Author Interview with Nicola May

Christmas Evie

I recently read Nicola May’s festive novella ‘Christmas Evie’ which I thoroughly enjoyed. You can read my review here. I decided to ask Nicola if she would mind being interviewed for Linda’s Book Bag and luckily she agreed.

Hi Nicola. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your books.

Firstly, please could you imagine we are on a one minute speed date and tell me a little about yourself?

A fun and feisty brunette, Nicola May lives in Ascot in Berkshire with Stanley the cat. She loves Bristol Cream Blue Bottle Sherry, Dittisham in Devon and flapjacks and dislikes aubergines and negative people.

Aha. Now I get the sherry references in the book!


When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?

Twenty years ago. I started writing a comedic diary of events around my training for a half marathon, I realised I had a talent and the rest is history.

How easy is it to combine your own writing and running writing workshops?

I work as a marketing consultant as well as write, plus run the workshops so life is very busy indeed. I tend to run the workshops on a Saturday morning and just fit writing around whatever marketing contracts I am working on. There is rarely such a thing as a day off in my world anymore as if I’m not writing I always feel that I should be.

If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?

I would have and still would love to be an actress. I actually think that a lot of writers are frustrated actors waiting to come out.

I think you might be right. I’ve never thought of that before.

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

To be honest I’ve led a colourful life so far, so I talk about what I know – early bereavement of a loved one, IVF, infertility, older woman/younger man relationships and internet dating are just a few to mention.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

Once I’ve got a story on the go I find it easy to just flow with it. At the moment I have so much content inside of me, it’s like my hands are a funnel that is too small to get all my ideas down quick enough. The difficult thing about writing, I find, is to come up with the idea for the novel in the first place and then actually putting the first words down on the page. I always procrastinate as know once I start writing, life as I know it is over until I type The End.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I actually do most of my writing in bed. I find it a peaceful environment and I’m less likely to jump up and start doing chores. When I start a novel there is not routine, it’s whenever I can fit it in around work and life.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I think Victoria Hislop is amazing.  Also the delectable chick lit master Milly Johnson. And… not forgetting the magnificent Patrick Gale,  who creates the most amazing dark characters.

‘Christmas Evie’ has a strong moral message. How hard was it to encompass that into an enjoyable read?

To be honest I wrote Christmas Evie in just 3 days. I am very spiritual and the message of love overriding the material world just flooded through me.  I also pride myself in tackling difficult issues in an easy to read way to offer comfort to readers.  Without any spoilers I also lost my mum when I was just 17.

Gosh I’m sorry to hear that.

I thought it was essential that ‘Christmas Evie’ had that time of year as a setting. What does Christmas mean to you personally and as a writer?

Being honest, since my mum died in 1983 Christmas has never been the same. I still love the time of year and spending time with my dad and siblings but the ‘empty chair’ will always be there. As a writer I love it as it is the only week in the year when I feel I can do nothing but eat mince pies and drink sherry.

I found Bea a little unlikeable to start with. Why did you choose to make her so brash?

I wanted a character to challenge Evie’s sweetness. I also like to bring in a comedy element and Bea certainly does that.

I think Bea works as a great counterpoint to Evie so you certainly succeeded.

If ‘Christmas Evie’ became a film, who would you like to play Evie and Yves?  

Ooh. Well as I am a little bit in love with Eddie Redmayne, he would have to be Yves. Emma Watson would make a beautiful Evie. I am planning to write the screenplay once I have finished my next novel so watch this space.

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that ‘Christmas Evie’ should be their next read, what would you say?

A magical Christmas novella with a feel good factor that carries messages of hope and love.

It certainly is Nicola. I’m sure it would be perfect for many this Christmas, especially those who have lost a loved one. Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

‘Christmas Evie’ was published by Accent Press and is available on Amazon UKAmazon US and directly from the publishers. So too is Nicola’s latest book ‘The SW19 Club’.


