Meet the Author

Hunter’s Rules – Val Penny

I am joining the blog tour for Hunter’s Rules, the latest instalment in the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series by Val Penny, and I have a treat for you all as I am being joined for a chat by Val herself.

Hi Val. Let’s start with an easy one. Why don’t you us a bit about yourself?

I am an American author living in SW Scotland. I have two adult daughters of whom I am justly proud and live with my husband and cat. I have a Law degree from Edinburgh University and my MSc from Napier University.

I have had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, I have not yet achieved either of my childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, I have turned my hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels.

What inspired you to start writing?

I took early retirement when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there were times when I suffered severe side effects from my treatment. I could not go out, spend time with friends or indulge in many of my favourite hobbies, but watching daytime television gets very old very fast, so I turned to reading. It was the only thing I had the energy to do and could do safely.

I read voraciously, as I always have and after a while, I began to feel a little better and decided to start reviewing the books I read in a blog I enjoyed doing that. Then, as I began to feel better still, I got restless, but was still did not well enough to do very much and I complained to my long-suffering husband about getting bored. It was then he challenged me: ‘If you know so much about what makes a good book, why don’t you write one?’ I did laugh.

How many books have you written and published?

So far, there are six books in my Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series and I am presently writing the second novel in my series of Jane Renwick Thrillers. I have also written and published a nonfiction book, Let’s Get Published.

Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?

I think Hunter’s Rules is my favourite because it is actually the continuation of a short story that I contributed to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland. Of course, both stories can be read independently, but I hope that those who read both will enjoy the conceit.

How do you choose the names of your characters?

I have always enjoyed unusual and interesting names. From those I have heard over the years, I often choose the first name from one place and the surname from another.

Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?

Definitely Tim! He is resourceful and strong enough to build a shelter, good company and easy on the eye.

Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?

I enjoy most crime fiction that I read and especially enjoy Erin Kelly’s books. She wrote the novel of the TV series Broadchurch. I also enjoyed her novel He Said/She Said.

What is the first thing you can remember writing?

The first book I remember writing was a handwritten story called ‘The Douglas Family’ when I was eight or nine. I still have the jotter.

If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go (backwards or forwards!)?

Gosh, I am not sure I am brave enough to go forwards, but if I went backwards, I would like to find out who killed JFK!

If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I would have loved to meet Mother Theresa. I think she would be fascinating to talk to and learn from.

What are your favourite things to do?

I enjoy travelling – it is said by my family that I would go to the opening of a paper bag! I also like to swim, knit and spend time with friends and family. However, most of my time is spent reading or writing.

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?

I was walking along the Mall in Washington D.C. with a friend from Virginia, only to notice another friend from Edinburgh sitting on the bench we were approaching. It was exciting and great fun.

If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?

Persevere. Keep writing and enjoy meeting other like minded people.

Name one book you think everyone should read?

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. He is mixed race and was born in apartheid South Africa when that was illegal. He tells his story with humour and intelligence. It is a book well worth reading.

And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?

Hunter’s Rules is the sixth novel in bestselling The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series. In it a bloody scene brings Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans to an abrupt end.

A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has life changing injuries, but she is alive. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two women who previously died. 

Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify her assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes? When Hunter is identified as a suspect in the crime, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me Val. 

If you would like to purchase a copy of Hunter’s Rules, here are the all important purchase links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

You can find Val all over social media with the following links:





Giveaway to Win a PDF of Hunter’s Rules by Val Penny (Open INT)

*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.


Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour, which has been organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

Meet the Author

Berlin Reload – James Quinn

I am joined today by James Quinn as part of the blog tour for his novel, Berlin Reload. Many thanks James for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

How much of your “Gorilla Grant” series is based on your own experiences? Is he inspired by real people?

Great question!  That’s always the fun part for the reader I think, trying to figure out if life influences art.  I always say the same things; there are elements of the books that have happened and some that I’ve used artistic licence about.  Most of the technical things and scenarios in the books – surveillance, weapons skills, covert operations, etc – have happened in some shape or form that I’ve been attached to, although not quite to the degree that Gorilla becomes involved in them in his “Redaction” operations.

Gorilla is absolutely inspired by real people.  His looks are inspired by an old friend of mine called Steve; stocky, tough.  His skills are taken from a UK Special Forces officer that I knew way back when and who was a great influence on me in my career (as is much of his background).  And yes…there are elements of myself in Gorilla too, but not too many.

Your work has taken you all over the world. Do you have a favourite place to visit or somewhere you would like to include in a future book?

America is like my second home and at least one of my books, Rogue Wolves, has been predominantly set there.  I have been lucky enough to see some amazing countries over the years and it has absolutely helped with locations for the books.  For Berlin Reload I was able to utilise my time spent in Rome, a place that I adore, for the first part of the book.  I had planned on visiting Berlin prior to starting writing the story, but the events of 2020 ended that abruptly.  I’m hoping to visit Berlin soon and see how far off the mark regarding the descriptions and feel of the place I was.

I suppose the only region I have limited experience of is China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, etc,  so maybe I could set one of the future books in that part of the world?

Does the subject matter of your books make them tricky to research, or to gain access to research sources?

It actually doesn’t.  That sounds strange I know but for me at least it’s true.  I’m fortunate to have a background in that subject matter and a healthy network of contacts in the intelligence, special operations and specialist security communities.  So writing about this genre is just like a busman’s holiday for me.

The biggest problems I had, certainly for the early books, was getting the details correct about how people lived their lives back in the 50’s and 60’s.  Were the streets still the same?  How did they travel overseas?  What household gadgets did they have?  It sounds silly I know, but they were the questions that I pondered on the most!

Do you have a set writing routine or favourite place to write?

I really don’t.  I’m not one of those authors that has to hit a set number of words per day or write constantly for several hours.  Once I have the ideas in place it will usually come like machine gun bursts – a scene or a collection of scenes – for a few intense days and then maybe nothing for weeks.  It partly depends what I have on work wise and partly if I have anything to say.

