MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

Friday 31 January 2020

Novel Conversations with Richard Tearle and Judith

Join Us Every Friday!
To be a little different from the usual 
'meet the author' 
let's meet 


not from a novel this time
but from a short story by
Richard Tearle
which he contributed as part of the 
Discovering Diamonds
Christmas Entertainment 2019

Q: Hello, I’m Helen, host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Richard Tearle's short story 'Chips and Ice Cream'. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role? 
A: Hello, Helen and thank you for inviting me. Er– coffee, please. Thank you and  … chocolates! Well, I really shouldn't, but … thank you. I am the main character although there are really only two of us in the story

Q: What genre is the story and what is it about?
A: I suppose you would call it a Romance. It tells about how I met Edward back in 1965. A holiday love affair. You could say he 'picked me up' as he was a fairground worker. I wasn't looking for a romance, but, well, it sort of fell into my lap.

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both?)
A:  Oh, it isn't about 'goodies' or 'baddies' – although (blushes) I was a little 'naughty' … later on! I'm very shy by nature and a bit conscious of my weight – I was the dumpy friend that every pretty girl has, if you understand what I mean

QTell me about another character in the story – maybe your best friend, … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: Edward! Ah, he was so handsome.  I was 17 and he was my first real boyfriend. You see, I'm quite plain, really, but he took a fancy to me. But he was such a gentleman!! He didn't 'try anything' at all! (much!)

Q: Is this the only story you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: Yes, it is and I don't expect to be in any others. But I am, of course, part of this great  series of short stories – A Story Inspired By A Song! (laughs)

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A:  It has to be the last night of the holiday. I had all the emotions running through my head, wondering if I had been made a fool of, made too much of what may just have been a regular occurrence for him through the summer season, sad – no, devastated -  that it maybe the last time I ever saw him ….

Q: And your favourite scene?
A: (Laughs) Well, in fact, its  the same scene, sitting on the sands of Margate at midnight, listening to the waves and the sounds of a town closing down for the night. So romantic! And we did make the most of it ...

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has he written any other books?
A: He tells me he has  completed a novel about Arthurian times but has so far been unsuccessful in finding a publisher. Oh, wait, he has just reminded me that he recently had a story published in an anthology of stories about Richard III.

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: Well, he says that he is working on a novel about a really evil highwayman, but he is very lazy and I understand he has left it alone for too long! He also said that he enjoyed writing this story so much that he is thinking of trying more. But, of course, he tends to do more reading than writing – as you know! 
(HH: Richard is the senior reviewer for Discovering Diamonds)

Q: How do you think authors can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for him personally?
A: My author is very keen on interaction between authors, readers and reviewers – constructive criticisms can be used by the author for future work, readers take notice of reviews and authors are so grateful for them. For my author, it has been the encouragement from fellow authors, the tips they give him and the suggestions as to how to make his writing better.

Q: If your author was to host a dinner party what guests would he invite and why? Maximum nine guests – real, imaginary, alive or dead.

Ealdgyth – widow of Edmund Ironside, her story is fascinating and she just 'disappears'

Richard III – we need to know the Truth!

Richard III earliest surviving portrait

Billy Connolly CBE – funniest man who ever lived

Billy Connolly Festival Cine Sidney.jpg

 JMW Turner – for some art tips and maybe a quick sketch or two

Joseph Mallord William Turner Self Portrait 1799.jpg

Bonnie Raitt – my favourite singer and a great humanitarian, to provide the music and maybe a duet with Connolly, which could be interesting!

Bonnie Raitt 2000.jpg

Captain JesamiahAcorne – not sucking up! He's a charismatic character with many a story to tell!

Ludovic de Portaveno – another fictional character in J G Harlond's novels – but can we believe him?

The Chosen Man

Dido Belle – fascinating life and we could swap reminiscences of Kenwood House
Painting of a young women

Bess of Hardwick – not many people defied Elizabeth I, was friend to Mary Queen of Scots and built her own house!

