Tag Archives: e-book

Review: ‘Blackstoke’ by Rob Parker


In a quiet cul-de-sac on the newly-opened, much sought-after Blackstoke housing development, the first handful of families are moving in. These neighbours, thrown together for the first time, are looking forward to settling into their bright new lives—with varying degrees of enthusiasm. The estate couldn’t be nicer, but it’s a big change for everyone.

Then things start to happen. Bad things. As if something doesn’t want them there.

As the new residents try to make sense of events, the buried history of the area makes itself suddenly, deeply apparent—with a series of shocking, violent escalations.

Soon, no one is safe, as the original powers of Blackstoke return to reclaim their territory and birthright in a final night of dark revelations, gore and bloodshed.

My thanks to Rob Parker for my ARC of ‘Blackstoke‘ which is available in e-book, paperback and hardback now.

It is quite difficult for me to write a review of ‘Blackstoke‘ without giving too much away. It starts off sedately enough, introducing the reader to the residents of the cul-de-sac. In this respect, Rob Parker does an excellent job in building up strong mental images of his characters, their idiosyncrasies and backstories. The descriptions he uses about the setting and characters are strong and, at times, almost lyrical. But don’t be fooled by the niceness of this new estate and the folks moving into it.

Despite it’s gentle start, ‘Blackstoke’ is eminently readable and I found, even in those early chapters before the horror kicked in, I didn’t want to stop reading it. Parker has such a way with words – and clearly understands what drives people – I didn’t want to step away from this narrative. To be fair, even if he had written a novel where very little happened, I’d still be inclined to read it because the prose is so strong.

But – fear not – plenty happens in ‘Blackstoke‘ – more than you could ever imagine when picking this book up, in fact. I must warn you now, however, if you’re squeamish, this may not be the book for you. I liked its refusal to shy away from the really dark and vicious. This book does not leave things to the imagination, it’s graphic and horrifying but I still wanted to keep reading it.

The female characters in this book are particularly well-drawn and utterly kick-ass which I think was my favourite element of ‘Blackstoke’.

I had in my mind when beginning this book that it was going to be reminiscent of an episode of ‘The X Files’ (‘Arcadia‘; Season 6, episode 15 – also known as the “garbage monster”) and, although it has similarities, there is another episode of ‘The X Files’ that ‘Blackstoke‘ resembles far more. I can’t say more than that episode is in Season 4 – I wouldn’t want to inadvertently give spoilers!

Blackstoke‘ is a real departure from the thrillers you’ll be used to reading from Rob Parker but it’s a compelling trip into horror that is impossible to put down.

Vic x


Review: ‘Anthrax Island’ by D.L. Marshall

FACT: In 1942, in growing desperation at the progress of the war and fearing invasion by the Nazis, the UK government approved biological weapons tests on British soil. Their aim: to perfect an anthrax weapon destined for Germany. They succeeded.

FACT: Though the attack was never launched, the testing ground, Gruinard Island, was left lethally contaminated. It became known as Anthrax Island.

Now government scientists have returned to the island. They become stranded by an equipment failure and so John Tyler is flown in to fix the problem. He quickly discovers there’s more than research going on. When one of the scientists is found impossibly murdered inside a sealed room, Tyler realises he’s trapped with a killer…

Thanks to the team at Canelo for my ARC of ‘Anthrax Island‘. It’s available as an e-book now and will be released in paperback on 6th May. To get a signed copy, order through my lovely local independent bookshop Forum Books.

This, the debut novel from D.L. Marshall, is a tense, taut, pacy thriller which weaves fact and fiction together seamlessly.

I absolutely cannot rate ‘Anthrax Island‘ highly enough. D.L. Marshall has created a whip smart character in the form of John Tyler. I love the fact that Marshall trusts his readers to understand the subtext in the novel without always having to spell out what he’s insinuating. I really enjoyed the political barbs as well as Tyler’s one-liners.

It’s clear from the first chapter that Marshall has done a large amount of research into Gruinard Island and the testing that was carried out there. Marshall uses his knowledge to add extra tension to the fact that there’s a killer prowling the place: if the murderer doesn’t catch you, the anthrax might.

Given the fact that any time one of the small – but suspicious – cast of characters ventures outdoors, they must wear protective suits, Marshall uses this to create a cloying atmosphere in his prose. The way he describes being in the suit was so deftly done that I felt I was in the suit with Tyler. I could feel the claustrophobia the characters were experiencing.

