Mother and Child by Annie Murray @AMurrayWriter @panmacmillan #BlogTour #Interview #LoveBooksTours

Welcome to my stop on Annie Murray’s Mother and Child blog tour, with Love Books Tours!

Mother and child tour

Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview with Annie Murray…..


Where did/do you get your ideas from?

Ideas pop up in all sorts of places. My inspiration for the books I write about Birmingham is the city itself, its people – and a whole assortment of things I read or stumble upon, an atmosphere in a place, something someone might say to me… Some things just jump to your attention and start the imagination working.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Not really… Well, maybe a few really minor characters, but they might only be things about appearance, or some comical habit or something. When you write your main characters, the story shapes them and they shape the story so I learn who they are as I write.


How do you pick your characters’ names?
The period is important because of fashion in names. Other than that, by feel. The name just has to be right. One little detail is that it tends to confuse people if there are too many people who have names beginning with the same initial so I try to be careful about that, especially as I write books with a great many characters in them.


Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Research to lay the ground so that you can mentally move around in it yourself (as much as possible anyway); feel your way into the characters – meaning both mind and body. Try to find an energetic point to start. Write, even if it doesn’t feel as if you’re doing a good job. Sleep. Walk. Rewrite and edit. And again.


If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
At present, Margaret Atwood. I would say, ‘you know you said that it’s often a let down when you meet a writer – that just because you like paté doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy meeting the duck…?’ Well, I’m still thrilled to meet you and I’m pretty sure any answer you give will be interesting … So answer me this – how close are we really getting to Gilead?


Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes. I was an only child and we travelled quite a bit. I lolled about in the car and read and read. It was good company and always seemed like the best thing.


When did you start to write?


Is there a book you wish you had written?
Many, many. One of the books I most admire is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. But this book and all the other great ones I love are not mine in any way – not my experience, and I could never have written them.


What are you working on right now?
A book set in the Black Country. This is new for me – and utterly fascinating. There’s such an amazing variety of different things being made in all those scattered towns and such hard lives. The accent is also really, really….. Challenging. I will need to beg forgiveness.


Tell us about your last release?


My latest book is called Mother and Child. This is an unusual one for a number of reasons – even the publication date, in October, as my books tend to come out in the spring. I asked my publisher, Pan Macmillan if I could write an extra book and for it to be dedicated entirely to a charity that I have supported for many years now – the Bhopal Medical Appeal. They have been very kind and supportive. The book is aimed to raise money for the clinics in Bhopal for people poisoned by the gas explosion in 1984 – still reckoned to be the world’s worst industrial disaster – and who are still being poisoned by the water supply, thanks to the toxic site which still remains there. The number of extreme and distressing birth deformities from both the gas and water poisoning and the number of people acutely sick is very disproportionately high. Most of them are among the very poorest.

The explosion in the neglected plant, happened 35 years ago this autumn so we are publishing to commemorate that and to let people know that Bhopal’s situation is far from over – it is still life-threatening and urgent and the problem is spreading. In fact when the brilliant TV drama about Chernobyl came out, many people were saying we need another similar one about Bhopal – and the company which has liability for it, Dow Chemical, now Dow Inc, Dow DuPont and Corteva Agriscience. It would do a great deal for their reputation were they finally to face up to this.

In fact I was given the brief that the book must still be about Birmingham. Which sounds difficult but actually wasn’t at all when you consider Birmingham’s familiarity with industrial accidents – albeit not on the scale fortunately.

And the main thing is, I hope it is a story that people will enjoy and find moving.


Do you have a new release due?


In April I have another book out featuring young women who become air raid wardens in Small Heath, Birmingham, at the height of the blitz – it’s just finished and is called Girls in Tin Hats.


What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?


On the day itself not much – raise a glass perhaps to wish it well on its way!


How can readers keep in touch with you?
My website has contact details on it as well as other things people might enjoy. It’s also great to hear from people on Facebook. My writer page is at


Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I never feel I’m very good at answering questions, so if anyone has anything they would like to ask do get in touch in either of these ways above.
Also, if you would like to help with the campaign around Bhopal, there are some quite small things that can be done – letter writing for example. You could look at – or contact me and we could chat about it.


Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Annie 🙂

Mother and child cover.jpg


Mother and Child by Sunday Times bestseller Annie Murray is a moving story of loss, friendship and hope over two generations . . .

Jo and Ian’s marriage is hanging by a thread. One night almost two years ago, their only child, Paul, died in an accident that should never have happened. They have recently moved to a new area of Birmingham, to be near Ian’s mother Dorrie who is increasingly frail. As Jo spends more time with her mother-in-law, she suspects Dorrie wants to unburden herself of a secret that has cast a long shadow over her family.

Haunted by the death of her son, Jo catches a glimpse of a young boy in a magazine who resembles Paul. Reading the article, she learns of a tragedy in India . . . But it moves her so deeply, she is inspired to embark on a trip where she will learn about unimaginable pain and suffering.

As Jo learns more, she is determined to do her own small bit to help. With the help of new friends, Jo learns that from loss and grief, there is hope and healing in her future.

Buy Link

A word from Annie Murray

Mother and child tour Industrial disaster India .jpg

Soon after midnight on the morning of December 3rd, 1984, what is still recognized as the world’s worst ever industrial disaster took place in the city of Bhopal in central India.

A plant built to manufacture pesticide, owned by the American Union Carbide Corporation, leaked 40 tons of methyl-isocyanate gas, one of the most lethally toxic gases in the industry, over the surrounding neighbourhood. This was a poor area consisting mainly of slum housing, some of it leaning right up against the factory wall.

People woke, coughing and choking. Panic broke out as many tried to flee for their lives. As they ran, their bodies broke down with toxic poisoning, eyes burning, frothing at the mouth. Women miscarried pregnancies. Many people flung themselves in the river and by dawn, the streets were littered with thousands of bodies. It is estimated that 10,000 died that first night and the death toll continued, within weeks, to a total of about 25 000. Many more have died since. There are still reckoned to be 150 000 chronically ill survivors. Their plight was not helped by the fact that Union Carbide would not release the name of an antidote to a poison that they did not want to admit was as dangerous as it really was.
The plant, making less profit than had been hoped, was being run down for closure and was in poor condition. Not one of the safety systems was working satisfactorily. In addition, the original design of the factory had been ‘Indianized’ – in other words built more cheaply than would be expected of such a plant in a western country.

This was 35 years ago. In 1989, a paltry amount of compensation was eventually paid by Union Carbide who did everything a large corporation can do to evade taking responsibility. Their comment was “$500 is about enough for an Indian.” That was $500 to last for the rest of the life of a man who could no longer work to look after his family.

The sickness and suffering from ‘that night’ goes on in those who survived to this day. What is less well known about Bhopal however, is that even before the 1984 gas leak, the company had been dumping toxic waste in solar evaporation ponds. The lining used was about like you would use in a garden water feature. This in a country of heavy rains and floods. In the early 80s, people started to notice how bad their water supply tasted. Cows were dying.