Thank you Judith it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt? Meanwhile, chatting is thirsty work, would you like another coffee…? I’ll have another Gin and Tonic . . .

Thank you for inviting me, Helen! I'm quite shy really but I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I think I may indulge in a small glass of wine. And another chocolate, if I may?

Of course - help yourself!  Salute! Here’s to writing a best seller!

The brilliant Website where I among a number of great reviewers:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Deckchairs, Sea, Beach, Seaside, Seagull


I sank into the colourful canvas of the deck chair and closed my eyes. For early September, the weather was glorious; warm sun  diffused by the gentlest of breezes. Edward. Eddie. What was special about him? Why did he make me feel this way? Indeed, what exactly did I feel about him? It couldn't be love; love grew, didn't hit you like an express train. The term 'crush' is well named; I felt as though my heart was squeezed from all angles. And it hurt. Even through closed eyes covered by sunglasses I saw his face. His expressions when he spoke, his lips when he smiled, his eyes when he kissed me. Ouch! My heart groaned as another barb lanced home.
I drifted into a snooze to a symphony of squawking seagulls, gentle surf, excited cries of children who surely should be back at school by now. Intermittent pop music from tinny transistor  radios. For how long I lay like that I don't know, but I actually felt the shadow over my face. Even before he spoke, I knew who cast that shadow.
“'Ello Judy. Whatcha readin'?
Be still my heart! Why did it jump like that? I wasn't a fan of Mills & Boon but suddenly I understood them so much better.
I removed my sunglasses and touched the open book resting cover upwards on my lap. “Jane Eyre,” I said. “My favourite book. Ever.”
Eddie sat down on the sand beside me. “Not my sort. I like some action. James Bond. Yeah. Sex, sadism and snobbery, that's what it says on the covers! Can I get you an ice cream?”
I perked up. “Let me pay,” I pleaded. “You bought me chips last night, after all.” I fished in my purse. Eddie stood up. “I'll go get them,” he said as he took the money from me. What do you want?”
“A '99'” I confirmed.
“Right. Be back in a jiffy. Don't go away.”
As if.

Read the whole story here! (link goes to Discovering Diamonds)


Friday 24 January 2020

A Novel Conversation with Anna Belfrage and Matthew Graham

Join Us Every Friday!
To be a little different from the usual 
'meet the author' 
let's meet 

Matthew Graham
(and celebrating Anna's
gorgeous new cover!)

Q: Hello, I’m Helen, host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Anna Belfrage’s novel A Rip in the Veil. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?  
A: Dear Mistress Hollick, it is an honour to visit with you. My name is Matthew Graham, and I do believe we have met on previous occasions. (Extends long, long legs and crosses them at the ankle, twitching his worn breeches into place) I am not at my best, mistress: being a fugitive has an impairing impact on my wardrobe, but as her leading man I do hope Anna will furnish me with more presentable garments as we go along. As to drinks, I’d be happy with a beer. Tea is still something of a novelty in my time and as to coffee, no, I haven’t warmed to it.

Q: What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: Ah. Genre, you say…Strange word for a man whose reading is mostly comprised of the Bible and John Donne’s poetry. Well, and Don Quixote, but that was not something I ever shared with my Da. This novel is a time travel story – some would call it a time travel romance as it centres round me and that most reluctant time traveller, Alexandra Lind. (He smiles, that generous mouth of his curving slightly while his hazel eyes lighten into a golden shade)

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both?)
A: Me? I am a good man, mistress. I may be on the run but that is because I was betrayed by…(his voice breaks)…Damn them both to hell and back, my treacherous former wife and that hell spawn of a brother!

