Guest Posts

After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks – Nancy Jardine

I am delighted to welcome Nancy Jardine to my blog today. As part of the blog tour for her novel, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks,  Nancy is here to tell us all about her writing inspiration. I will hand you straight over to Nancy now, and you can find all the book details after her post.

After Whorl Nancy Jardine 1000 x 1000Being asked about the inspiration for After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Saga, isn’t an easy question to answer. However, one thing I can say is that during Brennus of Garrigill’s story (beginning in Book 2) I wanted to depict a huge battle between the forces of the Ancient Roman General Agricola and the Caledonian Allies, somewhere in northern Scotland. And if truth be told, not far from where I live in Aberdeenshire, because one of Agricola’s temporary marching camps is right across the road from my garden!

The Ancient Roman writer Cornelius Tacitus refers to a Battle of Mons Graupius having happened somewhere in Scotland, probably north of the central belt. Unfortunately, no battle site has ever been identified. Some experts believe there wasn’t one and that Tacitus embellished the truth to exaggerate the military exploits of his father-in-law General Agricola. Undaunted, the lack of clarity on a battle site only made me more determined to have my Brennus of Garrigill be part of a huge pitched battle in northern Scotland. Though, how to get him to this location would prove interesting!

Tacitus’ book, the ‘Agricola’, has military campaign information which I used as a rough guide, since Agricola had to subdue the natives all around north Yorkshire and Cumbria, and then those of southern and central Scotland, before he headed north east to reach the Moray Coast of Scotland. Historically, according to Tacitus, that took General Agricola about seven summer campaign seasons to achieve. (Approx. A.D 77/78 – 84) The Battle of Mons Graupius was likely to have occurred in A.D. 84. It’s A.D. 71 at the end of Book 1, so Brennus’ complete story is written across a time lapse of thirteen years.

Brennus would always be one step ahead of Agricola and his legions – even though there was a lot of geography to cover! Somewhere along the route, refugee members of my Garrigill Clan could be reunited with Brennus making the stories into a continuous family saga.

Originally my story of Brennus was one very long book at more than 120,000 words. My publisher loved the story concept but wasn’t keen on the length. However, if separated into two different books, referring to two different phases of Brennus’ story, then publishing wasn’t a problem. Book 2 became After Whorl: Bran Reborn and Book 3 After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks. The After Whorl in both titles a deliberate move to show continuity across the two books.

Book 2 describes Brennus’ new life after the Battle at Whorl (A.D.71). Having suffered life-changing injuries he assumes the new name of Bran and becomes a spy for King Venutius of the Brigantes. Book 2 covers the time period from A.D. 71 through to A.D and introduces the new characters of Ineda of Marske and the Ancient Roman Tribune Gaius Livanus Valerius. Book 2 ends at a dramatic new phase of Brennus’ life.

The rewriting to create two different books for Brennus’ story meant that my battle in northern Caledonia (NE Scotland) doesn’t happen till the end of Book 3 and what a battle it is! If the Ancient Roman Tacitus was correct about the battle then it ended up a disastrous one for the Caledonian Allies, and I felt the need to write mine in similar vein.

As a relatively new writer, I went through a huge learning curve during the separation of the two ‘After Whorl’ books, my writing style changing from Book 1 to reflect the more sober events happening to my poor Brennus. I’m delighted to say that even if his romantic happiness takes two books – it does eventually happen!

Many thanks Nancy, for taking the time to talk to us today.

After Whorl Donning Double Cloaks - Nancy Jardine

Here comes all the book info for you eager readers:


AD 73 Northern Roman Britain

Brennus of Garrigill—Bran—monitors Roman activity across Brigantia. Stability prevails till AD 78 when Agricola, Governor of Britannia, orders complete conquest of all barbarians. Brennus heads north, seeking the Caledon who will lead the northern tribes against Rome.
Ineda treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius – supplies officer for Agricola’s Britannia campaigns. At Pinnata Castra, she escapes and seeks fellow Brigantes congregating for battle in the north.

The Legions of the Roman Empire and the Caledon allies clash at Beinn na Ciche in AD 84, but where are Brennus and Ineda?

