The Lie by Helen Dunmore

the lie

As a change from new books and those languishing on my TBR I’m delighted to have actually read my U3A book group choice again this month! This time it’s The Lie by Helen Dunmore.

The Lie was published by Windmill, a Penguin imprint, in May 2014 and is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

The Lie

the lie

Set during and just after the First World War, The Lie is an enthralling, heart-wrenching novel of love, memory and devastating loss by one of the UK’s most acclaimed storytellers.

Cornwall, 1920, early spring.

A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family.

Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life.

Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him.

He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?

My Review of The Lie

Daniel is back in Cornwall after the First World War but its consequences still resonate in his life.

The Lie is a glorious book. It is exquisite storytelling at its best because the reader is compelled to live every moment with Daniel as a result of the fabulous and almost ethereal prose. Helen Dunmore is not afraid to present the realities of the stench of death and decay, or the beauty of a bunch of violets, for example, so that reading The Lie becomes a truly immersive experience. The author’s use of language is poetic at times and always perfectly attuned to the needs of the narrative. Not a syllable is out of place or wasted. I found Helen Dunmore’s appeal to the senses so vivid and astute that I felt Daniel’s experiences with him and felt I was staring into his very soul as he struggled to come to terms with his perceived guilt.

The plot is wonderful, hinging on one spoken lie early on but encompassing so many more, from the oblique and generic letters sent to those whose loved ones had died in the conflict to the difficulty in accepting the sensuality between Dan and Frederick. Self-deception, identity and love and a desire to do the right thing are all wrapped within untruths, near or half truths making for a mesmerising read.

The Lie rings with all kinds of emotion just under the surface, from passion to hatred, so that I found it a very intense and beautiful book. The way in which Dan’s experiences come back to haunt him, quite literally, made me intensely sad and moved me considerably.

On the surface, the plot of The Lie is actually relatively simple, but this is no ordinary book and I feel reading it once has only allowed me to skim the surface of its nuances. I loved the balance between the army training aspects at the beginning of chapters and how they reflected the events within those chapters. Dan’s mental state writhes through the more prosaic elements so that reading The Lie feels all the more effective and affecting.

I really loved The Lie. I cannot believe it is my first Helen Dunmore book and I feel the world has lost a writer of the utmost skill and talent in her early death. I thought The Lie was wonderful.

About Helen Dunmore

helen dumore

Helen Dunmore was an award-winning novelist, children’s author and poet who will be remembered for the depth and breadth of her fiction. Rich and intricate, yet narrated with a deceptive simplicity that made all of her work accessible and heartfelt, her writing stood out for the fluidity and lyricism of her prose, and her extraordinary ability to capture the presence of the past.

Her first novel, Zennor in Darkness, explored the events which led D. H. Lawrence to be expelled from Cornwall on suspicion of spying, and won the McKitterick Prize. Her third novel, A Spell of Winter, won the inaugural Orange Prize for Fiction in 1996, and she went on to become a Sunday Times bestseller with The Siege, which was described by Antony Beevor as a ‘world-class novel’ and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year and the Orange Prize. Published in 2010, her eleventh novel, The Betrayal, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and The Lie in 2014 was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the 2015 RSL Ondaatje Prize.

Her final novel, Birdcage Walk, deals with legacy and recognition – what writers, especially women writers, can expect to leave behind them – and was described by the Observer as ‘the finest novel Helen Dunmore has written’.

Helen was known to be an inspirational and generous author, championing emerging voices and other established authors. She also gave a large amount of her time to supporting literature, independent bookshops all over the UK, and arts organisations across the world. She died in June 2017.

There is more information on Helen’s website.



When this lovely invitation to join Quercus Books’ Word of Mouth evening arrived I was delighted to have been invited. Little did I realise what a fabulous evening it would be. As well as meeting up with several blogger friends and publicists from Quercus and MacLehose whom I already knew, I got to meet others and to chat with both Sonia Velton and Beth O’Leary about their debut books and I went home with an absolutely bulging goody bag of wonderful forthcoming books.

There were interactive displays showcasing the books as well as nibbles and lots to drink, making for a brilliant evening.


