Author Interview – Ann Bloxwich

I first met Ann at the Bloody Scotland crime festival a number of years ago. A bubbly, popular, confident woman with a dream to chase, and now she’s gaining momentum.

When did you start writing, and why?

It’s a strong desire to prove myself, and to make my family proud of me. I was always told I’d never amount to anything, and for years I believed it. My dream is to see my books in bookshops and on the bestsellers lists, knowing how hard I worked to get there and so I can say ‘I did it. I chased my dreams and made them happen.’

Which do you like to write, series or standalones?  If you write both, what do you find the difference?

I find a series easier in that I can develop my characters more fully. I do have a standalone outlined but have a feeling that it may turn into a series if I fall in love with the characters.

Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?

I’d like to think I could tackle almost anything, as long as it is done with the utmost respect for the victims. Having said that, I don’t think I could ever write about animal abuse.

Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

I have a couple of favourites. My favourite is Alex Peachey, he’s the kind of policeman I would want to help me if I was in trouble. When I’m writing a scene with him, I ask myself what I would do if I were in his shoes, then he reacts the same way I would. My second favourite is Matt Farrow, aka Faz. He’s based on my old sports physio – and has the same name – and has a similar sick sense of humour. I’m enjoying developing his character, and you’ll be seeing more of him in future books.

Who is your least favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

Vicky Wilson was my least favourite in the first book,. She was exactly like the kind of person I used to see hanging around at ladies’ nights, hoping to pull one of the guys and being rude to the staff or other performers because they thought they were something special. I’m still writing the second book, so haven’t decided yet who’s my least favourite.

Tell us about your last book…

What Goes Around’ is the first in the DI Alex Peachey series and sees Alex being called back to work from leave to find the killer of a young woman after a ladies’ night. With a house move imminent and issues with his disabled son, it’s the last thing Alex needs but he has no choice when his colleague is rushed to hospital. Vicky Wilson had been dating one of the male strippers, an unpleasant, self-centred man named Ray Diamond, and had last been seen heading to join him backstage during the show. Alex has to figure out whether Ray is telling the truth when he says he didn’t kill Vicky or whether he’s so arrogant he thinks he can get away with murder.

What’s coming next…

‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ (provisional title).
‘Survivors’ is a counselling and therapy group for women who were abused as children. They meet up each week, safe in the knowledge that everything they discuss is confidential. Souls are bared and fears are expressed without judgement or ridicule. They can talk openly in a place where they feel safe, in the hope they can work through their terrible experiences and start to move forward. Then their abusers start turning up dead, each body bearing a gift card that reads ‘Goodnight, God Bless.’
Specific methods of torture suggests that the killer knows the women very well indeed, with knowledge of privileged information. Information that could only have come from inside that room.
DI Alex Peachey and his team have to tread carefully to find out if the killer is a mere vigilante, determined to free these women from their nightmares, or if there is more to this case than meets the eye.

Link to Buy: What Goes Around

I’m a short, tattooed crime writer, with a profound love of cats and rock music. I’ve worked as an Oompa Loompa in a chocolate factory, a carer in a residential home, and had my own promotions company before I became an author.

‘What Goes Around’ is the first book in the DI Alex Peachy Series. I’ve also had short stories published in two charity anthologies produced by ‘Crime & Publishment’, a crime writing workshop run by Graham Smith at The Mill Forge hotel in Gretna Green. When I’m not writing, I’m usually attending book festivals.

Thank you Ann, I’m looking forward to seeing you again at the next festival.


I have secured the rights back for Locked Up and Locked In, so at last the Locked Trilogy is reunited, re-edited, re-covered, and now re-released.

So come met Charlie Bell, the ex-dectective sergeant who crosses a line or two. Prison Officer Ariadne Teddington walks a dangerous line, and never expected to be attracted to a convict. DCI Matthew Piper never thought a friend ofhis would end up behind bars, so why is the guilty man the one he trusts more than any other.

Book Review – Feral Snow by Mark Lowes

Feral Snow is Mark’s debut novel – and what a debut!