The adventures of the Garrigill Clan continue…


Order here!


Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction; time-travel historical adventure; contemporary mystery thrillers; and romantic comedy. She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where life is never quiet or boring since she regularly child minds her young grandchildren who happen to be her next-door neighbours. Her garden is often creatively managed by them, though she does all the work! Her husband is a fantastic purveyor of coffee and tea…excellent food and wine! (Restorative, of course)

A member of the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland; Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Independent Alliance of Authors, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.




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Win x1 signed paperback of After Whorl: Double Cloaks to one UK winner; X1 kindle copy worldwide

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Thanks again Nancy, for the fascinating post, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this tour. If you would like to know more about the book, head on over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Guest Posts

A Song For Bill Robinson – C.E. Atkins

I am joining the blog tour for A Song For Bill Robinson today, and I am pleased to be welcoming the author, Chantelle Atkins to my blog to tell us all about the inspiration behind her books. I’ll hand you over to Chantelle now, and tell you all about A Song For Bill Robinson further down.

A Song Auhotr‘Where do you get your inspiration from,’ is probably one of the most common questions a writer gets asked, and it’s not always an easy one to answer. Sometimes I’m not exactly sure where the idea for a story came from. Sometimes it’s one of those wonderful eureka moments, and sometimes it’s much more of a slow burn, of ideas and characters emerging and blending together over time. To celebrate the release of my YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson I thought it might be appropriate to take a stroll back in time and revisit each of my books and what inspired me to write them. The books are listed below in order of publication.

The Mess Of Me

When I started writing again after a decade off neglecting it, I started with The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, mainly because I knew I just had to get this book finally done. As I was writing it again, I started to get ideas for other books. It’s very true what they say; the more you write, the more you want to write. It was like a torrent of thoughts, ideas, characters and dialogue started filling my head. I knew I wanted to write a book close to my heart, one which mostly mirrored things I had been through myself. All of my other books have pieces of me in them, it’s unavoidable I find, but The Mess of Me is probably the book closest to the real me. Lou Carling, the main character, is a stroppier, feistier version of me as a teen. Her struggles with body image and eating were exactly mine. I was able to let rip in this book. I was able to voice thoughts and feelings I’d had for years through Lou. Her character and her experiences in this book were very much drawn from a personal struggle, but the plot was inspired by something else. When I was a kid my mum had a friend with five boisterous sons. She was a typical matriarch and ruled her roost with a rod of iron and plenty of tough love. We were all terrified of her. In the book, Lou’s best friend is Joe and his mother Lorraine was modelled on this woman. The younger boys were our friends but the older boys were unknown to us. To them, we were annoying little kids to be ignored. To us, they were mysterious, even exotic teenage lads we wanted to emulate. I can remember watching for clues of them and their lives. They were part of my life, yet I never really knew them at all, and that was partly the inspiration behind the plot in The Mess Of Me. Joe’s shady older brothers and the lives they lead which Lou and Joe become mixed up in.

The Boy With The Thorn In His Side – series

I first wrote the early version of this book when I was twelve. I’d already been writing stories for a few years and wanted to be a writer when I grew up. My previous stories had been inspired by books like Watership Down, so were all about lost or abandoned animals. At aged twelve, however, I was getting into darker stuff like Stephen King and watching a lot of horror movies. I remember watching The Lost Boys for the first time, and apart from falling in love with the actor Corey Haim, I had a big idea moment. You know the part where everyone realises that the mother’s new boyfriend is actually the head vampire? I started thinking, what if? What if your mother had a boyfriend in real life, who was a real monster, a human monster, twisted and cruel and no one believed you? What would you do? How would you fight them? Would you fight or escape? Who would you tell? At this time in my life my parents had divorced and had both started seeing other people, so I think this was playing on my mind when I started writing the book. It was the first book I ever wrote of a decent length and I fell in love with writing forever. It became my obsession. Those characters stayed with me for decades, talking in my head every night and telling me what happened next! The book was rewritten and published in 2013, and since then it has been developed into what will be a six-book series.