I even added a special lucky dip book from the shelves which turned out to be Retribution Road by Antonin Varenne that you can buy here:

Retribution road

Although I couldn’t carry them all, much as I would have liked to, let me tell you a little bit about the wonderful books coming in the near future that I was so lucky to bring home with me:

Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton


When Esther Thorel, the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel she thinks she is doing God’s will. Sara is not convinced being a maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her grasping ‘madam’ is too good to refuse.

Inside the Thorel’s tall house in Spitalfields, where the strange cadence of the looms fills the attic, the two women forge an uneasy relationship. The physical intimacies of washing and dressing belie the reality: Sara despises her mistress’s blindness to the hypocrisy of her household, while Esther is too wrapped up in her own secrets to see Sara as anything more than another charitable cause.

It is silk that has Esther so distracted. For years she has painted her own designs, dreaming that one day her husband will weave them into reality. When he laughs at her ambition, she unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household and set the scene for a devastating day of reckoning between her and Sara.

The price of a piece of silk may prove more than either is able to pay.


Blackberry and wild rose

Blackberry and Wild Rose is available for pre-order here.

The Lemon Tree Hotel by Rosanna Ley


In the beautiful village of Vernazza, the Mazzone family have transformed an old convent overlooking the glamorous Italian Riviera into the elegant Lemon Tree Hotel. For Chiara, her daughter Elene and her granddaughter Isabella, the running of their hotel is the driving force in their lives.

One day, two unexpected guests check in. The first, Dante, is a face from Chiara’s past, but what exactly happened between them all those years ago, Elene wonders. Meanwhile, Isabella is preoccupied with the second guest, a mysterious young man who seems to know a lot about the history of the old convent and the people who live there. Isabella is determined to find out his true intentions and discover the secret past of The Lemon Tree Hotel.

The Lemon Tree Hotel is available for pre-order here.

The Lemon Tree Hotel

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo


A captivating and magical story set in 1930s Malaysia about a dancehall girl and an orphan boy who are brought together by a series of unexplained deaths and an old Chinese superstition about men who turn into tigers.

They say a tiger that devours too many humans can take the form of a man and walk amongst us…

In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.

Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.

As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.

Captivating and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores the rich world of servants and masters, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and unexpected love. Woven through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.

Night Tiger

The Night Tiger is available for pre-order here.

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan



Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive, but graceful, unique and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped; and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.

On his journey through the old towns of England he reads the fairytales of Ewa Chaplin – potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice – to remain alone with their painful pasts or break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.

A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew’s quest and Bramber’s letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll’s eyes, tricks our own . . .

The Dollmaker

The Dollmaker is available for pre-order here.

Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox


A lost child, the family who try to protect him and the secret that refuses to stay hidden . . .

Molly and Gene Myers were happy, until tragedy blighted their hopes of children. During the years of darkness and despair, they each put their marriage in jeopardy, but now they are starting to rebuild their fragile bond.

This is the year of Woodstock and the moon landings; war is raging in Vietnam and the superpowers are threatening each other with annihilation.

Then the Meteor crashes into Amber Grove, devastating the small New England town – and changing their lives for ever. Molly, a nurse, caught up in the thick of the disaster, is given care of a desperately ill patient rescued from the wreckage: a sick boy with a remarkable appearance, an orphan who needs a mother.

And soon the whole world will be looking for him.

Cory’s arrival has changed everything. And the Myers will do anything to keep him safe.

A remarkable story of warmth, tenacity and generosity of spirit, set against the backdrop of a fast-changing, terrifying decade.

Our child of the stars

Our Child of the Stars is available for pre-order here.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths


A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Susan Hill meets Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

stranger diaries

The Stranger Diaries is available for pre-order here.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary



Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly-imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

The Flatshare is available for pre-order here.

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Quercus table

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

Beautiful bad

Beautiful Bad is available for pre-order here.

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

dirty little secrets

Death stalked the Vale.
In every corner, every whisper.
They just didn’t know it yet.

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

Dirty Little Secrets is available for pre-order here.

