#BlogTour #GuestPost #DIClayton #TheBadSister by @annepenketh @JoffeBooks

Burning woman
The Bad Sister by Anne Penketh

THE BAD SISTER by Anne Penketh


DI Sam Clayton is called to a murder scene in Holt, not expecting to find his estranged sister at the scene. Her husband, Henry Lambton, has been murdered. Clayton is taken off the case and DS Julie Everett continues the investigation.

Clayton focuses on a vicious arson attack in Norwich. The fire killed a Polish family in their home. It seems to be part of a series of racist attacks connected to an extremist group.

The two crimes stretch the team and both come dangerously close to home. And can Clayton forgive his sister for what happened over twenty years ago?

In a thrilling conclusion, they race against time to prevent more attacks and get justice for their loved and not so loved ones.

THE BAD SISTER is the second in a new series of page-turning crime thrillers set in an atmospheric part of Norfolk. Perfect for fans of LJ Ross, Mel Sherratt, Colin Dexter, or Ruth Rendell.


Detective Inspector Sam Clayton leads the investigation into the North Norfolk murders, joined the police straight from school as a beat bobby in Manchester before rising through the ranks of the CID. He was transferred to Norwich after being promoted to DI following a high-profile case investigated by Lancashire Constabulary.

 Detective Sergeant Neil Pringle lives with his third wife in Norwich, where he was born. But taking care of his two sons with his wife Megan, and two other children with previous wives, has put his finances under strain. He never misses a chance to shine in hopes of securing promotion, and can’t help showing off his local knowledge to colleagues.

 Detective Sergeant Julie Everett is an intuitive officer who was promoted to detective sergeant from her home town of Ipswich where she had a background in child protection. She is discreet about her personal life among colleagues, particularly about the tragedy which haunts her. She has to deal with a high-pressure job while raising her child who moved with her to Norwich.


The DI Clayton novels

When I first visited the picture-perfect village of Blakeney and its seal colony on the north Norfolk coast, and watched the mist roll in, I remember thinking idly: this place would make a great setting for a murder mystery.

Years later, when I began writing fiction, I had the perfect excuse to spend more time in that area where my relatives live. I decided that if my detective, Sam Clayton, moved from his (and my) native Lancashire to Norfolk, I could discover East Anglia in his company. So the Sam Clayton novels are inspired first and foremost by a place.

When my husband died suddenly I was going through his things and began wondering how well I’d really known him. This got me thinking about how well we know anybody, and the secrets that we keep, and I decided to explore this specifically in the context of murder investigations. I’d also noticed that in crime novels the bereaved are often ignored or set aside in the story very quickly, and I wanted to recognise the reality for victims’ families as they struggle to come to terms with the sudden disappearance of a loved one. That’s why DS Julie Everett has experienced a personal tragedy which has haunted her for years and affected both her health and professional outlook.

As for Sam Clayton, I find it fascinating to explore his complexities which become more apparent in the second novel in the series. I think it’s not always easy for some men to deal with strong women, and they can find us intimidating. He expresses his frustrations through aggression which can be misinterpreted by those around him. As he’s not prone to introspection, I’m not sure how well he knows himself, although he’d be surprised to learn that at least one colleague considers him to be a misogynist.

Author Photo
Anne Penketh


I’m a Lancashire lass but for most of my career, I’ve been a foreign correspondent. I’ve reported from all over the world on some of the most cataclysmic events of our time, including the Egyptian revolution and the collapse of the Berlin wall.

These days I’m based in Paris and concentrating on fiction writing. The first in a series of crime novels featuring Detective Inspector Sam Clayton, Murder On The Marsh, is out now. My first novel, Food Fight, was published in 2015.

I’ve reported from Paris mainly for The Independent and The Guardian, but I also contribute to France24 television and Monocle radio. (I was The Independent’s Diplomatic Editor, while based in London). As a freelancer, I’ve written for The New Zealand Herald and The National (Abu Dhabi), as well as the LA Times, the New York Times, the Radio Times, the Oldie, Monocle magazine, Quartz, and Spark News.