This Is Nowhere

This was one of my books that started with the character. I was reading a lot about Kurt Cobain around this time and listening to Nirvana again, as I had in my youth. Reading about his stomach problems and constant pain, created a character in my head, one that had similar, mysterious ailments, and a father he did not get along with. The plot took a while to develop. I had the characters and the family dynamics first. But eventually I had the plot too. A young man who has nearly always questioned the point of his own existence, is called back to the village he ran from as a teenager, as his elderly father has dementia and this older sister wants him to grow up and come back. But he also goes back for his own reasons; to find out what really happened to his beloved mother who vanished without trace in 1996.

Bird People and Other Stories

The idea for this book came from another writer who suggested short stories related to novels might be a fun way to promote books. I immediately got loads of ideas and therefore, most of the stories in this collection are inspired by or related to my published novels.

The Tree Of Rebels

This was one of those rare times when the idea came before the character. A few years back, I kept seeing posts about Monsanto on my Facebook feed, and I read a few articles about the owning and patenting of seeds and crops. My mind started coming up with ‘what if’ scenarios and before I knew it I had a YA dystopian set in the future on my hands. This book was hard to write because the plot came first, which is unusual for me, and because it was a futuristic dystopian which was quite far out of my comfort zone! There is a sequel planned though.

Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature

This book idea was very annoying as it arrived when I was in the middle of The Tree Of Rebels. I suddenly got this new and unwanted idea and set of characters, who would just not go away. Because I was struggling with The Tree Of Rebels, it was very tempting to jump ship from that one and focus on Elliot Pie, but I managed to hold him off. His character came to me first and was very much a reflection of my own thoughts and fears at this time. Wondering if the world is doomed, if it’s too late to halt climate change, if things would continue to get worse, if people are basically all pretty awful and so on. And trying to remain positive for my children and convince myself and them that people are mostly good and that we need to have hope. Elliot and his mother became the two sides of this argument. Elliot is an optimist, whereas she has given up. The plot about him making friends with strangers to prove a point came along very easily after that.

A Song For Bill Robinson

And finally, my latest release, which is actually the first in a series of three books. When I was around 16, I watched the film The Commitments for the first time and absolutely loved it. I’ve always had a really eclectic taste in music, and films with awesome soundtracks are my favourite. I loved everything about this film, and in usual writerly magpie fashion, I stole a few ideas and went with them. I wanted to write a book about a grumpy teenage boy who loved to sing. And I wanted to build added pressures and problems around that desire; so the character of Bill Robinson has a complicated family life, a local murder to solve and a growing addiction to alcohol. The alcohol storyline was also inspired by the struggle a very close friend of mine has had over the years and she was incredibly kind and helpful helping me get this aspect of the story right. I wrote an early version of the book aged 16 and then forgot about it, until I discovered it in an old suitcase in 2016. I knew right away that I had to rewrite it and publish it. I started with the two short stories you can find in the Bird People collection and then when I had the time, I started the novel. Other storylines emerged by themselves, such as the fight to save the community centre and the love triangle that develops between Bill and his best friends Adam and Summer. As soon as I finished it, I knew there would be a follow up book!

Thank you so much Chantelle, for that wonderful insight into you work. Now, onto the all important details regarding A Song for Bill Robinson.

A songforbillrobinson


Tensions are building on the notorious Holds End estate.

The local community centre is fighting for survival and the murder of 15-year-old Lewis Matthews remains unsolved…

Wannabe teenage singer, Bill Robinson, just got out of hospital after surviving a vicious attack. He thinks he knows who attacked him…and why. When a violent feud escalates between him and local thug Charlie McDonnal, Bill vows to find the killer and help save the community centre by taking part in the local singing contest.

How can music bring a shattered community together? And can Bill keep his own demons at bay long enough to win the singing contest and find out who killed Lewis Matthews?


Amazon UK

Amazon US


Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 6 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. Her next YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson will be released in December 2019. Chantelle has had multiple articles about writing published by Author’s Publish magazine.







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If you want to know more about this great sounding book, check out the other blogs taking part in the tour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

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Camp NaNo – Week One

Here we go – it’s time for the first camp of the year. For anyone who doesn’t know about Camp NaNo, you can read more about it here.