On saying that Berlin Reload came out like a tsunami and I had it finished in less than three months because I worked on a little bit of it every day.

The place I write the most is in my office sat at my desk.  It’s quiet and there are no distractions and that seems to help with the flow of writing for me.

What can you tell us about your upcoming writing projects?

Well now that Gorilla Grant is retired I am currently working on a short story anthology called Clandestine.  It deals with intrigue, espionage and deception.  It probably has about nine stories in it, each of them (hopefully) with a bit of a twist at the end.  For me short stories are a guilty pleasure to both read and write.  Stephen King says that it is a bit of a dying art and I agree with that statement completely.  It’s the most concise form of storytelling that forces the writer to provide the bare minimum of words while still getting across the information clearly.

After that, a short break, and then I’m starting on my new major character for the next series of books entitled The Fisherman.  It’s set in the modern era and concerns a covert intelligence operative on a mission to uncover a series of global terrorist conspiracies.

I’ve been putting the Fisherman off for over a year or so now, but I think it’s time he was let out of the box to run free.  I can hear him tap, tap, tapping on my consciousness with his hooked blade every night when I try to sleep, so I’m looking to forward to meeting him and seeing where he takes me, and the readers, over the next few years.

Berlin Reload Cover


“The time of reckoning is here, Gorilla Grant.” Jack “Gorilla” Grant, retired assassin and former spy, is living a new life as a peaceful, successful businessman. But when his daughter is kidnapped in Rome, it is just the opening gambit in a series of events that pushes him back into the “Redaction” business that he once walked away from. Unseen forces are moving against Gorilla and dangerous enemies from his past are threatening his future, intent on turning a cold war into a hot war. But Gorilla has one rule; don’t mess with my family. And he’s willing to kill to enforce it. From the dangerous streets of 1960’s Berlin to a hit contract in Austria, and finally to a race against time in East Germany, Berlin Reload is an epic cold war spy story that spans the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, and throws James Quinn’s anti-hero Gorilla Grant into a mission where he may have to decide between the life of his daughter and the dawning of a new conflict between East and West.


Amazon UK


James Quinn Author PicJames Quinn is the author of the “Gorilla Grant” series of spy novels. A professional security consultant and corporate intelligence operative, he currently resides in the UK but likes to travel extensively around the globe.

His next projects are “Clandestine” – a short story anthology, based around espionage, deception and intrigue – and The Fisherman, which introduces a new character to the world of covert intelligence.

Visit the official James Quinn author website for more information about upcoming projects and events;



Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part on the tour to find out more about Gorilla Grant.

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Meet the Author

Eliza Graham

As part of the blog tour for her latest novel, You Let Me Go, I am joined today by Eliza Graham. Thanks so much to Eliza for agreeing to answer my questions today, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour. Let’s jump straight in to the questions, and then I will tell you everything you need to know about You Let Me Go.

In your author bio, you mention Polish cemeteries and Cornish decoy harbours as some of your less obscure research trips. What are some of the more obscure places your research has taken you? Do you have a favourite place that you have visited in the name of research?

Hi and thanks for having me on the blog! The strangest places I have been to are both in former Yugoslavia. The first we happened upon quite by chance. We (I was on holiday with my husband) were kayaking around some small islands off the Croatian coast. We landed at a small harbour. On a fishing boat a woman perhaps suffering from dementia or some kind of psychosis was shouting at her husband in a very deep, almost demonic tone. He was gutting fish with a very large knife and casting murderous glances at her. We walked away briskly. In front of us was a plaque marking the murder of a large number of prisoners of war during the Second World War. Continuing on, we came across some ghostly looking run-down buildings, which we later found out had been a Communist-era children’s holiday camp. The small island ought to have been breath-taking: the coastline is stunning and the sun was shining. But we were happy to return to the kayak and paddle away. The location stayed in my mind, however, and took root in my book THE LINES WE LEAVE BEHIND.

One of the most delightful places I have been to while researching was the Helford Estuary and its intersection with the top of the Lizard Peninsula on the south coast of Cornwall. We visited in the early summer of 2019 and I was dazzled by the wildflowers and clear light. The book I had planned on writing turned out not to be the book I ended up writing because as I walked from Helford village along the estuary I fell in love with some of the houses and cottages. I decided to create my own imaginary house on an imaginary creek off the Helford, which is Rozenn’s longhouse in my new book YOU LET ME GO.

Although the majority of your books are historical fiction, you have written one YA book, also with a historical setting. Do you have any plans to write more books within this genre?

Not at the moment, although I think I missed a trick and should have written a book about the Blitz for slightly younger children, perhaps 10-11-year-olds. A primary school teachers told me that the period featured on the curriculum. The power of hindsight!

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to write historical fiction?

Research is clearly important and one of the most rewarding parts of choosing a period from the past. It’s easy to pursue small research issues that feel important and insert them into the narrative just to show that you really do know that rationing laws changed at various points during the war, or that a certain bus route used to travel between point A and point B even though it was later suspended. You can end up with a manuscript over stuffed with historical facts that don’t move the narrative on. I think I suffer from neurosis on this point because I had a father who adored spotting inaccuracies in historical novels and television programmes. When my last novel THE TRUTH IN OUR LIES came out he was nearing the end of his life and very weak, but we had a very lively debate about whether or not a particular character would have worn a peaked cap in 1942. (I won that argument because I had a photo on my mobile that proved my point. But Dad usually won.)

When you aren’t writing or heading out on research trips, how do you like to spend your time?

I love evenings spent with friends having a good meal and sitting by the fire for hours to talk. I live near the North Wessex Downs and have access to miles of walks. On a fine, frosty winter morning I love to take my dog out and admire the views. On early summer Sunday evenings we sometimes walk beside the Thames near Lechlade and sit in a pub garden for a reviving glass of something. I’m writing this in January and most of these things aren’t currently allowed so I am hoping that by the time YOU LET ME GO comes out in March, they will be legal again.