Union Carbide closed the plant. They never cleared the site, which still stands in an area of highly toxic soil and water. The water supply in that area is so contaminated that water has to be brought in from outside. In 2001 Union Carbide was bought by the Dow Chemical Company, and is, from 2018, now DowDuPont. Despite having acquired all the assets of Union Carbide they are not prepared to accept its liabilities and clear up the site.

In the months after the gas leak in 1984, the nearby Hamidia hospital started to see children born with birth defects more horrific than any they had witnessed before. These days, because of gas- and also water-affected parents, the rate of birth defects is now reaching into a third, soon to be a fourth generation. The main parallel with the kind of extreme toxic effects would be with the children of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The only free care in this impoverished neighbourhood for people suffering from the effects of gas poisoning, or to help with very severely handicapped children, is from the Bhopal Medical Appeal. It is to them that all the money from Mother and Child is going.

In the book, you can read more about what happened in Bhopal and about how the book itself came to be written.

Author Information

Annie Murray was born in Berkshire and read English at St John’s College, Oxford. Her first ‘Birmingham’ novel, Birmingham Rose, hit The Times bestseller list when it was published in 1995. She has subsequently written many other successful novels, including The Bells of Bournville Green, sequel to the bestselling Chocolate Girls, and A Hopscotch Summer. Annie has four children and lives near Reading.

The Christmas Calendar Girls by Samantha Tonge @SamTongeWriter @Aria_Fiction #PriceDrop #BookPromo @rararesources

99p! (For a limited time only!)

I will be adding this to my Christmas reading list, will you!?

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The Christmas Calendar Girls - 99p

The Christmas Calendar Girls

The Christmas Calendar Girls cover

This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood… Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.
Fern, and her best friends, call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).
As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.
In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.
Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?
This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.

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Purchase Links – 

Heart-warming, cosy and charming, get The Christmas Calendar Girls for just 99p for a limited period!

Google Play: 

The Christmas Calendar Girls banner quote

Author Bio – 

Samantha Tonge Rachel

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.  She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award. 

Social Media Links –


Instagram: @samanthatongeauthor 


The Christmas Calendar Girls banner quote 2

happy reading 🙂


#FlashbackFriday November 2019 with L J Ross @LJRoss_author Caroline James @CarolineJames12 & Misha Herwin @MishaHerwin

Flashback Friday

Hi and welcome to my Flashback Friday feature 🙂

On the first Friday of each month I like to have a little look back at what I was reading during the same month in previous years, since starting my blog. 

Please feel free to join in. I’d love to see your posts! 

Here are my reviews from November 2018 plus a link to previous FBFs…..

The Hermitage: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 9) by L J Ross @LJRoss_author #BookReview

The Hermitage cover


The Best Boomerville Hotel by Caroline James @CarolineJames12 #BlogTour #BookReview @RubyFiction @rararesources

The Best Boomerville Hotel cover


City of Secrets (Adventures of Letty Parker) by Misha Herwin @MishaHerwin #BookReview @penkhullpress

City Of Secrets cover


#FlashbackFriday with @MTilburyAuthor @byAliLand @BKDuncanwriter @PatFurstenberg @winniemli @ladynicci @MicheleGormanUK & @Caroline_writes


Have you read any of the above?


#TheRoommates by Rachel Sargeant @RachelSargeant3 #BlogTour #Interview

The Roommates Blog Tour Banner

I am delighted to welcome Rachel Sargeant back to Chat About Books today  🙂 It is a honour to be a part of her The Roommates blog tour!

A big thank you to Rachel for the invite and for agreeing to the following interview…..

Rachel Sargeant

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?


Thank you, Kerry, for inviting me back onto your blog as part of The Roommates blog tour.


I’m a full-time author but until last year I was a school librarian. Years ago I studied German and Librarianship at Aberystwyth University. More recently I did an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and met some fabulous fellow students who continue to support me in my writing.

Born and raised in Lincolnshire, I’ve also lived in Surrey, Shropshire and Germany. Home now is Gloucestershire with my husband and children.


My hobbies are reading, swimming (preferably outdoors at the local lido in summer), visiting country houses and coffee shops, and going to the theatre.


Last time you interviewed me, my first psychological thriller, The Perfect Neighbours, was about to published on the HarperCollins Killer Reads list. I’m delighted to say that the book became a Kindle Top Ten bestseller with sales of over 100,000 copies to date. This success was due in no small part to the support I received from you and the rest of the blogging community. I was a complete unknown at the time and so grateful for the social media exposure you gave me and my book.


My new psychological thriller, The Roommates, is out now on the main HarperCollins crime list. Four girls arrive at university for freshers’ week and find themselves sharing a flat on campus. All four are holding secrets from their pasts, but when one of them goes missing, the other three have to learn to trust each other and work together to find her.



Where did/do you get your ideas from?


My books seem to happen when two different ideas come together. I wrote The Roommates because my children went to university. Prior to them making their UCAS applications, they went to various campus open days – with Mum and Dad in tow. My husband and I loved comparing these visits with our own uni experiences. It got us thinking about a time we hadn’t thought of for years. The memories became stronger when the kids started uni and we became regular visitors. The stories they told us about student life were hilarious even though I’m sure we got censored versions. I saw real potential in a psychological thriller that featured a university setting with lead characters who were freshers, away from home for the first time.


But I didn’t have that second idea that I would need to create the plot and had to wait a year for it to hit. One day I had an idea for a dramatic final scene of a story. It became that second idea I needed for The Roommates. I wrote a story set on a university campus that ended with my imagined scene.



Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?


When I sketched out the first draft of The Roommates, I pictured a family member for the lead character, Imogen. However, this was only so I had a physical image in my head to kick start my writing. As soon as I got onto rewriting and expanding the plot, the character took on a life of her own, nothing like the real person. Only the hair stayed the same.


I don’t think I could base characters on real people. Apart from it being unethical, I wouldn’t be able to make real people do what I want them to do in the story. Some of my characters get up to grim or outrageous things. Thankfully I haven’t met any real people would act like that.


How do you pick your characters’ names?


The four main characters in The Roommates are young female students. As my daughter was roughly the same age, I asked her for ideas. She came up with Imogen and Amber as names typical for the age group but also distinctive. I chose the Welsh name Tegan for my feisty, wealthy student from Cardiff and Phoenix for the athletic, practical fourth girl. It seemed just the kind of name that her particular parents would give her.


Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?


Now that I’m a full-time author, I write weekdays from 9.30am to 7.30pm with an afternoon break for a swim or an outing with my husband. I usually do a few hours over the weekend. As I become more experienced and now I have more time, I find I’m able to write quicker. My first try at writing a novel took six years, but I’ve just written one in six months. I can’t vouch for the quality, though. I’m still waiting to hear what my agent thinks of it.