I’d just like to thank everyone at Quercus for inviting me to such a wonderful evening, from the authors to those serving the nibbles and drinks. I’m so looking forward to reading these fabulous books over the next few months. My godness Quercus – you’ve got some stunning books coming…

quercus 2019

Even when it’s not fun – it’s fun: A Guest Post by Gill Paul, Author of The Lost Daughter

The Lost Daughter

Having met lovely Gill Paul on several occasions, I cannot believe this is her first visit to Linda’s Book Bag! I’m thrilled that Gill has agreed to be on the blog and tell me all about what it’s like in the run up to publication day – especially as Gill’s latest book, The Lost Daughter, will be published in paperback next week.

The Lost Daughter is currently available for 99p as an ebook here and will be available in paperback on 18th October 2018.

The Lost Daughter

The Lost Daughter

A Russian princess. An extraordinary sacrifice. A captivating secret…

From the author of The Secret Wifea gripping journey through decades and across continents, of love, devastating loss and courage against all odds.

With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of Russia’s imperial family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria Romanova captivates two of the guards, it will lead to a fateful choice between right and wrong.

Fifty-five years later . . .
Val rushes to her father’s side when she hears of his troubling end-of-life confession: ‘I didn’t want to kill her.’ As she unravels the secrets behind her mother’s disappearance when she was twelve years old, she finds herself caught up in one of the world’s greatest mysteries.

Even when it’s not fun – it’s fun

A Guest Post by Gill Paul

Publication month means Biro-chewing, existential angst and living on wine and adrenaline for most authors of my acquaintance. Six months earlier, there will have been a sunny, optimistic meeting with the PR person, possibly over lunch, when we gleefully planned articles we would write for newspapers and identified lots of marketing angles to explore. In the weeks prior to publication, reality sinks in: few of these early ideas tend to pan out. There will be other opportunities, though, and we start bandwagon-jumping and haunting social media, as if one perfect Tweet will make all the difference.

A few weeks before the pub date, you learn the print run and which shops and supermarkets (if you’re lucky) are going to stock the book, but you generally have no idea if there will be any magazine reviews, or how readers will react to it. If you are brave enough to let your novel be released to Amazon Vine readers, early reviews will pop up there, but it’s nerve-racking because they are a critical bunch and you could be stuck with one- or two-star reviews that will be the first thing anyone searching for your book sees. GoodReads also posts pre-publication reviews, and if you are super-brave you can look on Netgalley and check out what the bloggers are saying. I’ve never done this – I’m far too much of a wuss!

Of course, those of us who write for a living should learn to be business-like about it, but it’s well-nigh impossible when your creativity – and possibly your career – are on the line. It always feels personal.

The blog tour arrives like manna from heaven. Bloggers tend to agree to be on a tour if they already know they like your work, or if the idea of the book appeals to them, so you’re in with a good chance of favourable reviews. Every morning, you haunt social media till the review pops up then you bathe in the glow of any favourable words or phrases. When other bloggers retweet, you want to kiss them. Suddenly you are not alone!

If there is a brilliant new review on Amazon, if a reader contacts you directly to say they loved the book, or if your agent rings with news of a foreign sale, you’re positively floating on air. Fellow authors tend to be supportive too because we all understand the nervy reality behind the chocolate-box images of Prosecco, launch parties and pub day flowers.

Some authors tougher than me log in daily to Amazon Author Central and check their ranking as it surges up – and then down – almost minute by minute. I used to do this but, frankly, I’m not resilient enough any more. The fact is, there’s little I can do to influence it at this stage. My main role was the previous year, when I wrote the best book I could possibly write.

I envy the authors who don’t get involved in any of this. Kate Atkinson said in a Guardian interview last weekend that she refuses to do social media and seldom reads reviews; Elena Ferrante had bestsellers back when no one knew who she was. But for most of us, marketing is part and parcel of the writers’ world because there are thousands upon thousands of new books to choose from at any given time.