Feral Snow: 'A simply stunning debut' Kindle Edition

Terrified of fatherhood, Paul runs away from his pregnant wife to join an Artic documentary filming crew, for the money of course. He’s really not suited to the climate and on his first trip into the white, he falls into a crevasse. From there it is a gripping tale of his fight for survival against the cold, loneliness, and his own bitter self-loathing. Then a native girl falls in to the crevasse with him, and he learns what he would do to save a child and be a man, be a father.

This book delves into the fierce and often surprising nature of humanity. Contrasting the man’s lack of self-belief with the indomitable spirit of a child. It examines the nature of father-child relationships with examples of the best and worst of what that can mean. And by the end you are left wondering which is the child, which the adult and if indeed there is a difference.

I found that the solution was just a bit too neat for my personal taste, I simply didn’t click with the resolution – that is – I didn’t until the very last paragraph. Then the all too happy ending made so much more sense.

This only gets a four-star from me because I really struggled to slog through the first 60 pages – but that said – from there on I read in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down, I had to know what happened next. This book will keep you reading and it moved me to tears in parts.

Also note that I can totally see why so many others rightfully give it 5*.

This is an excellent debut novel and I would recommend it to readers.

Buy Link: Feral Snow

An image posted by the author.

Mark Lowes is a former teacher, current early childhood educator, and a dad. He lives in Cardiff, Wales, UK, and is sometimes found lamenting over how awful his football team is. While he’s not working with deaf children and their families, he’s writing dark and twisty fiction.

Mark is the winner of Litopia’s Pop-Up Submissions and of a pitch contest at the Cardiff Book Festival.

(This bio and the image are copied from Mark’s Amazon page)

Blog Tour – Devil’s Cauldron by Alasdair Wham

Alasdair Wham is another new to me writer, so I wanted to find out a bit more about him and his work. 

Alasdair’s latest books is “Devil’s Cauldron”, here’s the blurb:

What would you do if you saw your father murdered and no one believed you? When he was twelve Finn McAdam, saw his father, a scientist, murdered. No one believed him. Now he has returned to his native Galloway to discover the truth. Wherever it leads him. Whatever it costs. But the conspiracy he discovers exposes a cover-up involving leading political figures and places his life in great danger. Some people are determined that the truth must not get out.

Here’s what Alasdair had to tell me about him and his work.

One of my earliest memories is attempting to write a story. It was two lines and I wanted to add if it was true or false. I had probably just started primary school. During primary my compositions were noted for imagination and being somewhat gory. By the time of secondary school, I was writing science fiction but with little success or sense of progress. So, in a sense I have always wanted to write stories.

After university, where I studied Chemistry, I wrote two novels. The first ‘Shadow of the Cloud’ was about a gold heist during a nuclear attack, written in the eighties it was partly to highlight the madness of nuclear weapons. The next novel was ‘Second Chance’ a spy thriller based in Scotland. I sent both books away to agents and publishing houses and got a fairly positive response, one agent seeing potential!

A growing family and a busy teaching career meant that I had no time to write. What kick-started my writing again and took it in a different direction was a weekend trip away when I had the chance to abseil from a disused railway viaduct in Galloway – the iconic Big Water of Fleet viaduct. Along with my sons I became interested in exploring disused railways, discovering their history and what remained. Articles in newspapers and magazines followed and then my first book – Lost Railways of Galloway – a series of explorations of the disused railways in that area. It proved very popular, and I subsequently wrote another seven books on the same theme. The explorations took me all over Scotland and sales of the books totalled about 12,000. I spoke on the radio on disused railways and gave a talk at the Wigtown Book Festival. I have always had a publisher for the railway books.

However, time catches up with you and your knees so in retirement with the encouragement of friends I decided to write another novel. I mulled over the plot in my head for months writing little down and set in the Scottish island of Islay. Machir Bay was the result. The consequence of a wartime tragedy, a mysterious plane crash, missing gold (spot a link to my first novel) and the story of two families. A youthful romance between Peter and Catherine, which ended abruptly and then the return of Catherine to the island years later. Accusations of attempted rape by Catherine which Peter, who was drugged has no recollection. Complicating matters is that in the intervening years Peter had married Jenny, an artist. Peter’s problems lead him into danger as he exposes a drug run between Northern Ireland and Islay operated by Desmond McGrory, an Irish drug baron.