The best time is when I’ve completed the first draft and I can start editing. My worst time is when the final draft is coming to a close and I panic that I won’t have a solid idea for a new project. I’m relieved when inspiration comes in the nick of time. Fingers crossed it always will.


Who are your top 5 favourite authors?


I like and admire lots of authors so I’ll pick five whose books I’ve enjoyed this year.


Kate Rhodes – She is the author of the Ben Kitto series set on the Isles of Scilly. I’d say she’s hit that sweet spot crime writers long to reach: the perfect combination of dramatically beautiful setting; strong, likeable detective with an interesting backstory; memorable ensemble cast of colleagues and neighbours; and intriguing plots.


Clare Chase – Settling down with a Tara Thorpe mystery is like having coffee with old friends. Tara is always her feisty, determined, disruptive self and her boss, DI Garstin Blake, struggles to keep his troubled private life away from the office. They are variously supported and thwarted by a team of fellow detectives in a series of well-plotted cases.


Chris Curran – I was already a fan of Chris’s books when I met her at CrimeFest in Bristol. She and fellow author Anja de Jager took me under their wing when I was feeling bewildered. Chris has written four psychological thrillers to date and has the knack of populating them with likeable characters, reminding us that not every fictional male has to be a psychopathic fruitcake.


Jane Harper – This is a new superstar on the crime fiction stage and queen of the evocative setting. For example, in The Lost Man, you can taste the heat, the dust, the danger and the sheer expanse of the Australian Outback.


Nele Heuhaus – This German writer is the author of the bestselling Bodenstein and Kirchhoff police detective series set in the Taunus Mountains area of Germany. She self-published the first two books in the series before being approached by a commercial publisher. Her plots and her writing style aren’t too difficult for a non-native German speaker like me to understand.


If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?


Since The Perfect Neighbours was published I’ve connected with several authors on Twitter and received a lot of support. I’d like to meet them to say thank you. In particular, I liked to meet the Killer Reads gang who are brilliant.


If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?


I’d take the characters in the novel I’m currently reading. Becca and Jared in Life Ruins by Danuta Kot spend most of their time battling the bleak, blustery Yorkshire coastline in January while trying to keep one step ahead of some very dangerous people. Neither has a home to go to and they have to camp on the cliffs. I’m sure they’d welcome a coffee and a full English at a seaside café.


What are you working on right now?


This summer we spent a couple of days in South Shropshire and it reminded me what a remote and atmospheric area it is. It’s inspired me to set my next psychological thriller there. I’m working on the plot at the moment.


Tell us about your new release.


The Roommates is a psychological thriller set in a university freshers’ week.



It’s out now in eBook, and the paperback will be published on 28 November.


How can readers keep in touch with you?









Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Rachel 🙂


Thank you, Kerry. I enjoyed answering them.


The Roommates

The Room mates_final high-res

Do you really know the people you live with?

University is supposed to be the best time of your life. But Imo’s first week is quickly going from bad to worse.

A stalker is watching her flat, following her every move, and Imo suspects that her new roommates are hiding dark secrets…

When one of them suddenly disappears, the trauma of Imo’s recent past comes hurtling back to haunt her. And she begins to realise just how little she knows about the people she’s just moved in with…




Available from Amazon:

Or HarperCollins:


The paperback is published on 28th November and will be on sale in bookshops and supermarkets.


About the author

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


Leaves by John Simmons @JNSim @UrbaneBooks #BlogTour #Interview #LoveBooksTours

Welcome to my stop on John Simmons’ Leaves blog tour, with Love Books Tours!

Leaves blog tour

Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview with John Simmons…..

Leaves author

Photo by Stuart Keegan, Bloomsbury Festival

Dear author….. John Simmons, author of Leaves, Spanish Crossings and The Good Messenger published by Urbane.

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m a writer of fiction now but I first became a published writer in the world of brands – particularly how to write more powerfully and creatively for business. That took me into writing workshops (which I still do) and contacts with a large group of writers through the organisations I co-founded Dark Angels and 26.

The wish to write fiction had always been there since school days, and I actually wrote the first version of ‘Leaves’ straight out of university. It then waited a long time until revisions and changing times meant that it was published in 2015 by Urbane.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?
Ideas come when you get out and about and meet people. It’s a gestation process and there’s hardly ever any one source of an idea. I run regularly and I find that running (slowly) is a great source of ideas – that sense of being completely on your own with just your own thoughts – then sometimes needing to be quick in going from jogging to jotting down the words in my head.

With ‘Leaves’ the north London setting was very much based on the area of Camden where I grew up.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
There is always part of an author in every character created. I’m not sure what this says about me when some of my characters are not people you might wish to meet – but I do think it’s true that an author understands characters through his/her own character.

But there are characters in ‘Leaves’ – Robert and Gerald – who were originally inspired by people I came across in my first job. But they ended up a long way away from the real characters.

How do you pick your characters’ names?
Names are really important – naming companies and products was one of the things I did in my branding career. With a fictional character there are always so many options and I often start writing with one name for a character then feel the need to change it as the story develops. The name has to feel right for the character as you get to know that character better. In ‘Leaves’ the name Selene was the most unusual – the moon goddess but also the first part of the biological name of a tropical fish. It fitted as her brother Gerald keeps an aquarium.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Notes in notebooks. Once I feel the story is growing and will turn into something, putting everything into a single notebook. Structure is always vital for me, and I like natural structures – for example, the four seasons that shape the story of ‘Leaves’. So I write by pencil in notebooks and hold off from the typing on the keyboard until words are properly formed in the notes.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Patrick White (Australian 20th century novelist)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Charles Dickens
Muriel Spark
Philip Pullman

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
The only one of my five favourites who’s still alive is Philip Pullman, and I’m lucky enough to have met him a couple of times. I asked him, inevitably, about the daemons – how did that idea come about? I was surprised when he said it was only on the 17th draft that he had the idea for the daemons. Astonishing as they are so integral to the stories we now read.

Were you a big reader as a child?
Eventually. But I was slow to get into reading and it was only when a teacher at primary school read ‘The Wind in the Willows’ to the class at the end of the school day that I got really hooked. My mum then bought the book for me for my ninth birthday and from then on I couldn’t stop reading. Funnily enough the first part of my novel ‘The Good Messenger’ owes a lot to childhood reading of ‘The Wind in the Willows’.

When did you start to write?
I enjoyed writing once I got into reading. So at school I wrote stories and poems, then at university there was so much writing about the books I was reading (I studied English Literature). When I left university I scoured the Jobs pages for ads saying ‘Novelist wanted’ but I was disappointed…

So I’ve always written. It’s what I love doing and I’m very lucky to have had jobs that allowed me to exercise creativity with words even if not as a full-time novelist. Luckily writing is something we all can do throughout our lives.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I’d much rather re-read novels with great endings and learn from them. For example, ‘The Great Gatsby’ has a perfect ending – those closing lines ‘boats against the current’ are extraordinarily moving, particularly after you’ve read the 200 pages that precede them. They provide inspiration for me as a writer always wanting to emulate that depth of feeling in the closing lines of my own novels.