What does a writing day look like for you? Do you have a set regime that you like to follow?

I’m not over-prescriptive about exactly how and when I write any more. I don’t always set myself daily word counts, for instance, although sometimes they are very helpful. I found that if I was rigid about reaching a target I was sometimes writing rubbish and it didn’t seem worth it. The only thing that matters is that every day should bring a book a little bit closer to completion. That might just mean a flash of insight into a character’s motivation or improving knowledge of how lifeboats operated in the 1940s. At the moment I’m marking up some early chapters of my work in progress in fountain pen, something I haven’t used for years. I’ve written quite a lot of new material and am fascinated by the way the change of medium is revealing things about the characters.

Increasingly I know I need peace and quiet to work in: when I first started I could write almost anywhere, with children in the room, the radio on, etc. But now I like a quiet room of my own. It doesn’t always have to be my study: it can be a warm sofa with the dog snoozing next to me if that helps the words flow.

You Let me Go - GRAHAM_YOULETMEGO_28121_FT


After her beloved grandmother Rozenn’s death, Morane is heartbroken to learn that her sister is the sole inheritor of the family home in Cornwall—while she herself has been written out of the will. With both her business and her relationship with her sister on the rocks, Morane becomes consumed by one question: what made Rozenn turn her back on her?

When she finds an old letter linking her grandmother to Brittany under German occupation, Morane escapes on the trail of her family’s past. In the coastal village where Rozenn lived in 1941, she uncovers a web of shameful secrets that haunted Rozenn to the end of her days. Was it to protect those she loved that a desperate Rozenn made a heartbreaking decision and changed the course of all their lives forever?

Morane goes in search of the truth but the truth can be painful. Can she make her peace with the past and repair her relationship with her sister?


Amazon UK

Amazon US


You Let Me Go - AUthor photo Eliza GrahamEliza Graham’s novels have been long-listed for the UK’s Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day’s ‘Hidden Gem’ competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US.

She is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she’s made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.

It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.

Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to summon him. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.





Win 3 x Paperback copies of You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham (Open to UK / USA only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK and USA 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.


Make sure you visit the other blogs joining the tour to learn more about You Let Me Go.

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Meet the Author

Lambert Nagle

As part of the blog tour for Nighthawks, I am delighted to welcome husband and wife writing duo, Lambert Nagle, to my blog so we can all get to know them a little better. Many thanks for taking the time to talk to me, and thanks also to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the tour. Let’s kick off with the questions before I tell everyone all the important details abjut Nighthawks.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Thanks for inviting us onto your blog. Lambert Nagle is an author couple and is the pseudonym of Alison Ripley Cubitt and Sean Cubitt. Alison is a multi-genre author and Sean writes academic non-fiction. Nighthawks is our second novel in the Stephen Connor thriller series, following on from the environmental thriller, Revolution Earth. Our stand-alone short story, Contained was published in the collection, Capital Crimes.

What was the inspiration behind your collaboration and which co-writers inspired you?

We were browsing at an airport bookstore and came across a Nicci French book and realised that it was a thriller written by two people. And we looked at each other and said, we could do that: why don’t we try it and see what happens? I started researching other crime and thriller writing duos and discovered that there was a historical precedent—the Martin Beck novels, which were adapted into a gripping Scandi-noir TV series, was the work of another writing couple, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahloo. They were writing back in the 1960s and were the first to put Scandi-noir fiction on the map. They were at the forefront of the genre and must have influenced a new generation of crime and thriller authors who came after them such as Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell.

Why do you think that the crime and thriller genre suits collaborators?

We write novels with a large cast of characters and a complex main plot; we weave several subplots through the narrative. That’s a huge undertaking, and when it gets complicated, you really need someone else to bounce ideas off. So much of writing in these genres is problem-solving. And an added bonus is that writing no longer becomes quite such a lonely occupation when you work with someone else.

How do you share the workload? Who does what?

We each play to our strengths. Mine are characterisation, storytelling and structure, while Sean is a better prose stylist than me and writes the detail and the descriptions required for the story world. He’s also a better editor! Before we start, we collaborate on an outline, a structure, the main character arc and the key elements of the plot. Only when we have that do we write.

What were the challenges of collaboration you had to overcome? 

When we first started out, we hadn’t any actual idea about how to go about writing a novel as my background was film and TV and Sean’s non-fiction and academia. Sean took the lead on the first few chapters and I took on the role of editor. We sent out the first draft to an agent who told us to ditch writing a literary fiction thriller and to aim for something more commercial. We had to give up the notion of a single authorial voice and had to learn to write seamlessly, so that readers couldn’t tell that it was two authors.

Nighthawks Cover


When art, money and power collide…
A Mafia boss addicted to beautiful art. A Catholic priest who knows too much. A modern-day Jay Gatsby.
And a woman on the run.

Disgraced London detective Stephen Connor is given an ultimatum: take a transfer to Rome or kiss his career goodbye.
With his love life in tatters and his confidence at an all-time low, can Stephen find the world’s most valuable painting before it disappears forever?


Order here


Nighthawks Lambert Nagle author photo

Lambert Nagle is the pen-name for Alison Ripley Cubitt and Sean Cubitt, co-writers of international thrillers, mystery and crime. Alison is a former television production executive who worked for Walt Disney and the BBC before pivoting to become a multi-genre author and screenwriter. Her short film drama Waves (with Maciek Pisarek) won the Special Jury Prize, Worldfest, Houston. Sean’s day job is Professor of Film and Television, University of Melbourne, Australia. He writes about film and media for leading academic publishers.

Other titles by Lambert Nagle include Revolution Earth (featuring detective Stephen Connor) and Contained in Capital Crimes, a short story collection from members of ITW (International Thriller Writers) with a foreword by Peter James.

With six passports between them, they set their books in the far-away places they live and work.






Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour to read more about Nighthawks.