  • Project set up – check
  • Notebooks and pens – check
  • Coffee – check
  • Snacks – check
  • Cabin mates – hell yeah!

Once again, I am bunking up with my fellow Fiction Cafe writers and we have been busy prepping and swapping notes for the past few weeks now. I feel incredibly lucky to have such an amazing support group in my corner.


The thing with camp is that anything goes, and as such I find it so much more chilled and less stressful than November NaNo. Because anything goes, I have set myself a target based on hours rather than word count because I am officially making the switch from pantser to planner. Up until now, I have attempted to just write and see where the story takes me, but I have come to the conclusion that my current WIP needs some serious world building, and so I am going to use the Spring Camp to do just that. Here is the plan:-

  • Week One
    • Complete fantasy writing course
    • Read at least one of my many research books
    • Complete my human character profiles
  • Week Two
    • Complete beginners world building course
    • Read a second research book
    • Develop my human world
  • Week Three
    • Start in depth world building course
    • You’ve guessed it – read another research book
    • Start work on my non-human character profiles and non-human world
  • Week Four
    • Complete in depth world building course
    • Keep reading
    • Complete non-human character profiles and non-human world building
  • Week Five (two days)
    • Review profiles and world building to start organising scenes and plotting the action

I am aiming for at least 30 hours of work over the month, but I am hoping to achieve more than that. I have a feeling that my non-human development could be a whole rabbit warren, never mind the rabbit hole! I’ll be coming back to update you each Monday. If I go quiet, please send help – and also, chocolate!

Good luck to everyone else taking part, especially my lovely cabin mates!

Book Review

The Reading Journal – S.L. Grigg

I’ve got something a little different for you all today. Instead of reviewing a novel, I am reviewing a journal that is perfect for book reviewers everywhere. Many thanks to S.L. Grigg, and The Fiction Cafe for providing me with my copy of this amazing tool.


The author of Coffee Break Companion brings you the next instalment in the collection – your very own reading journal. The perfect place to record and review all your favourite books, with a few bonus extras of colouring pages, puzzles, short stories and Top 10 book lists.



Amazon UK


The Reading Journal is a great book, whether you are a serious book blogger, casual reviewer, or simply someone who likes to keep track of their thoughts about the books they have read. It is well presented, with oodles of space for notes on books that you have read, and lists of the books that you want to read.


I would show you the pages that I have filled in, but no one needs to see my spider scrawl.


As well as these smartly laid out, easy to use pages, The Reading Journal is filled with pages to colour in, puzzles to do, flash fiction pieces, and just what every book addict needs, lists of amazing books as recommended by the members of the amazing Fiction Cafe.

I have only just got started on filling my journal in as I make my way through my blog tour commitments and TBR list, but I already know that as soon as this one is full, I will be hurrying off to buy another one!

If you haven’t already discovered S.L. Grigg’s previous book, Coffee Break Companion, you can find out more about it and the author here.

Meet the Author

Madeline Dyer

I am doing my happy dance today because I have an interview with the wonderful Madeline Dyer to share with you all. Grab a cuppa and a biscuit and come on in and join us.

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What inspired you to create the Untamed world? 

The initial premise of the first book evolved when I saw the music video for “La La La” by Naughty Boy and Sam Smith. More specifically, there’s a scene in that video where what appears to be a human heart is being sold at a market, and it got me thinking about what would happen if all the things that a heart represents—such as love, happiness, and lust—could be bought at a market, just as easily as clothing and food. This idea became the basis for the augmenters—artificial emotions that only allow the user to feel positive qualities, at the expense of their humanity—that the majority of mankind are addicted to, and thus the distinction between the Enhanced Ones (those who take augmenters) and the Untamed (those who don’t) was born.

From here, I added more and more layers to my worldbuilding—predominantly by asking myself questions about how a society like this would operate and function. But I wanted to make this dystopian world a little different too, and I always knew I wanted there to be spirits in this world too. I love fantasy, and creating a world that is both dystopian and has strong fantastical elements was something that really appealed to me. And, thus, this series is set in an alternate present-day earth where augmenters have been around for hundreds of years, but it’s also a world where spirits walk the land and are very much part of the landscape. There’s a whole mythology and religion that the Untamed have created around the spirits and nature and other Divine beings (a mythology that the Enhanced Ones have rejected in favour of technology). It was really fascinating seeing how this world managed both the conflict between the Enhanced and the Untamed, and between technology and spirits.