QTell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: My best friend, lover and partner – that would be Alex. Not that she is any of those things when we meet, strange woman that she is with odd revealing clothes, shorn hair and blue, blue eyes that stare at me as if I were some sort of apparition. (He chuckles) There have been moments when I’ve feared her to be some sort of witch, but my Alex has no evil in her. She may be too outspoken, too stubborn, but first and foremost she is a woman who has been thrown through time to land in an utterly unfamiliar world and does her best to adapt. I admire that about her, how she manages to swallow down the fear she must be experiencing at finding herself here and instead concentrate on building a new life. With me. (Matthew falls silent for some seconds) She is my miracle lass, Mistress Hollick. Time rent apart and propelled her from her time to mine because God knew I needed someone like her, someone who could light up the dark for me, give me hope again.

Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: So far, there are nine books. Anna mutters something about a tenth because apparently there is a family member of ours that requires what she calls some TLC.

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: In A Rip in the Veil? Ah: Well, that would be when I return home to find my brutalised wife bleeding in our bedroom—and all because of that damned brother of mine, Luke Graham.

Q: And your favourite scene?
A: (Smiles coldly) When I avenge myself on Luke. Alex would have me tell you that she strongly disagrees with this choice. Instead, she says my favourite scene should be when we first come together as man and woman on the moors. “It is definitely my favourite scene,” she tells me with something dark moving in her blue eyes. And aye, that was quite spectacular, but Luke has been a canker in my life for so long.

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books?
A: Aye. So far, Anna has published sixteen books: nine in The Graham Saga featuring Alex and me and our adventures both in Scotland but primarily in Colonial Maryland: four in a medieval story set in the 14th century, The King’s Greatest Enemy, featuring the honourable knight Adam and his wife Kit. I like Adam, a man after my own heart. When we meet up in Anna’s somewhat roomy brain, we always end up sharing an ale of two. And then there’s her latest series, The Wanderer, which features Jason and Helle. Now that is one very twisted story, mistress. That poor Jason has been reborn well over fifty times, cursed to spend life after life looking for his Helle, the girl he betrayed so badly in their first life. Between the two of us, I am surprised the man remains sane—apparently, he recalls all those lives! Helle, fortunately, remembers nothing but a few snatches of that first, very distant life.

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: Aye. She has wandered off into the early 18th century and grumbles rather loudly that this is so not her era. But I can see her submerge herself in books about the Jacobites and she is planning a research trip to London to – as she says it – get the damned clothes right.
She has also finished the first in a new medieval series called His Castilian Hawk. Now that is quite the adventurous ride, with Edward I’s loyal man caught up in the destruction of Wales. It doesn’t help poor Robert when he weds a lass who has royal Welsh blood and who shares my Alex’s characteristics of being somewhat outspoken…
Then she is also working on a tenth book about me and Alex. Truth be told, I could do with being retired, with living out my days quietly on Graham’s Garden with Alex by my side, but Anna does like adding spice to our lives.
Oh: she would also have you know that she has three other WIPs, one set in the 17th century, two in contemporary times. I dare say Anna will be very, very busy for years to come!

Q: How do you think authors can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?
A: At present, Anna is frustrated. She feels it is hard to get visibility for her books—a problem she has in common with most authors, as I hear it. She believes in using something called Twitter but is also an advocate of doing what you are doing with this: offer an author a limelight on a blog and then help spread the word. She is surprised by how many of the authors she has hosted do not capitalise on the opportunity – unless you share actively, people won’t find the post and your books. She is also discussing some sort of author coop where a group of authors band together and share each other’s books. Usually, this works best if the people in the group have read each other’s books and can offer some sort of mini-review as well. Finally, Anna thinks bloghops or blog activities such as your Stories nspired by a Song which you run for every day during a whole month really can increase visibility – once again, IF people share!

Q: If your author was to host a dinner party what guests would she invite and why? Maximum nine guests – real, imaginary, alive or dead.
A : HA! I am not entirely sure she would like me to choose her guests, but now that I can…(Matthew rubs his hands)
Roger Mortimer – seeing as Anna has had a fascination with this 14th century man for decades and he features prominently in her series The King’s Greatest Enemy.