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Meet the Author

52 Weeks of Writing Author & Journal Planner, Vol. II – Mariëlle S. Smith

This time last I reviewed volume I of Mariëlle S. Smith’s 52 Weeks of Writing Author & Journal Planner, and you can read my review here. I was a big fan of this planner, so I am delighted to be a part of the blog blitz for volume II. Many thanks to Mariëlle for sitting down to answer some questions, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the blitz. Please give Mariëlle a warm welcome as we get to know her a little better before I tell you all about her book (I have to say, I am loving the colour scheme for this volume).

Tell us a little more about the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner, Vol II.

As the name suggests, 52 Weeks of Writing, Vol. II is a journal and planner all thrown into one. It will help you plan and keep track of your writing while making you reflect on your progress and any obstacles that might show up.

Because you’re constantly reflecting on what you’re doing – or what you haven’t been doing – it helps you understand why certain things work for you and others don’t, why you aren’t where you want to be, and so on.

Each week also includes a thought-provoking quote and a prompt or exercise. Some weeks focus on improving your craft, while others are all about improving your author mindset.

How is 52 Weeks of Writing, Vol. II different from all the other journals and planners out there?

The way I combine both, I would say. I see a lot of helpful books around me that either focus on the author mindset OR on planning for authors. 52 Weeks of Writing, Vol. II connects the two explicitly because just focusing on planning doesn’t help. At least not if you’re not dealing with the reasons your plans keep going off track.

Writers who have been using the first volume of 52 Weeks of Writing have been calling it the holistic approach to writing, and that it’s like having a writing coach in book form. Some have told me it’s like I’m sitting right next to them, guiding them through the process. I’m guessing that’s what sets the journal and planner apart as well.

Why did you feel the need to create a second volume? Isn’t 52 Weeks of Writing an undated journal and planner?

It is, and I never felt that need until I was asked about it. When I started working on the journal and planner, I was convinced it would be a one-time project that would do its thing while I focused on other exciting projects.

Now, I was only asked whether I’d change the cover after twelve months so no one would end up with a row of the same journals, but I immediately knew it would have to be its own volume. So, it has a different cover, different quotes, different prompts and exercises, a different look. I fell in love with the project all over again.

And yes, I’m already working on the third volume. I run a Facebook group called the Accountable Wordsmiths and I’ve already shared some of the quotes and prompts that will end up in it with my followers. The cover is done, too.

There’s no order to the volumes, though! There’s no reason you can’t start with Vol. II first. Just pick the one with the cover you like best.

Who will benefit the most from 52 Weeks of Writing, Vol. II?

Any writer who wants to develop a writing practice that works for them and takes into consideration their needs, dreams, and day-to-day reality. I’m very wary of comparisonitis and I think it’s one of the main reasons why we get in our way in the first place. 52 Weeks of Writing, Vol. II is all about figuring out what you want to do with your one precious life and how you can get there without constantly burning out or feeling you’re not good enough.

It’s for those who want to create a sustainable practice that actually fits the lives they’re leading.

What is the best writing advice you were ever given?

The quote that changed my entire life is one by Paulo Coelho:

‘If it’s still in your mind, it is worth taking the risk.’

It’s a piece of advice I constantly give to my coaching clients. If a story doesn’t leave you alone, that means something. That you need to write it, no matter how much the thought scares you.

52 Weeks Cover


‘With this book by your side, anything feels possible.’ Jacqueline Brown

Tired of not having a sustainable writing practice? You, too, can get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be!

52 Weeks of Writing:

  • makes you plan, track, reflect on, and improve your progress and goals for an entire year;
  • helps you unravel the truth about why you aren’t where you want to be; and
  • keeps you writing through weekly thought-provoking quotes and prompts.

With this second volume of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner, writing coach and writer Mariëlle S. Smith brings you the same successful strategies to craft the perfect writing practice as she did in the first journal. The only difference? Fifty-three different writing quotes and prompts and a brand-new look!


Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Germany

Amazon Canada

A printable PDF is available through: Get 50% off until 31 March 2021 by using the coupon code 52WOW during checkout.


52 Weeks AuthorMariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, and a writer. Early 2019, she moved to Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.





Meet the Author

Caedis Knight

I am delighted to be joined today by Caedis Knight, the author duo behind the brilliant Blood Web Chronicles. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me ladies, and a very happy birthday to you, Jacqueline.


First off, how did the idea of forming a writing duo come about? Whose idea was it and how did you know that you would be a good fit working together?

N J Simmonds: We’ve known one another since 2017 when we met at YALC. Jacky and I became good friends and spoke on the phone often. Then one day she told me about her idea to write a paranormal romance together and when she explained roughly what it would be about I couldn’t say YES fast enough!

Jacqueline Silvester: I’ve wanted to write about vampires, witches, werewolves and shifters for a long time – and I love discovering stuff about tech and the dark web – but the book ideas I had for such a long series were too intimidating to tackle alone. It wasn’t until I got to know Natali and her writing better that I thought about us possibly working together.

Can you tell us about your writing process? It must be tricky living so far apart and not being able to travel very much to meet up at the moment.

JS: I live in Berlin and Natali lives in Delft, Netherlands, so sadly we can’t meet up every day and write. That would be so much fun!

NJS: Although we’d probably get no work done, we’d laugh too much.

JS: True. I did manage to make it to her house in September for ten days of edits and that was brilliant. We worked from 8am until midnight non stop and although exhausting we got a lot done!

NJS: In general we speak every day on the phone and chat on FB messenger. We already planned and plotted the full six book and accompanying novella series last year, so our meetings are about the plot of each book and structure issues. We also add things to our World Lore shared doc like photos and character details so we’re literally on the same page. Then we write a paragraph per chapter and add it to a Word doc, then pass it back and forth writing a chapter at a time. We keep editing one another’s words until it all sounds like Caedis and not us, and when the first draft is done we then copy it on to a Google shared doc for structural edits which we go through together, and the rest we do over email. We have got into a great rhythm. No issues yet.