Everything about the Untamed world feels so real. How did you go about the worldbuilding required to create something that feels so authentic? 

I’m so happy you think this world feels so real! That was something that was really important to me, and something I considered carefully when creating this world. Because my worldbuilding requires so much suspension of belief—you’ve got spirits, Gods and Goddesses, the prophetic bison, and the Dream Land—I knew that I absolutely needed to be as detailed and factual as possible in many other areas, as well as making sure that this book is as visual as possible.

I spent months and months researching and fact-checking different areas to make sure that everything but the fantasy elements were as fact-based as they could be, realistic, and familiar. Thus, a lot of the survival skills that the Untamed use to survive are real-life survival skills, and many of the plants Seven and Corin come across are also ones readers will recognize—and I made sure to include their descriptions within my imagery when establishing setting, so even if it was a plant that was unfamiliar to the characters (and so they didn’t know the name of it) readers who are familiar with that terrain may still identify it.

The volcano in Fragmented (book two) is based on a real-life volcano, and I talked with numerous volcanologists and professors at universities, to make sure my depictions of this volcano and the old lava tubes—from the type and colour of the rock, to the smells and temperatures inside the old tubes—were accurate and realistic.

Including little things like this which readers can use to ground themselves in this world that is both similar and so different, is something I think really helped to give a strong sense of ‘place’.

What made the original Enhanced create the augmenters?

So, it’s human nature to strive toward perfection and improve the human condition. This can already be seen in the medical advances in the last few centuries, in particular. This desire to live a better life, free from pain, suffering, etc., was what drove the creation of the first augmenters in my Untamed world, as they were designed to make people stronger and faster. It wasn’t until a little later that they focused on making people happier too, and thus ‘positive emotions’ became the main focus of the augmenters, as well as a line that allows for phenotype change, under their belief that a more ‘beautiful’ appearance allows the person to feel happier as well.

But it’s important to remember that the first augmenters were actually created by the Untamed, as the Enhanced are the result of the augmenters and their humanity-destroying effects.

Do you have any favourite quotes from any of the books?

Yes! This is from Destroyed (book four).

Raleigh laughs. “You are not a killer.”

“You don’t know what I am.”

I absolutely love these lines as they show both Raleigh’s pretentious nature in that he assumes he knows what Seven is or isn’t capable of, while also revealing how controlling he is as he tells Seven she is not a killer. To him, it’s not a question, and there’s no doubt about it. It’s a fact, and he assumes he knows her better than she herself does. This definitely plays into the cat-and-mouse chase between the two of them that we’ve seen across all four books, and the mind-control and mental manipulation he exerts over her in books one and three.

But Seven’s reply is what I think really makes these lines really fantastic. She’s no longer the scared or vulnerable girl she was in book one. She has grown into herself, her powers, and books three and four are where we really see her as a confident and determined character. Now she has the power to face Raleigh on her own terms, and she directly confronts him and challenges the foundations that he’s stood on for so long (as he has always told her he knows what’s best for her).

This is definitely the moment where the power-balance shifts and readers see who Seven really is now.

What was your favourite book to write? Why?

I’d say it’s a draw between Fragmented (book two) and Destroyed (book four). I particularly liked writing the Zharat culture in Fragmented, as well as seeing how Seven is recovering from both the addiction that stole so much of her in book one and the loss of her family. But I also really liked writing Destroyed. With it being the final part of Seven’s story, there was a lot I wanted to fit into this book, but it also had to feel like a satisfying end to the series and have its own plot, rather than just tying up all the loose ends and being exciting purely for the sake of going out on a bang. Destroyed certainly shakes up what readers think they know about the Untamed world, raises new questions (and answers), and with new layers of worldbuilding being explored, I hope it’s an engaging and thrilling ride.

Which book did you find the hardest to write? Why?

Divided (book three), definitely!