I started, as you do, with the first chapter, rewritten innumerable times, and then the daily discipline of a chapter a day, with weekends off to plot the next section and to my surprise I finished it. I employed a copy editor and decided to publish myself.

To my surprise the book proved popular and sold 1100 copies in paperback and is now on Kindle. Machir Bay was reviewed positively in magazines and newspapers and through Amazon sold all over the United Kingdom. In Islay it was particularly successful. Waterstones and other bookshops had healthy sales and there was a successful launch at Waterstones in Ayr. The sequel Bac Mor continuing the story of Peter and Jenny and their final showdown with Desmond McGrory and takes the story to Mull and Iona. A publisher showed interest in my work, but COVID killed that dream.

I have a plot to complete the Peter and Jenny trilogy but decided to give them a rest, a period of recovery. Still learning my craft, I wanted to try different characters set in a different area.

My writing has been influenced by my railway explorations and the need to describe scenes accurately. I set my stories in places that I know and hope that people would recognise the places that I write about. A major influence is Desmond Bagley, a popular thriller writer from the 1970s. His novel, Running Blind set in Iceland was one of my favourite books and his descriptions of the dramatic Icelandic landscape was remarkable. When the BBC filmed the book, I could recognise where most of the scenes were set. He could also write thrilling chase sequences. I wanted to emulate him, and all my fiction contain chase sequences. 

The latest book Devil’s Cauldron is set in Galloway, and I am proud that I could use my knowledge of the disused railways as part of the plot. When he was twelve Finn McAdam saw his father, a scientist, murdered. No one believed him. Now he has returned to his native Galloway to discover the truth.

But the conspiracy he discovers exposes a cover-up involving leading political figures and places his life in great danger. Some people are determined that the truth must not get out.

During the First World War, a large munitions factory was set up in south-west Scotland to meet the crippling shortage of cordite for shells on the Western Front. On a visit, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle labelled the cordite paste as the Devil’s Porridge. After the world wars, the area was used mainly for storing munitions until a new unit nicknamed the Devil’s Cauldron was set up.

Mainly set in Galloway, the story should appeal to those who enjoyed John Buchan’s classic novel ‘The 39 Steps’ or Dorothy L Sayers’ Five Red Herrings’.

A fourth novel, Delivery Boy, written during lockdown, is completed in draft. Billy Baxter’s life was ruined when he lost his parents in a car crash as a boy. His Uncle Dean’s offers of help came at a price and Billy was drawn into a nightmare from which he can’t escape unless…. Now everyone is out to murder Billy, but murder is the least of his fears.

So far, all my novels have been told through the eyes of the narrator which I have found a useful approach, allowing me to show the vulnerability of the character and conceal information about him. Peter, Jenny and Finn are all very human faced with great danger they survive. They are not heroes in the classical sense, but ordinary people face with challenging situations, reacting as I think we might if faced with the same circumstances. I also like telling a story partly in flashback gradually revealing more of their background. Peter’s earlier life is important and is told between chapters set in the present. The two stories gradually merge and then the pace picks up.

Basically, I love writing and plotting and become very absorbed in my tales.  Once I start, I try to write a chapter each day, then take the dog for a walk, come back and edit my efforts. Some days there are few changes, other days there can be a rewrite but the momentum to keep up the pace means that it only takes a few months to complete a novel. Often the choice phrases that I thought I would use in the initial draft are edited out.

My favourite character is Finn McAdam, the main character in the Devil’s Cauldron. Not just because he is a Chemistry teacher! He faces challenges, the opposition of his family and the people involved in the conspiracy and doesn’t give up. Finn is vulnerable, has too high an opinion of his dad, suffers from PTSD but is determined to expose the wrongdoing that killed his father.