So far, we have visited Los Angeles and Moscow, and I know there are some beautiful locations still to come. How did you go about choosing the locations, and were there any you wished you could have included that just wouldn’t have worked?

NJS: Jacky has lived in 6 countries and I have lived in 4, she speaks 5 languages and I speak 2, and between us we have visited every continent and about 50 countries…so we have plenty of location ideas to work with. We decided to set all the novels only in the cities we have lived, all in Europe (bar LA) and all cool but gritty places. So we know exactly what we have coming up.

JS: Although we MAY write the odd novella or spin-off series based somewhere hot and exotic. Somewhere we HAVE to go to and research some day…

NJS: Count me in!

Having had the pleasure of seeing just a few of the photographs that inspired some of the characters that we have met so far, I can imagine that you enjoy this particular part of the writing process. Have you had any disagreements about who to base any characters on, or which characters are going to be the good guys and bad guys?

JS: Well we have slightly different tastes in guys, so sometimes I’ll say ‘yeah, I wouldn’t fancy him though’ and Natali will say ‘It doesn’t matter, the readers will!’ Although luckily we do agree on which girls we want to include pretty easily.

NJS: Jacky likes to send me ‘research’ Tik Toks and photos and I rarely disagree. I insisted on making Jackson English…like a hot, buff, black James Bond, luckily Jacky liked that too. To be honest I wasn’t visually excited about Lukka until we started writing him, then we both fell in love with the wild boy.

JS: He was based on Russian rapper Eldzhey. I’ve always liked him and I was adamant he was making an appearance.

NJS: To be honest most characters derive from the city the book is based in, that influences their looks, ethnicity and personalities somewhat, but we have a World Lore shared document where all the photos of each character go in plus Pinterest boards for each book. We do spend a lot of time looking up hot gorgeous people and sharing photos back and forth haha.

Lukka, Jackson and Konstantin

Let’s talk about Jackson – just how long are you going to make us wait to find out more about this particular para?

NJS: Oh, Jackson is a slow burn. You’ll get more and more of him as the series progresses. By the end you’ll know ALL about him…and so will Saskia.

JS: Yep, we have big plans for Jackson.

Do you have a release date for the next instalment yet? Can you share anything about it, or is it all top secret?

JS: We’ve just revealed the cover and title of the second book in the series. WITCHES OF BARCELONA is out 31st March 2021. We chose the week after Women’s day on purpose as it’s a hugely feminist/matriarchal book. Saskia is bisexual, so this time you get to meet some very hot girls too – plus you get an insight into the Mage Association as well as meet her mother, who we saw briefly in SIRENS OF LOS ANGELES.

NJS: I’m very excited about this book as I was raised in Barcelona and my family is Catalan. Expect lots of dark, gritty, witchy fun.

JS: And more crazy shifters!


Caedis Knight (Jacqueline Silvester and N J Simmonds)

Caedis Knight is the pen name of two established fantasy authors, Jacqueline Silvester and N J Simmonds.

Silvester began her career in screenwriting and lived all over the world before going on to pen her highly successful YA series, Wunderkids.

Spanish Londoner Simmonds’ background was originally in marketing before writing her fantasy series The Indigo Chronicles, along with various Manga stories and writing collaborations.

Together, they created Blood Web Chronicles – their first paranormal romance series set in Europe. Great friends and avid travellers, you can find them whizzing between one another’s homes in Germany and the Netherlands, or having Zoom calls to excitedly plot Saskia’s next humorous sexy adventure.






For more information on the Blood Web Chronicles, check out my reviews of VAMPIRES OF MOSCOW and SIRENS OF LOS ANGELES – both books are on sale now, and the next book in the series, WITCHES OF BARCELONA is available for pre-order now. I will be reviewing this book just as soon as I can get my hands on it in 2021, so keep your eyes peeled!

Meet the Author


I am joining the blog tour for Spider Hunting by K.J. McGillick today, and am thrilled to be welcome K.J. herself to my blog. Thank you so much K.J. for taking the time to talk to me, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour. Let’s start with the interview, before I tell you about the latest book.

Where does the inspiration for your characters come from? In particular, was there a specific source of inspiration for Mary from your Path of Deception and Betrayal trilogy and the Conspiracy of Betrayal series?

I can honestly say that I am one of those authors who truly make it up as I go along. That includes my characters. Mary was never a thought when I started and yet one day as my fingers found the keys there, she was, born right there. Mary is indeed my favorite character and I enjoyed making her a central piece of my first two series. And, because I missed her so much in the last series, she made a cameo appearance in Spider Hunting.  

The plots of your books are always many layered, weaving in lots of different elements. How do you develop your plots to integrate these?

I would love to tell you that I, like Baldacci and Brown, outline to death. In reality, all I do is sketch out 7 plot points on a sheet of paper using the Plot Dot method and away I go. In this last book Spider Hunting, it did prove a problem. Every time I hit 40,000 words, I hit a brick wall, and this happed separately three times. I did something I had not done before, I put the book away for a month. Once my head was clear, I had a What If session with a friend and found the path to finish it had cleared.

I understand that you have a love of travel. What has been your favourite place that you have visited and is there anywhere you would love to visit that you haven’t been yet?

Every place I travel to make me a better person because I come to understand new cultures. The UK is by far flat out my favourite country. I love the history, pride of country and the unwritten rules of civility. I promise you, although I have visited about 15 times, I will never tire of London. The one place I wanted to visit, but because of the political discord right now just won’t, is Istanbul. I have also recently found my great- grandmother was from Malta and that appears to be an interesting place, so it is now on my bucket list. When the pandemic is under control I will be the first to sign up for a Rick Steves Best of Europe tour (my 4th) to check in on my favourite places and catch the Eurostar for a stop in London at the end. 

What was one of the most surprising things you have learnt over the course of your writing career?