Between 2009 and 2012, I headed the Washington office of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), a trans-Atlantic NGO focused on nuclear disarmament, during which time I was also a blogger and columnist for The Hill commenting on foreign affairs.

During my ten-year stint on The Independent I was one of the few journalists to report from Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, I was a staff foreign correspondent with the French news agency, AFP, which posted me to Moscow during the incredible Gorbachev years. I also reported for AFP from France, and New York where I covered the United Nations.

I started my journalistic career in Canada, arriving with two suitcases to seek my fortune in Montreal, from where I reported for British newspapers before getting a job on the Montreal Gazette.

Before that, I was a postgraduate student at University College London whose French department nurtured my lifelong love of French literature. As a result, my own books include a dash of French spice.

Authors links:
Website: https://annepenketh.com/
Twitter: @annepenketh
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7190329.Anne_Penketh




#BlogTour #Review #DangerousCrossing by Rachel Rhys @MsTamarCohen @TransworldBooks #HistFic

Dangerous Crossing Cover
Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys
England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done?

My review:

This novel is set on-board a vessel departing England for Australia. The era is 1939 and the second world war looms in the background throughout the novel. I found the novel to be an intricate story of some of the passengers on-board and their relationships with one another. At times I did long for more tension and drama. But this is the 1930s and tension/drama is named as scandal and the novel is packed full of 1930s scandals………

Lillian ‘Lily’ Shepherd is a young woman, coming of age. She leaves behind some dark secrets in England and a family that loves her. She is departing on the Orontes ship for two years’ domestic servitude. Travelling in a third class cabin in F deck, which will be shared with three others and Mrs Collins as their appointed official to accompany the young women.
I got the real sense that Lily was running away from something and her past is interwoven into the plot.

“it’s only two years, remember? I’ll be home before you know it” Lily Shepherd

On-board the ship, Lily meets a wealth of characters and these form the basis of the plot and build the novel to its fantastic ending! Clara and Peggy Mills are a mother and daughter travelling alone. Edward and Helena Fletcher are also a brother and sister traveling to a new life. George Price is heading to New Zealand, his wealthy father wanting to avoid his sole heir being called up to ww2. Lily also meet the elusive and mysterious married couple Eliza and Max Campbell. The Campbell’s are currently first class passengers but enjoying mixing with others, due to a secret in their past. Maria Kats is an Austrian Jewish woman, fleeing for her life, she is disliked by the others but Lily refuses to be ‘told’ with whom she can be friends.

Lily is warned many times that the Campbell’s are dangerous and it isn’t until she starts to witness it with her own eyes, she sees just how much. Ida, one of the other young women leaving for a life of servitude, warns Lily about soiling her reputation. But Lily remains firm, she will decide for herself who her friends are. On-board with illness rife and being in such close proximity to one another. The characters begin to share their secrets and lies, taking one another in confidence.
For one of the group, this shall have deadly consequences………..

When Maria is assaulted, we see a change in the dynamics. Some of the group and the captain show clear disdain for people of the Jewish faith. With George even, going as far, as saying he agrees with Hitler’s attitudes towards Jews. I found this quite shocking! But how they judge each other on the basis of gender, faith and class, is entirely accurate with the era, sadly. The Campbell’s past unravels slowly and we the reader are exposed to scandal after scandal. It’s quite clear the Campbell’s revel in the drama and intrigue of the scandals they create. I found them fascinating as characters, but dreadful as people.

“Damaged people are dangerous people” Ian Jones

Australian natives Ian Jones and his fellow engineers are introduced to the story. It was interesting to read how the group responded to them and they to the group. The gossip and speculation is rife throughout the story. There’s an abject level of snobbery throughout the passengers for various reasons. It builds and builds to a strange, yet engrossing ending, that most readers will NOT spot coming!

