Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: The Colour of Evil by Toni Mount


Every Londoner has money worries, and talented artist and some-time sleuth, Seb Foxley, is no exception.

When fellow craftsmen with debts to pay are found dead in the most horrid circumstances, fears escalate. Only Seb can solve the puzzles that baffle the authorities.

Seb’s wayward elder brother, Jude, returns unannounced from Italy with a child-bride upon his arm. Shock turns to dismay when life becomes more complicated and troubles multiply.

From counterfeit coins to deadly darkness in London's worst corners. From mysterious thefts to attacks of murderous intent, Seb finds himself embroiled at every turn. With a royal commission to fulfill and heartache to resolve, can our hero win through against the odds?

Share Seb Foxley’s latest adventures in the filthy streets of medieval London, join in the Midsummer festivities and meet his fellow citizens, both the respectable and the villainous.

 Praise for Colour of Evil:

Samantha Willcoxson, author & historian:

Toni Mount is simply brilliant. If you love CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake – and I do – you will love Toni’s Sebastian Foxley. From learning how a 15th-century scrivener created illuminated manuscripts to venturing within the dank tunnels beneath the Tower of London, Toni is an artist who completely immerses the reader in another time and place and always leaves one eager for the next book.”

Stephanie Churchill, author of historical fiction and epic fantasy:

Leave it to Seb to unravel another international spiderweb of intrigue, betrayal, murder, and deceit. Our flawed, loveable hero has done it again. And at the end of it all, his future is looking brighter than ever. I cannot wait to find out what happens to him next!”

Sharon Bennet Connoly, author, and medieval historian:

“A beautifully crafted mystery that brings the dark, dangerous streets of medieval London to life. Toni Mount is a magician with words, weaving a captivating story in wonderful prose. The Colour of Evil is, to put it simply, a pleasure to read.”

Kathryn Warner, medieval historian and author of numerous books about the fourteenth century, including biographies of Edward II and Isabella of France:

The ninth instalment of Toni Mount's popular Seb Foxley series is sure to delight Seb's many fans. Mount puts her deep knowledge of late medieval England to good use once again and takes us on another exciting adventure, this time with Seb's older brother Jude, returned from Italy, in tow. Mount's detailed world-building, as always, brings fifteenth-century London to life.”


The Chicken incident  (pp.101-104)

At last, the first miniature was completed. I had laboured long. Adam assisted in tidying away my pigments and put them safely in the box. The parchment folios were pressed flat on the collating table ’neath brass weights. Now my cousin and I sat over our last few sips of ale in the kitchen by the light of a solitary candle. Rose and Kate were long since gone to their beds in the chamber above, where little Dickon slept also these days. Nessie had withdrawn to her curtained alcove beside the chimney, taking Grayling the cat with her for company. We could hear her snoring gently but kept our voices low so as not to disturb her.

Gawain was the first to respond to an unaccustomed sound: a scratching noise coming from along the passage to the shop. The dog came alert from his slumbers ’neath the board. He stood facing the passageway, his hackles rising upon his neck and a threatening growl rumbled deep in his chest.

‘You hear that?’ Adam whispered.

I nodded, reaching for a hefty fire-iron on the hearth.

‘Did you bar the door and shutters when we closed up?’

I nodded again.

‘Give me a moment.’ Adam slipped out of the kitchen to the yard, returning with the axe we used to chop kindling for the fire.

Thus armed, we went silently along the passage. I held the candle high in one hand, the iron in the other. Gawain came stealthily, growling, but keeping behind me. On the right, the parlour door stood closed but I lifted the latch and looked in, thankful for well-greased hinges. There was naught amiss.

The next door to the right led into the shop. Nothing untoward was apparent there. I checked the bar on the door to the street. It was firm in its hasps. The shutters were likewise in their proper place.

There came a sudden clatter and a smashing of pottery vessels. The intruder was in our workshop to the left of the passage. I reached for the latch, lifted it and pushed the door wide, the fire-iron raised high.

‘Show yourself!’ I cried. ‘No, no!’

Something burst forth, straight into my face. I swung the iron in defence and felt it hit a target but I dropped the candle, plunging us into darkness. I stumbled back from my unseen assailant and fell on my backside. My heart was pounding fit to break my ribs and something tickled my face, causing me to sneeze.

Gawain tore into the room, courageous of a sudden, barking madly.

Adam was striking tinder and groping on the floor for the candle. When he relit the flame and it steadied, he began to laugh.

‘By the saints! All that for a bloody chicken. You did for it, Seb: broke its neck by the look of it.’ He picked up a sorry bundle of feathers from the floor, pushing Gawain aside when he would have it. More feathers floated around. ‘A chicken dinner for us tomorrow.’

