in the midst of a raucous crowd. People and observing people, are tools of the writer. However I am a quiet living man so am probably happier outside looking in.


Thanks Malcolm for your brilliant answers!  If any authors/publishers would like to answer 20 of my questions, please contact me on my website  with some information about yourself.






Stevie Turner interviews author Margaret Millmore

Margaret Millmore photo


Today is the turn of another Creativia author, Margaret Millmore, to answer my 20 questions. As well as her replies here, you can also find out more about Margaret by clicking on the links below:

 1.  Tell us something about your work in progress.

I’ve just finished the first draft of What Haunts Me (Ghost Killer – Book II). It continues the adventures of George, Billy, Phil and the watchers and their never ending quest to rid the world of ghosts and demons. In book 2, they come across a rather nasty 17th century demon that is in cahoots (or so they think) with a teenage boy. Instead of just haunting people, the demon, with the help of the boy are killing people and wreaking havoc. They need to find the boy and his demon and stop them before more lives are lost. I tap some very interesting San Francisco history in this book and I had a lot of fun pulling it together. Expected release is late spring or early summer under the Creativia Publishing label.

2.  When did you know that you wanted to write a novel?

When I was young, my best friend and I would make up stories, I always thought it would be fun to write a book, but never really pursued it (although I did continue to write stories and jot down ideas throughout my teenage and adult years). I really didn’t take the idea seriously until about 7 years ago, when I suddenly found myself with the time to write, then I jumped in with both feet and have been doing that ever since.

3.  Where did you find the inspiration for your novel ‘What Haunts Me?’

My husband had been on a business trip and he’d had a very strange dream, which he shared with me. I thought it was interesting and made a note of it, but didn’t put much more thought into it (consciously at least), because I was finishing up my novel The Dragonfly Door and that was quite consuming. However, my subconscious had taken quite a liking to the idea and 6 months later, a full blown story had developed. As with all stories, it stalled about midway through, yet again, there was my husband with another bit of inspiration, he’d read an article about a ghost tour (I can’t recall what city it was in) and I decided to see if we had one here in San Francisco, we did and I took the tour, which opened up a whole new path for my story, so much so, that I based one of my main characters (with permission) off of the owner of the tour. (  – they’re currently closed, but it’s rumored they’ll re-open soon, I hope they do, it’s fantastic!)
4.  Which book genre do you prefer to read?

My preferred reading genre is generally thriller/suspense novels (without political overtones), I also enjoy police/detective novels. Although I write in paranormal/supernatural, I rarely read it (however S. King, Dean Koontz and some others are true favorites, so I don’t exclude that genre altogether).

5.  Who is your favourite author?

I can’t say that I have one. Growing up it was Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz and so many more, I try not to have favorites as a rule (unless its dessert, cheesecake wins every time).

6.  Do you believe in an afterlife?

I don’t not believe in it.

7.  Have you ever seen a ghost or had a paranormal experience?

I’ve experienced some odd occurrences that I can easily attribute to a ghost or the paranormal. They were strange and wonderful all at once, and certainly they help keep my imagination going.

 8.  Why did you choose different publishers for your books?

When I finished my first book, self-publishing wasn’t as acceptable as it is today, so I queried hundreds of publishers and was finally picked up by a great small press publisher (they originally published my first four books, Doppelganger Experiment and The Four Series, books 1-3, all of which are now available under Amazon’s digital service). That was a great experience, but by the time I got around to my novel, The Dragonfly Door, self-pub had blossomed and I decided to self-publish it. I also originally self-published What Haunts Me, however I soon discovered that I really wanted to put most of my effort and energy into developing the WHM series than I did into creating the finished publishable product, so I decided to begin the publishing query process again and was very fortunate to be picked up by Creativia.

9.  Can books become best sellers without going through the agent/traditional publishing route?

Absolutely, and it’s happened quite a bit! Obviously, it isn’t the norm (yet), but it is definitely possible (do a quick online search and you’ll find several success stories).

10. Which social media do you prefer when promoting your books?

Generally I use Twitter and Facebook (fan page and my personal page). But I also use various book promoting sites to get the word out. It’s also important to connect with bloggers like yourself, what you do is as important as Twitter and FB, and I think it’s a bit more personal, so that makes it fun too.

11. When you see a link to a 5 star review on Twitter, are you tempted to check it out if it looks to be of your preferred genre?

Definitely, it only takes a few seconds to check out book recommendations through Twitter and I’ve bought quite a few books based on tweets I’ve received.