I enjoyed this novel and felt the portrayal of characters and the historical accuracy for the era were fabulous. I would definitely read another historical crime fiction novel by the author. The central characters all have depth and Lily as a protagonist is believable and likeable.
I really warmed to Lily throughout the novel. The rose amongst the thorns! 4*

“Lily, do you ever feel as if you only exit when you see yourself reflected back in somebody else’s eyes?” Eliza Campbell.

#BookReview Q&A #BluebirdBluebird by @atticalocke @serpentstail 5*

Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke

Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead.

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it’s stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.

My review:

I picked this novel via netgalley, as I am a huge fan of novels with a diverse theme. I then saw a blurb from one of my favourite authors, Joe Ide giving praise for the novel and knew it must very special indeed. I knew the novel dealt with strong themes of racial inequality and the unbalanced justice system of the USA. However, at this point my knowledge of this, was limited to the infrequent news reports here in the UK and fiction/non-fiction reading. I have never visited the USA so have never witnessed the complexity of the issue, well that was all about to change! I picked up Bluebird Bluebird and only a few days later the Charlottesvile neo-Nazi’s formed their march, that left one woman dead and many injured. Suddenly this novel felt very poignant!

“For black folks, injustice came from both sides of the law, a double-edged sword of heartache and pain”

The novel surrounds the case of two dead bodies found in the bayou. One a black lawyer from Chicago and the other a local white woman. The racial tension of the setting of Larks, is evident on every page. This is a place that is divided by race and refuses to change. The novel details the crooked unbalance in the American justice system, one that will continue to define generation after generation. Black history meets white privilege head on, in this rollercoaster of a read. The novel is incredibly thought provoking, especially against a backdrop of current politics. I found myself questioning why the president of the USA, is so keen to condemn and discredit, the black lives matter movement. Whilst allowing white supremacist movements like the Aryan brotherhood to thrive!

The novel opens in 2016 Texas, USA. We are initially met with Geneva, a local café owner, the difference between justice for a black/white victim is explored. As the body of the black lawyer, has barely been investigated by the local police. But for the white local victim they are pulling out all the stops! In my eyes, a victim is a victim, end of!
But in rural America, it is not that way at all.

We meet protagonist and Texas ranger Darren Matthews, he has recently been suspended from work, his wife’s kicked him out and he is lonely and a little bit broken. He is called as a witness at an indictment case in San Jacinto county. The case involves Darren’s close friend Rutherford ‘Mack’ McMillan, who Darren has known for 20yrs. Mack is possibly being indicted for the crime of murder! The police believe he has shot and left for dead Ronnie ‘red rum’ Malvo. The case is one of extreme complexity, with Malvo being a member of the Aryan brotherhood Texas (ABT). Two days prior to the discovery of Malvo’s body, Darren was summoned to Mack’s property. Malvo was trespassing and harassing Mack’s granddaughter Breanna. When Darren arrives on the scene, Mack has his gun aimed at Malvo. Darren diffuses the situation and Malvo leaves.

Two days later Malvo is found dead in a ditch. A circumstantial case is built that Mack, holding vengeance for the incident, he tracked down and killed Malvo. Mack is facing death row! Prior to his suspension, Darren was working on a multi-agency task force. Their sole reason for assembly, is to dismantle the ABT and jail them for their various drug/gun operations they run. Darren knows that Malvo had turned snitch and any member of the ABT could have had him taken out. But he can’t declare this in court due to the level of secrecy on the task force.
The reader is led to believe Mack will just become another statistic, another black man wrongly convicted!

“How easily a coloured man’s general comportment could turn into a matter of life and death”

Darren leaves court frustrated with the system and angry that he can’t speak out! He meets up with agent Greg Heglund from the criminal investigation division (FBI). They discuss the task force and its intentions. We learn the task force only truly cares about taking down criminal activity of the ABT. They have no intention of dealing with the racial hatred. It’s at this moment we learn Darren has been greenlit and the ABT have targeted his property with faeces. Greg urges Darren to discreetly look into another case for him, whilst he is on suspension. A case in Lark, Shelby county.