In the midst of my adrenaline-angstiness, I heard a wonderfully inspiring, very honest interview on Radio 4 with Stephen Sondheim, who is still writing musicals at the age of 88. He admitted they are not as good as his past work but remarked “What else would I do?” He said that the artist’s life is full of setbacks and rejections, but that we should all paste a notice on our bathroom mirrors and look at it each morning, and the notice should say “Even when it’s not fun – it’s fun.” I’ve been thinking about that ever since and feeling the truth of it: how lucky I am to be a published author and get paid to make up stories; how lucky to work with bookish people like Linda, who generously agreed to host this blog. Hope you are all having a super-fun day!

(It’s my pleasure to host you Gill. I think every author can relate to your words. I wish you every success with The Lost Daughter. It looks an absolutely fabulous book and one which I shall be reading just as soon as I can.)

About Gill Paul

Gill Paul

Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in relatively recent history. Her novel, Another Woman’s Husband, is about links you might not have been aware of between Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Gill’s other novels include The Secret Wife, published in 2016, about the romance between cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Russia’s last tsar, who first met in 1914. Women and Children First is about a young steward who works on the Titanic. The Affair was set in Rome in 1961–62 as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fell in love while making Cleopatra. And No Place for a Lady is about two Victorian sisters who travel out to the Crimean War of 1854–56 and face challenges beyond anything they could have imagined.

All of Gill’s lovely books can be found here.

You can follow Gill on Twitter @GillPaulAUTHOR, visit her website and find her on Facebook for more information.

An Extract from Double Double Toil by Amber Elby

Double Double Toil Cover

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend an ‘evening in’ with Amber Elby chatting all about her book Cauldron’s Bubble in a post you can read here. Today I’m delighted to be supporting Amber’s latest release, the second book in her Netherfeld series Double Double Toil and to be able to share a fabulous extract from the book with you.

Double Double Toil is available for purchase here.

Double Double Toil

Double Double Toil Cover

Six months after the events of Cauldron’s Bubble, Alda is stranded in her remote cottage, unable to recreate the magical object that allows her to travel between time and place. Meanwhile, Dreng’s home with Miranda on a distant island begins to crumble. They both escape to Fairy Land, where they become embroiled in a battle of immortals as the clans of Queen Titania and King Oberon fight for supremacy. In order to evade capture and return to their worlds, Dreng must rely on his adversary, Caliban, while Alda discovers an ally in the mysterious Ophelia. In a realm where only humans can die, will Alda and Dreng save themselves and, more importantly, each other? Or will they succumb to the fantastical powers in play?

Double Double Toil continues to build on the world introduced in Cauldron’s Bubble by intertwining Shakespeare’s plays in a unique and exciting way, introducing their stories to new readers and established Bard fans alike. Elements and characters from Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet combine in this fast-paced tale of magic and adventure. Read on…

An Extract from Double Double Toil

But then there was silence. Minutes of silence. The cottage grew darker as the moon passed overhead, its beams no longer breaking through the windows.

Alda counted her heartbeats. Once they slowed, she stepped away from the door.

Nothing happened.

She hesitated as she reached for the doorknob but set her jaw and forced her shaking hand forward. As soon as her fingers encircled the iron handle, she swung the door open, hoping to shock whatever was waiting.

Outside, all was calm. Silent. The smell of midnight dew on leaves. The moonbeams flickering through oaks, shining from almost directly above. The distant resort, dark, its electric lights extinguished in the midnight hour. The gentle flow of the Grand River, its waters unmoving and unmoved.

No breeze. No noise. No fireflies. Nothing.

It was not natural.

Alda knew she could not remain in the cottage, fearful and confined, so she summoned all her courage, screwing it into her heart until it stuck, and slowly walked across the bridge, her hands trembling.

She reached a fork in the trail and listened. To her left was the city and civilization. To her right, the railroad bridge and Sandstone Creek and, beyond that, the forest where the spiritualists had pitched their camp.

(Now doesn’t that make you want to dive right in?) 

About Amber Elby

Standing Stone Photo.jpg

Amber Elby was born in Grand Ledge, Michigan but spent much of her childhood in the United Kingdom.  She began writing when she was three years old and created miniature books by asking her family how to spell every, single, word.

Several years later, she saw her first Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, in London.