Alasdair Wham


I worked as a deputy head teacher, at a large comprehensive secondary school in Ayrshire, for many years and live in Ayr with my wife and a lively Border Collie and enjoy retirement. Since the age of five I have wanted to write a novel. It only took 60 years for me to fulfil my ambition.

I have previously written a series of popular books exploring Scotland’s disused railways, recording the history of the lines and incidents and personalities associated with the routes.  The first explorations took place in Galloway over twenty-five years ago and now cover ‘lost railways’ from Galloway to the Borders and the Trossachs. The explorations were a family affair with the help of my four sons.

I love writing, exploring different parts of Scotland and using my imagination.

Alasdair on Amazon
Devil’s Cauldron

Interesting to see the reference to Desmond Bagley – I used to love his work too.  Thanks to Alasdair and Reading Between the Lines for including me on this blog tour.  Best luck with the book.

Blog Tour – The Migrant by Paul Alkazraji

Paul is a new to me author, so I had a bit of a chat with Paul to find out more about the author and his book.


Fascist populists, callous sex-traffickers and murderous mafia gangs – these were not what Pastor Jude Kilburn had expected to face when he moved to Albania. But when vulnerable 19-year-old Alban disappears from his poverty-stricken village to seek work in Greece, Jude has to undertake the perilous journey across the mountains to try and rescue him from the ruthless Athenian underworld. Accompanied by a volatile secret-service agent and a reformed gangster, Jude soon finds himself struggling to keep everyone together as personal tensions rise and violent anti-austerity riots threaten to tear them apart and undermine the mission. Caught between cynical secret police and a brutal crime syndicate, the fate of them all will be determined by a trafficked girl – but not every one will make it home. The Migrant is a tense and evocative thriller with a powerful redemptive twist.

When did you start writing, and why?

I began writing poetry as a relief from my Business Studies degree in the 1980s. It helped me get a lot of feelings off my chest. Things really began to flourish, though, after I took a course with the London School of Journalism in Freelance Journalism. Then I relished the freedom of pursuing the subjects and people who interested me – drawing out what they had to say about their life and work. I very much enjoyed formulating a range of questions, giving people space to talk, and then eking out the gems of their experience for others to appreciate.

What motivates you to write?

There’s a lot of satisfaction in taking the essence of my own life experience and telling others about it, and knowing that through the medium of fiction, which I’ve been focusing on recently, I have the reader’s company with me in that, albeit for a brief period of time, as they follow the narrative.

What do you like to do to relax when not writing?

I enjoy travelling around Albania, North Macedonia and Greece. I like skiing in these locations in the winter too, and listening to pop, jazz and folk music.

Tell us about your latest book.

‘The Migrant’ is a story about someone, a pastor, who takes on the responsibility to care enough for another person in his village, a young man called Alban, such that he is ready to go the extra kilometre, over 500 of them in fact, to the Greek capital of Athens to see if he is safe. He arrives in Athens as the dangers all around Alban are building – violent anti-austerity riots, the rise of far right political groups and racist attacks, the clutches of a trafficking gang, a cynical police operation – and then races against time to reach him.

Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

Some of them from ‘The Migrant’ would be ‘Che’ Chaconas the anarchist, Granit Korabi the criminal gang member, Stavros ‘The Big Man’, a far right thug, and Donis Xenakis, a member of the Greek riot police. They each have something amusing, interesting or colourful about them, even though they are characters at the darker end of the spectrum. But the protagonist, Jude, the pastor who takes on the search for Alban, has more of my personal empathy.

Anything else you want to share?  

I hope readers of ‘The Migrant’ might be transported into another time and place and feel well entertained, and that they might become more aware of the lives of others caught up in similar circumstances among the migrations of our time. I also hope they might take inspiration to go those extra kilometres for someone when they may be the only person who can turn their situation around.

Paul Alkazraji worked as a freelance journalist in the UK from the mid-nineties. His articles were published broadly including in Scotland on Sunday and The Independent. He has published five books including his latest ‘The Migrant’, a thriller set in Albania and Greece, with Instant Apostle. A Brit working overseas, he has lived in the south of Albania for 18 years.