Lark a small town with a population of just 178. Is no stranger to racial murders. But with the last case having been in 1998, what has driven somebody to murder in 2016. The 1998 case was when James ‘Jasper’ Byrd Jnr was dragged through the town, until his head came off. The murder was savage, but what has made this racist savagery return!

“He felt ashamed of his country and ashamed of his home state”

We get some more background on Darren and we learn of his desire to enter law school and of his own parentage. His father having died in Vietnam at just 19yrs old. His 16yr old mother couldn’t cope and he was raised by his uncles. His mother is now a crafty alcoholic, surviving on her wits. After visiting with his mother and pondering his own roots. He decides to take the case.

As he drives the US highway 59, the meaning of this is explained to the reader. With its links to the northern border and slavery. We also hear Darrens internal thoughts on the ABT. The ABT being born in a Texas prison, half their members incarcerated at any one time. The initiation process requiring a dead black body, removed of its skin. The Lark case involves victim one, Michael Wright, a Texas native now living in Chicago. He is a lawyer by profession and has a similar background to Darren. He is married but separated and no-one appears to know what he was even doing in Lark. Victim two is Missy Dale, a local waitress, enrolled in beauty school. She is married to Keith Avery Dale, who is fresh out of jail. Is he ABT?

Darren arrives in town and is quickly acquainted with local café owner Geneva, Michael’s wife Randie and sheriff Parker Van Horn. The Sheriff is quick to label Michaels murder as a drunken accident, despite the evidence to the contrary. It isn’t long until Darren is faced with local members of the ABT and the tension starts to build.

The case and the plot are extremely cleverly written. They keep you guessing until the very last page. The characterisation is insightful and intense. Why does the world look out for the likes of Missy Dale, whilst ignoring the victims like Michael Wright and Mack? Having been made aware so clearly of the unbalanced and unfair justice system. Why do the ABT feel they are the victims? Why are they so obsessed with hating on black citizens who have done them, no harm? And as stated above, why does the US president defend them? Although this is a work of fiction, the roots of its inspiration are clear.
White supremacy is a poison and it is killing America. 5*

“Criminality, once it touched black life, was a stain hard to remove”


Q) The novel displays the strong racial divides and small town mentality of Lark as a setting. As a British woman, born only in 1983, I find the fact that places like Lark really exist frightening. What was the inspiration behind the rural small town setting? Was there are real-life situation that created the idea of Bluebird Bluebird?

A) All of my family come from towns along Highway 59 in east Texas, so that was the inspiration for the location. I’ve always been fascinated by the culture of these small towns and the secrets I always imagined must be lurking the pine trees. There has, of course, over the years been racial violence in east Texas, but there was no one true incident for which I took inspiration for this book.

Q) The protagonist Texas ranger Darren Matthews, comes across extremely honest and decent. Whilst he is not without his faults, his dedication towards the case, I found admirable. How did you create his character?

A) Like all the characters, I kind of build them slowly in my head by filling out their world. Knowing that Darren was raised by his twin uncles was my first clue into who he is. The fact that they were so different and that he felt split between their two ideological ideas about role of the police in the protection of black life is the most significant thing about his character. And once I knew that his mother gave him up and once I “met” her—wrote the first scene with the two of them together—I felt I understood him even better.

Q) The novel also feature the Aryan Brotherhood Texas (ABT). The novel must have required some researching and exploring of how these networks operate. The emotion fully comes across on the page, as the plot unravels. Is it difficult emotionally, as the writer to imagine and write about these characters, such as the ABT?

A) No. It’s scary to know they exist, but writing about them wasn’t difficult. I will say that sometimes I would write something that felt too over the top—in terms of its racism—then I’d find a piece of research that suggested things are even worse than my imagination, in terms of what the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has been accused of doing.

Q) Within Bluebird Bluebird there are many references to the civil rights movement. I have read numerous non-fiction novels on the US civil rights including The Blood Of Emmett Till. There is a wealth of fictional novels also being produced currently, with a similar theme. In my opinion America is producing some of the finest diverse fiction! Were you influenced by current politics in the theme of this novel?