Is there a book you wish you had written?
Many. But someone else wrote them so there’s no point being envious. You just have to admire and learn.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
‘I’m done’

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Hurtle Duffield from Patrick White’s ‘The Vivisector’. He’s an artist and I’d probably invite him to the Academicians Room at the Royal Academy. Hurtle’s a volcanic character, so I’m not sure he’d like the place or that I’d like him. But it would be memorable.

What are you working on right now?
I’m finalising the manuscript of my fourth novel which I call ‘Painting Paris’. It’s set in Paris in 1908 in Montmartre at that time when ‘modern art’ was transforming our view of the world. So my main characters are artists and it’s taking me into areas that are less familiar territory than ‘Leaves’. I’ve loved the ‘research’ because visiting art exhibitions has always been one of my favourite things to do – and who wouldn’t enjoy spending time in Paris looking at art, being a flaneur, and writing.

Tell us about your last release?
‘The Good Messenger’ was my third novel published by Urbane in 2018. The previous novel ‘Spanish Crossings’ had been set before, during and after the second world war – ‘The Good Messenger’ went back in time to before and after the first world war. It’s more about the effects of the war than the war itself and is centred around a young journalist whom we meet first as a child of nine before the war (hence the ‘Wind in the Willows’ connection). Essentially it’s a love story with history as the backcloth.

Do you have a new release due?
I’m hoping ‘Painting Paris’ will be finished soon and published. If so, it will be sometime in 2020. I can’t wait.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
Share a meal and bottle of wine with my wife. No Gatsby-style wild parties.

How can readers keep in touch with you?
They can email me. If they contact via the Urbane site or google or find me on Linked-In, say, I’m always happy to hear from readers.

Or via Twitter @JNSim

Is there anything else you would like us to know?
‘I’m done’ –

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, John 🙂

Thank you – good to be asked – John

Leaves cover


Ophelia Street, 1970. A street like any other, a community that lives and breathes together as people struggle with their commitments and pursue their dreams. It is a world we recognise, a world where class and gender divide, where set roles are acknowledged. But what happens when individuals step outside those roles, when they secretly covet, express desire, pursue ambitions even harm and destroy? An observer in the midst of Ophelia Street watches, writes, imagines, remembers, charting the lives and loves of his neighbours over the course of four seasons. And we see the flimsily disguised underbelly of urban life revealed in all its challenging glory. As the leaves turn from vibrant green to vivid gold, so lives turn and change too, laying bare the truth of the community. Perhaps, ultimately, we all exist on Ophelia Street.

Buy Link



John Simmons is an independent writer and consultant. He runs Writing for design workshops for D&AD and the School of Life as well as Dark Angels workshops. He has written a number of books on the relationship between language and identity, including The Writer’s Trilogy We, me, them & it, The invisible grail and Dark angels. He’s a founder director of 26, the not-for-profit group that champions the cause of better language in business, and has been writer-in-residence for Unilever and Kings Cross tube station. In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Falmouth in recognition of outstanding contribution to the creative sector. He initiated and participated in the writing of a Dark Angels collective novel Keeping Mum with fifteen writers. It was published by Unbound in 2014. He is on the Campaign Council for Writers Centre Norwich as Norwich becomes the first English City of Literature. John also wrote the compelling novel Leaves, which was published by Urbane in 2015

Spanish Crossings was published in March 2018 and The Good Messenger in September 2018.






#CoverReveal Sparky The Dragon Bus by Sue Wickstead @JayJayBus @rararesources

Sparky The Dragon Bus - Cover Reveal

Sparky the Dragon Bus

Sparky isn’t your typical double-decker bus.
Behind the dragon and magical paintings, she’s full of fun and adventures for all children.
Jump aboard to find out what makes Sparky so special.

Check this out



Sparky the Dragon Bus Cover - IngramSpark - AW

How cool is that!?

Pre-Order Link:

Author Bio –

Sparky The Dragon Bus - author

I am an author and a teacher and have written six children’s picture books, all with a bus included somewhere.
Having been able to share my first book, ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, it was time to think about writing a book for younger readers.
While visiting a local school the children were writing stories about a journey, we read Jay-Jay’s book and then I remembered a book that I had written some years before and I read this to the class too, and they loved it.
The original story was based on a walk with my class around the neighbourhood of Bewbush, Crawley. The walk had led to map work and sequencing. Then together with the class I wrote an imaginative adventure.
The events we imagined were put into a class book. The book was shared with many classes and it was always a favourite.
Now years later I decided it was time to update, improve and look at publishing the book.
There is indeed a walk around the district of Bewbush. and following the publication of the book I went back to see if and how the neighbourhood had changed.
‘Oh, I see you have written a book without a bus!’ commented a friend.
But, look through the pages and you will see there always has to be a bus!
The neighbourhood of Bewbush was a new estate built in Crawley town in the 1970’s. The area was built without any shops, school or safe places for children to play. It was an area of high need and was supported by a special playbus which offered a much-needed playgroup venue.
I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share my stories. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: – Author Page
Facebook – Playbus page
Web site :


#Interview with #author S.M. Stevens @SMStevens17 #HorseshoesandHandGrenades #Extract

I have the pleasure of welcoming S.M. Stevens to Chat About Books today 🙂

Horseshoes and hand Grenades authogSMStevens at Acadia

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

I’d love to! I am the author of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, a #MeToo novel was released by TouchPoint Press on 27 September, 2019. It’s one of the first novels dealing with workplace sexual harassment, and I believe it is the first in which the heroines are in their 20s. To me, that was the obvious age, because that’s when most women are starting their careers and learning about office politics, hierarchies, and what to do and not to do to get ahead.


As for me, I think I’m quite typical. I love music, animals, yoga, walks in the woods, and spending time with my family.


Where did/do you get your ideas from?

Like many writers, I draw from a combination of sources, including my own experiences, the experiences of my friends, things I read about, and some things I completely make up, drawing on my imagination.


Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

I do have a habit that not all my friends may appreciate! I often picture a character first as someone I know, to get a physical description set in my mind. And sometimes the character shares some traits with that person. But then the character morphs into a new person as I write, and by the end, they don’t even resemble the original “model” in my mind. They’ve become their own person.


How do you pick your characters’ names?

Ooh, that’s not always as easy as I would like. I try to come up with memorable names that fit the era and the character’s personality and ancestry.


Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

Write about situations that matter in an accessible, entertaining way that makes people think.


Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

  1. Kurt Vonnegut, the master of concision
  2. Toni Morrison, who sings with words
  3. My daughter, because although she’s young, she’s becoming a beautiful writer already. (She publishes a budget travel blog at
  4. Louisa May Alcott, because I love Little Women and Little Men, but also because she is supposedly a very distant relative of mine. My mother’s surname before marrying was May, and the M in S.M. Stevens is for May.
  5. Joseph Heller, because Catch-22 is a masterpiece that delivers something new every time you read it.


If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Toni Morrison, and I would ask her if she hears music in her head when she writes, because the way she strings words together is melodic.


Were you a big reader as a child?

Yes! I always loved escaping into the attic of our old farmhouse to curl up in a wingchair, munch on an apple, and read.


When did you start to write?

I’ve been a business writer for ages, but I started to write fiction in earnest when I was bedridden for three months after breaking my pelvis in three places from a fall off my horse, Elphin Drumcarrick. That’s when I wrote Shannon’s Odyssey for my animal-loving daughter. Almost exactly a year later, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and underwent six months of chemotherapy. That’s when I started writing my Bit Players YA series for my other daughter, who is a big musical theatre fan. The TV show “Glee” and the “High School Musical” movies were huge then, but no one was writing books for lovers of musicals so I tried to fill that void.


If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

That’s a great question…can I get back to you? The thing is, I read books as a reader, not a writer, so I accept the author’s ending, even if I don’t like it. I’m more likely to stop reading a book in the middle because I don’t care about the characters than I am to think about my preferred outcome at the end.


Is there a book you wish you had written?

Any of the great books on natural horsemanship, because writing them would mean I understood horses, and could communicate with them, in the manner required to be a natural horsemanship teacher. I think I was a horse, or if I’m stretching — a horse whisperer, in another life, but sadly in this one I am not a natural rider! (See broken pelvis reference above.)


If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?  

Shy Child, Tortured Teen, Successful PR Pro, World’s Proudest Mother, Solar Advocate, and Aspiring Author. Is that too long? How about: Finding Joy in Life’s Simple Pleasures: How I Turned My Teenage Angst into a Zen-like Peace of Mind.


If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

Merlin the Wizard, and I think he could take me somewhere much more exciting than anywhere I could take him!


Tell us a random fact about yourself

I used to work at the zoo in Boston, which was in some ways a dream job because I’m a huge animal lover. Can I plug a friend’s book? My boss at the zoo, Mark Goldstein, recently published Lions, Tigers and Hamsters, a wonderful collection of true stories based on his years as a veterinarian, zoo director and animal welfare advocate.


What are you working on right now?

Sadly, I’m not writing at the moment, because my day job as a solar energy marketer and promoting Horseshoes and Hand Grenades isn’t leaving me the time to start my next book. But I have a bunch of ideas, and in the meantime I’m very happy with my current focus.


Tell us about your last release?

Bit Players, Bird Girls and Fake Break-Ups was the third installment in my Bit Players musical theatre series. It’s about a school drama club led by teen Sadie Perkins who is dismayed when the new director takes most of the students’ power away and does things her way. Seussical, the beloved Dr. Seuss-themed musical, is that year’s production. At the same time, it has a play within the play, so to speak–Sadie and her friends write and produce Whoosical, a satire of Seussical. Then there’s the fact that Sadie’s boyfriend Alex has to move in with her family for a while, which is incredibly awkward. And there’s more going on, but I’ll stop there.


Do you have a new release due?

Yes, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades comes out on 27 September.


What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

I don’t know! Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is my first traditionally published book! I self published my other four novels. But I know I’ll be updating the banner images on my website, blog and social media pages, because right now they all say “Coming Sept. 27”. J


How can readers keep in touch with you?

Just visit my website and scroll to the bottom to subscribe to my blog, follow me on social media, and/or email me. Or click on these links to go right to my social media pages.







Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Thanks for having me, and I would love to hear from readers of my books. Online reviews are great, of course, but hearing directly from people with their honest opinions of my novels is priceless. And one more thing—despite the heavy themes, my early readers say Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is an uplifting and fun read!


Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions 🙂

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades_Cover_Outline

After suffering harassment and abuse at the hands of others, two women fight to reclaim their careers, romances, and lives.
“Any sexual abuse, no matter the form or degree, impacts the victim. Stevens portrays this beautifully in this exploration of a young woman’s coming to terms with her past. And the parallel story of a woman grappling with workplace sexual harassment underscores the similarities in how society treats both types of victim.” –Laura Davis, co-author of The Courage to Heal

“…engages the reader in a series of situations that are honest, strongly and carefully drawn and painfully current. [Touches] on what is most difficult in the lives of survivors of abuse while spotlighting the kindness and support of those who sustain them.” –Susan Roney-O’Brien, author of Legacy of the Last World and Bone Circle

Fragile but practical Shelby Stewart and ambitious, confident Astrid Ericcson just want to start their PR careers in 1980s Boston and maybe find a nice guy to hang out with. But long-buried memories of incest at the hands of her local hero stepfather keep interrupting Shelby’s plans, affecting her health one way after another. And when will she actually date someone her friends think is good enough for her?

Astrid thinks she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting but is forced to re-visit her career advancement strategy when her boss Brad takes the innuendos to a whole new, scary level, threatening her job and her safety.

Suddenly, instead of taking charge of their lives, both women find themselves spinning out of control.

In this fast-paced story for the #metoo generation, the women reach new highs and lows in life, work and romance, while struggling to make sense of the abusive relationships that haunt them.

Extract from Horseshoes and Hand Grenades by S.M. Stevens

For Kerry Parsons, Chat About Books


“Astrid, I know you’ve been avoiding me,” Brad said, cornering me in his office and shutting the door, a few weeks after the thigh-stroking incident. His pinstriped suit jacket hung over the back of his desk chair, and his pale yellow tie was loosened.


“What? No, of course not—”


“Shhh, it’s okay. But I know you have been. You never step into my office anymore. You stand in the doorway to talk to me. And we haven’t been alone since then.”


Alone with the door shut, I thought. Working so closely on the same accounts, I couldn’t avoid him altogether, but I tried to make sure someone else was in earshot when I had to talk to him one-on-one. That way, he couldn’t make another pass, and I couldn’t be tempted.


“Look, I know this is confusing, me being your boss and all. So I’m going to cut to the chase.”


I leaned against his closed door, my fight-or-flight instinct primed and ready to launch.


“I know you’re attracted to me. And I am definitely attracted to you. We’re two grown, intelligent people, who are allowed to enjoy each other—even if we’re co-workers.”


An involuntary image of me and Brad happily dating flitted across my mind, but I remained silent.


“So I have a proposition for you. You and I could have a thing.” His eyebrows flicked up and down. “It doesn’t need to be official, but we could be very good together, if you know what I mean.”


“But,” I said, confused, “you have a girlfriend. Are you saying you’re breaking up with her?”