I have only been writing for three years so it is relatively a short time. However, one thing that has surprised me is that there is no glass ceiling to learning. There is no right and wrong. If you have an idea, run with it, someone will surely find it entertaining.

Who/what are your favourite authors/books to read when you aren’t writing?

I love David Baldacci, Lee Child, and Melinda Leigh for thrillers. On the romance side, you can’t beat Kristen Ashley.

Can you tell me anything about what you are currently working on or will be working on next, or is it all top secret?

I am working on a story where one day a husband disappears leaving his wife to struggle with the financial mess he created personally and professionally. But the question is, did he disappear voluntarily or was it foul play.

Thanks so much K.J. for taking the time to talk to me. Now, on to the all important book details.



It’s never what it seems.

A murder of a high-profile law partner on a Manhattan street should have made the front page of the news. And yet it didn’t. Drew Bradley’s murder was treated as just another senseless crime and relegated to page four of the evening edition. But what if the press had been privy to the fact that the murder was actually an assassination?

As the partners at Lannister and Stewart scramble to fill the vacuum left by Drew Bradley’s sudden death, Asia Blythe, a rising star in the firm is offered his coveted position. But this golden opportunity that brings with it power, prestige, and unlimited financial rewards demands adherence to a code. A code of allegiance to the firm with no exceptions. Catapulted into the world of genetically modified designer babies and state-sponsored espionage, is Asia prepared to deal with the intrigues of a world that will threaten her life and shatter her illusions?


Amazon US

Amazon UK


Spider - head shotK.J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing





Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the tour to learn more about Spider Hunting.

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Meet the Author

Penny Hampson

I am jumping on board the blog blitz for Penny Hampson’s contemporary mystery/paranormal romance novel, The Unquiet Spirit, today. Many thanks to Penny who took the time to answer a few questions that I posed to her, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blitz. Let’s jump straight into the questions, and then I will share all the details of The Unquiet Spirit with you all.

I understand that before venturing into writing, you worked with rare books and historic manuscripts. This sounds like a dream come true to me! Can you tell us more about this please?

Yes, I worked for nineteen years in a world famous academic library dealing with historic manuscript collections and rare books. My job was to source suitable images from the collections for publishers, authors, and academics. It was fascinating work and enabled me to see firsthand not only some of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts but also letters and documents from famous people in history.

A special thrill for me was to handle a manuscript written by Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), the celebrated diarist and naval administrator. I’ve read all of his published diaries (the originals are held at the University of Cambridge) and I had always longed to see the originals, so when I came across this item — not a diary, alas, but an administrative document — it was amazing to see his actual handwriting.

I’ve also been privileged to see the exquisite hand embroidered cover of ‘The Miroir or Glasse of the synneful soul’ a manuscript translation made, written, and embroidered by Queen Elizabeth I when she was eleven years old, as a gift for her stepmother Queen Katherine Parr. 

However, my favourite manuscript has to be MS. Bodl. 264, an enormous tome dating from 1400, with many beautiful illuminations. What attracts me to this manuscript though is not  the marvellously coloured miniatures, but the tiny marginal figures and scenes that dance across the lower margins. Here you will find all sorts of curiosities – nuns in a wheelbarrow (yes, really), children playing games, women cooking, a Punch and Judy show, and knights on horseback training for combat. If you’d like to see this for yourself you’re in luck because it has all been digitised and is available online.

What was the inspiration behind The Unquiet Spirit, and what made you decide to set the book in Cornwall?

The inspiration for The Unquiet Spirit was a house I discovered on the internet. I was browsing at houses for sale (as one does) and a beautiful 17th century house popped up. Not one that I could afford or even in the right location, but there was something about it that really attracted me. It became my inspiration for The Beeches. I wondered what it would be like to live in such a house, and that was when the idea formed to create a character who unexpectedly inherits an old house from her godmother. And being such an old house it would surely have secrets and possibly a ghost.

I decided to locate my story in Cornwall, specifically Falmouth, because it’s a place that I love. Falmouth itself is a lovely vibrant town with a lot of history. It was an important hub for the packet ships that plied their way across the world during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, bringing news and passengers to British shores. Falmouth was the first place Royal Naval officer John Lapenotiere landed with the urgent dispatches about the victory of Trafalgar and Nelson’s death, and Lord Byron, the poet stayed in Falmouth in 1809, prior to heading off on the Lisbon packet ship to commence his Grand Tour.

Today Falmouth is still a fantastically vibrant place, with what I call a real community feel about it. I’m sure the extra buzz is due to not only the summer visitors, but also the student population of the local university, which specialises in the creative arts. In addition, Falmouth has a fabulous Maritime Museum, and I can certainly recommend the local studies library located inside the museum. There are lots of lovely coffee shops too – the one where Kate has breakfast is based on a favourite of mine. But, I hasten to add, the one where she spies on the art dealers’ is entirely a figment of my imagination!

I try to visit at least once a year, although this year has been a little difficult and I haven’t managed it yet.

What made you break away from the historic fiction you have previously written and move to a contemporary setting for this book?

It was my husband who encouraged me to write a contemporary story. He’s always been great at supporting and encouraging me, reading my work and offering constructive feedback. However, he’s not a great fan of carriages and bonnets, so I decided it was time to give him something he could really get into. I also wanted to test myself as a writer. I’ve written three historical novels now and feel reasonably comfortable in that genre, so it was a challenge to myself too.

There are also issues that I feel strongly about, ones that don’t easily fit in a historical novel. So with The Unquiet Spirit I was able to introduce elements of life that are sometimes overlooked or ignored. For instance, one of my characters suffers from a chronic illness, and I wanted to show how that can impact the whole family, something I have personal experience of as a carer.

Do you follow a set writing routine, or have a favourite space to write?