You can follow Nicola May on Twitter and via her web site

Yusuf Toropov Guest Post on Shakespeare and Writing


One of the best publishers around is Orenda Books and I’m delighted to be supporting a new publication for them, ‘Jihadi: A Love Story’ by Yusuf Toropov which is out on 24th December 2015 in both paperback and ebook.



A former intelligence agent stands accused of terrorism, held without charge in a secret overseas prison. His memoir is in the hands of a brilliant but erratic psychologist who has an agenda of her own, and her annotations paint a much darker picture. As the story unravels, we are forced to assess the truth for ourselves, and decide not only what really happened on one fateful overseas assignment but who is the real terrorist.

Peopled by a diverse and unforgettable cast of characters, whose reliability as narrators is always questioned, and with a multi-layered plot heaving with unexpected and often shocking developments, ‘Jihadi: A Love Story’ is an intelligent thriller that asks big questions. Complex, intriguing and intricately woven, this is an astonishing debut that explores the nature of good and evil alongside notions of nationalism, terrorism and fidelity, and, above all, the fragility of the human mind.

I was so intrigued by the concept of this novel that I asked Yusuf Toropov about some of his influences and here he tells us about Shakespeare:

Three Things I Learned From William Shakespeare About Writing A Thriller

My debut novel JIHADI: A LOVE STORY is due this month from London’s Orenda Books. As an unrepentant Shakespeare geek, I came back again and again to the Bard’s work during this book’s long gestation period. Here are the three most important lessons I picked up from the master. They may be relevant to other writers in the thriller genre.

Pose a question for the reader and leave it unanswered for a while. Hamlet lectures the players about rogue clowns who, in their improvising, disrupt ‘some necessary question of the play’. This presupposes that such a question has been posed. It doesn’t take much familiarity with Shakespeare’s work to realise that he specialises in the expression and elongation of such dramatic questions. Will Hamlet kill the king? Will Antonio have his heart carved out onstage? Will Othello fall for Iago’s trap? These questions consume vast chunks of stage time, and propel the drama forward. Shakespeare takes his time in answering them. I tried to follow his example.

Align the antagonist(s) with dark thematic references. Iago isn’t just a bad guy. He’s a bad guy who disrupts the order of Venice in the very first scene of the play. The linkage of Othello’s villain to chaos, disorder, and social instability are pervasive, and they’re no accident. My one antagonist and three sub-antagonists connect to similarly ominous thematic chains. (Read the book when it comes out December 24 and Tweet me with your guesses as to what those thematic chains are. I’ll tell you how close you came.)

Stay true to the character and the plot will take care of itself. Nowadays we tend to think of Shakespeare as a deep thinker, and certainly he was, but it’s important to remember that (leaving the poems aside for a moment) every great line he wrote connects to a specific character’s viewpoint. He was a dramatist. He made his living writing dialogue and soliloquy capable of holding an audience’s attention. To get and keep that attention, he chose to follow Macbeth, Iago, Hotspur, Cleopatra, and Lear where those characters needed to go – and sometimes those places were not comfortable or familiar. I had similar journeys, many of them quite disturbing, with the characters in my novel. I didn’t always agree with them, but I did agree to be true to them, and I think that willingness to follow them helped the novel past countless plot holes and across the finish line. (That and the fantastic notes I got from my publisher Karen Sullivan.)

I’d like to thank Yusuf for his thoughtful and helpful advice and for sharing his views on Shakespeare.

You can preorder JIHADI: A LOVE story here.

About the author:


Yusuf Toropov is an American Muslim writer. He’s the author or co‐author of a number of nonfiction books, including Shakespeare for Beginners. His full-length play An Undivided Heart was selected for a workshop production at the National Playwrights Conference, and his one-act play The Job Search was produced off-Broadway. Jihadi: A Love Story, which reached the quarter-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, is his first novel.

Interview with TR Richmond, author of What She Left

What She Left - paperback cover

‘What She Left’ is published by Penguin and is available in audio, ebook, hardback and paperback from Amazon UKAmazon US and direct from the publisher.

Hi Tim. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your book ‘What She Left’.