The desolate setting is evoked perfectly through detailed descriptions that really bring the place to life. But don’t think that because he’s so good at setting that this is a gentle story – ‘Anthrax Island‘ is a high velocity read that will leave you breathless. The way in which each chapter ends on a cliffhanger means that it’s almost impossible not to read on.

With cinematic action sequences and adept plotting, ‘Anthrax Island‘ is a classic locked-room mystery crossed with the greatest of action thrillers. If Lee Child and Agatha Christie co-wrote a book, ‘Anthrax Island’ would be that novel.

Vic x

**The Forgotten Blog Tour** #LoveBooksGroup #BlogTour


I’m delighted to be taking part in this #LoveBooksGroup blog tour to mark the e-book release of ‘The Forgotten‘ by J.V. Baptie. I was lucky to host J.V. at Noir at the Bar Newcastle earlier this year and the excerpt she read that evening left many of us desperate for more. 

My post today gives you a flavour of the book and of its main character, DS Helen Carter. I hope that you’ll be as intrigued by ‘The Forgotten‘ as I was. 

Vic x


The Forgotten: Synopsis

In Edinburgh in 1977, newly-promoted but unwelcome Detective Sergeant Helen Carter is tasked with investigating a murder in an abandoned picture house.
The killer has left a clue: the business card of an former cop.
Helen must piece together the case before the bodies mount up around her, and before the killer strikes closer to home…


About DS Helen Carter
By J.V. Baptie

The Forgotten is a crime fiction thriller set in and around Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland during the 1970s, a fascinating and somewhat overlooked era in Scotland. 
For much of this decade there was rising unemployment, social change, picket lines, crime and murder: plenty of inspiration for any crime novel. Poverty was rife in Scotland on a scale unimaginable today, with many families living in rat-infested one-bedroom tenement slums. Let’s not forget the strikes and the three day week.

It wasn’t all bleak during the 1970s. For my main protagonist, Helen Carter, it’s a time of hope, opportunity and social freedom that earlier generations of women couldn’t have imagined – and Helen wants to live it. Throughout her life she has found herself at the pinnacle of change. She was degree-educated at Glasgow University, played football at the time when the Scottish Women’s Football Association was founded and eventually got to play in the first Women’s League. 

After university, Helen found herself in dead end jobs but, tiring of these, she decided to follow her father’s footsteps into Glasgow City police as a WPC, then gains a promotion afterwards.

Glaswegian Helen is still finding her feet in Edinburgh but on a rare occasion she’s on a day off you might find her shopping in Goldbergs, or meandering along Princes Street, or having a quiet drink in the White Cockade. If there’s a good gig on she’ll be at one of the many dance halls.


About J.V. Baptie,
Author of The Forgotten.

J.V. Baptie

J.V. Baptie graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2017 with an MA in Creative Writing. When she’s not writing, she is also an actress and has appeared in a variety of children’s shows and stage plays. You can find out more about her on Twitter and Facebook.

Review of 2016: Helen Anderson

In 2015, I had the honour of copy-editing Helen Anderson’s memoir, Piece by Piece. That book has gone on to receive fantastic reviews as well as providing support to many other people who are going through difficult times. 

It is a real joy to have Helen reviewing her 2016. Many thanks for being involved, Helen.

Vic x

Helen Anderson

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2016?
Much of the year been taken up with letting people know about my memoir about losing my beautiful daughter Georgina to cancer, three years ago. Piece by Piece: Remembering Georgina: A Mother’s Memoir is still available as a paperback or e-book and has over 60 amazing 5 Star Amazon reviews.

When the book was published at the end of 2015, I had no idea if it would sell 10 or 100 copies, but I am thrilled to have been able to donate £1,000 of profits, so far, from the sale of the book to Make-A-Wish UK. I have had wonderful feedback from readers, and I have enjoyed reading at events and talking on radio shows about Georgina and my memoir. Emotionally, I have been sustained by all the support I have received with this venture, and I hope that my writing is also helping others experiencing child loss or bereavement, generally. 


And how about a favourite moment from 2016 generally?
I have been invited to some amazing fundraising events in Georgina’s memory, and these are always a bittersweet mixture of happiness that she is still so loved, and sadness that’s she’s not here with us.