Hugh Despenser – because Roger Mortimer and Hugh Despenser detest each other, despite being so alike it is risible. Mayhap sharing a meal or two would make them understand that.

Eleanorof Castile – a lady Anna is very ambivalent towards. I think the woman deserves our compassion: sixteen live births and only six children grew to adulthood.

Leonorde Guzmán – royal mistress whose son became the founding father of the Trastamara dynasty in Spain. Leonor was fortunate in life—until her royal lover died.

Queen Kristina of Sweden – an intriguing and complicated somewhat egocentric woman who plays a central role in one of Anna’s WIPs.

Charles II of England. Now this is not a choice I approve off – I am, after all, a Commonwealth man. But to be fair to Charles Stuart, he chose to be merciful once he was back in power.

John Graham, Viscount Dundee. Hmm. Aye, I grew to like and respect the man, but there are certain aspects of him I do not like. At all. Alex, however, disagrees…

Diego Velázquez, Spanish painter extraordinaire. Should someone want to make Anna happy, she’d love his portrait of Philip IV as a young man to hang on her wall. Not that she has any hopes of that ever happening as said portrait hangs in the National Gallery.

Philip IV
HH: the best I can do for you Anna!
(Anna says eight guests are quite enough, thank you very much.)

Thank you Matthew Graham it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt?

I am sure she would. And knowing her, she’ll ignore all my suggestions and do her own choosing.

Meanwhile, chatting is thirsty work, would you like a refill of that drink…?

It has been a pleasure to be here, Mistress Hollick. And I’d not say no to another beer!

I’ll have another Gin and Tonic . . .
Salute! Here’s to writing a best seller!


“Is it important to you?” Alex asked, startling him out of his thoughts.
Matthew looked down at her. ”What?”
“The not having a king, being part of a republic.”
“Aye. But the republic has been dead for some years. These last few years...” He broke off to shake his head. “... it has been one man, and one man alone, at the helm.”
“Like a dictator.” 
“Aye – a good dictator.”
“A contradiction in terms if you ask me,” Alex said.
“It doesn’t greatly matter now, does it? He’s dead, and as you say it, things will revert to how they were – before men like Cromwell and Fairfax. A kingdom, not a commonwealth.”
“And you don’t care?”
“I do,” he said, “of course I do. But...”
“But what?”
“I’ve lost so many years of my life to this conflict already, and now I just want to live in peace, tend to my lands, my beasts.”
“Oh.” Her blue eyes were very close to his, and there was something in them that made him flush, an insinuation that he was going back on his beliefs.
“Maybe that’s what happens when for one thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine days you’ve lived like an animal in a cage.” He shoved her aside and stood up, his back to her.
They hadn’t believed in him when he’d protested his innocence. Men who’d known him, fought with him, had chosen to listen to Luke instead. It tore like a canker at his gut, even now, three years on.
“You counted?” She placed a hand on his back.
“I counted every hour, every day.” He wheeled to face her, and she backed away from him. “I never want to live through something like that again, it near on killed me. I just couldn’t bend, and instead I was broken, and the pieces don’t fit together as they used to.”
He rubbed at his wrists. “Of the men I was locked up with, more than half died the first year. We were all beaten and underfed, cold and constantly ill of one thing or the other, but the ones who died were the ones whose inner light failed them, who woke one day to a hollow chest and the despairing knowledge that there was nothing worth the effort to keep on living for.”
He was silent for a while, overwhelmed by memories of long, endless days. “My light still burns, but at times it gutters on the brink of extinction. I wouldn’t survive another time in prison, I’d just curl up and die. And so...” He shrugged, giving her a crooked smile. “I still hold to my beliefs, but I’ll be far more selective as to what battles to fight. It’s called adapting to your circumstances.”
“Adapting is good, that’s what all of us have to do to survive.” She cleared her throat, hugged herself. “And if you don’t, you die.”
“Aye,” he said, realising she was talking just as much about her own situation as his. “I’m here, I’ll be here for you, lass.” She stepped up close enough that her breath tickled his face.
“And I’ll be here for you, and two lights burn much, much brighter than one, right?”
“They do,” he agreed hoarsely. When she rose on her toes to kiss him, he kissed her back. When her arms came round his neck, his arms wrapped themselves around her waist. No more talking; not tonight. He lifted her into his arms and carried her over to their makeshift bed.