A) Of course. All of my books are political and influenced by the world around me. I will say that I wrote this before Trump was elected, so it’s been discomfiting to see how timely this book is.

Q) As referenced in my review, I read Bluebird Bluebird, whilst watching the current news reports of marches in Charlottesville. Suddenly the entire novel became so very poignant and I realised this wasn’t a new political issue for the USA, it was an issue that had never gone away. I watched a news interview yesterday (21st Aug 2017) where US author, Colson Whitehead cited this is due to having a white supremacist in the white house. In your opinion what is it that is bringing the racists out of their closets?

A) Obama. I think a black president represented a level of cultural change that a good number of white Americans are uncomfortable with. Most polls now are revealing that anxiety about racial progress for people of color is the number one reason people voted for Trump. The people marching in Charlottesville and other places want a country that no longer exists. They want to go back to time when they are in charge of everything and singularly benefit from the country’s wealth and politics.

Attica Locke
Authors links:
Twitter: @atticalocke
Website: http://www.atticalocke.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2829019.Attica_Locke
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/atticalocke/

*Huge thanks to the author for agreeing to take part in a Q&A on my blog!*




#BlogTour #Review Q&A #MyMothersShadow by @nikola_scott @Headlinepg 5*Genius

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*

I must also add an apology, for some reason I have only just noticed that I have a date mix up! Sincere apologies to the author and the publisher.

My Mother's Shadow jpeg
My Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott

Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets…

1958. Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother’s illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous…

Now. Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie’s sister, she is stunned. Is everything she’s been told about her early life a lie?

How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who could tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of…and the one night that changed a young girl’s life for ever.

My review:

I wanted to read this novel, as it is debut and I always like to support debut authors. What I will say is, this novel absolutely blew me away! I was left emotional and teary, just staring at the book and thinking ‘I can’t believe this is a debut novel!’. It had me gripped from the start and is loaded with scenes that pull at the heart strings!
I cannot recommend this novel enough!

The novel is set between two eras, with two central protagonists. In 1958 the protagonist is Liz. A young woman, coming of age and also enduring the agony of losing her mother. Liz’s story pulled at my heart strings immensely as I was only 21yrs old when I lost my own mother! I felt I could relate to her pain and anguish at watching someone you love dearly, slowly wither away in front of your eyes. “I envy them, all those families with all their jolly children” Liz’s parents decide to shelter her from the trauma and agree to send her to Hartland House for the summer. She realises this means she will no longer be able to read with her mother, offer her comfort or be there with her, when death surely comes……..

“But most of all, I know it is death himself, who has started his slow, inevitable descent on this house, who is hovering above our roof and telling everyone that we are not good company”

I read the passage where Liz reads with her mother one last time with tears in my eyes. I was with my own mother at the end and this novel transported me right back to that room. But these weren’t tears of grief/pain, these were tears of a mother I loved so much.

“Saying goodbye to someone you love is like a small death in itself”

“Death is eyeing up our house. That she wants me to be free, at least for a while”

So Liz reluctantly makes her journey to Hartland House, for a summer she will never forget……….

The second protagonist is Addie, Addie is set in the present era and the eldest child of Liz’s. The family is in turmoil as the gather for the year anniversary of Liz’s death. Liz having died in an accident. The family has so many unique characters and is so realistic. The father Graham, is not dealing with the death well and has his own health issues to contend with. Little sister Venetia, is heavily pregnant and quite the madam. Venetia is a hotshot architect and used to getting her own way or dictating to others. There is a younger brother Jasper who is a high-flying surgeon. They each deal with their grief differently and I found this again to me reminiscent of my own mother’s death. We each assigned ourselves roles to play and this in a way enabled us to help each other through our grief. Addie had a strained relationship with her mother, often feeling less loved than her siblings or a career failure. Sadly, I could also relate to this……

“That’s how things had been, between my mother and me”

As the family and Mrs Baxter, a family friend gather round the house there is a knock at the door. Standing on the doorstep is a woman, with a revelation that will shake everything that Addie holds dear to its core.
A revelation that leads right to her roots and Liz’s time at Hartland House………………

Summer July 1958 Liz having nearly arrived at Hartland House, becomes acquainted with the other youngsters. Liz meets Beatrice, Harry, John, Felicity and will. The group are all in their 20s and spend their summers boating in the lake and on the estates grounds. The lady of the house is Janet Shaw, and quickly settles Liz in.
They begin preparations for Liz’s 17th birthday, with excitement.