I clambered to my feet, wiping feathers from my mouth and nose, sneezing again.

‘Must be Caldicott’s birds have escaped again.’ I spat out more filaments of feathers. ‘It must have come in afore I closed up and wandered into the workshop... then was unable to get out.’

‘His loss is our gain. Seems only right, Seb, after the consternation and trouble it’s caused us. Look at the smashed pots! ’Tis fortunate it didn’t break any precious pigments but the pounce and sand have made a mess indeed.’

‘We can clean it up in the morn,’ I said, turning as Rose and Kate appeared in the doorway, clad in their night robes. 

‘We’ll all help,’ Rose said. ‘But you’re bleeding, Seb.’ She wiped my forehead with soft fingers.

‘Am I? The bird came at me; aiming its beak straight at mine eyes. Mayhap, I be fortunate it pierced my forehead and did not blind me.’ I felt chilled and shaken of a sudden and slumped upon the nearest stool.

‘We heard Gawain making such a din; thought we were to be attacked in our beds.’

‘Aye, our great protector...’ I fondled Gawain’s soft ears. ‘Our brave knight be naught but a silly coward. Be that not so, Gawain, you foolish creature?’

‘Come back to the kitchen,’ Rose said, taking charge of the situation. ‘I’ll make mulled ale for us all and for you a possett as a restorative and put some salve on that cut. It looks sore.’

In truth, I hardly felt the hurt, for the present, leastwise, but I was most certainly shaken. Though I dared not admit to it, knowing Adam would laugh right heartily at me, if I did, I had been much affrighted by that wretched bird and was all unsteady.   

A possett cup of hot milk, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg, whipped together to a froth, settled me well enough.


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Toni Mount

Toni Mount earned her Master’s Degree by completing original research into a unique 15th-century medical manuscript. She is the author of several successful non-fiction books including the number one bestseller, Everyday Life in Medieval England, which reflects her detailed knowledge of the lives of ordinary people in the Middle Ages. Toni’s enthusiastic understanding of the period allows her to create accurate, atmospheric settings and realistic characters for her Sebastian Foxley medieval murder mysteries. Toni’s first career was as a scientist and this brings an extra dimension to her novels. It also led to her new biography of Sir Isaac Newton. She writes regularly for both The Richard III Society and The Tudor Society and is a major contributor of online courses to MedievalCourses.com. As well as writing, Toni teaches history to adults, coordinates a creative writing group, and is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

 Connect with Toni

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Interview with Jenny Knipfer, author of Harvest Moon

In the wilds of 19th century Ontario, Maang-ikwe, a young Ojibwe woman, falls into a forbidden love, breaks her father’s honor, and surrenders her trust to someone who betrays it. The abuse she suffers divides her from her tribe and causes her to give up what she holds most dear. 

Niin-mawin must come to grips with his culture being ripped away from him. Brought up in a “white man’s” school, he suffers through an enforced “civilized” education and separation from his family. When a man he respects reveals a secret about Niin-mawin’s past, he embarks on a search for the person he hopes can mend the part of his heart that’s always been missing. 

Both Maang-ikwe and Niin-mawin wonder how a harvest of pain and sorrow will impact their lives. Will they find the blessings amongst the hardships, or will they allow the results of division and abuse to taint their hearts forever?

Fans of historical fiction, Native American fiction, Christian historical fiction, clean romance, and literary fiction will be moved by this deep, heartfelt novel.

Praise for Harvest Moon

“A moving and authentic work of historical fiction, while this series is a testament to Knipfer's skilled and versatile storytelling.” Self-Publishing Review

 “Knipfer does an outstanding job of cementing place, time, and culture against the backdrop of evolving relationships.” D. Donavon for Midwest Book Review


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An interview with

Jenny Knipfer

Please tell us a little about yourself.

 I’m a: wife, mom, grandma, reader, writer, quilter, crafter, plant-lover, and dog-mom.

When did you start writing?

As a child, I wrote my thoughts in my journal and also short stories. Journaling became a huge part of my life. Later on, I wrote poems, songs, and kept up two blogs. In 2018 after retiring from my work as a floral designer due to disability, I finished a novel I had started years earlier and decided to pursue publication.

What projects have been published?

I self-published my first four-part historical fiction series, By the Light of the Moon in 2019 and 2020.

How did you select the title of your novel?

Being the fourth book in the By the Light of the Moon series, it had to have the word “moon” in it. I wanted to start it during the autumn and something about transforming a harvest of pain into something good sat well with me. So Harvest Moon was born.

What was your inspiration?

My past reading of children’s classics, like Anne of Green Gables and adult classic lit, like Jane Eyre, my all-time favorite book, inspired me to try my hand at writing, and it’s been my true love and therapy ever since.

 What are you currently working on?