Amazon page:
Find A Rip in the Veil:

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Celebrating Seven In Devon!

We moved into our lovely Devon farmhouse on 18th January 2013
I've had a bit of a look-back at the time in between ... 

I thought I would share the A-Z challenge I did in April 2015 as there are quite a few posts about my part of Devon, the house and the farm

start here at A and follow through to each next post

Friday 17 January 2020

A Novel Conversation with Kimberley Jordan Reeman and Colonel the Honourable Aeneas Bancroft

Join Us Every Friday!
To be a little different from the usual 
'meet the author' 
let's meet 
A slight deviation from the usual format for Novel Conversations. Kimberley found herself talking to her character and wrote the entire interview down. As authors we are well aware that sometimes characters like to do things their way ...

Kimberley Jordan Reeman
in conversation with


Colonel Bancroft:  Madam.
KJR: Thank you for accepting my invitation.
Bancroft: It is very much my pleasure.

KJR: Would you care to introduce yourself?
Bancroft: My name is Aeneas Bancroft, and I am a supporting player in Coronach.  To you it is a novel about the ʼ45 and its aftermath. For us, it is the record of our lives.  At the time of which we speak I was lieutenant-colonel of the 4th Regiment of Foot, also known as The King’s Own. I was thirty-eight years old then; I am homosexual; and I was addicted to opium.

KJR: How did you become an addict?
Bancroft: My right hand was severed at Culloden. I took opium for the pain. It had other effects, which I enjoyed.

KJR: You said in one of our previous conversations that you had “known many drugs”, promiscuity among them. And religion.
Bancroft: Yes.

Bancroft's commission
 KJR: You flirted with Roman Catholicism in Venice.
 Bancroft: I was not ‘flirting’. I would have committed myself to it, had not life intervened.

KJR: You would have given up your commission.
Bancroft: Yes. One was not, in my time, permitted to hold a commission in His Majesty’s forces if one was a Roman Catholic.

KJR: What would you have done with your life?
Bancroft: Lived with my lover. In peace, I hoped. It was not allowed to happen.

KJR: This is another story.
Bancroft:Yes. You intend to tell it some time. But not yet.

KJR: I have other stories to write first. But as you trusted me with yours, I do intend to write it. Its tragedy lies at the very heart of who you are.

KJR: I am required to ask you: are you a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’ in my novel?
Bancroft: I am a catalyst. Without me, it would not have happened. We were there, we were required to carry out orders, we behaved as we behaved because of who we were, and because of what the past had made us, and certain events were set in train which had devastating consequences.  I would not have had that happen for the world.

KJR: You speak of Mordaunt.
Bancroft: Yes.

KJR: How could you allow yourself to fall in love with a straight man?
Bancroft: Why did you fall in love with a married man? A man nearly thirty years older than yourself? When the odds were so impossibly against you? It was a coup de foudre. I can’t explain it. It simply happened, and I was powerless against it.

KJR: But you knew it was impossible. You must have known Mordaunt wasn’t gay.
Bancroft: I knew only that I would have given him my very soul. As for one’s sexuality, in my time, my dear, you must understand that one could never be known for what one was. Sodomy was punishable by death in the armed forces, at least in theory. Three homosexual men were hanged in London in 1732. You cannot imagine the effect on us. The fear of discovery. The blackmail. The secrecy. It was a measure of my trust in Mordaunt that I ‘came out’ to him, as you call it. And I could not have done otherwise. I loved the man.

