7 June 2016

Tuesday Talk : Meet a lovely new Devon Author

Michelle Woollacott talks about
Her Top Ten Reading Wish List 2016

My writing journey has led me to meet some fascinating writers over the last few years – most notably in recent months as I have approached publication – so I have compiled a reading list of these inspiring authors and the books I would love to have on my shelves. It was my birthday in May so if any family or friends are reading and still haven't got me a gift... hint, hint…

In fact, I am struggling to condense the list to only ten…

1. SusanHughesA Kiss From France
Acquaintance: I met Sue when she joined our Barnstaple Writers’ Group last year, as was impressed to learn about her book, A Kiss From France, and to see the beautiful cover.

The Author: Susan Hughes was inspired to write A Kiss From France when she found a set of silk postcards hidden in a box in her grandmother’s attic. Her imagination took hold and she began to wonder who had sent these intrinsic cards. Find out more in Susan’s recent postfor Tuesday Talk.

The Book: A Kiss From France follows the lives of two women in WW1 London. Lizzie Fenwick works in an ammunitions factory and conceals a note in a box of weaponry to be sent to the front line. When she receives a reply, the story takes hold. A Kiss From France has everything I am looking for in a good read; romance, drama, intrigue and a real human story.

2. Ben Blake - Troy
Acquaintance: I have known Ben since I first joined the Barnstaple Writers’ Group in 2013. He was also kind enough to proof-read my book and, although I know women’s fiction is not his cup of tea, he was very kind about it…

The Author: Ben Blake writes Historical Fantasy and is a devoted and dedicated writer.

The Book: Ben has written a series called Troy, so I suppose I should start with Book 1,A Brand of Fire. Greeks, action, magic and fantasy… anything could happen.

3. Olli TooleyChildren of The Wise Oak and SimonDawsonPigs in Clover
OK. So I am cheating a bit… I told you I was struggling to condense it to only ten…

Acquaintance: Olli and Simon interviewed me when they co-hosted Baggy’s Book Club on The Voice FM. I had met Olli a week before at a publishing workshop with Helen Hollick and Liz Shakespeare, which both Olli and I found extremely helpful.

The Authors: Simon Dawson is a journalist, author and presenter. He left city life behind to set up a small holding in North Devon, which inspired him to write Pigs in Clover. Ollie Tooley has written series of children’s time travelling books.

The Books: Pigs in Clover by Simon Dawson charters the author’s journey from London to North Devon. I recently became a reluctant farmer’s wife myself, and it takes some adjusting to… Perhaps this book could act as a guide… Children of The Wise Oak by Olli Tooley is a historical fantasy set at the heart of the struggle between the Celts and the Romans. Young Adult too... I can’t wat for it to be published.

4. Vanessa MatthewsThe Doctor’s Daughter
Acquaintance: I read an article on Vanessa’s debut novel in The Western Morning News last year, and her words encouraged me to continue on my journey. I contacted her about coming to talk to our writing group. Alas, we couldn’t make that happen, but I was interested to learn Vanessa runs writing retreats in Cornwall…

The Author: Vanessa Matthews moved to Cornwall from The Midlands, leaving a busy marketing career behind to becoming a novelist.

The Book: Set in Vienna, The Doctor’s Daughter is a dark historical tale of one woman’s fight against oppression to make her name in a man’s world. #womensfiction. I can’t wait to read this.

5. Colin BeazleyOne Day in June
Acquaintance: I met Colin several months ago when he began attending our monthly writers’ group. Colin later spoke at our publishing workshop, drawing on his own experience.

The Author: Colin Beazley has published a range of books including the children’s book, A Tale of Two Elephants, the short story collection, Voices and the historical novel, One Day in June.

The Book: One Day in June follows the life a young RAF navigator during WW11 and how his dangerous missions over France impact his life forever more. A fascinating human story.

6. BD AikenWhite Lies and Black Sheep
Acquaintance: I met Bruce when he joined our writers’ group last year, and we were all fascinated to learn of his intrinsic writing method, plotting chapters on little cards on his desk – let’s hope he keeps the doors closed on windy days…

The Author: Bruce Aiken enjoyed a successful career in publishing before penning his novel, White Lies and Black Sheep.

The Book: White Lies and Black Sheep is a teen drama following the life of young Rachel, who has been taken advantage of and finds herself pregnant. This sounds like my kind of drama.