This is the book where Raleigh (the antagonist) really gets inside Seven’s head. There’s a lot of mental manipulation and mind games, and its tone is greatly darker than the other books. Its structure is also very different to Untamed (book one), and the majority of the action takes place in an Enhanced town (unlike the other books which have more of a road-trip feel to them as the Untamed are on the run), so we really get to see inside the enemy. There’s a lot of worldbuilding that’s solely focused on the Enhanced society, whereas in Fragmented (book two), in particular, it was solely the Untamed society that was explored. I really liked writing this contrast, but found it very hard as Seven’s situation in this book means that most of the action is centred around her internal conflict as she fights the mind control Raleigh has over her, rather than externally (such as in the fast-paced car chase scenes in book one).

Do you have a playlist for your books, or songs that you associate with a particular character?

Yes! Well, only for some books. I’m weird. Whether I create a playlist as I write and edit depends completely on the book that I’m writing—and I remember distinctly that Divided, book three, didn’t have a playlist. I required absolute silence when writing that.

Destroyed did however have a playlist, and it can be found here:

I also have a playlist for A Dangerous Game! This is my standalone novel that’s set in the same world as my Untamed series, and although it has a different narrator, Seven and Corin do make appearances in it. The playlist can be found here:

As you know, I am a massive Corin fan, but do you have a favourite character of your own?

Hmmm…so I like all my characters, but I particularly enjoyed writing the intense scenes with Raleigh! Although Divided was the hardest book to write, I found it fascinating learning so much about him in that book.

Writing from Keelie’s POV in A Dangerous Game was also really fun, and it was refreshing to see such a familiar world through the eyes of another character who’s so different to Seven.

You have spoken of a love of prehistoric fiction. Did this influence you to use the bison as the symbol for seer dream and for how the dreams appeared? I always imagined the dreams as having a cave art quality to them, even before I knew that you were a fan of prehistoric fiction.

The bison was very much influenced by my love for prehistoric art. I studied Ritual and Religion in Prehistory at Oxford Uni, and I loved the modules on cave art. As so many prehistoric paintings focus around animals, and there’s so much evidence to suggest that animals were very important to them (their bones have been found in the foundations of many prehistoric buildings and settlements), I wanted the Untamed culture to be focused around an animal too. I chose a wood bison as I love the symbolism this animal has.

Who/what are your favourite authors/books?

My favourite authors include Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Jean M. Auel, J.V. Jones, Rick Yancey, Richelle Mead, C.L. Taylor, and Ruth Ware.

If you could have dinner with any three authors, alive or dead, who would they be and why?

Only three? Hmm. I’d probably go with Virginia Woolf, A.A. Milne, and Anne Sexton. I think that would be quite an interesting combination, and just listening to their conversations would be fascinating.

Now that the final book in the Untamed series has been released, what comes next? 

I can’t believe that Seven’s story is finished! I’ve got tentative plans for a second Untamed standalone—possibly focusing around a character we meet in Fragmented—but nothing solid on that yet.

And in terms of non-Untamed books, I’ve been working on the first book in a YA science fiction trilogy. Hopefully, I’ll have news on that soon!

I also really want to write a YA thriller.

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Madeline Dyer lives on a farm in the southwest of England, where she hangs out with her Shetland ponies and writes young adult books—sometimes, at the same time. She holds a BA Honors degree in English from the University of Exeter, and several presses have published her fiction. Madeline has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and she can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes.

As well as this interview, Madeline has lots more exciting stuff happening on her Destroyed blog tour, so make sure you visit all the other blogs taking part.

Copy of Copy of July 11, 2017 (1)


Isolation Junction – Jennifer Gilmour

I am sure most of you have realised by now that I am a huge fan of Jennifer Gilmour and all the amazing work she is doing. If you haven’t already realised, where have you been??? (Also, you can find my previous posts regarding Jennifer here, here, and here. I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Isolation Junction today, and thrilled to be able to share an extract of the book with you.

IJ - NEW COVER Isolation Junction


Sat back downstairs, Darren was muttering to himself. Rose could hear some of what he was saying but was trying her hardest to ignore him and zone out but when he said his behaviour was Rose’s fault because they hadn’t had sex for ages, she was devastated and disgusted all in one. He just loved sticking the knife in, over and over again. He was relentless.