12.  Did you find that the real estate business became more competitive the longer you worked there?

I began my career in the real estate field (at the bottom and worked my way up) in 1992, so I’ve seen the volatile market fluctuations up close. But in the more recent boom and bust, the “quick buck” perception/attitude was so irresistible, that just about everyone was getting in on it (which was certainly a large contributor to the bust itself). It was reminiscent of the boom in regards to the amount of competition involved.

13. You’re a native Californian.  Have you ever visited Alcatraz and wondered whether Frank Morris really did make it to freedom?

Yes, I have been to Alcatraz on a few occasions, it’s a great part of San Francisco history and worth the trip. Did Frank make it to freedom, I believe he could have, if he made it to Angel Island (about 2 miles away), then he could have continued on to the mainland and disappeared forever, who’s to say, he’s never been found…

14.  Do you ever wish you could have been part of the Haight-Ashbury hippie scene in the 1960’s?

Not in the least, mainly because it would mean I’d have to be much older than I am…

15.  Where will you be travelling to for your holidays this year?

My husband and I love to travel, but this year we’re keeping it local (meaning the USA), we’ll be taking a trip down the coast of California and we’re discussing trips to the Pacific Northwest and some of our western national parks, but the year is young, so who knows where else we might end up.

16.  Is there anywhere in the world you would love to visit, but as yet have not?

So many places…I was fortunate enough to spend some time in France and Germany (with a stop in Luxembourg and Switzerland) last year, and I’d love to go back and rent a car and drive all through Europe for several weeks.

17.  Does visiting your relatives in Ireland ever cause you to consider living there permanently?

Constantly! I’ve been visiting my family in IR since I was a child, but as an adult, I’ve been able to see much more of the country, it is so beautiful and the people are truly the best. I often daydream of renting a small cottage by the sea, perhaps down in Arklow, County Wicklow just south of Dublin. Dublin is wonderful  as well (and only an hour away from most parts of Wicklow by train or bus), but having lived in a big city for so long, I think I’d prefer a quiet sea-side retreat.

18.  What is your most prized possession?

I would have to say my collection of books. I have autographed books by Ray Bradbury and Dean Koontz as well as Irish author, Benedict Kiely (who is my great-uncle) and Irish author Sharon Owens (she is also a relative). In addition to the autographed books, I have a large collection of fiction books (both very old and very new) as well as a variety of history and non-fiction books that I inherited from my father’s collection.
 19Do you prefer to be inside or outside?

Both…I am a huge fan of various types of architecture and I love exploring old buildings, churches, castles, homes, etc., but I love the beauty of the outside world as well, so I guess it depends on where I am and what I’m seeing…

20.  What is your favourite song or piece of music?

I’m a big Motown fan, in fact, when I have writer’s block, it’s my go-to music. However, I also enjoy a variety of other music too, so I suppose I have no favorites.

Thanks to Margaret for these answers. If you are an author and would also like to be interviewed, please contact me on my website with a little bit of information about yourself and your books.

Stevie Turner interviews author Mari Collier

Mari Collier's photo

Thanks to Mari Collier, another of my fellow Creativia authors, for agreeing to take part in this interview. You can find Mari online by clicking on the links below:


Amazon author page:

Facebook: Twisted Tales From A Skewed Mind


1.  What gave you the idea of combining science fiction with the Old West in your Chronicles of Maca series?

The story started in the Old West in my mind and I wrote the first chapter and killed off everyone but two characters. My one older brother thought it hilarious that his baby sister did this. I quit writing on it, but in my mind it kept playing. So I started again and realized the one needed his Uncle.  It grew from there as the main character had mind powers that humans do not possess. The Uncle was not strong enough to control the character. He needed a stepfather. He couldn’t have a stepfather until I resurrected the mother from the Comanche attack arranged by her Justine husband.

2.  Tell us about the sixth book in the series, your work in progress.

Captain Jarvis and his crew discover that the De’Chins’ mining asteroid has been invaded and the De’Chins’ space vessels destroyed. The Thalains attack. Rescue the De’Chin woman and take a Draygon captive. Lorenz, the Earth/Justine mutant must use his mind to make the prisoner reveal the Draygon location. It is discovered the Krepyons have become their allies. Thalia, the Betrons, and the Golden One of the Earth MacDonald Corporation join in the attack. Upon their return, Beauty the leader of the Sisterhood escapes and kills the Maca of Don’s daughter, and then the son of the Maca of Betron. She and her counselor (wife in Earth speak) disappear, helped by the hidden Sisterhood. The Kenning Woman discovers the hidden Book of Gar and nearly dies in the cave beside Ayran’s foul Lake Bliss. It takes Daniel, JayEll, and Medicine to rescue her and JoAnne, the first rescuer. The hunt for the killer continues, but the Sisterhood kills their own rather than betray them. It is discovered that the Sisterhood has become embedded in the Houses of Medicine and Ishner, but the rules of Thalia preclude invading the continent of another House. Llewellyn, Maca of Don, and his Earth/Mutant claimed (adopted) son plan their own revenge against Beauty. She will die just as Lillie died at her hands. JayEll proclaims himself the new Martin and he and the Kenning Woman plan to wed.