Many years later, she studied Creative Writing at Michigan State University’s Honors College before earning her Master of Fine Arts degree in Screenwriting at the University of Texas at Austin.

She currently resides in Texas with her husband and two daughters and spends her time teaching, traveling, and getting lost in imaginary worlds.

You can find Amber on Goodreads and follow her on Twitter @amberelby. Amber also has a super website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Blog Tour Banner

Staying in with Mark Anthony Tierno


It’s another new to me author staying in for the evening on Linda’s Book Bag as I welcome Mark Anthony Tierno to tell me about one of his books.

Staying in with Mark Anthony Tierno

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Mark.

No, her book bag’s in the corner over there, this one’s mine.  The teacher said I could have it for–  What?  Huh?  Oh, that’s right; interview.  Sorry, I was having a flashback to grammar school.

Ha! As an ex-teacher previously known as ‘The Dragon Lady’, you might want to reconsider being here tonight, but thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Not a problem.  My old place is being redecorated so I really needed a place to stay…  Oh, interview again.  I mean– thank-you for having me on the program.

(My pleasure – I think!)

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?


Well, it’s a little book in two volumes entitled Maldene.  It’s the first of my big epic fantasy series of 13 books.  And since one has to start somewhere, then might as well start withe the first one.  It reads a lot better than way.

(Start at the very beginning…)

What can we expect from an evening in with Maldene?

Probably the possibility of missing work for the next three days.  I’ve actually had readers get a bit caught up in it, which for a story that measures about 330,000 words (between volumes One and Two) is quite an accomplishment.  One blogger compared it as being Lord of the Rings meets The Odyssey.

(Crikey. That’s quite a definition! I don’t mind missing work as I’m ‘retired’ anyway!)


The book starts out as epic fantasy but the series as a whole is actually fantasy with some science fiction elements.  The Sci-Fi angle starts to rear it’s head in the second full novel, Maldene II:  Mysteries Of Olde.  For now though, well if you like dragons then you’ll see a big one at the beginning of the book, but that’s only the warm-up.  Our heroes journey across the far seas, across three continents of the world of Maldene, visit another world, and run afoul of the plans of the most villainous bad guy of them all:  Miro.

As for what makes Miro so bad, well that’s pretty much what the story revolves around.  He’s a long-burn villain, and you don’t really get to see him cut loose until Maldene VI.  He’s the guy lurking in the shadows, a villain with no soul but an incalculable intellect and power beyond anyone’s measure.  The type of villain you are free to boo at, as you try to fathom what his plan could possibly be.

(Miro sounds an interesting person!)

What else have you brought along and why?

I’ve brought a memory, the stimulus for what began the journey to Maldene.  As a kid I got really tired of watching the bad guys spout their complete plans before the good guys instead of just killing the punk.  I saw very few bad guys that were what I would call truly villainous.  So, I desired to create the ultimate villain  A guy with no scruples, the type that if he let you live then it was because it was all a part of his plan.  A villain who could plan centuries deep.

Of course, it takes a while to plan out a story epic enough to befit such a villain, and one must have a goal that this villain would find worth his time to go after.  Many years passed as I planned everything out, years during which I completed school and my degrees, years during which I helped my Mom take care of my Parkinson’s-ridden Dad (a story in itself).  When finally I started there actual writing of the series, things were looking pretty bleak; my Dad could barely walk, money was very low, and everything pretty bad off.  But then my Gandpa’s old house burned down (he’d passed away many years prior), which brought in enough money to get things moving a bit and that’s when I started the writing (while still helping out with my Dad, of course).  A side effect of this, is that when my parents saw me writing a book, and then another and another– well, the general mood rose.  The household was as bad as it could get, but my writing brought some much needed cheer and a smile or two as my mom told my Dad, “Bill, our son’s a *writer*!”

So that is what else I bring with me today… Hope.

Oh! That’s wonderful. I bet your parents were very proud of you. Thanks so much for staying in with me today Mark. I wish you every success with your series.



Maldene is a world of magic and science, wizards and dragons; but home also to an incredible secret. One jealously guarded by History’s most villainous being: Miro. For centuries his presence has been plaguing the nightmares of gods and men; the world is in his thrall, there is no one willing to face him.