Author Profile:
Goodreads Profile:
Twitter Link:

Thanks to Paul Alkazraji and Reading between the lines for including me in this blog tour.  Paul – hope everything goes well with the book.

Blog Tour – Creativity Matters by Wendy H Jones

I was lucky enough to meet Wendy a few years ago at the first Bloody Scotland I ever attended. I was impressed right away with the confidence and achievements of the bundle of energy that is Wendy H Jones.

Wendy is the author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries and the Cass Claymore Investigates series, she also writes various non-fiction. She has also managed that interesting cross over of writing children’s fiction.

Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion For Writing is part of her Writing Matters series and this one is aimed at readers who want to be writers.


Have you always thought about writing a book but don’t know where to start? Are you an experienced author and want to spread your wings? Are you looking for inspiration for every step in your writing journey? This is a book for everyone who wants to write, whether history or contemporary, science fiction or humour, local fiction or set in a made-up world, fiction, non-fiction, memoir, there’s something here for you. Join thirteen authors as they share their passion for why you should write in their genre and find your own passion as you read.
It’s time for you to spread your wings, follow your dreams and find your passion for writing.

My thoughts

This volume is broken into easy-to-read chunks about writing in different genres and themes. Most of the chapters are written by different authors, those write about their area of specialisation. This book, like many instructional volumes, is one that can be dipped in and out of.

I read the introductions, the final chapters and Wendy’s chapter on writing crime, she wrote other chapters too, but that was the one that attracted me. I also dipped into a couple of other chapters by other authors I don’t know, and they are all ably written and self-contained. To be honest, as an already published author, this didn’t encourage me to write more, it didn’t speak to me personally, but then I’m not the intended audience. If you, or if you have a friend or relative who is unsure about writing, what to write, or even if to write, this book has some interesting points to consider, so as always make sure that the book is right for the reader.


Wendy H Jones is the Amazon #1 international best-selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Her Young Adult Mystery, The Dagger’s Curse was a finalist in the Woman Alive Readers’ Choice Award. She is also The President of the Scottish Association of Writers, an international public speaker, and runs conferences and workshops on writing, motivation and marketing. Wendy is the founder of Crime at the Castle, Scotland’s newest Crime Festival. She is the editor of a Lent Book, published by the Association of Christian Writers and also the editor of the Christmas Anthology from the same publisher. Her first children’s book, Bertie the Buffalo, was released in December 2018. Motivation Matters: Revolutionise Your Writing One Creative Step at a Time, was released in May 2019. The Power of Why: Why 23 Women Took the Leap to Start Their Own Business was released on 29th June, 2020. Marketing Matters: Sell More Books was released on 31st July 2020. Bertie Goes to the Worldwide Games will be released on 5th May, 2020, and the third book in the Fergus and Flora Mysteries will be published in 2021. Her new author membership Authorpreneur Accelerator Academy launched in January 2021. Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing the third book in her Writing Matters Series will be published in September 2021.

TWITTER @WendyHJones

Thanks to Wendy and Reading Between the Lines for including me in this blog tour, and Wendy – all this best with this and every book you publish.

Blog Tour – Scars by Dan Scottow

Dan Scottow’s thrid book “Scars” released on August 3rd.

Scars: an unforgettable psychological thriller by [Dan Scottow]


The wounds you can’t see take the longest to heal…

In an isolated cottage on the banks of a Scottish loch, a reclusive couple take on a new live-in carer.

As Lucy gets to know her employers, she realises the house and the people in it aren’t what they seem. Is the house haunted or is something far more sinister living within the walls?

As secrets and lies begin to unravel, Lucy starts to question what is real. But one thing seems certain, if scars cannot heal, people will never forgive…


When Lucy starts a new job in remote Willow Cottage, the scenery may be idyllic, but the circumstances aren’t. A car crash has left Richard a paraplegic and in need of a great deal of care, care his wife Diana struggles to give with her own injures from the same crash. They need the assistance of a carer, and Lucy isn’t the first. In constant pain, Diana struggles with the overuse of alcohol and narcotics. Lucy learns more of the couple’s troubled past and the truth of what happened. And then things start to happen that no one can explain…

This book starts with a strange tale of torture, but the real pain is inflicted in the following chapters which talk of unstable personalities, lies, and psychosis.