Present The woman on the doorstep reveals herself to be Phoebe Roberts. She has recently discovered some documents that link her to Liz and more importantly to Addie. Documents that detail ‘charitable sisters of hope, Brighton 12 Dec 1959’. Addie is left reeling and feels she needs time to figure it all out. Venetia verbally attacks Phoebe, asking her how dare she show up on the anniversary and calls her a liar. This family is a family in crisis, and it has only just begun………
“A stranger in this house, a stranger in my own life” Addie

July 1958 Liz starts to enjoy life at Hartland House. She regularly writes to her mother and even begins to fall for John. On her 17th birthday party, she receives a call from her mother. Her party is one of cake, dance, love and romance. Only sadly and unknowingly to Liz her mother will pass away that very night………

Present Addie begins to investigate her mother’s history and eventually works with Phoebe to find the answers they so desperately seek. Addie recalls memories of her life and relationship with her mother. She is desperate to know what is this secret and what does this mean for her. What they discover will shake you to your core……….
“I would never forget your birthday, Addie. Never” Liz

That is as much as I can share with regards to the plot, as I do not wish to include spoilers. the chapters between Liz’s past and daughter, Addie’s present unfolds mystery after mystery. This is an incredible debut novel and has some very thought-provoking themes. It covers the victimisation of women in the 1950s/1960s era, with historical accuracy and vivid emotion. It is also a story of the relationships family members have and how grief impacts upon them. This novel is perfect for book groups, there is so much to debate and discuss. I would also additionally add, that if you consider yourself a feminist, you NEED to read this book! There were so many quotes in my notes, as I detailed all the parts I loved. I shall treasure this novel forever. I shall leave you with this quote about death and the loss of a mother, it made me smile, more than you can imagine.

“We should talk about her more” “We should talk about her all the time. It’s the only way to remember people, to talk about them”

5* Genius!


Q) For the readers can you give a summary of your novel and your background?

A) Addie Harington’s relationship with her mother has always been complicated. Forty years of trying to please her mother, brilliant and demanding Elizabeth, have taught Addie to be reticent and wary of other people’s expectations. All this changes on the anniversary of her mother’s death, when a woman appears on her doorstep claiming to be Addie’s long-lost twin sister Phoebe. At first, Addie refuses to believe that her parents have lied to her all her life. But before too long, she and Phoebe embark on a journey into their mother’s past, trying to understand what exactly happened to them in 1960.

Woven into the present-day London plot, diary entries from the late 1950s tell the story of seventeen-year-old Liz, who, reeling from the death of her mother, makes one wrong choice that changes her life and that of her daughters forever.

About me

My life has always revolved around books. I studied English and German literature at university and then became a fiction editor, first in New York and then in London, working mainly with women’s fiction and crime authors. I absolutely loved my job – where else do you get to read and talk about books all day, plus work with fabulous authors! – but I’ve also always had a variety of book ideas rattling around in my head. So when my husband’s job took us to Germany, I decided to change my path and do something different. It takes a little while to get your life and family sorted when you move countries, but eventually everyone was settled at school and nursery. The next day I sat down at the kitchen table and started writing. And that’s where I’ve been ever since

Q) The novel is set at Harland House, is there a real-life inspiration behind the location? *Please add images if possible and I can use them with my Q&A

A)I’ve been a National Trust addict ever since we moved to the UK and we’ve always loved poking around the countryside and old country houses on the weekends. Hartland is loosely based on a beautiful stately home called Polesden Lacey, which is about an hour south of London. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the particulars of my story or the characters, but it was always at the back of my mind when I tried to put myself into the layout and gardens of Hartland.

