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

Biography

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.

LINKS:
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.

Blurb

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: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Muthena-Paul-Alkazraji/e/B0034OJYLK/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5655990.Paul_Alkazraji
Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/paul_alkazraji

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.

BLURB

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.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
WEBSITE  https://www.wendyhjones.com
FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/wendyhjonesauthor
TWITTER @WendyHJones
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-H.-Jones/e/B00OABSKH0
INSTAGRAM  https://www.instagram.com/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]

BLURB

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…

MY REVIEW

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.

Blog Tour – Hunter’s Chase

This is part of the Blog Tour for Hunter’s Chase (The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries Book 1) by Val Penny, published by Darkstroke Books, and it marks the release of the audio book.

Hunter’s Chase is the book that introduces DI Hunter Wilson and his team. The blurb below outlines the story but to give you further insight, this is a book all about family in its many and varied forms, from the new to old, healthy to unhealthy, and some that change alone the way. Just about every type of family you can think of appears in this book, and the levels of love and attachment are equaly spread. Some of the details will make you hate the characters and some will have you crying for them.

The story contains a lot of interesting twists with the characters intertwining in unusual ways, and drawing together perfectly. The work deals with some difficult topics but they are sympathetically handled and the conclusion works well.

Hunter’s Chase is a great ensemble piece and introduces many good, strong characters. The individual characters came across as fully rounded and ‘seeable’ individuals with lives and loves of their own. There was only one reaction that didn’t make sense to me, but it’s a very minor point, that may work well for others.

With direct reference to the audio version, I have listened to it despite having previously read the book, and it took me a while to get used to Sean Pia’s accent, not that there’s anything wrong with it or his reading, he has a great Edinburgh burr. But somehow it was a bit ‘younger’ than I was expecting. I think I had imagined Hunter’s voice so clearly in my head it was odd to hear something different to that. However, that oddness soon wore off and if you listen or read, you’re still consuming a good book.

BLURB 

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. 

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough. 

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

LINK TO AUDIBLE

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Hunters-Chase-Audiobook/B092CDB6ZX

BUY LINKS

mybook.to/hunterschase
mybook.to/huntersrevenge
mybook.to/huntersforce
mybook.to/huntersblood
mybook.to/hunterssecret
bit.ly/LetsGetPublished
mybook.to/darkscotland 
mybook.to/thefirstcut



Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

Where to find the Author:

Website: www.valpenny.com
Facebook: @Authorvalpenny
Val Penny
Friends Of Hunter Wilson & The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries
Val’s Book Bundle
Twitter: https://twitter.com/valeriepenny
Goodreads: Val Penny
Amazon: Val Penny
Bookbub: Val Penny

New Crime Writing Festival

The UK has many parts, and it has many literature festivals.  Many, many of these are crime festivals.  They’re everywhere right?

Wrong.

Wales hasn’t had a festival devoted to crime literature – until now.

Crime Cymru was founded in 2017 by Alis Hawkins, Matt Johnson and Rosie Claverton. The group is all about supporting and promoting Welsh crime writing and Welsh crime writers.

I joined Crime Cymru in 2018 and the group is growing all the time and right now, we are working on putting together Wales’ first international crime fiction festival Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival. The inaugural three-day festival will take place on the early May Bank Holiday weekend (29th April – 2nd May) in the lovely West Wales coastal resort and university town of Aberystwyth.

But in the mean time we’re running the Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival, we’ll be holding a free, digital festival this year – Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol. This live Zoom-based festival (April 26th – May 3rd) will introduce people from all over the UK/the world to the brilliant crime writing talent we have in Wales, as well as showcasing some of UK crime fiction’s household names. And, during our digi-fest, we’ll be doing our bit to support those who support us – booksellers. Each of Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol’s events will be partnered by a bookshop from which we’ll be encouraging audience members to order panel members’ books if they’ve been excited by what they’ve heard.

Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival

But in the mean time we’re running the Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival, we’ll be holding a free, digital festival this year – Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol. This live Zoom-based festival (April 26th – May 3rd) will introduce people from all over the UK/the world to the brilliant crime writing talent we have in Wales, as well as showcasing some of UK crime fiction’s household names. And, during our digi-fest, we’ll be doing our bit to support those who support us – booksellers. Each of Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol’s events will be partnered by a bookshop from which we’ll be encouraging audience members to order panel members’ books if they’ve been excited by what they’ve heard.

I’m honoured to be part of this, more so to be in event number 1 inn which Crime Cymru associate member, Amy Williams interviews CWA Diamond Dagger winner, Martin Edwards, award-winning Swansea author, Cathy Ace and me about our very different approaches to crime fiction. The event is supported by Swansea based bookshop Cover to Cover.

More importantly – the events are FREE!

All you have to do is register via Eventbrite and you’ll be able to join these events live.