Darren carried on, ‘I mean … we’re meant to be married, but that doesn’t mean anything these days.’ Rose’s heart was starting to race. ‘All my mates are getting it.’

That was it, Rose couldn’t listen to him anymore, she stormed into the kitchen and started to wash the pots. A distraction was needed and keeping busy was therapeutic to Rose.

Darren gave it just the right amount of time before following her – just long enough for Rose to think that she was going to get away with her defiance.

‘How dare you walk out when I’m talking to you?’

‘Talking at me, more like.’ Not caring about his reaction, Rose bit back at him.

‘Sorry, what did you say?’ he grunted. ‘I didn’t quite hear that; do you want to say it to my face?’

Rose was giggling inside, this was so pitiful and felt like they were in the playground at school bickering over the smallest of things. Rose carried on washing-up and ignored him. Then, as she leant over to grab a tea-towel, he gripped Rose’s wrist and pulled her towards him, something Rose wasn’t expecting.

‘Sorry …’ he said, taking a long pause, ‘…what … did … you … say … to me?’

Her heart was racing, and her breathing became erratic, his eyes filled with something akin to mania and Rose was terrified. Pulling her top in his fist he dragged her towards him and screamed in her ear, ‘Do I need to ask you again?’

Rose closed her eyes as he spat at her. Holding her breath, she didn’t want him to know she had a shake in her breathing and she looked around the kitchen, anywhere other than his eyes. There was a knife block on the sideboard right beside her, it would be over in minutes and it would be so easy if only she could grab the knife and stab him.

She’d thought about this plenty of times before, the opportunities would present themselves, but she’d never take them. However, if she had to do something in self-defence she’d do it, and this situation felt more concerning than others had. Rose knew it was because she’d tried to stand up for herself for once and he was trying to put her back in her place.

Darren was pressing Rose up against the fridge-freezer, holding her wrists tight by her sides. He could do anything he wanted to, and Rose would powerless against his force and he knew it.

As much as he belittled Rose’s body, he still wanted to abuse it – Rose had lost count of the nights she’d wake up to find him having sex with her. There would be a bit of a struggle as she tried to stop him, but he carried on – Rose was his wife and sex was his right, what Rose wanted, or didn’t want, was irrelevant.

The way he was breathing, the way he was holding her, the way his eyes flashed made Rose realise this time, there was something different about him.


block the road

First published in 2016, Jennifer has republished a second edition with the changes in Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This is the republication of Isolation Junction and what a difference it is. A make over with a new book cover, new content, with Pict Publishing, third person only (as opposed to third and first in first edition) and the incidents in correlating order.


Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. But through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t will she be able to do it? Will Tim help her? And will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

Based on true events.


IJ - Jennifer Gilmour

Born in the North East, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children.  In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years.  A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write this first novel. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.  








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Guest Posts

The Barefoot Road – Guest Post

As promised earlier, here is Vivienne Vermes to tell you, in her own words, what inspired her to write The Barefoot Road.

I didn’t choose to write my novel. It chose me. It was like a bird landing on my shoulder that kept pecking at my ear until I began my story. Let me explain. . .

I am on a very gruelling hike in Transylvania. Night is falling. We’re in the Valley of the Wolves (actually, not in the valley, but high on the hillside, in a forest). Way below, I can see the lights of the farmhouse where our group will be staying tonight. The woods are full of shadows and silence. If I stay very quiet, I feel the trees will start whispering to me. I let the group go on ahead. Our guide warns me not to linger too long, as the owner of the farm where we are staying is a dragon lady by the name of Paraschiva. I assure him I won’t stay long. But I do. For some reason, I’m totally unafraid. There is something haunting and magical about this place. As if it connects the depths of the earth with the stars overhead. It is so strong, so beyond human comprehension, that it effaces my petty human fears. I stay in this place until it gets dark.

Then I scramble down the mountain track. Anxiety returns. I am very late. I will get scolded. I will be unpopular with the group.