My writer’s notebook has been well-travelled. We have been lucky enough to enjoy some soul-nourishing holidays to Tenerife, Languedoc and Lindisfarne, as well as managing to get our beloved VW camper Daisy Blue back onto the road, for a few local forays.

At the beginning of 2016, I put out feelers to see if any local writers would be interested in meeting up. The response was very positive, so Saltburn Writers Group has been meeting once a month since March. It is such a friendly, vibrant group – I hope that it will continue to go from strength to strength.

Favourite book in 2016?
I have been reading quite voraciously, recently. I have just finished reading Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, which is so dark that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. My (as yet unpublished) novel Gloriosa Superba also has a deeply disturbed central protagonist, so it was a relief to see I’m not the only one who creates twisted characters.

I also love Shelley Day’s The Confession of Stella Moon, Kit de Waal’s My Name Is Leon and Louise Beech’s How To Be Brave. All these books are thought-provoking, populated by well-observed characters, and beautifully written.

Favourite film in 2016?
I don’t think I’ve been to the cinema at all this year. I’m thinking “That can’t be right!!” but it seems it is. Perhaps that should be my resolution for 2017 – to get out more. I’ve enjoyed some cracking TV dramas, such as The Missing, The Fall, Paranoid and Dark Angel (as well as my guilty secrets like Home and Away) so I’m obviously more of a sit-on-my-own-sofa-and-gawp-at-my-own-screen kinda gal.


Favourite song of the year?
I like to listen to golden oldies – 80s, 90s, Noughties –  when I write, and I love to listen to my daughter Georgina’s own song Two Thirds of a Piece.

Any downsides for you in 2016?
In October 2016, it would have been Georgina’s 18th birthday. That was a very hard day to get through, as was the third anniversary of her death in November 2016. However, we have survived so far, thanks to the love of friends – old and new – and family.

Are you making resolutions for 2017?
I should resolve to be more disciplined with my writing, but I don’t really ‘do’ resolutions, because they just make me feel rebellious! I’ll aim to keep on keeping on, I suppose (not a very specific goal, I know).

What are you hoping for from 2017?
Writing-wise, my first chapbook of poetry Way Out is due to be published by The Black Light Engine Room Press early in 2017, so I am excited by that.

I would also love to secure representation for Gloriosa Superba – I have had a few near-misses, and I need to steel myself to send it out again. I plan to finish the final draft of my new novel, All Hushed, and to start the process of finding an agent who loves the story and characters as much as I do.

Personally, I just want my family to stay as healthy and happy as possible. Georgina wanted us to be happy and make the most of our lives, even in her absence, and I am going to try to seize opportunities and enjoy the little things (and some medium-sized and big things, if I’m lucky!)

Review of 2015: Bea Davenport

Bea Davenport is the pen name of former BBC and newspaper journalist Barbara Henderson. Barbara is the author of two brilliant crime novels – ‘In Too Deep‘ and This Little Piggy‘ (Legend Press) and two children’s novels – The Serpent House‘ and My Cousin Faustina‘ (ReadZone Books). She holds a Creative Writing PhD from Newcastle Uni and she teaches writing and journalism.

Barbara was instrumental in me getting my PGCE and I will never forget the kindness she has shown me. 

Vic x

Bea DavenportDo you have a favourite memory professionally?

I think there were three or four big moments.

Work-wise, I got two new jobs: I now teach journalism three days a week at the University of the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey and it’s great to be back in direct contact with the journalism industry again. I’m also now programme leader for creative writing for the Open College of the Arts, where I teach students via distance learning.

Running writing workshops and passing on skills is something I love doing and is a nice part of being a published writer. This summer I was invited to run a writing shop for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation conference in Anaheim, California (because the central character of my first children’s book, The Serpent House, has alopecia) and I had a truly wonderful time, meeting some very inspirational people.

Finally, the interactive e-book I wrote late last year for Fiction Express, My Cousin Faustina, came out in paperback in 2015, published by ReadZone Books.

Faustina cover

And how about a favourite moment from 2015 generally?

My son and daughter took part in a brilliant production of Sunshine on Leith at their school and I honestly could have burst with pride as I watched them. My son also got his A-level results and got a place in his university of choice, Manchester.

Favourite book in 2015? 

It has to be We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, which I read out in California. Really moving and unusual.