Or perhaps there is. The young wizard Sabu, and his elven friend Eldar, lead their companions on a journey to seek a destiny foretold them by a blind gold-skinned gypsy. Fighting a three-hundred foot dragon will be but the beginning of this quest, as they journey the globe in search of answers to the mystery of Miro’s villainy, and uncover the world’s long-buried secrets. For they are destined to lead a new battle against this most ancient of evils, to gather all beneath the banner of a mysterious King and face the unfaceable.

There is just one problem: Miro is counting on their success.

An epic in itself, but this is only half of this first novel of Maldene. Read the rest of it in Maldene Volume Two, and see the dramatic conclusion that but paves the way for far more to come.

Maldene is available for purchase here.

About Mark Anthony Tierno


A full-time author and ghostwriter, Southern California native Mark Anthony Tierno has crafted a truly epic fantasy novel that will take you to the ends of a world of magic, alien vistas, and ultimate evil.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Physics, which often plays well in his creation of other worlds, and is the author of both the Maldene series and his Inspector Flaatphut series, as well as others yet to be seen.  He has this one problem with writing, though:  he can’t stop!  When he’s not working on his own projects he’s working on someone else’s, and currently has ideas for a LOT more… if he can just find the time away from the rest of it.

You can find Mark Anthony Tierno on Facebook, visit his website and follow him on Twitter @MarkATierno.

An Interview with Tamara Veitch and Rene DeFazio

Front Cover The Emissary

Having taught in the same school as my husband in the past, worked with him in his photography business and spending pretty much 24 hours a day together for much of the last 35 years, I’m fascinated how professional relationships work when people are romantically involved with one another. Consequently, it gives me great pleasure to interview the authors of The Emissary, Tamara Veitch and Rene DeFazio who are also a married couple.

Published by Waterside Publishing, The Emissary is available for purchase through these links.

The Emissary

Front Cover The Emissary

Maxwell Quinn, a laid-back, pot-smoking blogger based in Seattle, is no ordinary soul.  He is the reincarnation of Marcus, born 13,000 years ago in the land of Atitala during mankind’s Golden Age.  Since then Marcus has been reincarnated an exhausting number of times, and his energy is waning.  But his purpose remains clear – to guide mankind in its evolution and to reunite with his true love, Theron, his childhood sweetheart.  But evil always stands in his way – until now.

Mixing spirituality, fantasy, and adventure, authors Tamara Veitch and Rene DeFazio have written The Emissary (Waterside Press, October 2018), a sprawling novel that takes readers on an epic journey as they witness history through Marcus’s many lives.

As a child in Atitala, Marcus and his best friends Theron and Helghul enjoy the advantages of living in a peaceful, sacred world.  But chaos is on the horizon, and their ancient land is about to be destroyed.  To ensure civilization’s survival, the Elders of Atitala select a small group of Emissaries, including the three youngsters, who through many reincarnations are destined to lead humanity into an era of peace and prosperity.  But tragedy strikes.  Marcus and Theron are separated as they flee Atitala, while Helghul is possessed by the forces of evil.  Each time that Marcus and Theron are reunited through the ages, Helghul brutalizes them and forces them apart, determined to ruin all hope for mankind’s salvation.

The Emissary is the first book in The One Great Year series.  The concept for the series is based on documentation from more than thirty-one ancient civilizations, tracking the Earth through a 26,000 year cycle as it slowly wobbles on its axis.  Today NASA refers to this phenomenon as “the period of one complete cycle of the equinoxes around the ecliptic.”  Plato simploy called it “The Great Year.”  Using this as a unifying theme, Veitch and DeFazio also reference philosophies and archaeological sites that they researched long before they began writing.  Currently working on books II and III in The One Great Year series, the authors continue to travel in search of esoteric knowledge and cultural insights that will inspire their readers.

Intertwining the elements of great writing with deep philosophical thought and natural history, The Emissary is destined to become a classic.  It is an unforgettable tale of eternal love, betrayal, and the hope that binds us all.