Firstly, please could you imagine we are on a one minute speed date and tell me a little about yourself?

First off, sorry about the smell of wet dog, but my wife and I have just got a Golden Retriever puppy. In terms of other stuff, I live in Surrey and my day-job is as a farming journalist. When I’m not writing, you’ll find me walking the dog, Dudley.

When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?

I used to keep a diary when I was a kid – and I can distinctly recall the point as a teenager when I considered for the first time why I did this. It was because I was obsessed with recording detail and trying to capture moments. I hated forgetting stuff and my motivation has never changed. Writing is an attempt to grab hold of the world, make sense of it then, in turn, have your view of it challenged.

If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?

I’m tone deaf and have zero artistic skills, so my options would be limited. I actually think business and science get a bad rep. They’re sometimes seen as boring, but they can every bit as creative as the arts. Most jobs – writing included – require a mixture of creativity and slog.

How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?

Research helps you visualise your characters, shape their personalities and make choices on their behalf. Once you get to know them well, you don’t need to make decisions for them any more – they do it for you. One of the ways I do research is to read the books that I think my characters would read. Ultimately, though, most of the research you do shouldn’t be visible on the page. It’s like an iceberg – most of it is under the surface.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

I like to let ideas grow and stew in my subconscious so the initial stages of a book can be slow. However, I’m lucky in that, once I’ve got an idea and characters in my head, I can write quickly. Planning is important, but stories should evolve as you write them.

It was actually on Twitter that I found the original idea for ‘What She Left’. I saw a tweet by someone about what piece of music they’d like played at their funeral and it struck me how bizarre and intimate that was to read. That got me thinking, what else could I learn about this person on Twitter, and that eventually took me to the idea of reassembling, jigsaw puzzle-like, a suspense story from a young woman’s digital and paper trail. After all, more than at any point in history, each of us leaves such a “footprint” nowadays.

I’m fascinated by how the way we communicate and relate to each other is changing and this book felt like a good way to explore that. Hopefully the structure, as well as feeling like a novel, makes it feel like an unfolding news story.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I’m a morning person, plus I’ve got a day-job, so I write before I go to work. I love that time of day – my head’s uncluttered and I find it easy to concentrate. Of course, the disadvantage of getting up so early is that I’m rubbish company in the evening. I didn’t make it through a single episode of the last series of Downton Abbey without falling asleep in front of the telly! As for where I write, one of my favourite spots is my local coffee house. I’ll have a black Americano, if you’re buying please…

(Not sure about that as I’m a tea drinker but I might make an exception in your case!)

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I enjoy psychological suspense novels, but read a range of stuff.  If you’re a writer, it’s good to read non-fiction and journalism, too.

Do you have other interests that give you ideas for writing?

It sounds trite to say, but I get my ideas by looking at the world around me. Sometimes, I love what I see and sometimes I hate it.

‘What She Left’ has a very striking cover. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?

I’m so glad you like it. To me, that face is all about ambiguity. You can’t tell whether she’s alive or dead, asleep or unconscious, sweating or crying, you can’t even put an exact age on her. It asks readers to answer those questions for themselves and that’s what a lot of the book does – I’m asking readers to work out who to believe, to filter ‘fact’ from fiction, to consider how much of what we read nowadays we can believe, and to navigate their way around unreliable narrators. This is, after all, what we do every day when we interact with each other and follow news stories.

If you could chose to be a character from ‘What She Left’, who would you be and why?

Ooh, that’s a good question – I haven’t been asked that before. I wouldn’t want to be Alice because she dies so young, or Professor Cooke because of his behaviour. Maybe one of the lesser characters, Larry. He seems to have had a long, fulfilling life. Robert Altman said the death of an old man was not a tragedy and in some ways he’s right. Dying young, conversely, can never not be tragic.

Professor Jeremy Cooke is not a likeable character. How did he make you feel as you created him and how difficult is it to create a character like him?

He’s a man with many flaws and he’s behaved terribly, so he was hard to write at times, but in his head he’s trying to be better and he isn’t entirely without redeeming features. I can’t say I liked him, but characters don’t necessarily need to be likeable. What they need to be is interesting and believable – and to change during the course of a book.