Favourite film of 2015?

Inside Out.

Favourite song of the year?

I can’t answer this one – sorry! I stopped paying any attention to the singles charts around 25 years ago.

Any downsides for you in 2015?

The recurring one: I never get enough time to write. It’s felt particularly acute this year as work’s been so busy.

Are you making resolutions for 2016?

I always promise myself I will write more and eat less. I see no reason not to keep hoping!

What are you hoping for from 2016?

I’m currently editing a YA novel, with the help of an agent. It would be fantastic if it found a publisher.

Getting to Know You: Valerie Laws

Today I’m happy to have yet another fellow North-East writer chatting on the blog. The very clever and multi-talented Valerie Laws is here to tell us about her writing life.

Vic x

Valerie Laws

What do you like most about writing?

There’s the feeling when something goes right, a piece of work seems to be getting close to the idea in my head. Then there’s learning new stuff. I have many Writer in Residence posts which are so interesting, I’ve learned so much and met so many cool people who are generous with their time and expertise. I feel very lucky that I’ve managed to work as a full-time professional writer for a decade or so, with 11 books to my name. Then there’s reaching an audience, making people laugh and cry. Hearing and seeing them do it when performing my poetry or reading from my novels or when watching one of my plays. My AV poetry installation ‘Slicing the Brain’ had a very powerful effect on exhibition visitors in London and Newcastle, reading their comments in the visitors’ book was amazing. Positive reactions to my novels online or at events, good reviews on Amazon.  A total stranger was tweeting about how much she loved my crime novel ‘The Rotting Spot‘ the other day, which was fab.

The Rotting Spot

What do you dislike (if anything)?

Sometimes it’s frustrating but that’s part of the challenge. Pressure of time; marketing my books and poetry, I enjoy that but it takes up a lot of writing time – I would like to slow down the planet to get longer days. Rejections, or projects which crash and burn, part of any writer’s life, they never get any nicer!
What inspires you to write?

Most of my plays, even my BBC radio play ‘Nowt to Look At’  and many of my poems are about the lives of real working class people from the North East, especially from the past, people like my own family background. I am passionate about the life stories of people who were ignored by historians and academics, and whose endurance, courage, and spirit, to say nothing of their humour, deserve to be celebrated. Even Lydia Bennet – I wanted her to speak up for herself instead of being scorned by all the ‘good’ characters in Austen’s novel! Hence my comedy ebook ‘Lydia Bennet’s Blog‘, her saucy teen version of ‘Pride and Prejudice‘. Another major inspiration is the sea, I’ve always lived by the sea and am obsessed with water and swimming. Again, many poems and most of my plays are sea-related (e.g. ‘Collingwood’, ‘The Selkie’, ‘Hadaway’), and I love the sea’s power, beauty and ever-changing colours. My crime novel ‘The Rotting Spot‘ is set in Seaton Sluice on a tiny headland in the North Sea, which is really like a main character. The follow-up novel ‘The Operator’ is also set on the north east coast. Ideas also come to me from personal experience, listening to people’s stories in queues, headlines, and they keep hanging about annoying me until I write them. They come as poems, plays, novels, sci-art installations…  I write when I feel I’ve got something that needs saying. I am often commissioned to write or create something and I find writing to a deadline inspiring!

Lydia Bennet

Do you find time to read, if so what are you reading at the moment?

I always find time to read. Apart from being a fanatical and very fast reader, I have a lot of friends who write books, and I like to support them! I read masses of crime fiction. I’m just finishing my friend Ann Cleeves’ new Shetland novel ‘Dead Water‘, she’s always so good – I even buy hers in hardback, and I’m a total Kindle convert!  I read a lot of poetry, just been re-reading Ann Alexander’s ‘Too Close‘ in e-book form.

Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing?