An interview with Tamara Veitch and Rene DeFazio

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag. Thank you both so much for agreeing to answer some questions about The Emissary.  How did your writing collaboration come about?

The Emissary was a story begging to be told. The inception of our collaboration still feels like divine intervention. We met by chance and began dating, but we were from two different worlds. Rene was a struggling actor-producer-writer who went globetrotting as soon as a check came in, and Tamara was a mother with deep roots in her community, a mural painting business, and a lifelong passion for writing. We fell in love, but our life paths didn’t make sense together. Just when our relationship seemed doomed, Rene heard a voice in his head saying, “write a book you idiot!” We instantly knew that was what we were meant to do. Rene had the perfect screenplay treatment tucked away, just waiting for us to bring it to life as a novel. Tamara was blown away by the fascinating reincarnation tale of eternal love, betrayal, and the hope that binds us all. We started writing the very next day.

We are now happily married and are thrilled to be releasing The Emissary, Book I in The One Great Year Series.

What an exciting journey. Congratulations on both The Emissary and a successful relationship!

How is your research allocated?

We visit the cities and countries we write about whenever possible. We have traveled South America, Asia, Europe and Africa, and it definitely helps our settings feel more authentic. In The Emissary, the location of Stone-at-Center is based on the ancient, mysterious monolithic site in Bolivia known as Tiwanaku. Seeing the pyramid, architecture and landscape firsthand during our visit there, helped us bring the setting to life. In general, Rene does the brunt of the research which adds up to years of detailed inquiry. Tamara also researches topics and individuals as she writes, in order to get details just right.

Travel and books – what a perfect combination. 

How do your respective arts backgrounds affect your writing?

Our backgrounds have had a huge impact on our work. Tamara has always loved words and hears the melody and flow in language. Studying literature, philosophy and history in university gave her a broad basis to draw from in our novels.  Rene has a background in video and film, and has a very visual outlook. His training and experience as an actor has also heightened our understanding of character development, dialogue and pace. Our combined skill sets make our books an exceptionally visual and entertaining experience.

So, how do you ensure continuity of style and approach?

People often think that we take turns writing chapters but in actuality, we write every paragraph cooperatively. We endeavor to honor the different strengths that each of us brings to the table. Tamara ensures the language and voice are consistent, poignant and high quality, and Rene ensures the storyline and details are accurate, fresh and exciting. Throughout the process we try to think like our main character Marcus and we ask ourselves what would a thirteen thousand year old man know that the rest of us do not?Together we have created an original story that we are excited to share with the world.

It really does sound a very intriguing read.

Are there any difficulties in writing collaboratively?

Any time you have two strong willed creative types working together, especially husband and wife, you can encounter difficulty. Working together we have run the full gamut of emotions but over the years, as we continued discovering the amazing material that is the foundation of The Emissary, we felt an overwhelming responsibility to tell this story right. It was vital that we give The Emissary the respect it deserved, because ultimately it felt bigger than both of us. It isn’t always easy but our relationship has grown stronger and we couldn’t be prouder of the work. We have completed Book I The Emissary, and Book II The Emerald Tablet, will be released in February 2019. Books III and IV in The One Great Year series are also underway!

It sounds like you have plenty to keep you both occupied!

What are the benefits of such an approach to writing?

Falling deeply in love while writing an epic love story has its benefits. The truth of the soulmate journey resonates through the story. We also recognize that by working together we significantly improve the quality of one other’s writing. We each bring different life-experiences and perspectives and we build on one another’s words and ideas. Writing can often be a lonely, fretful journey so we are grateful to share the highs and lows of this passion with the full support of our life partner.

I’d say that sounds ideal.

Who has the final say in the editing process?

We both have final say. If we can’t agree on something big, we don’t have the right answer yet. We have come to trust each other. If one of us has a strong point of view in a scene, the other will usually defer to his or her opinion. Though there have been long days when finding agreement has been difficult, we have learned to take a break, go for lunch, even wait a day or two. Eventually the right words and ideas come and we always write something we are both totally happy with.

Who has the greatest skill in writing description, dialogue, character etc?