The farmhouse gets closer. Then I see it. The image will stay with me, and will be the beginning of the novel. A huge wooden gate, the entrance to the farm. Above the gate, the portal, with the shape of bats’ wings stencilled out of the wood. The stars glitter through the empty spaces. Underneath, a smaller door is encased in the big gate. It is open. A figure is silhouetted against the light coming from the farmhouse yard behind. It is Paraschiva. She is old, and bent. Her hands look like black claws. I am afraid. When I approach, she opens her arms and hugs me in a warm embrace. After a meal, we sit down over a glass of palinka (the local apricot brandy) and talk, in broken German, into the night. Her eyes are bright blue-green and shine out of her old face.

I have never met this woman before. Yet I feel I have come home.

Long after I have returned to my normal city life, I learn from the guide, with whom I have kept in touch, that sadly Paraschiva has died; that on her deathbed she revealed that her real name was Anna Schwarz*, and that she was born in Budapest, a Hungarian Jew. My father’s family was Hungarian Jewish. Their name, before they changed it to Vermes, was Schwarz. A common enough name. An uncommon experience. I began to write about Paraschiva, making up story after story about this woman who lived in the Valley of the Wolves, and had bright turquoise eyes.

Later, on the same hike, up in the Maramures, we trudge wearily into a long straggling village. We are exhausted. It has been a very hard climb over a mountain ridge, where we were caught in a fierce summer storm. I have a sore throat and my feet are dragging on the ground. We come to a farmhouse on the edge of the village. I lie down on a hard bed. Flies buzz around my nose. I vow never to go on an arduous hike again. Then I hear the music. A group of local musicians have arrived in a beat-up car with no windscreen but with the windscreen wipers working furiously. Soon we are all out drinking palinka and dancing on the uneven grass. The musicians are talented. Our spirits are raised by the magic of their songs. Yet we notice the violins are out of tune. Someone asks why. “Oh, the people who used to tune and repair the violins left the village long ago”. I sense a discomfort around the answers. Later, I discover they are talking about the Rrom and the Jews. They “left” during the 2nd World War. Deported, often with unimaginable brutality. The metaphor is strident. How simply “out of tune” we become when we stamp out racial diversity, when we retreat into fear of the “other”, the outsider, or even of the unknown – the mystery beyond our small human understanding. How we diminish the music of our existence when we try to limit it to our own worldview. “I’m right, you’re dead.” We do like certainty. A comfortable cop-out. A village – a country, a continent? – out of tune.

That’s when the story chose me.

My father was one of the last Hungarian Jews to escape Nazi-occupied Hungary in 1940. He managed to flee to Northern Ireland. To do so, he had to renounce his Jewish faith and declare himself a Catholic. In Northern Ireland, it would have been fine to be a Jew (there were too few of them to pose a problem) but to be a Catholic! Then he wanted to marry my Northern Irish mother, who was Protestant, and who had to convert to Catholicism to marry a Jew! In the end, they got married in a non-denominational church in Belfast, and spent their lives on a spiritual quest for a way of life that would transcend religious and political divides and prejudices.

Coming from such a family, and in today’s Europe, so torn apart by intolerance, the rise of nationalism, the refugee crisis, how could I not listen to the bird that landed on my shoulder? How could I not write the story, “The Barefoot Road”?

* Not Paraschiva’s real name nor our family’s. I have changed it to protect privacy.

Vivienne Vermes

Paris, 2018



Vivienne Vermes is a writer and actress of Irish and Hungarian descent who divides her time between Paris and London. She has published four collections of poetry: Sand Woman, Metamorphoses, Passages and When the World Stops Spinning, and has performed her work in festivals throughout Europe. She is winner of the Piccadilly Poets’ award, the Mail on Sunday’s Best Opening of a Novel competition, as well as Flash 500s prize for short prose and the Paragram national competition for best poem and “petite prose”. She has taught creative writing in universities in Transylvania, and runs a writers’ workshop in Paris.

As an actress, she has played roles in a number of French films, including Les Trois Frères, Le Retour and in Les Profs 2 in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth II. Her voice also warns passengers on the Paris metro to “Mind the gap”.

The Barefoot Road is her first novel.

You can follow Vivienne on Twitter.