I’m writing two books. One is the fourth and last title, By Broken Birch Bay, in a new series called Sheltering Trees. It’s set in the early 1900’s on Minnesota’s north shore of Lake Superior and is a historical mystery.

I’ll start publishing this series in June/July 2021. The first title is In a Grove of Maples, inspired by the lives of my grandparents as Wisconsin farmers in the late 1890’s. 

A desire sparked within me recently to write a Christmas novella, and so I am—Holly’s Homecoming. It’s a story of family reunification with a smidge of romance thrown in, releasing in November of 2021.

What are you reading at the moment?

On my blog, I often feature other authors and their books. As a part of The Coffee Pot Book Club, I am reading All Manner of Things, by Wendy Dunn.

What do you like to do in your free time when you're not reading or writing?

I enjoy quilting, making jewelry, tending my many houseplants and orchids, and playing with my mini Yorkie, Ruby.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Treat writing not only as something you love but also as a serious job. Whether you pursue traditional or independent publishing, it’s a ton of work and not for the faint of heart. That being said, believe in yourself, but be open to receiving constructive criticism from other authors and readers. Take a step back and look at your work as a reader would, and then do what you do best… write.

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Jenny Knipfer

Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.

Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her educational background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.

Her By the Light of the Moon series earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. Their praise: Ruby Moon is entertaining, fast-paced, and features characters that are real. Blue Moon continues a well-written and highly engaging saga of family ties, betrayals, and heartaches. Silver Moon is a highly recommended read for fans of historical wartime fiction, powerful emotive drama, and excellent atmospheric writingHarvest Moon is probably one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read. I have come away deep in thought, feeling somewhat like I’ve had a mystical experience and one I will never forget.”

She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.

Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set. She is currently writing a new historical fiction series entitled, Sheltering Trees. The first title in that series, In a Grove of Maples,—inspired by the lives of her grandparents in the late 1890’s—is slated for the fall of 2021.

 Connect with Jenny


Friday, March 26, 2021

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Ropewalk; Rebellion. Love. Survival Series: The Ropewalk series by H D Coulter


The North of England, 1831.

The working class are gathering. Rebellion is stirring, and the people are divided.

Beatrice Lightfoot, a young woman fighting her own personal rebellion, is looking for an opportunity to change her luck. When she gains the attention of the enigmatic Captain Hanley, he offers her a tantalising deal to attend the May Day dance. She accepts, unaware of the true price of her own free will.

Her subsequent entanglement with Joshua Mason, the son of a local merchant, draws all three into a destructive and dangerous relationship, which threatens to drag Beatrice, and all she knows into darkness.

Now, Beatrice must choose between rebellion, love and survival before all is lost, and the Northern uprising changes her world forever.


 Chapter 6 

A handful of ladies and gentlemen stood gossiping in their finest outfits outside the Assembly rooms. Having been worried she would be overdressed, Bea soon realised hers was a relatively simple design compared to the majority of the ladies’ present. They looked like they belonged at the palace amongst royal courtiers in their lace, feathers and pearls. One of the few nights a year, the classes of Ulverston might mix even a little. This was only the second time Bea had attended a comparable social gathering. The first had been at the harvest festival two years ago, but that was far less formal, and far less impressive.

Bea and Beth carefully weaved through the crowd to the main hall, the splendour of the illuminating light issuing from the candles as it reflected off the over-polished oak panels, their honey-scented wisps of smoke smudging up the newly painted walls. The warm glow created a romantic atmosphere in the large open space, as the music of the small orchestra flowed sweetly over the dancers. They spun and swirled, every partner casting a glittering shimmer onto their neighbour's silk finery.

The sisters were happy to stand back and watch every interaction, absorbing every detail. They saw the disgust on some of the more gentile faces whenever a lower-born figure approached to pay their respects. Bea noted the awkwardness in some of the poorer ladies, attempting to hide in the corners of the room so that no one would notice their simple, plain dresses against the splendour of the county women. A few mothers scouted amongst the men for a potential husband for their meek daughters, pushing them on to the dance floor unashamedly, praying for a match.

In general, however, there was a gayness to the guests, and a constant flow of laughter circulating the room. People were taking advantage of the precious few hours of light merriment to forget their troubles, and enjoy themselves in the company of friends, and a mediocre punch. She noticed a few eyes glancing their way, but was too excited to register whether this should flatter or trouble her.

"Is this not wonderful?" she remarked to Beth.

Beth could hear the joy in her sister's voice. It was rare to see her this happy, and it pleased her to be a part of it. She deserved to have cause to smile about.

"Yes, it is, - look." Beth noticed Alice on the other side of the room and waved her over. Alice glided through the knotted crowd immediately.

"You look beautiful." Bea beamed at her.