I love the novels of Barbara Pym, and Jane Austen (though I’m having fun with her heroes and heroines in ‘Lydia Bennet’s Blog‘!) I love a lot of poets’ work and I know many of them so have to be careful here but Sharon Olds, an American poet, is breathtakingly honest and intimate. Shakespeare, he’s funny, lively, sexy, sad and his language is so powerful and entrancing to hear. William Blake’s poetry, he’s a true prophet, he foresaw some modern scientific and social ideas far ahead of his time. Oh so many… I don’t try to write like anyone in particular, but writers I love have changed me so they must change my writing I suppose.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

I would be a forensic pathologist. I have a degree in Maths/Theoretical Physics, but I’ve done years of research recently working closely with neuroscientists and pathologists to learn about the science of dying for ‘All That Lives‘, my latest poetry collection from Red Squirrel Press, and that has been an amazing journey – I’m Writer in Residence at a pathology museum in London, as well as in several other unusual brain institutes, and now at Dilston Physic Garden near Corbridge, growing mind altering plants! The more I learn about death, the more I learn about life. This interest also feeds into my crime fiction. I collect skulls, so I have an interest in anatomy. I was a teacher until I was disabled in a car crash 27 years ago.


All That Lives

What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?

I have ‘multiple publishing disorder’, I write in lots of genres, which makes it perhaps harder to succeed financially, I’m always keeping lots of plates spinning and rushing round like a mad thing and it’s harder to market my work when I’m doing poetry, performances, exhibitions, plays, novels. I also write across genres. But this is just who I am. Strengths, from a writing point of view, I would say lyrical sensuality, witty dialogue, writing about taboo or difficult subjects such as malformed foetuses or dementia or flirting at funerals or phone sex… Weaknesses, well, lyrical sensuality and humour in the eyes of those who like spare minimalist writing and disapprove of humour in crime fiction (yes, some do)! I also work hard but I always put off starting something new as I’m scared it won’t work – though sometimes it is forming in my head during that time.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just relaunched my ‘‘Clueless in corsets” comedy ‘Lydia Bennet’s Blog – The Real Story of Pride & Prejudice‘ on Kindle which has some great 5* reviews from respected authors. I’ve had a splendid new cover designed by Alison Richards, with a steampunky feel, to get across the timeslip element of the book.  Lydia Bennet’s shameless story is told in modern teen language though it’s set in the 19th century. So I’m busy spreading the word about that.

My newest Writer in Residence post at Dilston Physic Garden includes a commission for one of my signature inventions, the quantum haiku, first seen in my world-infamous ‘Quantum Sheep’ project, where I spray-painted sheep with words of a poem which they rewrote randomly. The second one was on beach balls in a swimming pool, featured in BBC2’s ‘Why Poetry Matters’ with Griff Rhys Jones. This will be my third in the series, and will also be in water, but will be on the theme of plants and their strange evolution of chemicals which mirror the chemicals in our brains – self-defence for the plant, drugs for humans. I’ll be doing some workshops at the garden later on, so do check those out! I’ve just had to fight for my copyright of ‘Quantum Sheep’, first seen in 2002, as someone hustled the idea and sold a simplified version of it to a couple of organisations as their own! My project is still all over the internet and frequently published, referred to and used by many to inspire them to do new things with the idea, which is fine by me as long as they do something different and don’t claim credit for the original idea.

I’m busy touring all over performing my ‘CSI: Poetry’ from  ‘All That Lives‘, which is being well received, and a lot of my new poems are being published in various anthologies. I’m busy formatting the book for Kindle which is quite a challenge – much harder than novels due to the layout of the poems and the differing sizes of e-reader screens. I have other work to put out on Kindle too, when I get the chance! My next poetry collection is well underway and I hope it will come out next year.

My second crime novel ‘The Operator’ is ready to roll when I’ve sorted out publication. Whether to go indie ebook, or get a publisher, or both, or…? Things are changing so fast in the book world!

When you’re a famous author and you write your autobiography, what will be the title?

Quantum Sheep’ is my most famous work and a great title but I’ve already got a poetry collection named that. ‘Counting Quantum Sheep’? Perhaps ‘In the name of the Laws’? ‘Laws of Physics’?

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

The poet/playwright Peter Mortimer once told me that a poem, and I think it’s true of novels and plays too, needs an imperative of some kind: it’s something you feel needs to be said. I’d also say write the kind of books or works you want to write, not just what you think will sell or succeed. Lee Child said when you can see the bandwagon, you’ve already missed it! Keep learning and exploring new ideas, new technology, skills and experiences.

What’s been your proudest moment as a writer?

Difficult to say, each step seems like a pinnacle at the time – first poem published, first competition prize, first full poetry book, first novel… being interviewed live on BBC Radio 4’s iconic ‘Today’ programme by John Humphrys (about Quantum Sheep of course!), performing live at Royal Festival Hall in London, first nights and last nights of each of my stage plays, my radio play: each time I feel, wow, this is as good as it gets, this might be the best it ever is. For a couple of days, then I raise the bar for myself. Anyway those moments make up for the many failures!