If ‘What She Left’ became a film, who would you like to play Professor Jeremy Cooke?  

He’s played by Charles Dance in the audio version, so I’d love to see him in the role. I briefly met him while he was recording the part. I tried to play it cool, but was completely star-struck. The only person who was more excited than me was my mum who remembers him from the TV drama, The Jewel in the Crown, and now tells everyone that her son has met “that very handsome Mr Dance”.

(I’m trying not to be jealous here but I might steal some of your vicarious fame.)

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that ‘What She Left’ should be their next read, what would you say?

Because if no one buys the book, Dudley won’t get a Christmas present.

Poor Dudley! (There are buying links at the top of the page if readers would like to make Dudley’s Christmas)

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

You can follow TR Richmond on Twitter and Professor Cooke has a Tumblr page here.

Christmas Evie by Nicola May

Christmas Evie

I am very grateful to the author Nicola May for my copy of ‘Christmas Evie’ in return for an honest review. ‘Christmas Evie’ was published by Accent Press and is available on Amazon UKAmazon US and directly from the publishers.

Just two days before Christmas, Evie Harris is dumped by her boyfriend and realises that without him she’ll soon be homeless too. Her toy-boy loving best friend Bea encourages Evie to accept the stranger Greg’s invitation to work in a shelter for the homeless on Christmas Day where she meets the enigmatic Yves. Evie’s life is about to change.

Initially I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this novella. I found Bea a little too coarse and brash but as I read I found she was the perfect foil to others so that the story didn’t become too saccharine.

There is a true message of Christmas in this story – we don’t need material possessions to be happy and we can let go of the past and the things that hurt us and take control over our lives by facing our fears and accepting what we have whilst striving to be better. That all sounds rather worthy, but Nicola May has managed to encompass these elements into a warm and entertaining read. If readers find themselves reflecting on their own lives having read ‘Christmas Evie’ I wouldn’t be surprised.

I liked the little twist at the end of the story and felt the length suited the themes well. There was a good balance of scenes with Bea and I really liked the quotations Yves provides to Evie as well as the historical and geographical details of the places he and Evie meet because they add depth to the narrative.

Anyone looking for a quick, heartwarming and entertaining read is sure to enjoy Nicola May’s ‘Christmas Evie’. It’s just right for a pre-Christmas afternoon read.This is the first of Nicola May’s books I’ve read but it certainly won’t be the last!

You can follow Nicola May on Twitter and via her web site

Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn Guest Post

I’m delighted to be welcoming Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn to Linda’s Book Bag today, not least because (like I was) Lindsay is a teacher as well as a writer (as I’d like to be).

Lindsay has a new book out, published on 6th December 2015, called ‘The Broken Road’ which is available with Lindsay’s other writing from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Broken Road

When I heard that Lindsay is also a teacher of creative writing I wanted to know if she felt that was a help or a hindrance for her own writing. This is what she told me:

The Delights and Perils of Combining Being a Writer with Teaching Creative Writing.


Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn

I am a writer. I write novels, short stories and flash fiction. My first two novels ‘Unravelling’ and ‘The Piano Player’s Son’ have both won awards, and my third ‘The Broken Road’ has just been published. My short stories have appeared in anthologies, and one of my flash fictions was successful in the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction competition in 2013.

I also teach creative writing. I run courses and workshops on the novel and the short story. In addition, I’m a judge for the flash fiction competition run by the Worcestershire Literature Festival.


So, why am I telling you these things? Why have I set being a writer side by side with teaching creative writing? Surely the two roles are highly compatible. Not necessarily. Combining both is a mixed blessing, as the title of the article suggests. So, let’s start with the positives!