Alice stood poised in a new dress of her own creation in soft violet muslin, with a velvet sash.

"You both look so wonderful. Look at that fabric, you did such a fine job."

They continued to analyse the surrounding crowd, remarking on the handsome men, and pointing out the most elegant women. All three failed to notice Captain Hanley making his way towards them around the edge of the room.

"Good evening ladies". A gut feeling, something inside Bea, twisted suddenly. It was time to pay up the cost of her evening of freedom. She took a large gulp of her punch and focused on her friends as she introduced them.

"Good evening, Captain Hanley. May I introduce my sister Beth, and my good friend Miss Alice Little," Bea gestured to each in turn. The girls curtsied. Beth gave her sister a puzzled look as she felt her squirm under the Captain's gaze.

In the glow of the low light, Bea had to admit the Captain looked handsome. Wearing a smart white cravat and deep blue tail suit, his smile was bright, but his dark eyes seemed to see straight into her revealing nothing in return.

"Miss Beatrice, may I say I knew you would create a beautiful dress, but I never imagined it would be something so superior to every other woman in the room.” Bea felt the overly familiar compliment prickle her skin. She had imagined being noticed at such a ball by a handsome officer or gentleman ever since she was a little girl, so why did it feel so wrong now? She longed to be standing outside so that the cool evening breeze could take away the heat in her face.

"Thank you, Captain…" she trailed off. No reply sprang to mind. Hanley seemed pleased at her confusion.

“I believe it is time for our first dance." He held out his arm.

He positioned her opposite him on the dance floor, marking their space proudly. Bea felt only awkward and exposed, openly encountering the gaze of strangers. She was used to being invisible, standing on the side-lines, people passing by without giving her a second glance. In her usual clothes these people never acknowledged her, but this dress seemed to shed any disguise behind which she might have hidden. But that had been what she had wanted after all, she told herself, to be one of these fine ladies for the night, to shine like they did.

Bea recognised the music and sent out a small thankful prayer as her feet anxiously waited to trickle across the polished floor. Bea knew the common country dances upon which most of the motions were roughly based on but feared the more recent waltzes from London. Their first piece seemed to evaporate in a matter of seconds. They both smiled and laughed a little in the closing bars, his hand holding tight around her waist and a look of longing in his expression making her blush. By the time the last notes rang out, her muscles had relaxed into each graceful step as a natural child-like enjoyment took over.

As the second dance began, Bea found it harder to hide her smile and her excitement, taking a couple of steady breaths to compose herself. She looked down the line of other ladies as they waited, in an undulating sheen of elegance and demure gestures. Beth standing four couples down from her, looked a little anxious opposite an equally nervous-looking young gentleman. She glanced up at the Captain and discovered him gazing back at her with a reassuring smile. The pace of the violins eased; the tempo relaxed as the steps began. Rising and falling on the balls on her feet, she glided back and forth, greeting each partner at every turn, then twirling around the lady next to her, bringing her back to the centre, then back to the Captain. He was not forthcoming with words during the dances, and Bea found herself grateful for this fact; it allowed her to feel more at ease and enjoy her own simple movement. 

Spinning around the lady next to her, Bea placed her hand out in front for her new partner, and this time was taken by surprise, feeling the gentle grasp and seeing the impenetrable face of the stranger she had seen that early morning on horseback, a month ago. Time slowed again in that moment as his face instantly delivered the same intensity of expression, and Bea became lost once more in a tangle of thoughts. Pausing back in line, they waited as the lady and gentleman standing next to them took their turn. Then the two sets of couples weaved in and out of each other, finishing side by side in a line of four, with the new gentleman standing next to her. She held her hand to her side, counting the half-seconds until it was enclosed in his for another brief moment. She stole a glance at his face and found him staring back at her with a surprised warmth in his eyes. He gave her hand a brief squeeze before letting it go, and smiled at her hesitantly, before moving back to his original partner, of whom Bea could not help but feel envious of; her tailor-made silk and pearls evidence of their mutual status and their conversation suggestive of friendship.

Standing opposite the Captain once more, she realised he had lost his occasion to shine in her eyes. He seemed smudged and distorted, somehow smaller. Her heart, suddenly absent from the dance, ached momentarily, without reason; she felt light-headed, breathless, and confused. How could her feelings possibly change so fast?

The music stopped, and the couples broke away from the group as new ones took their place. Bea used the opportunity to break away swiftly from the Captain and seek her friends. She felt a hand on her shoulder as she tried to negotiate the crowd and turned to see Beth smiling at her; in relief, she smiled back.

"I need some more punch! Shall we?" Bea managed a small nod and allowed Beth to guide her away.  