I don’t have a set routine for writing. I try to write everyday, but sometimes, because of other commitments, this isn’t always possible. I share a rather cramped office with my husband, so it can get a little difficult at times, especially when I am trying to write a tense, emotional scene and he is swearing at his computer (we both do that!). However,  the good news is that I have been promised a study of my own; our spare bedroom will hopefully be transformed into a super-duper writer’s workspace, with room for all my research books, maps, and other bits and pieces. 

What are your favourite books, either from now or from your childhood?

My favourite books? Well, for escapism I always go to Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels; well-written and historically accurate, they give me a lift when I’m feeling down. I also love crime fiction and stories that have a strong sense of place. Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels fit the bill here. I only visited Edinburgh a few times when I lived in Scotland but through his books I feel I know it so well. Because I worked in Oxford for many years, reading Colin Dexter’s Morse novels was a must; the plotting is so intricate and detailed, and again, there is that great sense of place. My favourite book from childhood has to be Peter Pan, even as a child I picked up on the sadness of the little boy who never wanted to grow up, and I always dreamed of being able to fly.

Thank you so much Penny for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly. I am even more envious of your time spent with so many wonderful manuscripts now (folks, if you haven’t seen MS. Bodl. 264 that Penny mentions, go and have a look – I had a peek as I was writing this blog post and it is wonderful!).

So now, onto the all important book details.

The Unquiet Spirit Cover


A new beginning. A house with a past. A man with secrets.

It was a dream come true…that turned into a nightmare.

Kate Wilson thinks moving back to Cornwall might be the answer to her prayers. But it isn’t long before she begins to have doubts. Is the house she inherited from her godmother haunted? Or is she going out of her mind? With a stalker, threats, and attempted break-ins, Kate’s troubles multiply.

Then there’s her enigmatic neighbour, the brooding Tom Carbis; a man with secrets he doesn’t wish to share. Can she trust him when he says he wants to help?

In her quest to unravel the mysteries surrounding her, will Kate uncover more than she bargains for?

Set in beautiful Cornwall, The Unquiet Spirit is a gripping suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Fans of Barbara Erskine will enjoy this tale.

You can purchase your copy of The Unquiet Spirit HERE


The Unquiet Spirit - Author photo April 2020 2 2 IMG_3862Some time ago Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree.

Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing. Penny joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and three years later published her debut novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, a  historical mystery/romance. Other books in the same genre soon followed.

But never happy in a rut, Penny also writes contemporary suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Her first book in this genre is The Unquiet Spirit, published by Darkstroke.

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).





Meet the Author

David Pollard

As part of the blog tour for his novel, Mindworm, David Pollard kindly took the time to answer a few questions and I am here to share those answers with you today. Many thanks to David for taking part in this Q&A, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to get involved in the blog tour. Here comes the Q&A now, closely followed by all the details for Mindworm.

Why did you choose to self-publish your work?

The short answer is that I’m conscious that time is limited – I can either try to persuade a publisher that my book has merit or I can try to persuade potential readers that my book is entertaining and worth reading. Overall the latter option has most value for me. I also believe that my objectives in writing – to enjoy the process and to entertain an audience is not a good fit with a publisher’s need to make money at a low commercial risk.

Why do you write?

I have a lot of stories in my head and they demand to be let out. I enjoy the writing process itself – I find it deeply satisfying. And then I crave an audience and really enjoy their reaction to my work.

Your website address is and your email address is How come?

I think of myself as a teller of tales – I write plays, act, direct for the stage as well as writing novels and short stories. Tusitala means Teller of Tales in the Samoan language and was what Robert Louis Stevenson was called by the Samoan people when he lived there. I am a great admirer of RLS and so I appropriated the title.

What books have influenced you?

I’ve always considered that ‘Treasure Island’ by RLS is one of the great adventure stories and I must own that as an influence.  My father pointed me to Robert Tressel’s ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ and I’ve always found that influential in life as well as in my writing.

What do you read?

I always try to support independent authors like myself but I’m also attracted by the main stream. My last favourite read was ‘The Five’ by Hallie Rubenhold which is a refreshing and pertinent viewpoint on the well-worn ‘Jack the Ripper’ franchise and provides a focus on the victims which is long overdue. I also enjoy the craftsmanship of Lee Child in his Jack Reacher stories.

Do you think that the story of ‘Mindworm’ would translate to the screen?

I do see ‘Mindworm’  becoming a very compact film and I’d be delighted if that ever came to pass. If it did happen I’d like to see Gary Oldman as the mindworm and Tommy Lee Jones as Lieutenant Stride.

Many thanks David for your answers to this Q&A. Now for all the important Mindworm info.


The placid life of a college librarian is plunged into a desperate fight for survival  when he witnesses the death of his only friend. Suddenly he is forced to confront disturbing changes in his nature and appetites and their consequences. Suspected of murder and pursued by an implacable police detective he runs – but is he running from the law or from himself?


Amazon UK

Amazon US

Mindworm front cover


book jacket photoAfter more than forty years of paid employment David Pollard retired to glorious Hereford and immersed himself in the theatrical activities of the county. He is currently Chair of Hereford County Drama Festival.

David  sees himself as a teller of tales – he is a playwright, author of short stories and novels. He has a preference for dark and dystopian material. He is also an actor and theatrical director. Among the many authors admired by David is Robert Louis Stevenson – for his website David adopted the appellation Tuistala – Samoan for ‘Teller of Tales’ which the Samoan people called RLS.

Several of David’s plays have been published by Lazybee Scripts – one of which ‘Aspects of a Betrayal’ was shortlisted for the Kenneth Branagh prize at the Windsor Fringe Festival.

David has two works published on KDP/Amazon:

‘His Cat and Other Strange Tales’ – a collection of macabre short stories

‘The Alienation of Ludovic Weiss’ – a psychological thriller

A third book ‘Mindworm ‘ is scheduled for publication in September 2020

When not writing, directing or acting David runs a podcast platform for the streaming of radio plays and short story readings – Hand to Mouth Sound Theatre.

For relaxation David reads voraciously with a liking for history and thriller fiction. He also enjoys country walks of the strolling variety.