“Oh no, I can’t do that. We’ve been together five years. You and me would be a separate thing.”


“So wait.” I squinted. “You want me to be something on the side? A little affair while you stay with your girlfriend?”


“That’s right. We could have a lot of fun.”

My brain’s processing ability short-circuited.

“Think about it and let me know,” he said, shooting me a smile and turning to shuffle some papers on his desk.

I started to leave but turned back to face him. I took a step forward. “I don’t have to think about it. I have more pride than to be someone’s little piece of action on the side. I’m offended that you even asked me. Is that all you think of me?”


He stopped shuffling. “Astrid, I have nothing but respect for you,” he said, humoring me. He straightened up to his full six feet. “But remember—I always get what I want, one way or another. It’s one of my more endearing qualities.”


Dumbfounded, I stumbled to the ladies’ room to breathe. I wished I had a girlfriend to talk to. I couldn’t talk to my mother. She’d think I’d failed somehow, letting it get to this. I definitely could not talk to Francois. He’d probably make fun of me. We hadn’t discussed Brad since the night we argued, but I knew he didn’t understand the tightrope I was balancing on.


I clutched the bathroom countertop and leaned forward, barely seeing my reflection over the row of sinks. We were heading into a four-day weekend for Christmas, and then I was taking a week of vacation at home in Maine. Maybe by the time I got back, Brad would have forgotten his offer, and life would be back to normal.

happy reading 🙂


The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me by BarbaraQuinn @BarbaraQuinn #BookBirthday #BlogBlitz #Interview @rararesources

The Summer Springsteens Songs Saved Me banner


Many thanks to Rachel for arranging the following interview with Barbara Quinn…..

The Summer Springsteens Songs Saved Me author
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

I’m a multi-genre author. My latest novel, The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me, is a story about the healing power of music, in particular the music of Bruce Springsteen. The main character, an older woman,  is struggling to overcome a bad marriage and other losses. She finds a way to heal through the music of Springsteen. Each chapter is titled with a Springsteen song, and that song is woven into the chapter. It’s an inspiring story of rebirth.

Other novels are in the fantasy, chick lit, and paranormal genres. I’m inspired on a daily basis by the people I meet and the places I visit. I enjoy traveling and finding interesting places to set my books. But I also often use a familiar childhood neighborhood as a setting. I’m a native New Yorker, born in the Bronx, raised in Westchester and on Long Island. Currently I split time between Bradley Beach, NJ and Holmes Beach, Florida.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

Ideas are everywhere. Sometimes a snippet of a passing conversation sparks a scene or a story. When I’m traveling, I enjoy learning about the mysteries of the area, and everywhere has its own fascinating story to tell. Recently I went to Sardinia, where I visited several ancient stone Nuraghi sites. No one is sure about the origin or meaning of these tall stone towers. I climbed one and was amazed at being able to use the same hand holds as someone used thousands of years ago. Those nuraghi are bound to show up at some point in a story.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Oh yes, many of the characters come from people I’ve met and known over the years.  I love finding character markers in real life. Someone once told me about being unable to leave the house without straightening all the blinds to the exact same level, and the curtains to the exact width, and that appeared in a book. I based one of my characters on my grandfather who took me fishing, crabbing, and clamming. All those activities appear in a novel via a young girl who fishes with her grandfather.   
How do you pick your characters names?

Sometimes I look to my past. As a child I wanted to be called Celeste. My character in Speed of Dark who falls from the sky and can change the weather is called Celeste. Phoebe, the lovable, pudgy dog in The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me is named after Phoebe Caulfield, Holden’s sister in Catcher in the Rye. I gave a character who instructs his daughter on his deathbed never to go to Italy the name Domenic, which is my paternal grandfather’s name.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

A story bubbles up but it’s amorphous. I can see a main character. I write the part that I know first. Usually that’s the beginning. From there I often know the ending. I write the scenes that call out to me. And then I fill in the gaps. It’s a messy process that is unnerving and agonizing. I’ve learned to trust that the story will tie together.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors? 

Anne Tyler F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ann Patchett John Irving Raymond Carver

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them? 

Bruce Springsteen. I’d like to ask him about his struggles with depression and what exactly he did to fight those big battles.

Were you a big reader as a child?

I read constantly as a child. The bookmobile used to travel to my street in the Bronx and I exhausted the books on the shelves. When we moved to the suburbs I loved being able to take out dozens of books.

When did you start to write?

As a young child, I wrote plays with my brother. We performed them for my parents. My first “produced” play was in Girl Scouts. It was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in which Red was evil and the Wolf was a kindly soul. I can still hear the applause!

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

1984…I think I’d like to have put a little hope into the ending.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

The Great Gatsby would be grand to have written.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?

An Ordinary Girl

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I’d like to go down the rabbit hole and have tea with Alice in Wonderland.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a new women’s fiction that’s tentatively titled It Can Always Get Worse. It’s the story of two women who are friends from a very early age.

Do you have a new release due?


What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

My husband and I pop a bottle of bubbly and take silly pictures.

How can readers keep in touch with you?
I’m on Twitter as BarbaraQuinn and on Instagram as AuthorBarbaraQuinn

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Barbara 🙂

Thank you, Kerry for this wonderful opportunity!

The Summer Springsteens Songs Saved Me cover.png

The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me

Coming home to catch her husband with his face between the long, silky legs of another woman is the last thing Sofia expects—and on today of all days. So, after scratching an expletive into his Porsche and setting the cheating bastard’s clothes on fire, she cranks up her beloved Bruce and flees, vowing never to look back.
Seeking solace in the peaceful beachside town of Bradley Beach, NJ, Sof is determined to start over. And, with the help of best friends, new acquaintances, a sexy neighbor, and the powerful songs of Springsteen, this may be the place where her wounds can heal. But, as if she hasn’t faced her share of life’s challenges, a final flurry of obstacles awaits.
In order to head courageously toward the future, Sofia must first let go of her past, find freedom, and mend her broken soul.

Purchase Links
Barnes & Noble:

Author Bio – 

Barbara Quinn is an award-winning short story writer and author of a variety of novels.
Her travels have taken her to forty-seven states and five continents where she’s encountered fascinating settings and inspiring people that populate her work.
Her many past jobs include lawyer, record shop owner, reporter, process server, lingerie sales clerk, waitress, and postal worker. She’s a native New Yorker with roots in the Bronx, Long Island, and Westchester. She currently resides with her husband in Bradley Beach, NJ and Holmes Beach, FL. She enjoys spending time with her son and his family and planning her next adventure. She wants to remind everyone that when you meet her, SHE’S NOT SHOUTING, SHE’S ITALIAN.

Social Media Links – 


happy reading 🙂


Justice Gone by N. Lombard Jr. #BlogTour #Extract @DamppebblesBTs

Welcome to my stop on N. Lombard Jr’s Justice Gone blog tour, with Damppebbles Blog Tours!