Ropewalk: Rebellion. Love. Survival.
Copyright: ©H D Coulter

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Special Promotion

Ropewalk; Rebellion. Love. Survival is now 0.99 for the duration of the tour. Signed copies of the paperbacks are available on the author's website.

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Available for Pre-Order

Book 2, Saving Grace; Deception. Obsession. Redemption is now available for pre-order at:

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H D Coulter

Hayley was born and raised in the lake district and across Cumbria. From a young age, Hayley loved learning about history, visiting castles and discovering local stories from the past. Hayley and her partner lived in Ulverston for three years and spent her weekends walking along the Ropewalk and down by the old harbour. She became inspired by the spirit of the area and stories that had taken place along the historic streets.

As a teacher, Hayley had loved the art of storytelling by studying drama and theatre. The power of the written word, how it can transport the reader to another world or even another time in history. But it wasn't until living in Ulverston did she discover a story worth telling. From that point, the characters became alive and she fell in love with the story.

Connect with Hayley

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Interview with Josephine Greenland, author of Embers


Two siblings, one crime. One long-buried secret. 

17-year-old Ellen never wanted a holiday. What is there to do in a mining town in the northernmost corner of the country, with no one but her brother Simon – a boy with Asperger’s and obsessed with detective stories – for company? 

Nothing, until they stumble upon a horrifying crime scene that brings them into a generations-long conflict between the townspeople and the native Sami. When the police dismiss Simon’s findings, he decides to track down the perpetrator himself. Ellen reluctantly helps, drawn in by a link between the crime and the siblings’ own past. What started off as a tedious holiday soon escalates into a dangerous journey through hatred, lies and self-discovery that makes Ellen question not only the relationship to her parents, but also her own identity.

Author Interview
Josephine Greenland

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am Swedish-British writer born and raised in a small town west of Stockholm called Eskilstuna. I moved to the UK for university, studying English at the University of Exeter and then an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. After this, I went to Thailand to teach English as a foreign language and lived there for six months, and then to Austria to teach at a summer camp. I currently live in Edinburgh where I got my teacher qualification in Secondary English and am reaching the end of my probationary year here. Have currently no idea where I will be whisked off to after that! I am a globe trotter and love living in different countries, so hope to be able to do this once things settle down a bit and travel possibilities return. I also play music (violin and piano) and love hiking with my family.

When did you start writing?

I started writing at about age nine. I wrote one short story and then one novel about horses, before delving into fantasy and beginning a high fantasy novel which I worked on back and forth for seven years (!), from 12-19. I didn’t start writing seriously in English, though, with the aim to get published, until I started university.

What projects have been published?

I was a finalist in the Literary Taxidermy 2020 competition by Regulus Press, winner of the Bumble Bee Flash 2019 Competition by Pulp Literature, Runner-up in the Summer Solstice 2018 Competition by Hard Time Moon and winner of the Fantastic Female Fables Competition 2017 by Fantastic Books Publishing (those stories were all then published in the anthologies). Other journals and online magazines that feature my work include: Toasted Cheese, Aloka Magazine, The Conceptualist, AHF Magazine, Litro, Plum Tree Tavern, Porridge Magazine, Literary Yard, Soft Cartel Mag, and Dream Catcher.

Tell us about Embers

Embers is a YA Mystery and crime novel set in the fictional mining town of Svartjokk in northern Sweden. It tells the story of 17-year-old Ellen Blind, who travels to Svartjokk with her brother Simon, a 14-year-old with Aspergers. They’re on a holiday arranged by their parents, who claim that the siblings should bond, visit the birthplace of their late grandfather, Lars-Erik, and discover their Sami roots. Ellen, though, knows that her parents also want them out of the way so they can sort out their marital problems. The holiday turns upside down when the siblings discover reindeer heads in the forest. Simon’s findings at the scene suggest the reindeer have been poisoned, and he suspects people in the town. Frustrated with the police’s lack of interest, he is determined to solve the case himself. The siblings’ investigation takes them to the local Sami village and the owner of the dead reindeer, Per-Anders Thomasson. It turns out that Per-Anders knows far more about Lars-Erik’s past than the siblings did. The more they learn, the more Ellen suspects that the reindeer killing is somehow connected to their grandfather and the reason he left his home-town and the Sami community behind. As Ellen and Simon are to discover, embers of the past rarely burn out.

How did you select the title of your novel?

It came to me when I started the third draft during my MA (the opening of the novel was my dissertation project). I realized that the key concept/motif in my novel was that no matter how hard we try to repress the secrets of our past, they will always come back to haunt us unless we confront them and acknowledge them in the open. Like embers, glowing in the background in the hearth, hard to spot at first, but still there nevertheless.

What was your inspiration?