Polesden Lacey pic
Polesden Lacey

Q) The novel is set in 1958, what pulled you towards this era in historical fiction?

A) The 1950s still feel close to us, with so many immediate family stories and living memories at hand, and it was driven by forward-thinking developments and efforts at modernisation. At the same time the moral attitudes towards women’s roles, emancipation and sexual enlightenment were stuck someplace in the Victorian age. That juxtaposition – being so close to us in years and yet miles away from our own understanding of the world – is an intriguing starting point for a story, I think. And there’s something nostalgic about that time period that adds a lovely texture and atmosphere to the historical setting.

Q) The novel focuses on the mother and daughter relationship. The depths of love and bond, can go either way. With people’s individual experiences very unique. What was it that drew you to the mother/daughter theme?

A) There tend to be so many stereotypical and formulaic views in the public mind with regard to mother-daughter relationships when, in reality, they’re probably one of the most complex, most lovely and most infuriating things we know. I tried to capture some of that, tried to show that none of the relationships in the book are straightforward or black and white. All of them are fuelled by love, regret, guilt and even dislike, and all of them require a tremendous capacity to forgive and understand – just like real life!

Q) The novel also has a theme of past, reflection and the mistakes we make that can echo into generations. Was there a real-life incident that inspired you?

A) The story of the lost sister was inspired by a friend who met a ‘new’ sister for the first time in her forties. It got me thinking about how complicated that encounter would be and how I would feel in a situation like that – again, not something that is straightforward at all. Generally, I find it endlessly fascinating that one (potentially small) moment in time can have such a monumental impact. It’s a thought that haunts you, particularly when facing big decisions in your life, until you remember that not only does it work both ways – a small act of kindness can have an equally powerful effect – but that you can’t really ever control the reverberations of that one moment in time. An excellent premise for a novel, I think!

Q) The protagonist in the novel is shocked to discover a potential sister may exist. Sisterhood is proving to me a very popular theme in novels. I myself have five brothers and two sisters, the relationships are very unique. I would say that my relationships, with my sisters are very emotionally based. The secrets we share and the way we mother each other, since the loss of our mother in 2005. Is it difficult to write about raw emotion? Does it leave you feeling as though you have lived through the experience with the characters?

A) I do often find myself close to tears as I write but it is a cathartic kind of crying. You can allow yourself to feel very deeply but remain within the ‘safe’ structure of your story and because you’re writing it, there’s a sense of control. The research, on the other hand, was much, much harder for me. Reading about forced adoptions, women’s homes, the stern family environment, the absolutely crippling social stigmata these women faced and the horrendous emotional fallout from the separation – all that was harrowing.

Q) Finally, What is next, do you have a future novel planned? Are we allowed any snippets of information?

A) My next project isn’t related to My Mother’s Shadow, although it shares a similar time structure in that it brings together a historical and a contemporary plot. The historical strand is set in the late 1930s where a group of friends come together for a country house weekend at Summerhill before the start of WW II. Summerhill is a beautiful, remote estate on the Cornish coast belonging to the young Hamilton sisters, Madeleine and Georgiana. It promises safety and shelter against the looming threat of war, but before the weekend is over tragedy will have struck and none of their lives will ever be the same. Seventy years later, in 2009, Chloe – a young photographer living in Plymouth – crosses paths with old Madeleine Hamilton, now a famous children’s book artist. An unlikely friendship develops as they uncover an intricate web of love and loyalty, secrets and lies.

Nikola Scott
Credit: Shelley Jager

Authors Links:
Get in touch with Nikola via her website www.nikolascott.com
@nikola_scott (Twitter),
@nikolascottauthor (Facebook),
@nikolascottauthor (Instagram)

*Huge thanks to the author Nikola Scott for agreeing to take part in a Q&A on my blog.



#BlogBlitz #GuestPost #ATimeToChange by @CLangridgeWrite @bombshellpub

A Tie To Change by Callie Langridge

A Time to Change: A heart-wrenching love story

“I would rather love passionately for an hour than benignly for a lifetime.”