Justice Gone tour

Many thanks to Emma @ damppebbles blog tours.


“What does voir dire mean?” Penny asked out of the blue. “The judge said something about…”
“It means that I and the prosecutor get to question each prospective juror directly. Only the judge has that authority, we lawyers have to ask permission to do so.”
They entered the visitation room, a cramped stuffy space bounded by the same pea-green walls, with a wooden table and straight-backed wooden chairs in the middle of the room. It was dimly lit and windowless. They found Darfield already standing by the table, and after greetings, along with hugs on the part of Tessa and Penny, they all sat down.
“I think it’s time I made a proper introduction,” Emily Bodine said. She smiled appealingly. She was a comely woman of about thirty, with honey-brown hair combed sensually around her glossy oval face and down to her shoulders, and possessing jaunty blue eyes, a cute button nose, and alluring lips. She wore a brown lawyerly, Chanel-style pants suit. “You already know I’m Nat’s daughter and his co-counsel.”
“Not as flamboyant as me, but she gets the job done,” Bodine put in.
“Thanks, Dad. Closest thing to a complement that I’ll ever get from him,” she told the others with a fleeting grin before getting down to business. “Today was the formal arraignment, and now we are entering the discovery phase.”
“What’s that mean, exactly?” Darfield wanted to know.
“It means that the State has to turn over all its evidence to us including a list of witnesses they intend to call, the exhibits they intend to admit, things like that…so we can prepare our case. And we have to do likewise.”
“When is the trial going to be?” Tessa asked, getting to the issue that was a priority on her mind.
“Yeah, I’d like to know that, too,” Darfield said.
“Well, I don’t expect before the end of the year. We have the holidays coming up. It has to be within one hundred and twenty days, you heard the judge. Maybe sometime in February.”
Tessa was upset. “February! And Donald will be locked up until then?”
Bodine intervened. “Well, it’s like six of one and half dozen of the other. We’ll at least get sufficient time to prepare. It could have been worse if we waived the right to a speedy trial. Could have been a year or more because the State’s got a weak case and they’d use that time to bone it up.”
Darfield patted her arm. “Don’t worry, Tessa, I can make it all right.”
Bodine continued. “As Emily already mentioned, this is the discovery phase, so the more time the better. You see, most prosecutors play this disgusting game in collusion with the police, to take their time with the paperwork and to withhold things until we have to file motions repeatedly complaining to the judge to get hold of what they got, even though by law we are one hundred percent entitled to it. Oh, yeah, by the way, you got a source of funds?”
Tessa backed off, and sort of shriveled up. “We assumed you were working pro bono.”
“Well I am, but that means I’m only waiving my fees. There are still expenses to pay; you don’t expect me to dig into my own pockets for those, do you?”
“What expenses?”
Emily explained. “Phone calls, photocopying, transport, investigation costs…”
“Yes, that’s a must if we’re going to trial. And then there’s the experts.”
The elder Bodine once again took the reins. “Look, they don’t have any evidence that Donald killed those three men. They need eyewitnesses, and they don’t have any. And the only forensic evidence is going to be based on ballistics. So they’re going to get some expert, who works for the government of New Jersey and who is loyal to the prosecution, and get him in the witness stand and give the jury a whole mumbo-jumbo about how Donald’s weapon is tied to the bullets they found. Except it’s gonna be bullshit. But the jury will eat it up; even if they don’t understand what he’s saying, ‘cause he’s an expert, and if we rely just on my cross-examination, me, a lil ol’ lawyer, a blind one at that, trying to rip apart his testimony, it always appears as a lack of respect when I attack his credibility. I mean he’s the expert, ain’t he? That’s why we need our own expert to show up the other guy, and let me tell you, they don’t come cheap.”
“We’ll do a fund-raising,” Penny said. “How much will we need?
“Shoot for a hundred thousand,” Bodine advised. “Shit!” Darfield blurted.
“There is something that we must consider right from the start,” Emily said. “This case hinges on jury sentiment. There’s nothing else when you come right down to it. And that’s not in our favor. Asarn County is ninety-percent white and is very conservative, as well as generally supportive of their local police.”
“I thought I saw a few people outside holding signs,” Penny said. “I think they were supportive of Donald.”
“That’s the last thing we want!” Bodine remonstrated loudly, banging his cane on the floor.
The door opened and a uniformed jailer appeared. “Is there a problem in here?”
“No officer, I was just making a point.”
“Well, could you make it a little more quietly, please?” “Yeah, now shut the door.”
The guard shot Bodine a harsh glance before closing the door. “Little pipsqueak.” He pointed his cane toward the far corner, where a camera was suspended close to the ceiling. “They can see everything going on—closed-circuit television. Can’t hear us though… He damn well knew there wasn’t any problem, just wanted to assert the little authority he has…now, as I was saying…any protesters showing up here are likely to be outsiders with a political agenda. The local community is still in shock over those cold-blooded murders; they’ve already forgotten the original incident, Felson’s beating, and they’ll consider such shenanigans as insensitive liberal nonsense…and if the jury should be exposed to these types of demonstrations, they’ll turn against us.”
“You have to realize,” Emily broke in, “that this is all about assigning blame. Three men are dead and someone has to be held responsible. They can’t just let it hang in the air.”
“What about my alibi?” Darfield shot in.
Bodine turned his head in the general direction of Darfield’s voice. “I sent someone down there, and we’ll get his report soon.” “What about this judge?” Darfield asked. “Is he going to be
the same one for the trial? Looks like a mean sucker.”
“Good question, Donald,” Bodine replied. “I would say yes, most assuredly. He’s an elected judge, and this is an election year.
“Is that good or bad?” Penny asked. “Not good.”
“There’s been a study done,” Emily said, “that shows that elected judges tend to have more convictions and give out stiffer penalties during their election years.”
“And,” Bodine added, “they usually run on a platform of being tough on crime. Last campaign, Tupelo had as his slogan, Vote for Judge Tupelo, ‘cause he just don’t let ‘em go. So the DA already has one up on us, he’s got the judge. But I have a way to put Tupelo on a leash. You see, there’s one thing a judge fears, and that is having their verdicts or their decisions overturned by either an Appeals Court, or worse, the Supreme Court. Makes ‘em look bad. And I’ll be threatening him with that from the get-go.”
“I noticed they dropped some of the charges,” Tessa said. “Surely that’s a good sign.”
“No, not really,” Bodine rebutted. “The police always overdo it, then wait for the DA to choose which of them they’re gonna run with. In this case, it looks like they want to concentrate their case on the most serious charges, and it also shows their confidence in getting a conviction. If they weren’t, they would have kept all those charges hoping for at least some of them to stick.” He addressed Darfield. “Make no mistake about it, son, you’re going to end up doing time for something. If you get acquitted, they’re going to bring you up again on reckless endangerment, for sure. And that reminds me, if that’s what happens, we can rely on your PTSD as mitigating circumstances, but NOT, I repeat NOT for this case. The prosecution will no doubt bring that up, but for our part, we’re going to downplay that as much as possible.” Bodine cleared his throat, obviously dry from all this talking. “Now there’s one more thing before I go. This matter of isolation. My hunch is that they’re going to keep you in the same cell, but just add a bunkmate. And he’ll be the snitch. Do whatever you can to keep him away from you. They won’t put you in the regular bullpen, because there’s eight guys sharing a single area, and all eight would have to corroborate each other, you get me?” Bodine didn’t wait for an answer, “Otherwise I can call the others to the stand who would testify they didn’t hear shit. But if the State does what I just said, stick him in alone with you, it’s more work for me because without witnesses to contradict him, I’ll have to spend some effort at tearing up the little rat on the stand.”
Tessa sat upright and put both hands on the table. “What about this sequestering of the jury. I noticed you were quite upset.”
“First of all, we’re gonna be restricted when it comes to jury selection. Some of the most sympathetic won’t be able to do it, for example single mothers, those who might need medical monitoring, people who cannot be away for a long time… but what I’m really concerned about is that they’ll hasten deliberation, come to a judgment too quick ‘cause they’re fed up being treated like prisoners, which, mark my word, that’s how they’ll be treated. Now some of them may resent the State because of that, but some might feel some bond with the State because they’re the ones taking care of them. Remember, that in the trial proceedings the State goes first, they can take their time, but it’s gonna force us to rush a bit because by that time the jury members are getting unhappy living the way they’re living. If we want to go meticulously about our case, then the jury will blame us for taking too long and prolonging their suffering. Now, is there anything else before Emily and I take our leave?”
“When will you come back?” Darfield asked. “We’ll be back by the end of the week.”