This is a good read, well written, it will keep you turning the pages. The final resolution, however, is not a surprise, though it is well done.

Would recommend.

Link to Buy: Scars (on Amazon)

An image posted by the author.

Dan grew up in Hertfordshire before moving to London in his early twenties. After more than ten years living there, he decided enough was enough, and packed his bags for Scotland in search of a more peaceful life.

Dan works as a graphic designer, but dreams of the day he can give it up and write full time.

Besides writing, he enjoys painting, watching a good scary film, travelling the world, good food, long walks on the beach with his dogs, and of course, reading a great book.

Book Review – Sleepless, Louise Mumford

Back in February I was able to host Louise Mumford in my crime author month, and she introduced us to her novel “Sleepless”. I’m glad to say I have finally got round to reading it.

Here’s my review.

Thea crashes her car, probably due to a microsleep. Thea is a woman who doesn’t sleep much, most of us can relate to that, but for Thea this isn’t a temporary difficulty, it’s a long term, seemingly never-ending situation.  So when she gets a chance to be included on a sleep trial, she jumps at it. It is literally a jump from the frying pan into the fire.
There are lots of wonderful elements in this book, Louise Mumford brings the characters to life in a difficult situation so that even the darkness is readable.  It is an interesting exploration of the way that we convince ourselves that our worries are nothing to worry about, even when they are.

My favourite exchange was:
Thea: The man is a creep. 
Rory: The world is full of them, can’t knee them all in the balls.

Louise – we can try. But honestly, I’d sooner recommend reading “Sleepless”, wonderful book.

Previous interview: Louise Mumford

Booklink: Sleepless

Louise Mumford was born and lives in South Wales. From a young age she loved books and dancing, but hated having to go to sleep, convinced that she might miss out on something interesting happening in the world whilst she dozed. Insomnia has been a part of her life ever since.

In the summer of 2019 Louise was discovered as a new writer by her publisher at the Primadonna Festival. She lives in Cardiff with her husband and spends her time trying to get down on paper all the marvellous and frightening things that happen in her head.

Book Review – The Devil and The Dark Water

The Devil and the Dark Water: The mind-blowing new murder mystery from the Sunday Times bestselling author (High/Low) by [Stuart Turton]

Though The Devil and The Dark Water is listed as Metaphysical Science Fiction, at it’s heart is a great deal of crime.

This book is as full of ups and downs as the stormy seas it sails into. Arent Hayes is Sammy’s protector, even though Sammy has been accused of a crime, they don’t know what that crime is. Sara is a mother doing little to protect herself, but everything to protect her daughter from her father. Sara endures an uncaring husband intent on torturing her. But there is more to Governor General Jan Haan than there appears. The fact that they are facing a huge voyage from Batavia to Amsterdam is the backdrop for the supernatural events that run through the story. And the supernatural starts before they even step off the dock and onto the boat. On board we gradually learn more of the crew and passengers and how they are all interconnected in unexpected ways. Then the Devil lights a light, and kills – well it would be a spoiler to say what is killed. The Devil, it seems works in mysterious ways.

So does Mr Turton! This is his second book and the second that I’ve read. And the second that I’ve loved.

The characters are full of surprises, but they are well-rounded and real, I found myself loving and hating in equal measure, not to mention, understanding where they were coming from. No one was either the perfect paragon nor the pantomime villain, they were real. This works particularly well as an exploration of what fear and desperation can do to an enclosed group of people.

I worked out one part of the solution, but there was another part that came out of the blue to me, though when looking back over the book, the clues were there, I simply hadn’t see them. I don’t think I wanted to. Through the denouement everything is made sense of, and you look back and think, of course, how did I miss that? Simple – you’d have to be Sherlock Holmes to see it all, and even Samuel Pipps isn’t him. The book also keeps you guessing right up to the last page, the last paragraph even. It was brilliant.

I have to say, I loved this book and can imagine reading it again and getting more out of it the second time around.