To teach a subject, you have to understand it better than if you were simply practising it yourself. The same is true whether you’re teaching Maths or creative writing. You need to be very clear in your own understanding of techniques in order to explain them. In creative writing, areas such as point of view, and showing versus telling, can prove a minefield for the aspiring author. You might think you understand, but then you write things such as Geoff was angry and depressed. You tell readers what Geoff is feeling rather than giving them the evidence and letting them deduce the emotions for themselves. For example, Geoff kicked the book across the floor. A reader can feel Geoff’s anger. He sat on the sofa with his head in his hands. A reader can see Geoff is depressed.

When you teach creative writing, you need to seek out examples such as these to help illustrate the craft to writing students. In doing so, you deepen your understanding and awareness.

I have learnt so much from exploring the craft of writing with students. I can see why a character fails to come to life, where the weaknesses in the structure are, at which moment the point of view hops between characters and back again. I enjoy teaching creative writing: it keeps me on my toes, studying the craft, searching for ways to make it relevant for students. I count myself lucky to have the opportunity.

But – and it’s a big but. The fact that I understand the craft so much better means my need to create something perfect is even greater. Every potential writer wants to produce a piece that is really good. Where the characters leap off the page; where the plot is compelling, the conflict intense, the vocabulary perfect. But the gulf between what is in a writer’s head, and what appears on the page is often immense. We have to give ourselves permission to write rubbish sometimes in order to get a first draft onto the page. Then it can be worked into something closer to the vision in the author’s head.

But giving yourself permission to write rubbish is almost impossible for a creative writing tutor. Knowing and understanding how good fiction works can inhibit a writer to the extent that paralysis sets in. You can’t write, in case what you write is ‘wrong’.

Hence the dilemma of the writer who is also a creative writing tutor: greater understanding of the craft versus an inhibiting need for perfection.

So, would I give up the teaching? Definitely not – I enjoy it too much, and I’ve met so many talented, lovely, interesting people as a result. The perils are there, but the delights far outweigh them.


I’d like to thank Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn so much for being on the blog and with her words ringing in my ears, I’m off to write some rubbish!

You can find out more about Lindsay and her writing on her website.



Callie’s Christmas Countdown by Julie Ryan

Callies Christmas Countdown Banner

I’m delighted to be presenting ‘Callie’s Christmas Countdown’ by Julie Ryan in association with Brook Cottage Books.


Callie is an event planner, organising weddings and corporate parties. What she’d really love however, is to organise the perfect Christmas. How difficult can it be after all? She simply needs to get her divorced parents talking to each other, sort out a Christmas Eve wedding for the daughter of a millionaire and wait for her hunky, rich boyfriend to propose. What could possibly go wrong?





DSC_0904 (1)

Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and two cats, a rescue cat and a dippy cat with half a tail.  She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance, as she can’t bear to get rid of any! They have been attempting to renovate their home for the last ten years.

She is the author of the Greek Island Mystery series, Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy, each of which can be read as a standalone. She considers Greece to be her spiritual home and visits as often as she can.

You can find out more about Julie through these links:

Twitter  @julieryan18


You could win an ecopy of Callie’s Christmas Countdown or a £5/$10 Amazon voucher by clicking here Open internationally!

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

in a dark dark wood

In a Dark, Dark Wood’ by Ruth Ware was published in hardback by Vintage, on 30th July 2015 and will be released in paperback on December 31st 2015. It is also available in ebook from Amazon UK and Amazon US and directly from the publishers.

Nora hasn’t been in touch with Clare for years, but when an invitation comes to attend Clare’s hen weekend, Nora is persuaded to attend by her other friend, Nina. As soon as they arrive at the atmospheric Glass House, it is clear this is going to be a weekend to remember in more ways than one.

I loved this book. There is a breathlessness to the prose that I really enjoyed. ‘In a Dark, Dark Wood’ crackles with atmosphere and it’s so easy to imagine the settings in this tautly and deftly plotted read. The structure has a completeness that is utterly satisfying. Chapter 5 hit me with a jolt and the plot continued to impress throughout. The tension and atmosphere build bit by bit so that the reader is compelled to read on, experiencing psychological elements that are terrifyingly plausible.