Justice Gone cover



Chosen by among its list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars.

About the author

Justice Gone author

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone, was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


#Interview with #author Alexis Lantgen @TheWiseSerpent #Sapience

I have the pleasure of welcoming Alexis Lantgen to Chat About Books today 🙂

Alexis Langton

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

Of course! I’m Alexis Lantgen, and I’m a writer, a teacher, and a classical musician. I love all things science fiction and fantasy. My most recent book, Saints and Curses, is a collection of my fantasy short stories. It has both light and dark stories–think snake cults, vampire cats, and Christmas elves. My first book, Sapience, is a collection of my science fiction short stories. Many of the stories are set on a colony on Jupiter’s moon Europa. I choose that setting because according to NASA scientists, Europa is one of the places we are most likely to find extraterrestrial life in our solar system!

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

I get story ideas from my life and the things around me. I taught sixth grade science for a while, and I got very enthusiastic about learning science, which inspired many of my science fiction short stories. I especially love learning about space. I’m also a super huge history nerd (I know an unreal amount about the history of Medieval/Renaissance England. Seriously, I could talk a lot about the Wars of the Roses if anyone would ever listen without me boring their pants off.) I think my love of history inspires my fantasy writing. I also try to be very curious. There’s usually something or someone interesting around if you pay attention.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

No Comment! (For real, did my mother tell you to ask me this question?)

How do you pick your characters’ names?

I actually have a couple of baby name books floating around from when my husband and I were looking up names for our children. But mostly I just look for names that sound or feel right. Sometimes I’ll choose a name that has a symbolic or meaningful purpose. I choose the name “Chaya” for one of the characters in Sapience because it means “life” in Hebrew.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

Write when the kids are asleep! Try to keep writing! Honestly, it’s hard when you work a fulltime job and have children. I just try to keep going, and I don’t beat myself up too much if I need a break sometimes.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Hmmm, I’m going with Connie Willis, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austin, Katherine Addison, and Terry Pratchett, though I will say that this list is very flexible.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’d like to meet someone who wrote an ancient work of literature, like Homer, Ovid, or maybe Euripedes. I just think it would be interesting to learn what it was like to be a writer in their time.

Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes, I read like crazy, both kids’ books and some writers/books I now know were pretty highly advanced. I read Slaughterhouse 5 and a lot of Graham Green, weirdly enough. I read anything I could get my hands on.

When did you start to write?

I wrote a few stories in high school, but didn’t really do much more until I started working as an English teacher. It was my first year teaching, and I was having an absolutely miserable time. I started writing reader’s theater plays for my students to read, because reading plays kept them engaged.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Is there a book you wish you had written?

I don’t know about books, but I would certainly re-write the ending to “Game of Thrones” if I could. As for the question about books I wish I could have written, I don’t really think about writing like that. Sure, I wish I could be as rich and famous as J.K. Rowling, and I’m glad I had the chance to read Harry Potter. But I guess I just don’t see that story, or any story written by another author, as mine. It’s a bit like asking if I would want to live someone else’s life. That would mean giving up my life and what’s meaningful and wonderful about the life I have now.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?

“There and Back Again.” Just kidding, maybe “Tales of a Non-Alcoholic Writer: My Life in Root Beer.” Or “I Swear I’m Not Crazy I Don’t Care What That Doctor Said.”

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

Gandalf! And I’d be terribly disappointed if he didn’t take me on an amazing adventure where we could brew our own cup of coffee from magic elvish beans.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a MG/YA fantasy novel about children who can turn into birds.

Tell us about your last release?

My last book, Saints and Curses, is a collection of fantasy short stories. Some of them are dark, sort of Edgar Allan Poe meets the grim aftermath of the Russian Revolution, while others are light and (I hope) funny. Think Christmas elves or magical coffee that takes you on a zany adventure!

Do you have a new release due?

My last book came out June 5, 2019, and I honestly have no idea when my next book will come out. It depends a great deal on my toddler’s nap schedule.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

Oh my goodness, are we supposed to celebrate on publication days? Is that something I didn’t know about? I just usually umm, quietly stare at the computer screen and hope the sales numbers move.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

You can find me via my website,, my Twitter account (I’m @TheWiseSerpent), or my facebook page (

I’d also love to meet more people on Goodreads!

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Check out my books on Amazon!

Saints and Curses: Amazon UK:

Amazon USA

Sapience: Amazon UK:

Amazon USA

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Alexis 🙂

Sapience cover

What kind of life will we find in the depths of Europa’s oceans? What kind of life will we allow an AI with human level intelligence? The ten stories in Sapience: A Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories explore these questions and many more.

In the near future, humanity builds a colony on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. They tunnel into the ice to explore the dark oceans beneath the moon’s surface, searching for signs of extraterrestrial life. What they find will change them forever, setting humanity on a path to the stars. But the old conflicts and hatreds of Earth are not so easily escaped. Will human colonists on distant planets and moons create a paradise or a horrifying dystopia?

happy reading 🙂