My travels with my brother to northern Sweden. Some of the activities we did are all featured in the book, the mining town we stayed in became Svartjokk in my novel, and the relationship between siblings Ellen and Simon is also loosely based on us. The crime in the novel is based on a true crime that happened not far from the town where we stayed: two teenaged girls discovered reindeer bodies laid out in a circle in the forest, but the perpetrator was never found. I felt compelled to write a book in which the guilty party was found.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently finishing the third draft of my second novel, a literary thriller for adults. Like Embers, it is set in Sweden, but closer to home, describing the hunting community and small-town life close to where I grew up, and the secrets and conspiracies that can take place within a family. It is also loosely based on a real incident that happened in the area, about wolf hybrids roaming the countryside and passing through towns, which had to be tracked down and shot.

What are you reading at the moment?

Comeback by Chris Limb, a fellow Unbound author.

What do you like to do in your free time when you're not reading or writing?

Hiking and travelling. I think it’s very important to broaden your horizons and learn about different cultures – especially for writers! I also enjoy playing in orchestras and dancing.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

It is never too early to share your work with other writers/readers. Perfection does not exist and striving for it before you’re willing to share your story can kill the heart of the work. Throw yourself into whatever opportunities come your way, and actively seek out opportunities, in equal amounts.

And finally, can you tell us some fun facts about yourself, such as crossed skydiving off my bucket list.

I play five instruments (or used to, when I wasn’t writing as much). I have a black cat who often watches me write when I’m at home. I’ve done bamboo rafting in Thailand which was probably the hardest and scariest balancing act I’ve ever pulled off!

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Josephine Greenland

Josephine is a Swedish-British writer from Sweden, currently working as an English teacher in Edinburgh. She has a BA in English from the University of Exeter, and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham. She started writing novels at the age of nine but only began writing seriously in English while at university, for her first creative writing course (2015). Since then, she’s had 14 short stories published, won two competitions, and been shortlisted twice. Embers is her first novel, inspired by her travels in northern Sweden with her brother, and was her dissertation project for her MA. When not writing, she enjoys playing music, jogging, hiking, and discussing literature with her cat. 

Connect with Josephine


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: State of Treason (Book 1, William Constable Spy Thrillers) By Paul Walker Narrated by Edward Gist


London, 1578

William Constable is a scholar of mathematics, astrology, and practices as a physician. He receives an unexpected summons to the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham in the middle of the night. He fears for his life when he spies the tortured body of an old friend in the palace precincts.

His meeting with Walsingham takes an unexpected turn when he is charged to assist a renowned Puritan, John Foxe, in uncovering the secrets of a mysterious cabinet containing an astrological chart and coded message. Together, these claim Elizabeth has a hidden, illegitimate child (an “unknowing maid”) who will be declared to the masses and serve as the focus for an invasion.

Constable is swept up in the chase to uncover the identity of the plotters, unaware that he is also under suspicion. He schemes to gain the confidence of the adventurer John Hawkins and a rich merchant. Pressured into taking a role as court physician to pick up unguarded comments from nobles and others, he has become a reluctant intelligencer for Walsingham.

Do the stars and cipher speak true, or is there some other malign intent in the complex web of scheming?

Constable must race to unravel the threads of political manoeuvring for power before a new-found love and perhaps his own life are forfeit.


Audio Excerpt

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About the Author

Paul Walker

Paul is married and lives in a village 30 miles north of London. Having worked in universities and run his own business, he is now a full-time writer of fiction and part-time director of an education trust. His writing in a garden shed is regularly disrupted by children and a growing number of grandchildren and dogs.

Paul writes historical fiction. He inherited his love of British history and historical fiction from his mother, who was an avid member of Richard III Society. The William Constable series of historical thrillers is based around real characters and events in the late sixteenth century. The first three books in the series are State of Treason; A Necessary Killing; and The Queen’s Devil. He promises more will follow.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Spotlight on Renee Yancy, author of The Test of Gold (Hearts of Gold, Book 1)

Raised in the shadow of a mother who defied convention, but won’t allow her own daughter the right to make the same choices, heiress Evangeline Lindenmayer has been groomed since childhood to marry into the British aristocracy.

When Lindy challenges her mother’s long-laid plans by falling in love with a poor seminary student, the explosion is bigger than the Brooklyn Bridge fireworks on Independence Day.

Renee Yancy

Some Fun Facts

(Stuff you may or may not know!)

I grew up Catholic and for many years I wanted to be a nun. When all my mom’s white towels went missing from the linen closet, my parents knew I had taken them to create a nun’s habit. For years, I begged my Dad to let me go into the convent after 8th grade. Wisely, he said if I still wanted to be a nun after I graduated high school, I could go then. In high school I discovered boys, and that was the end of my "vocation."