Ruth Ware’s writing is so skilful. She builds suspense layer upon layer through the questions Nora asks herself, through her attempts to recall events and through the drip feed of information to the reader. Coupled with the intimacy of Nora’s first person narrative this leads to storytelling that ensnares the reader from the first word to the last.

Characterisation is clever so that the mystery (and I can’t say more without spoilers) is credible and authentic. I really liked the acerbic Nina and although initially I wasn’t entirely convinced that Nora would have attended the hen weekend after such a long time of not being in touch with Clare, once Clare’s personality was revealed I realised I have met equally compelling and charismatic people to whom it is difficult to say no.

I found the presentation of the way our lives can turn on a throw away remark, on a text, on a lie fascinating and I also really enjoyed the iterative imagery of writing and theatre. Even the trees play their role to perfection.

I devoured Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood in less than 24 hours as I couldn’t stop reading, so strong was the pull of the story. Brilliant.

You can follow Ruth Ware on Twitter and her website

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Crooked heart

My enormous thanks to Alison Barrow at Transworld Books for a copy of Lissa Evans’ ‘Crooked Heart’ in return for an honest review. ‘Crooked Heart’ is published in paperback by Black Swan on 31st December 2015 and is also already available in Hardback and ebook from Amazon UKAmazon US and direct from the publishers.

When 10 year old Noel Bostock is evacuated from London to St Albans during the Second World War, staying with Vera Sedge is going to change his life in many ways. Still only 36 herself, Vera has an indolent adult son and a mountain of debt and difficulties so that Noel’s arrival gives her the brain power she needs to live her life differently.

‘Crooked Heart’ is a complete gem of a read. I’m not sure quite how Lissa Evans does it, but she manages to combine humour and exquisite sadness in a blend of perfection so that I loved every word from the opening line to the final full stop.

There’s a fairly small cast of characters so the reader comes to understand them fully. Vera is a complete rogue but utterly convincing and endearing. Noel’s precocious intelligence should make him irritating and annoying but instead he is so beautifully portrayed that I almost couldn’t bear to read on in case life treated him even more harshly. He’s wonderful.

The wartime setting is skilfully conveyed. It’s so easy to picture Lissa Evans’ scenes, whether through description, the queuing system, the bombings, or the dialogue which feels natural and effective. I also loved Vera’s mother Flora’s constant steam of letters advising Churchill how to run the war.

Although I would say ‘Crooked Heart’ is ultimately about love, it has a fabulous balance of wit and empathy in an emotional and compelling combination, exploring justice, morality and education within its narrative. It is both compellingly beautiful and wittily funny as the plot races along and whilst there is a tenderness to the writing, there isn’t a hint of sentimentality to undermine its perfection.

I thought ‘Crooked Heart’ was brilliant and Lissa Evans has gained a new fan.

You can follow Lissa Evans on Twitter and find out more about her on her web site.

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman


I’m delighted to be staring off the winter celebrations for Anne Blankman’s atmospheric book, ‘A Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke’. It was published by Headline on 21st April 2015 and is available in all good book stores as well as here in the UK and here in the US or direct from the publisher.

Gretchen Muller has three rules for her new life:
1. Blend into the surroundings.
2. Don’t tell anyone who you really are.
3. And never, never go back to Germany.

Here Anne tells us about the background to the story and how a factual event led to her novel.

A Blend of Fact and Fiction: The Real-Life Unsolved Homicide that Inspired the Murder in Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

Most of the pieces of Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke came to me fairly quickly, but one—a crucial one—kept eluding me. I had figured out every aspect of the mystery in my story except for the murder. I knew I needed a suspicious death to occur. But what kind of killing should it be? Who was the victim? And how could I connect the dead person to my two main characters?

These questions circled in my head for days. Finally, stumped, I turned to one of my favorite activities: research. Usually reading about my story’s historical background will jumpstart my brain, and this time was no exception. As I flipped through an excellent social history of early twentieth century Berlin, I came across a snippet about a still-unsolved homicide case that had occurred on the last night of 1932.