In a house full of history and secrets, the past will not stay where it belongs…

Lou has always loved Hill House, the derelict manor on the abandoned land near her home. As a child, the tragic history of its owners, the Mandevilles, inspired her dream to become a history teacher. But in her late twenties, and working in a shop to pay off student debts, life is passing her by.

That changes when a family disaster sends Lou’s life into a downward spiral and she seeks comfort in the ruined corridors of Hill House. The house transforms around her and Lou is transported back to Christmas 1913. Convinced she has been in an accident and is in a coma, Lou immerses herself in her Edwardian dream. With the Mandevilles oblivious to her true identity, Lou becomes their houseguest and befriends the eldest son, Captain Thomas Mandeville, a man she knows is destined to die in the First World War.

Lou feels more at home in the past than the present and when she realises the experience is real she sets out to do everything in her power to save her new friends.

Lou passes between 1913 and 2013, unearthing plots of murder and blackmail, which she must stop no matter the cost.

On her quest to save the Mandevilles by saving Thomas, Lou will face the hardest decision of her life. She will learn that love cannot be separated by a century.


Celebrate the yay moments


When you tell people you’re writing a novel, the reaction is almost always the same. ‘Oh, lovely. When will it be published?’


That really is the $6,000,000 question. And to begin with it’s quite fun. When you first pick up a pen and writing pad to start jotting down ideas that have been dancing around in your head for months or years or decades, you share the blind optimism of your friends and family that you will be published very soon. There’s that buzz as you craft your first sentences that they really could be the opening lines of the next major literary prize finalist. Someone’s got to win those competitions, right? When you walk past Waterstones on your way to your first writing course, and pause to press your nose to the window, imaging your fledgling offering nestled amongst the best sellers, you are filled with hope and dreams.


Now I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but in this honeymoon period, when you are still finding your way, you have no idea of the mammoth commitment you are embarking upon. Look at it this way, if you picked up a clarinet today, you wouldn’t expect to be playing for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in six months, a year, or even five years.


And so it is with writing. You must learn your craft. Like many people, I went to writing classes, and more writing classes. I found some other novice writers and we formed a group to critique work and support each other. I went to writing festivals and sat in lectures. I listened to publishing industry professionals. I submitted to the nerve-wracking agent one to one meetings to share my work and get advice. I did more writing courses. I wrote some short stories and got three published (yay). I finished my novel and put it in a drawer. I wrote some poetry. I took a playwriting course to improve my dialogue (and from that someone paid me to write a series of short plays – another yay). I wrote another novel and put that in a drawer. And then finally I wrote a novel that flowed from my fingers into the laptop. I edited it and polished it like it was a precious diamond. I had finally written the story I had always wanted to write. It had only taken ten years. And then I found Bombshell Books who wanted to publish it (the biggest yay yet).


I cut my teeth on all of the projects along the way. I earned my writing stripes (I’m sorry, writers are taught to avoid clichés like the plague …). And like they say, good things come to those who wait. And to those who are prepared to put in the graft and the hours to get there and know how to celebrate each little victory along the way.

Callie Langridge
Author Bio:

Callie was born and brought up in Berkshire. After a brief teenage spell in the depths of Lancashire, she moved back to London.

Having left school at 16, she studied drama before embarking on a career in marketing. This saw her work in music marketing in the heady days of Britpop in the nineties. She unleashed her creativity in the design of window displays and marketing campaigns for the leading music retailer. More recently she has followed her passion for social history and currently works in marketing for a national historical institution, promoting projects and running events.

On hitting her thirtieth birthday, she decided finally to take her A levels and gained A’s in English Literature and Language, and Film Studies – not bad when working full time! – and this spurred her on to take the first of many creative writing course. A few years later and she has had a number of short stories published and plays performed at theatres and venues across London.

Callie lives in London with her long-term partner and an ever-growing collection of antique curiosities.

Authors links:
Twitter: @CLangridgeWrite
Facebook: Callie Langridge https://www.facebook.com/people/Callie-Langridge/100017408860162