On one of his preaching trips, the Kenning Woman’s vision states that Ishner is bleeding for their true Maca. The hidden Sisterhood promptly uses a stinger to destroy the Kenning Woman’s family’s home.  Her father is a son of the former Maca of Ishner. He reveals that JayEll is probably his son. Incest tis forbidden on Thalia just as it is on Earth. The Thalians are ready to invade Ishner to confiscate the rest of the stingers when the people of Ishner attack the Sisterhood. Riots and fire break out. The Sisterhood holds the Guardian, Counselor, and Director of Ishner hostage. Captain Daniel and troopers are sent to Port Issac to quell the riots and Captain Jarvis and troopers are sent to rescue the hostages in the city Iconda.  During the fighting, the true Maca of Ishner will be revealed. The question of JayEll’s genes will be settled by Medicine.

3.  You’re starting a new family saga, ‘Earthbound’.  How is this family different?

I’m not starting it, I’m still writing it. Earthbound is the first book of my series, Chronicles of the Maca.  MacDonald, or Llewellyn, Maca of Don, as he is named on his on planet is part Thalian and part Justine.  His Earth wife, Anna, had married a stranded Justine and produced four children with Toma.  MacDonald and Anna have one child that lives. Mina is Earth, Thalian, and Justine.  MacDonald will adopt Anna’s third son Lorenz, who is Earth and Justine.  One of the things that prompted me to put westerns and science fiction together was when I had catechism lessons at the age of twelve through thirteen.  When explaining the spread of faith in this country, the Pastor explained that the Germans had gone into Texas before it had become a state.  He created a love of Western history that has never died.

4.  How long have you been writing?

I was about eleven or twelve when I started writing a story about a family destroyed by a Comanche raid in Texas prior to the Civil War. That story evolved into Gather The Children, but Anna and MacDonald kept insisting I write their story. My older brother’s laughter at the idea of his baby sister writing a tale that killed off most of the characters meant that I put that story to the side for many years. I wrote for the Audubon Advocate when I was thirteen reporting on what neighbor visited what neighbor and any birthday or engagement party. I kept writing short stories through high school and early marriage. I did sell a children’s story to Jack and Jill, but went to work for a weekly paycheck when I realized that writing for a newcomer would not pay a mortgage or a new car payment.

5.  Who is your favourite author?

Will and Ariel Durant, the authors of The Story of Civilization. Yes, I’ve read all eleven volumes.  Some more than once.
6.  Which social media works best for you as regards promoting your books?

So far it has been Facebook.

7.  Do you believe there could be life on other planets?

I was always of the opinion that since the Almighty God made this planet with beings on it, there could be any number of planets with beings. I do not limit God.  It wasn’t until I was introduced to someone who worked on the Project Blue Book that convinced me that there are other living beings out there. Our government has not been completely honest about things.  Why didn’t that person say anything?  He did on a You Tube interview.  He would lose his retirement, his health insurance, and all records of his military service would be obliterated.

8.  Would you have liked to live in the Old West of the 19thcentury?

Oh, hell, no. The work alone was a killer.  Just consider carrying bucket after bucket of water to fill up a tub.  That doesn’t take in using a cone agitator and bringing the firewood to keep the water hot.  There was no medical response to anything, and the diet was rather restricted to what you could grow, preserve, or hunt. I do not want to live without hot water on tap or lights that come on with a flick of the switch.

9.  You grew up on a farm in Iowa with no modern amenities.  How did you cope with no electricity, hot water and central heating?  Did your neighbours have modern amenities?

We did have running water (cold) in the kitchen and in the washhouse. That meant we did not carry buckets of water, but the galvanized tub was for bathing.  One wore the clothes all week and changed on Saturday before going into town.  There were also special clothes for Sunday.  There was no electricity in our section of Iowa until 1950.  Some like my father, refused to have it installed. One neighbor did have a bathroom, but most of them had outhouses until the 1960s.  I loved going into town to see an Uncle or Aunt, or the long trip to Council Bluffs to my brother’s house where there were such things as electricity and bathrooms inside.
10. Were children expected to work on the farms from a young age?