That’s a great question! Tamara is the wordsmith. Usually Rene will lay down the outline and set the tone and character arc then Tamara turns it into beautiful, lyrical sentences. After that, we pass the manuscript back and forth until we are both happy with the outcome. That can take years, but now the time of The Emissary is finally here!

Congratulations to you both on The Emissary and here’s to many more years of writing together.

About the Authors

tamara and rene

Rene DeFazio, who was born and rasied in Canada, currently lives in the Vancouver area with his wife and writing partner, Tamara Veitch.  Rene is an actor and producer with numerous film and television roles to his credit, as well as countless commercials and print ads.  A world traveler and lifelong adventurer, Rene has called upon his unusual and exciting experiences in co-creating the One Great Year book series of which The Emissary is the first installment.  His tireless research and first-hand knowledge of exotic locations, customs, sights, and smells help to bring this epic story to life.

Tamara Veitch is a writer, mural artist, and mother of three.  She grew up in Canada and attended Simon Fraser University, studying English and Psychology.  Tamara has had a lifelong interest in spiritual wisdom and has carefully researched ancient teachings from many traditions to ensure historical accuracy through the One Great Year book series.

You can find out more by following @OneGreatYear on Twitter and visiting the One Great Year website. You’ll also find One Great Year on Facebook.

Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler

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My enormous thanks to lovely Katherine Sunderland at No Exit Press for a surprise copy of Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler in return for an honest review.

Paris in the Dark will be published on 25th October 2018 and is available for pre-order through the links here.

Paris in the Dark

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Autumn 1915. The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front.

Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, a Chicago reporter and undercover agent for the US government is in Paris when he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her but soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission.

Parisians are meeting ‘death by dynamite’ in a new campaign of bombings, and the German-speaking Kit seems just the man to discover who is behind this – possibly a German operative who has infiltrated with the waves of refugees?

And so begins a pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limits of his principles, wits and talents for survival.

My Review of Paris in the Dark

1915 Paris is under threat and not just from the Germans.

I thoroughly enjoyed Paris in the Dark, not least because it’s not my usual genre and it was so refreshing to read a spy thriller. More importantly, however, is the overall quality of Robert Olen Butler’s writing. I found that not only did I enjoy the story but I so admired the craftsmanship. Robert Olen Butler knows exactly how much information to reveal to the reader so that they are engaged and intrigued. He also has the perfect balance of sentence structure, realising that less is more at just the right moment. I loved this style.

I thought the title Paris in the Dark was inspired because much of the action takes place at night but Paris is both literally and metaphorically in the dark as Kit Cobb tries to work out who is behind a series of bombings. Careful attention to detail gives an almost cinematic picture of Paris in 1915 so that I could easily imagine the scenes and appreciated the authenticity of the writing.

There’s a fast paced and exciting plot that is enhanced and complemented by the developing relationships between Kit and those around him. For me, the greatest enjoyment came from the insight into Kit as a man as there’s a deep psychological aspect to the book too. Kit, and therefore, the reader, explores the concept of identity throughout. Kit is a reporter, a friend, a lover, a spy, an assassin and above all else a man not entirely at ease with any of his roles so that the reader is fascinated by his actions and responses. Reading Paris in the Dark has made me hungry to know more about Kit Cobb.

Paris in the Dark is a corker of a read, being atmospheric and exciting. It’s my first introduction to Robert Olen Butler’s writing but the sheer quality means I shall be reading more very soon. I thought this was such an effective and interesting read.

About Robert Olen Butler

robert olen butler

Robert Olen Butler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, and seventeen other novels including Hell,A Small HotelPerfume River, and the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series. He is also the author of six short story collections and a book on the creative process, From Where You Dream.

He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and received the 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, he also won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and has received two Pushcart Prizes. In 2013 he won the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He is the author of three historical novels, The Hot Country, The Star of Istanbul andThe Empire of Night, all part of the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series published by No Exit Press.

Reminiscent of Cobb, Robert Olen Butler trained as an actor, worked as a reporter, went to war and engaged in intelligence collection. He now teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

For more information you can follow Robert Olen Butler on Twitter @RobtOlenButler and visit his website.