What would you say to your sixteen-year-old self if you could offer one word of advice or inspiration?

Literally one word? Too hard even for a poet but ‘Enjoy!’ might do it.  More than one? Erm, ‘You will get there, enjoy the journey.’  And that doesn’t just apply to writing!

Where can we find you online?

My website: http://www.valerielaws.co.uk/

You can contact me via Twitter – @ValerieLaws –  or Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/valaws – or my website to get copies, or order paperbacks of THE ROTTING SPOT and ALL THAT LIVES from http://www.redsquirrelpress.com

My Residency at Dilston Physic Garden is here: http://www.dilstonphysicgarden.com/writer_residence.htm

My new collection ‘Letting Go’ is available now.

My collection of 8 short stories ‘Letting Go’ is available on Amazon now. You can download it here: http://amzn.to/wK1WdS

Although it is an e-book, you don’t have to have a Kindle to read it. You can download the Kindle app for free on Amazon and use it on your phone, tablet or computer.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who have been supportive of me and my writing. I am thrilled to have published my first collection and I don’t think this would have happened without the support of the online writing community, particularly Fiona Johnson and Darren Sant (among others).

I’d also like to thank anyone who has ever taken the time to read my work and review it. The comments I’ve received have given me a great boost and I really hope anyone who takes the time to read ‘Letting Go’ enjoys it.

Vic x

Getting to know you: Malcolm Holt

I’m pleased to introduce you to fellow Tyneside writer Malcolm Holt. He’s recently had a collection of short stories ‘Hard Drive’ published as an e-book. Here, he tells us about his journey as a writer.

How did I get into writing? Apart from having a vivid imagination and writing stories at school, my first grown-up brush with literature came when I spent a year at teacher training college. The college had a thriving student union and a nine-hole golf course. When I wasn’t skipping lectures to play golf, I helped to create and co-edit a student union magazine. For the magazine I co-wrote humorous stories and an agony aunt page. It was a lot of fun. Needless to say, at the end of the academic year I decided that I didn’t want to be a teacher.

After I moved to Newcastle from my native Hull, I wrote numerous articles for ‘The Mag’ fanzine during the 1990s when Newcastle United were flying high. In 1998 I wrote my first crime fiction novel. It got published by the lesser-known Falcon Books and a handful were sold. You’d be hard pushed to find a copy nowadays, even on ebay. Mind you, it was pretty bad. I also had a few articles published in the ‘Sunday Sun’ newspaper.

At the end of September 2010, I gave up the day job. Most folk say that I took very early retirement. My old boss says I just buggered off. Pardon my French. I’ve always loved reading crime fiction and I decided to have another stab at writing. The very funny Texan, Kinky Friedman, once told me “Malcolm, you’re never too o-l-d to start writing”. He also made me an honorary Texan, which is something I’m very proud of. So there you have it. I am Yorkshire-born, an adopted Geordie and part-time Texan.

Initially, I thought of creating a fictional city, but Ian Rankin convinced me that it would be easier to use Newcastle. After his phenomenal success with Rebus, I decided that he knew what he was talking about.

My first short story, ‘Drum and Waste’, published in ‘A Twist of Noir’, introduced Frankie ‘Slinger’ Wilson, who is my new anti-hero.

I have had some interesting reactions from the family. I think my style of writing has surprised some of them. Ian Rankin says that crime fiction writers are usually nice people because they put all their inner demons on the page. As I like to say, ‘Never underestimate the power of imagination.’ So, that’s me, embarking on a new writing career and exciting times are ahead…I hope. Will it be successful? Ask me at the end of 2012.

Get ‘Hard Drive’ here: http://amzn.to/yo5k6I

Thanks again to Malcolm for speaking to us today. His story goes to show that if you have a story in you, it will find a way out eventually!

Vic x

Getting to know you: Jynnipher Olbert

Tell people you are a writer and the next question they ask is what type of book you write. I tell them paranormal romance and I get varied responses. Some ask what that means and others ask if my books are like Twilight. My first response to the latter question generally is that my vamps don’t sparkle. Don’t let my comment fool you. I enjoy the world Ms. Meyer has created because it led me back to a genre I had forgotten about in the midst of my Harry Potter infatuation.