I also wanted to be an archaeologist. (I don’t remember how I thought a nun and an archaeologist could be combined!) In the 60s, my Dad brought home a full-color coffee table book about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s gold-filled tomb and I was an Egyptophile from then on. Mummies fascinated me, and my love of archaeology was born. This is reflected in some of my blog posts.

Thirdly, as a young, rather naïve woman, I thought God was calling me to be a missionary. So I went to India for three months with another young lady who thought the same thing. We had wildly varying experiences while there, from staying at the Intercontinental Hotel in New Delhi, living in a houseboat in Srinagar for two weeks, and visiting remote missionary outposts and sleeping on charpoy beds.

Another fun fact about me is I love to play practical jokes. One time I dyed all my boyfriend’s underwear pink. Another time I created a fake birthday cake for a friend using foam and real frosting. When she tried to cut into it, the whole cake came up on the knife. Another adult friend used to complain about tacky Christmas displays in her neighborhood. So one day while she was out I set up a giant blow-up Santa, lighted candy canes, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, and a big lighted sign that flashed “Santa, please stop here” in her front yard. She was so surprised she drove right past her house.

 My last fun fact is that I love pasta in just about every shape and form. Give me a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and I’m happy. It’s my go-to comfort food. I grew up outside the city of Buffalo, in New York State in the USA. My town, Tonawanda, was quite ethnic, although I didn’t realize it until I became an adult. Tonawanda was heavily Italian and Polish. I was taught by Polish nuns from the "old" country and thought it was normal to have pierogi, golabki, and kielbasa on the lunch menu! To this day, I have a soft spot for Italians and Poles.

 Buy Links:

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Renee Yancy

Renee Yancy is a history and archaeology nut who writes the kind of historical fiction she loves to read – stories filled with historical detail that immerses you in another place and time. When she isn't writing historical fiction or traveling to see the places her characters have lived, she can be found in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband and two rescue mutts named Ellie and Charlie. 

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Interview with Catherine Meyrick, author of The Bridled Tongue


England 1586.

Alyce Bradley has few choices when her father decides it is time she marry as many refuse to see her as other than the girl she once was--unruly, outspoken and close to her grandmother, a woman suspected of witchcraft.

Thomas Granville, an ambitious privateer, inspires fierce loyalty in those close to him and hatred in those he has crossed. Beyond a large dowry, he is seeking a virtuous and dutiful wife. Neither he nor Alyce expect more from marriage than mutual courtesy and respect.

As the King of Spain launches his great armada and England braces for invasion, Alyce must confront closer dangers from both her own and Thomas's past, threats that could not only destroy her hopes of love and happiness but her life. And Thomas is powerless to help.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.

     ¸.•*´¨) ¸.*¨) ( ¸.•´

Today, we welcome author Catherine Meyrick

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am an Australian writer. I grew up on the outskirts of Ballarat, a large city in regional Victoria. I moved to Melbourne when I was seventeen to train as a nurse and have lived here ever since. I found nursing wasn’t my calling so I dropped out and went to university where I took a double major in History. I joined the Public Service and somehow completed a Master of Arts in History and librarianship qualifications at the same time. I worked as a senior tax assessor and later as a departmental librarian then took ten years out of the paid workforce while my children were young. Since then, I have worked as a primary school librarian and, until recently, a customer service librarian at my local library.

The time spent at home with my children gave me the opportunity to move beyond unfinished bits and pieces of writing that usually ended up in the bin. Once the children were at secondary school, I took writing courses and pressed on writing and revising and revising and revising. I managed to get an agent at one stage but that didn’t work out so I decided to publish myself and have never regretted the decision for a moment.

I’m also an avid reader, a neglectful gardener, and an obsessive genealogist. I have managed to identify previously unknown family members and clear up mysteries using both traditional documentary methods and DNA.

What projects have been published?

Apart from a handful of short stories and poems in the early 2000s, I have published two novels, Forsaking All Other in 2018 and The Bridled Tongue in 2020. The major characters in both novels are fictional although they do rub shoulders with some historical notables; the historical timeline and background are as accurate as I could make them. They are stand-alone novels but both are set in England in the mid-1580s and follow the lives of reasonably conventional young women of the middling sort. By making my characters conventional, I hoped to show something of the reality of lives in the past, the lack of freedom that women, and men as well, had in determining their own lives and even their choice of spouse, and the difficulties that a could arise when they stepped outside the boundaries of a far more rigidly structured society than our own.

Forsaking All Other begins in 1585 and follows the struggles of a young widow and waiting woman, Bess Stoughton, who discovers that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and manages to convince her father to allow her a year to find a husband with whom she has some hope of happiness. Bess’s domestic concerns are set against the background of simmering Catholic plots to unseat Queen Elizabeth, and the involvement of English forces under the Earl of Leicester in the Netherlands in support of Dutch resistance to Spanish rule.