7. Rozana McGrattanStreet Girl
Acquaintance: I became acquainted with publisher Jody Medland last year at the lunch of his debut novel, The Moors. Since then, I have written an article on him for Oditty magazine and Jody has offered me invaluable advice on my writing and publishing career.

The Author: Rozana McGrattan grew up in Brazil and overcame unimaginable hardships to pen her first memoir, Street Girl.

The Book: Street Girl charts the life of author Rozana McGrattan, and how she overcame a life of torture, violence and poverty to build a successful career. I have been asked to review this book pre-release and can’t wait to get stuck into it. *  now reviewed: click here

8. RuthDownie - Ruso and Rebecca AlexanderA Baby’s Bones
Again, another cheat… I should have called it my top thirteen, but it really didn’t have same ring to it.

Acquaintance: Ruth and Rebecca are both published authors who I met through the Barnstaple writers’ group, and who ran the competition for the short story and poetry collection, Seaglass, which I was lucky enough to win a place in last year.

The Authors: Ruth Downie writes historical fiction charting the adventures of Roman doctor, Russo. Rebecca Alexander writes a series of fantasy novels.

The Books: I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with Ruth Downie’s novels, as she has written seven books in the series about the Roman army doctor… Rebecca Alexander’s upcoming book, A Baby’s Bones, surrounds a mystery linking the present and the past in this chilling fantasy.

9. Veronica HenryHow to Find Love in a Bookshop
Acquaintance: I listened to Veronica speak at Braunton Library last month. A few days later, I saw her at the launch of Libraries Unlimited and was able to thank her for unwittingly showing me how to do it – I spoke at the launch of my debut novel this month…

The Author: Veronica Henry enjoyed an exciting career as a screen-writer, working on a host of popular dramas, before turning her hand to novels.

The Book: How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the tale of Emilia’s struggle to keep her bookshop open. This sounds like a booklover’s book…

10. Liz Shakespeare - Fever and HelenHollickThe Sea Witch
This is the last cheat, I promise…

Acquaintance: Liz Shakespeare and Helen Hollick were guest speakers at a recent publishing workshop I attended. Both ladies provided invaluable insight into the world of books and publishing. I was fortunate enough to thank Helen in person a little while later at the launch of Libraries Unlimited, where she asked me to write this guest post.

The Authors: Liz Shakespeare turned from school teacher to writer – well, with a name like that, she was destined to… Helen has had a string of success, first with medieval historical, and later pirate-based fiction. Helen is also Managing Editor for the Historical Society Indie Reviews.

The Books: Fever by Liz Shakespeare is a historical novel uncovering the gritty reality of nineteenth century rural life in a Devon village. Helen Hollick’s Sea Witch is a pirate adventure – think Pirates of the Caribbean; what’s not to love?

What is the best gift you can give a writer if not a book? Perhaps a stay at a writers’ retreat…

Michelle Woollacott’s debut novel, ALL THAT YOU WANT is a teenage love story, and is available NOW from www.michellewoollacottwriter.blogspot.co.uk and other online retailers.


  1. Michelle, thanks for including 'A Kiss from France' on your wish list! I have quite a few of the others on my own TBR list - just as well I'm going on holiday soon so I can splurge...and glad pirate Jesamiah Acorne will be on my ship with me so I can keep an eye on him ;)

  2. Thank you, Sue, can't wait to start ticking these books off the list!

  3. Incidentally, since I wrote this post I have read Street Girl by Rozana McGrattan. A fab read. Read my review here: http://michellewoollacottwriter.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/review-of-street-girl-by-rozana.html

    One down, nine (ahem, *twelve*) to go...

  4. I've just picked up Veronica Henry's 'How to Find Love in a Bookshop" - another one to tick off the list:


  5. Olli Tooley's Children of The Wise Oak has now been released! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!


    1. Another to add to the To Be Read Mountain!

  6. Incidentally, I've just had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Hughes, author of A Kiss From France, which is set to appear on the Local Author Book Stall at Pilton's Green Man Festival this coming Saturday!


  7. I have just met Rozana McGrattan! How humbling to meet the author of this poignant memoir.


Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear soon, but Blogger sometimes chucks its teddies out of the cot and has a tantrum. My apologies if you leave a comment and I do not respond - blame it on Blogger Bloopers. If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post it for you. Sometimes a post will appear as anonymous instead of your name or avatar - I draw attention to this being another Blogger Blooper and NOT of MY doing... That said ...SPAMMERS or distasteful rudeness will be stamped on, squashed, composted and very possibly cursed - if you spam my blog, next time something nasty happens to you just remember that I DID warn you...