For more information here are some links that you may want to check out:
Crime Cymru
Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU
Eventbrite
Cover to Cover Bookshop

Ten Inside

I’ve been talking to Ross Greenwood again, and picking up more unusual and unexpected tips on what life is like inside a prison.  This is a distillation of the things he’s said, and it makes for interesting and in places uncomfortable reading.  But if you want to portray a life inside, working in one or two of these points may help bring a new level of realism to your story.

  1. New inmates often arrive hungry. Having been in court all day and then stuck in transport van, they haven’t had the appetite or opportunity to eat. Newspapers make out that all prisoners are hardened brutes who sneered at the system, but all except the insane fear the courts. Hunger isn’t a concern until the verdict is in.
  2. Some new inmates will arrive in the clothes they were arrested in on the Friday night, even though it was then Monday.
  3. New inmates may be afraid to shower, having watched too many prison movies. So you’d give them a faded stiff towel and a bar of plain soap, and tell them to use the sink.
  4. A significant proportion of prisoners (of both genders) have mental health problems. Many were victims before they were villains.
  5. Prisons are not holiday camps, but they could be more spartan.  However, locking people up with nothing to do and no TV when they already have mental health illnesses is inhumane. If they’re struggling with life before jail, that is not going to help.
  6. Most murders are clear cut. The perpetrator normally knows the victim. Often, it was their partner.
  7. Most of those accused of murder plead guilty when put in front of the Crown judge, but it is rare for them to be sentenced on the spot. They usually have to return to court to be sentenced; often about two weeks later.
  8. Those two weeks will be spent in jail and the reaction of the prisoners to the wait is fascinating, the weight could be seen falling off them. The nights are long as they wait for the axe to fall. People age years.
  9. Hygiene is not high on inmate priorities. Brushing teeth is not, for many, a regular occurrence.  Toothache affects a significant portion of prisoners. The stench of their breath is indescribable.  See point 3, some don’t shower for their entire stay.
  10. Gob watch (Ross’ term not an official one).  When prisoners are on medications, these have to be passed out and someone has to check that they are taken, but prisoners are adept at hiding pills for a later buzz, suicide attempt or to sell, so an officer has to check their mouths. It’s easier to hide pill in teeth with holes, see point 8, so they have to be checked, try not to imagine the stench.

One other thing that Ross did add was this: 

The Coronavirus has given us a glimpse into that world. It feels surreal, unnatural, claustrophobic, stressful and boring, and we’re only under house arrest. All our plans have gone to pot. We don’t know if we’ll have a job when all this is over. How will we pay the mortgage? We’ll miss weddings and funerals. Will life be the same afterwards? Could we lose hope?

This is a point on which I total agree with him, see my blog “New Year, Old Lockdown.”

An image posted by the author.

Why not take a look at Ross’s Amazon Page for more information on him and his fabulous books.  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ross-Greenwood/e/B019JRK0AY/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

Or follow his page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/RossGreenwoodAuthor/

I hope these general pointers help others with their writing, and want to say a big thank you to Ross for being so open and honest with all he’s had to say on the topic. 

Michelle Salter

I’ve been talking to debut historical crime writer Michelle Salter about her work, here’s what she had to share with us all.

What motivates you to write?

I write historical crime mysteries as I love the research as much as the writing. I find it fascinating to take modern day situations and place them 100 years ago.I’m particularly interested in showing how a woman’s role in society has changed in the twentieth century. My debut novel, The Suffragette’s Daughter, is set in 1920 and is the first in a series of mysteries that focus on crimes and social issues affecting women during this era.

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

I’m currently busy with the Iris Woodmore Mysteries series. However, I would like to write a standalone gothic novel, possibly switching between two timeframes.

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

I’ve been a volunteer at my local nature reserve, Fleet Pond, for nearly fifteen years now. At 52 acres, Fleet Pond is the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire and is surrounded by an extensive nature reserve made up of wetlands, woodlands, and dry heathland.
Many local locations feature in my books, and the fictional lake Waldenmere, which plays a prominent role in my next novel, is inspired by Fleet Pond.

The Suffragette's Daughter : a gripping historical crime mystery by [Michelle Salter]

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

Percy Baverstock is a favourite of mine and my readers. He’s enjoyable to write because he doesn’t always think before he speaks. He has a grasshopper mind and hops from subject to subject – his mood can change as quickly as his conversation.

He loves to go dancing in the jazz clubs that are springing up in London in 1920. He makes his first appearance in The Suffragette’s Daughter and was only going to feature briefly, but he’s very lovable. He’s become a recurring character and returns in the second Iris Woodmore mystery due out later this year.

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

Sir Nigel Bostock is a particularly obnoxious character who appears in The Suffragette’s Daughter. He’s a snob and a chauvinist. He takes his privileged life for granted and shows little empathy for others. I’m sure most readers will have come across someone in their lives who shares a few of Sir Nigel’s boorish traits!