My passion for reading stemmed from growing up an only child as I relied on my fictional friends when the weather wouldn’t allow me to go outside and play with my real ones. My parents learned about a summer reading program our local library hosted and immediately signed me up. Summer after summer I read more books than they had space for on the forms.

In my late teens/early twenties, I watched television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and Angel, so naturally I would enjoy reading about vampires and witches. I joined the Harry Potter bandwagon shortly after the release of the third in the series. The next four releases I went to the midnight release party at various retailers and had read the new release before the sun rose.

On a whim last October, I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month along with my best friend. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a fun and fast approach to writing. The goal is write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. If you manage to keep your sanity and achieve the word count goal you get a nifty little certificate and a web badge to plaster everywhere letting the world know you spent thirty days with your fingers to the keyboard.

It was during that month I discovered writing. With the help of my writing music, Enigma mostly, I reached the goal long before the end of the month and by mid-December had finished my first draft of Vision of the Moons with a word count of 120,000. Since then my fingers have rarely missed a day (or two) tapping away at the keyboard.

My Vision series is about two supernatural races that live among humans in Boston, one of my favorite cities. The first novel, Vision of the Moons, is about Madi, a vampire with some body image issues, and Gavin, who is following his passion for cooking instead of his legacy.  They both discover that life can change in the blink of an eye. What they don’t realize, though, is that their meeting changes the course of the two races forever, and someone close to them saw it all coming.

My website is http://jynnipher.com/. I am also on Twitter, @jynnipherolbert and Facebook, Jynnipher Olbert, Author.

I have completed the first draft of book two, ‘Vision of the Hearts’. I am midway through the third book, ‘Vision of Souls’. I hope to have the full Vision of the Moons completed by late winter.

Wow, that’s quite an aim – well done Jynnipher! Thanks again for sharing your story with me today.

Vic x

Getting to know you: Yasmin Radwan

Today, I’m happy to have my dear friend Yasmin Radwan on the blog. She’s talking to us all the way from Cairo, Egypt.

Tell us how you got into writing.

I learnt how to hold a pen and write when I was only two and a half. It started when I decided to copy my older siblings. At the age of six I decided to be a writer. At the age of 10, my best friend really liked my stories and at some point I was writing for her. She was my only audience.

Describe for our readers the genre(s) you write in and why they appeal to you as a writer.

Honestly I don’t know what sort of genre I write in. I’m interested in human problems, history and art. I like writing short stories, sticking to past tense to move the story along quickly. I think it’s brilliant to present an idea in just a few pages.

What inspires you to write?

A lot of things like people’s experiences and the simplest things too like facial expressions. I can get inspired by a smile or a frown and build a story on this.

Do you have time to read? If so, what are you reading at the moment? Do you have a favourite all-time read?

I love reading and even if I don’t have time I squeeze it into my schedule. I learn a lot from reading as writer as well as a person. I just finished ‘The Museum of Innocence’ by Orhan Pamuk. It’s very long but I love it. Now I’m reading Mark Haddon’s novel ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’.

Which author(s) would you say have most influenced your writing?

When I first started reading I read books written by Egyptian writers like Ehsan Abdel Kodous and Naguib Mahfouz; later on I was highly influenced by Russian literature like Dostoevsky and Chekhov.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

I’m writing a short story, which is longer compared to the ones I wrote before. It’s about a murderer. I also finished writing my first children’s’ book ‘Zoya’s Trip’.

What are your hopes for the future?

I’m hoping to finish my first collection of short stories and work on my first novel. I have been trying to dedicate time for this.

What do you most like about writing? What do you dislike?

What I like: it makes you heard and seen by the world. Writing gives you the chance to show everything inside you and inside others that people may ignore.

What I don’t like: block. When I get blocked or fail to express the thoughts in my mind.

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

I’m not good at talking about my strengths but I think my imagination. I daydream a lot and make stories. My weakness is the fact that I translate every thought in mind from Arabic to English; sometimes it’s difficult although when I succeed in translation I feel it was worth the effort.   

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I think they should read and write a lot. Also having a notepad and pen with you most of the time can help a lot. Never give up; writing is a difficult job and it needs patience.

Thanks again to Yasmin for taking the time to talk to us today.

Vic x