Of course, they were. My parents were a bit lenient.  They didn’t expect it until one was nine-years of age.  One neighbor even had their six-year-old son driving a tractor.  My parents were horrified at that as it was far too dangerous for a child.  We walked to school whether it was sunshine, rain, or snow.  It was what my parents had done so we could do that too.  We were going to a one room public school.  There were two outhouses there: one for girls and one for boys.  Two of the eighth graders would take the bucket and walked to the closest farm for the water for the day.  We all drank from the same cup. That horrified the County Nurse when she visited our school.  We all had to bring in our own cup after that.

11. Do you remember anything about being so ill as a child that you were near death?

Yes, it was so difficult to breathe, that I decided not to fight to get the air out of my lungs anymore. I don’t like to go into that experience too deeply except to say I was walking down a murky, gray tunnel towards the wondrous golden light. Instead of the freezing cold in my bedroom, the warmth radiated outward from the golden place as I neared. Just as I stepped out of the tunnel and the light flowed around me a voice said, “You do not belong here yet. It is too soon.  Go back.” The scene vanished and I was back in my bed, layered between two feather beds.  By the way, Mama had made the feather beds from the ducks that we had.

12. Do you believe in the power of prayer and positive thinking?

I believe in prayer to the Lord. I am not silly enough to believe that every prayer will have a “yes” answer as I do not know the plans of the Almighty.  Prayer is the Christians way of meditation.  The term positive thinking leaves me baffled as I have always been an optimist.

13. Do you suffer any ill-effects from working ‘like a man’ on the farm as a child?

Oh, heavens no. It just meant that when I was working, I would not accept the fact that men received a higher salary than I was receiving.  I was quite capable of doing their work.  I did secure the job after proving I could go into the worst areas of Phoenix and collect money.  There is a huge difference between $249.00 per month and $600.00.  At least there was in 1973.

14. Do you feel as though you’ve missed out on a childhood through working on the farm? 

How could I have missed out? We weren’t working ten hour days.  For us it would just be the morning or afternoon.  When we were in school, we just had the chores before we left and some of the chores before dark.  We had an entire quarter of an acre by a creek with wild flowers, elderberry trees, willows, and prairie grass as our private playground.  I could make up all sorts of stories to enact.  In the evening after dinner there were board games, puzzles, and, of course, we learned pinochle at an early age.  Papa always read the comics to us and he would laugh harder than anyone else.  Mama taught us how to play the piano, and, of course, there were always huge dinners after church at Grandma’s house.  I could go on about the reunions and old clothes we children had to play “dress” up.

15. You married while still a teenager. Do you think it’s best to marry early and be young parents, or to wait until you’ve seen the world and gained life experiences?

I think that depends on the person. Lanny was always “old” according to his mother.  I had been earning my own living since I was sixteen.  In theory, it should have been a disaster.  In reality, I can count the quarrels we had on one hand and inside it still hurts that he is gone home and I am still on this Earth.

16. Where do you consider is home?  Iowa, Arizona, Washington, or California?

Home is wherever I am living. I would not, however, choose Washington as a place to retire.  I chose the desert.

17. When living in Washington you worked for Nintendo.  What did your job entail?

I was an Advanced Super Agent in their Correspondence section of the Consumer Call Center. That meant I could take phone calls for all problems from set ups to game play.  I also read in the letters, later the email, and routed them to the files for response.  I was also one of the letter writers for all problems, and I did the entering for the Elmo Folio Views in the Correspondence section so other Correspondence people knew what and how we were to respond to certain situations.  We were also expected to play the games (all of our cubicles had game devices and we could check out games) that we played when not busy at something else.  Nintendo also gave us each system for the home and the game to master.

18. Where will you travel to for your holidays this year?

Nowhere. I’ll be right here in Twentynine Palms, CA.

19. What’s number one on your bucket list?

You will think this strange, but I do not have a bucket list. Perhaps it would be nice to see Oak Creek Canyon again.

20. What’s your favourite song?

That is difficult to say. It is difficult to choose between “Just As I Am” or “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Another favorite is “Your Cheating Heart.”  I also love “Bolero”.  Of course, “Heartbreak Hotel” is right up there too.  That pretty well gives away my age and era, doesn’t it?

Thanks for taking part, Mari.  If any authors/publishers would like to answer 20 of my questions, please contact me on my website  with some information about yourself.


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