The story was brief: After a long shift, a young seamstress had gotten off a bus in her working-class neighborhood and began walking home. She probably didn’t pay attention to the man riding a bicycle toward her. In those days, he would have been a common sight: a man dressed in the brown uniform belonging to the SA, one of the divisions within the Nazi Party.

Perhaps she didn’t even notice when he slipped a pistol from its holster and aimed it at her head, shouting, “Heil Hitler!” She wouldn’t have felt the bullet ripping into her skull, shattering bone and slicing up brain matter in a split-second. She was dead before she hit the ground.

The SA man continued bicycling down the street while other Berliners rushed to the dead woman’s aid. The killer didn’t look upset or act concerned; just turned the corner and vanished into the inky-black night.

He was never identified. The homicide case’s file has moldered into dust; a heartbreaking, random stranger-on-stranger crime.

How bizarre, I thought as I reread the passage. I wonder if this man had a secret motive for killing her—it seems like a well-planned street assassination.

And then I felt it. The breathless, shivery feeling of anticipation, the tingle deep in my mind, the signal that this story is meant for me. I knew I had my murder.

I’m sure this will have whetted your appetite for Anne’s writing and you can follow her on Twitter and via her Web Site. You can also see what else is happening for Anne’s winter celebrations with other bloggers here:



Badric’s Island by Amanda Nicol

Badrics island

I am delighted to introduce a rereleased novel by Amanda Nicol, ‘Badric’s Island’, published today, 8th December 2015, by Clink Street. It is available from all good bookshops, online and from Amazon

Badric’s Island

It’s sex in another city when a down on her luck actress in London fancies a new career as a writer in this quirky, chucklesome and relatable novel about a modern woman and her eclectic circle of trusty (and sometimes furry) sidekicks.

“A broken heart is preferable to a broken head.” 

Once a cast member on the hit television show Chefs’ Wives, Rachel Jameson now has the means to live in a home in the swanky Battersea Park area in London where she constantly dreams about one day writing a novel or a comedy script – if only she can actually start writing. With her two best friends, Carla, a single mother – who moonlights as the drummer in a band – and Mica, Carla’s keyboard player by her side, Rachel faces all the trials and tribulations of every woman in an especially humorous and touching fashion with Amanda Nicol’s ever-relatable novel ‘Badric’s Island’.

Just as Carrie Bradshaw and Bridget Jones captured the hearts of women who felt like the classical characters were themselves and their close friends, readers will follow Rachel through her personal and professional adventures and root for the frazzled thirty-something to find her happy ending.

Here’s a teaser from the book!


Rule No. 1: Wanting what you don’t have, chasing it till you’ve got it and then finding out that you didn’t want it after all. In fact you still want what you don’t have, i.e., the thing that you once had when you wanted the other.

Rule No. 2: Work comes when you could do without it.

Rule No. 3: You will be absolutely knackered on all the most important days of your life.

Rule No. 4: However sorted you think you might be, when it comes to this particular issue, you’re lost.

Rule No. 5: When solitude is craved, company will call, and vice-versa.

Rule No. 6: Dreams are dreams and reality is reality and never the twain shall meet.

Rule No. 7: Things that are for the best always feel like utter shite.

Rule No. 8: Feeling any degree of smugness is just asking for trouble.

Rule No. 9: There’s always a perfect time for making matters worse.

Rule No. 10: A broken heart is preferable to a broken head.

About Amanda Nicol:

Amanda Nicol age 22 Houseboat

Living with her husband in Hastings, East Sussex, Amanda Nicol spent 20 years restoring Old Master paintings and is now a full time writer and painter. She is currently working on a memoir of her journey of healing from both mental illness and, more recently, cancer and its treatment both in the UK and in Mexico. Her other titles include ‘Dead Pets Society’ and ‘House of Bread’ (Clink Street Publishing December 2015). Badric’s Island by Amanda Nicol was originally published in 2013 and will be re-released 8th December by Clink Street Publishing (RRP £8.99 paperback, RRP £4.99 ebook).

For more information about Amanda, please visit her web site.