KJR: You are a practising Anglican. How do you reconcile your sexuality with your faith?
Bancroft: I am as my God made me. He knows my heart, my mind, my soul, my mortal body. I have no secrets from Him. And I trust that He has no contempt for what He Himself created.

KJR: What happened in Glen Sian at the beginning of our story nearly destroyed you both. Can you tell us about it?
Bancroft: I can say only that we were professional soldiers, inured to war. I held my first commission at the age of eighteen: I had been at Oxford.  Mordaunt was commissioned at fifteen: his father was a general, he sent him straight to the army. Despite that... despite the way we are portrayed... we were not barbarians, we were not insensitive.  Mordaunt, particularly. His music... my God, the beauty... the divine gift in his hands. The  Austrian  war was a sewer: we were nothing but blood and bone and gristle. And then they sent us to Scotland. I was able to distance myself from it. He couldn’t. He drank too much, but he couldn’t detach himself, and his was always a harsher nature than mine, stricter,  far more moral, more honourable. I knew what was happening to him, his mind, his spirit, but I couldn’t reach him; I revolted him; he hated me. And when one sees the man one loves in such torment, such moral anguish, the instinct becomes desperate. He was on the very edge of the abyss. I thought I could save him. I broke him. I blame it on the opium. He was never the same. Nor was I.

KJR: If you lived in my time, would you be a soldier?
Bancroft: Yes, without a doubt. I live to serve my country, even if, in my own time, I was dishonoured in that service.

KJR: On a lighter note, if you were to give a dinner party, who would be your guests? They can be from your time or mine.
Colonel: Ah. I love parties. I should certainly ask Mordaunt. And the girl, Margaret, who meant so much to him. And her lover, the smuggler. I should like to meet him. And James Wolfe. Mordaunt always admired him.  And Lord Nelson. Wolfe was his hero. And you, my author. And your Douglas Reeman, because I should like to meet the man who was your soulmate, and who taught you to understand love. As I came to understand it in your book: love and loneliness, and what they do to the human spirit.

James Wolfe
Admiral Lord Nelson
KJR: Thank you for that, Aeneas.
Bancroft: Thank you, my dear, for giving me a voice. Although when I first came into your mind you were too young to understand what it was between Mordaunt and me. I fear I shocked you. But I thank you for your courage. I am not quite a villain: only a flawed human being. As we all are. And therein lies our tragedy, and our humanity, and, possibly, our redemption. 

Buy the book on Amazon
Kimberley Jordan Reeman was born in Toronto, graduating from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts (hons.) in English literature in 1976. She worked in Canadian radio and publishing before marrying the author Douglas Reeman (Alexander Kent) in 1985, and until his death in 2017 was his editor, muse and literary partner, while pursuing her own career as a novelist. She has always been a spinner of tales, telling stories before she could write, reading voraciously from childhood, and citing Shakespeare, Hardy, Winston Graham and the novels of Douglas Reeman and Alexander Kent as her most profound influences. From Graham, who became a friend, she learned to write conversation, to eavesdrop as the characters spoke; from the seafaring novels of Reeman and Kent, which she read years before meeting the author, she came to understand the experience of men at war.
It is not necessary to look further than the history of Canada, and Toronto itself, for the genesis of Coronach: a vast country explored, settled, and governed by Scots, and a city, incorporated in 1834, whose first mayor was the gadfly journalist and political agitator William Lyon Mackenzie, a rebel in his own right, and the grandson of Highlanders who had fought in the `45. The Vietnam War, also, burned into the Canadian consciousness the issues of collateral damage and the morality of war; and from this emerged one character, a soldier with a conscience. In unravelling the complexity of his story, Coronach was born. 
(Kimberley and Douglas's website)

Coronach was reviewed by
Discovering Diamonds