The Bridled Tongue also deals with the making of marriages in this period, this time an arranged marriage that the young woman goes along with it, as so many did. The novel also touches on other issues such as sibling rivalry and jealousy, the dangers of gossip, witchcraft accusations, and the way the past can reach out and affect the present. The backdrop is the threat of imminent invasion by the Spanish in 1588 – the Spanish Armada.

There is an important romantic element in both novels and I am aware that a number of people can be dismissive of historical fiction that includes this. For most ordinary women relationships were important, few occupations were open to them other than marriage and household management. The choice of a spouse, a matter over which most did not have a complete say, was of critical importance. Ideally, the person they married should be someone who was able to provide for and protect them and their children and treat them well – this could mean the difference between a contented life or one of misery and discord. For this reason, the path to and through marriage plays an important role in my stories – the ‘romantic’ element set in what I hope is a reasonably authentic background.

Tell us about The Bridled Tongue

The Bridled Tongue follows the life of Alyce Bradley as she adjusts to an arranged marriage, not one she particularly wishes for but has entered because she has no other options. It shows the way she grows into her role of manor wife and faces dangers not only from her husband’s enemies but her own past when jealousies stir up old slanders concerning her relationship with her grandmother who was thought by some to be a witch. The novel is set in a time when these sorts of slanders, combined with the beliefs of the time, could result in an accusation of witchcraft. In a witchcraft case, normal evidential rules were set aside and the most dubious hearsay accepted which could be enough to bring a person to the gallows.

The Bridled Tongue also touches on the corrosive effect on women’s relationships when they are valued mainly for their ability to produce healthy children and the poisonousness of favouritism within families.

How did you select the title of your novel?

The Bridled Tongue began life as ‘The Unbridled Tongue’ because an important element in the novel is the effects of gossip and slander – the work of those with unbridled tongues. In contrast, Alyce Bradley, the main character, has learnt to keep her tongue in check. I thought the title concentrated too much on those around Alyce, so I changed the title to ‘The Turtles Cannot Sing’ to reflect something of Alyce’s relationship with her husband. This is a line from a poem quoted in the novel, ‘A Modest Love’ by Sir Edward Dyer (1543-1607), an Elizabethan courtier.

The firmest faith is in the fewest words;
The turtles cannot sing, and yet they love:
True hearts have eyes and ears, no tongues to speak;
They hear and see, and sigh, and then they break.

The turtles referred to are turtle doves, the symbol of true love and fidelity to the Elizabethans. Although I loved the title, nearly everyone told me it was a stupid name that made no sense so, in the end, I changed it again. I went back to my original idea but this time as ‘The Bridled Tongue’. The title reflects Alyce’s character at the beginning of the novel, but is also a recognition of those in the story whose tongues should definitely be bridled.

What are you currently working on?

I have taken a break from the Elizabethans and am now revising a novel, ‘Unspoken Promises’, based on a period in the life of my great-great-grandparents, Ellen Thompson and Harry Woods. It is the result of my own genealogical research as their story was basically unknown until I uncovered it through my family history digging, about ten years ago. It is set in Hobart, Tasmania, in the years around 1880. They were both the children of convicts and belonged to the lower end of the social scale where life was a struggle and the middle-class virtues we see as ‘Victorian’ were not much regarded. At this time Hobart was a vibrant town drawing people from every corner of the earth, where a person’s history wasn’t closely questioned. The story touches on such issues as secrets, family ties, poverty, and the struggles of unmarried mothers. I am hoping to show just how hard life was for these people, women in particular. While I would describe it as a love story, encompassing not only romantic love but a mother’s love for her children, this time it certainly doesn’t fall into the standard definition of a romance.

Once this novel is released, I will definitely be returning to the Elizabethans.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am finishing the brilliant biography Thomas Cromwell: A Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch and also reading Taking the Waters by Lesley Sainty, the story of a sheltered but intelligent woman’s entry into fashionable society in Cheltenham in 1827. I have just begun the Booker Prize winner of 2020, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

I read a range of books from non-fiction, to literature to thoughtful and entertaining fiction. I also love a good verse novel. While most of my reading is historical, I look most for books that will draw me into their world.

Buy Links

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Catherine Meyrick

Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways are like us today. These are people with the same hopes and longings as we have to find both love and their own place in a troubled world.

Catherine grew up in regional Victoria, but has lived all her adult life in Melbourne, Australia. Until recently she worked as a customer service librarian at her local library. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also an obsessive genealogist. When not writing, reading, and researching, Catherine enjoys gardening, the cinema, and music of all sorts from early music and classical to folk and country and western and, not least of all, taking photos of the family cat to post on Instagram.


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