Tell us about your last book…

The Suffragette’s Daughter is a historical crime mystery set in 1920. It’s a period of rapid social change, but even in these progressive times, it can still be deadly for a woman to show too much strength.

Rather than the stylised world of the flapper girl, I wanted to explore the reality of Britain in the aftermath of the Great War and the suffragist movement. It was a period of empowerment and greater independence for some women, but the reality for many others was that their lives were the same as they had been a decade earlier.

Inspiration for the novel struck in the summer of 2018 on a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. Westminster Hall was hosting an exhibition to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918 – a significant milestone in the suffrage movement.
Despite introduction of the Act, a third of the adult female population in this country still didn’t have the right to vote. The fight for equal representation was far from over – and the seeds for The Suffragette’s Daughter were sown.

What’s coming next…

I hope the second book in the Iris Woodmore Mysteries series will be out later this year, and I’m currently working on a third.
I’m enjoying exploring the maturation of my lead character. Iris is a young woman who’s stepped outside of social convention, and while some doors have opened, others have been slammed firmly in her face.

I hope younger readers of my novels will appreciate the challenges their predecessors faced and how much we owe to the suffrage movement.

Anything else you want to share?

The Suffragette’s Daughter is now available from Amazon.




Michelle Salter is a historical crime fiction writer based in north east Hampshire, UK.

Michelle works as a copywriter and has written features for national magazines. Her love of social history influences her writing, and her novels explore how events from 100 years ago reflect the world we live in today.
When she’s not writing, Michelle can be found knee-deep in mud at her local nature reserve. She enjoys working with a team of volunteers undertaking conservation activities on land and in water, repairing riverbanks, sloshing around in the marshes and driving a tractor badly.

If you’d like to be the first to hear the latest news on novel releases and works in progress, visit https://www.michellesalter.com to subscribe to Michelle’s newsletter.

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Thank you, Michelle for sharing with us, and best of luck with the debut.

Mistakes Not To Make

I first met Ross Greenwood shortly after Locked Up was published – but out long enough for Ross to have read it.  Having been a prison officer, he pointed out that I got one thing wrong in the book, I’ll tell you what at the end of the article.  But in the meantime, here are some tips from the author with the direct prison experience, of what not to get wrong.

Ten popular misconceptions for fiction writers.

  1. Prison is a combination of The Shawshank Redemption and Porridge. Really?
  2. Prison is cool. No. Brad Pitt is cool. Prison is shit. It’s bad breath and everyone you hated at school x 1000 locked up in the same place.
  3. You’ll get raped in prison. Erm, nope. Trust me, the chances of this happening are virtually zero. Despite this, many men will not have a single shower the entire time they are inside. Even if that is years.
  4. Prisons are cool. True. In the winter they are freezing, and you won’t have suitable attire. In the summer, they are boiling. And what do you think a place that holds 1000 men in the middle of August is going to be like when the windows don’t open? If you earn £8 a week for dismantling washing machines you aren’t going to spend it on Right Guard.
  5. Your cell mate is going to be an axe murderer. Consecutive prison ministers may have been seemingly intent on ruining the system, but even they can see the logic in not padding anyone up with Charles Bronson. How’s your new pad mate, Charles? Quiet. Unsurprisingly, the same applies to arsonists.
  6. Prisons are fun. Wrong, prisons are boredom and toothache. They are tension and despair. They are small narrow rooms without your family, friends, fridges, futures or freedom. They contain only fear. Chances are, it will break you.
  7. If you’ve done something dodgy, you can get away with saying you’re inside for fraud. Prisoners aren’t stupid. If you say that, they’ll think you’re a pervert or worse. It won’t matter if you aren’t. Otherwise they’ll ring their mums, and they’ll put your name into Google.
  8. Prisoners are at the gyms all day long. Wrong! They get an hour to work out, three times a week. All prisoners have time to focus on is their top half to get big guns. That’s right. They all look ridiculous.
  9. Prisoners have to sit a parole board to get out. No, only lifers do. Everyone else gets out at exactly the half way point of their sentence, or two-thirds now with violent crimes. Even if they’ve refused to do a day’s work or change their underpants for their entire sentence, they will still leave on their Automatic Release Date.
  10. Violence is cool. There are many dangerous men in prison, who believe violence is their right. They bully and fight. When the adrenalin drops and they are bent double and marched to the block, humiliated by a strip search, and left for days on end with only their thoughts for company, they cry like babies.

So which one did I get wrong? Actually it was none of the above, so it’s kind of a number 11.  I said that all the prisoners claim to be innocent men, apparently the opposite is true, they often try to big up their conviction, but as number 7 says, it’s not that hard to find out the truth. 

More information on the reality of prison life from Ross will be featured on this blog next month.

Still, prison is one area of life I’m glad that I don’t know enough about and happy for men like Ross to do the incredibly hard work that they do in there.

Thank you, Ross.

If you’d like to know more about Ross, check out his wonderful books, the DI Barton series is now available on Audible, the first is The Snow Killer