Don’t forget to visit the other blogs making up the tour to read more about Mindworm.

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Meet the Author

Jeff Pollak

First Second Coming, the debut fantasy/supernatural/romance/suspense novel by Jeff Pollak, was released on 1st August. Prior to it’s release, I sat down for a virtual chat with Jeff, and I am delighted to be able to share this with you all today. Let’s jump straight in, and then I will share all the important information about the book with you all.

FSC - eBook Final Cover

What was the inspiration behind First Second Comings?

When 9/11 occurred, I watched the World Trade Tower collapse just as everyone else did. Of course, I was horrified by the spectacle. Perhaps more so than others, because I had connections to that building. Born and raised in New York City, I’d been in the building a few times as a child. In my adult years, my law firm would hold annual seminars in the Top of the Tower conference centre every May, to update our New York/New Jersey corporate clients about California law and important appellate decisions. As a partner in the firm I’d function as a speaker, a panelist, or just a meet-and-greet guy. I had some clients in the building and gotten to know some of the conference centre’s staff. So the collapse was very hard to watch – some people I knew in that building didn’t survive, I later learned. That day a random thought came to me, that this planet really needs a new god, someone who is a planetary turnaround specialist. Some fourteen years later, when I’d decided to spend my future retirement writing fiction, the concept of a character who is a planetary turnaround deity came back to me as the seed of a story. I developed it and First Second Coming is the result.

What are your favourite books as a reader?

My all-time favorite books? I’ll break it down by genre.  Historical fiction: James Clavell’s Shogun and Tai-Pan novels. Also Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth and Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost. Fantasy: Tolkien’s Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Science Fiction: Frank Herbert’s Dune and Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Thriller/Suspense: Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October and John LeCarre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Horror: Stephen King’s The Stand. Magical Realism: Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Non-fiction: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War Cabinet, and Simon Winchester’s Atlantic about that little pond that separates England from the U.S.A.

Which authors inspire you as a writer? Is there a particular author who it would make your day to be compared to?

At the moment the authors who inspire me the most are, in no particular order, Iain Pears, David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami and Daniel Silva. The first Pears book I read, An Instance of the Fingerpost, is told from the point of view of four different individuals. Each POV character narrates the same events entirely differently, leaving the reader amazed that the story  comes together. Pears is a master at that sort of intricate plotting and character development. As for Mitchell, the man’s off the charts as a writer. Incredible talent. I don’t read his books, I savor every sentence in them, especially The Bone Clocks. As for Murakami, I started with 1Q84 and it was a revelation. Something different in its Japanese setting, in the richness of the details of both the real world and the alternative world he creates, and in the uniqueness of the story. Finally, Silva – he writes espionage thrillers along the lines of LeCarre or Follett. Silva’s ongoing series of about twenty books now all involve Israeli Mossad spy Gabriel Allon. Silva’s books are a bit formulaic, but he often incorporates real world events into the story and he has a conciseness to his writing style that I try to emulate in my writing. At this point in my development as a writer, being compared to Silva would probably make my day as I’m not yet at the “master writer” level of a Pears, Mitchell or Murakami. I aspire to get that good, though.

What did you learn over the course of writing First Second Comings that you wish you had known before you started?

Good question. I was learning the craft while I wrote, so I suppose the short answer is “everything.” I attended writers conferences, participated in critique groups, did online courses and researched answers to the “how to” things that came up. If there’s one thing that stands out that I didn’t learn but instead experienced, it’s getting so close to your characters that they actually talk to you unbidden (in your head) while you write. The first time my female main character, Brendali Santamaria, started talking to me I pretty much freaked out. I wasn’t expecting that and didn’t know this is a fairly common occurrence in the writing world. She’d tell me what was actually going on in the story, as differentiated from what my outline said was happening. I enjoyed hearing from her before long. Her romance with Ram Forrester, for example, wasn’t something I had planned to include in the story – but it happened and is now a major piece of First Second Coming.

Do you have a regular writing routine? If you do, what does it look like?

I do now, yes, but while writing most of First Second Coming I’d write as time allowed, around my work and family obligations. Now, as a retiree and empty-nester, I have plenty of free time. I do most of my work in the morning, from about 5:30 to 11:30, taking breaks for exercise and to get showered and dressed. In the afternoons I’ll hike for an hour or so, do any errands or chores that need doing, and write or edit as time permits. I don’t write in the evening, leaving that time for reading or other leisurely pursuits.

Do you have a plan in mind for your next book?

I’ve begun writing the second book in the “New God” series, or to put it another way, the sequel to First Second Coming. I’m also doing research for it and writing a novel that will be a spin-off from the series but not part of it. All those things – the two novels and the research – are in the start-up stages. I hope to have a first draft done on at least one of the two novels by year end.

Thanks so much Jeff, for taking the time to talk to me. Now, onto the all important blurb!


In 2027 the deity known as NTG – short for New Testament God – retires after more than two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. The new god, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether the Earth’s dominant species should or should  not be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.’s planetary operation standards.

Earth’s new God introduces himself to humanity by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaris, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his planetary turnaround plan. All that those in attendance must do to assure that mankind earns a coveted spot in this God’s good graces is eliminate religious violence forever, without his heavenly help, before the conference ends. Failure means extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must the harried couple attend the conference meetings by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a group of religious fanatics bent on killing them. When conflicts with the conference intensify, it’s up to Ram and Bren to do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and assure mankind’s survival.


Amazon UK

Amazon US


Photoshoot - BlueJeff Pollak, the author of First Second Coming and sequels to come, was raised in the Riverdale section of the Bronx by a single mom and two grandparents who lived eight floors up. After graduating from college in Buffalo, Jeff headed west to Los Angeles for law school and spent his entire legal career in and around civil litigation. Now retired, writing fiction is Jeff’s new passion.






Thanks again Jeff, for taking the time to talk to me. I think this sounds like a fascinating book and I am very much looking forward to reading it.