Sunday Spotlight: John Williamson, author of Collision

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support.

Today's author is John Williamson, author of Collision.

About John:

J.M.J. Williamson
I grew up in York, graduated in economics from Hull University, and then moved to London to make a career as a charted accountant working for one of the world's largest firms of chartered accountants.

I am now retired living in Bedfordshire and pursuing what I love most - writing.

I love sci-fi movies and books, and I love writing. It was therefore not surprising that my first novel published would be a sci- fi novel.


Tell us what makes Collision unique

Collision is a thriller, a sci-fi and a love story all in one novel. It started life as an idea. A man is running along a beach at night when a UFO crashes further down the beach after a high altitude collision with a US spy plane. However, when he gets to the crash site it has gone. But now the US, UK and Russian secret services are trying to find it and the mysterious catwoman to get hold of the UFO technology.

The main characters are the man of the beach (Ben), a university lecturer, and the mysterious catwoman seen on the beach (Elle). The antagonists include the secret services of three nations and some more. Let’s just say the UFO is not what it first seems. No spoilers here.

Your book is labelled a sci-fi romance, what attracted you to that genre?

I don’t think I set out to write a cross-genre story. I wrote the story I wanted to tell and then looked for the best way to describe it. At the heart of the story is a classic Sci-Fi trope: time travel. There is also a strong romantic theme to the story, which is something more than just the ‘B’ story. At the time of publication I chose sci-fi romance as the best way of describing the story. But with the benefit of hindsight I may have been wrong. The story does not easily fit into mainstream Sci-Fi or Romance genres. An alternative would have been to place it under the thriller genre which captures some elements of speculative fiction.

In your bio you describe your love of sci-fi movies, what would you say was the main difference between sci-fi movies and novels? (minus the obvious of course)

Money. Hollywood tends to choose stories that will make the biggest impact on the box office. Most of these tend to be storylines with positive endings rather than tragedies. But then again I tend to like positive endings.

Money is also important to finance the amount of time and resources invested in a blockbuster movie. Unlike a novel, a movie is a collective effort of numerous writers, the director, actors and technicians. A huge effort goes into preproduction and post production to produce the highest of quality stories. Every second of a movie is there for a specific reason, and what is surplus ends up on the cutting room floor.

Compare that to time and resources available to the poor novelist who has to rely on himself/herself plus maybe a helpful agent, and an editor.

Having said that I believe a writer can learn a lot about story design from analysing why certain movies are so successful.

Who is your favourite character of your creation?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I like them all in different ways. I would say Jean Daniels who plays the main antagonist in Collision. She’s a relentless CIA operative who will stop at nothing to achieve her objective. But she’s not driven by selfish reasons or greed — others are. She’s a patriot following in the footsteps of her heroic father. In some respects she is a mirror image of the main character (Elle), who is a workaholic. The only difference between them is that Daniels has psychopathic tendencies: she doesn’t have any boundaries she wouldn’t cross to get what she wants.

Which authors would you say influenced your work the most?

In my younger days, I would say the Sci-Fi writers: Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson. They certainly stirred my interest in science fiction. More recently, I have learned a lot from the works of Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth.

Give us an excerpt of a favourite review you have received for one of your books.

Here are two extracts:

“… an immense and complex thrill seeking adventure. It gives way to strong characters and constant action with a little romance thrown in for good measure…”

“This is a novel about high-tech, industrial espionage, corporate greed and… time travel!”

Do you have anything new in the works that we should look out for?

Yes. I’m in the editing phase of my second novel, which I hope to publish in the autumn. It’s another sci-fi story set again in the current day. The main characters are a unmarried mother with a sixteen-year-old daughter running a spa hotel in a Yorkshire village whose best friend is an alien, and a redundant investment banker from the City of London! Together they must save the Earth from enslavement by evil alien corporations. And No, before you laugh, it’s not a comedy. I said it was unusual. There is some more detail about the book on my website

Tell us something unexpected about the life of an author.

With the exception of the big-named authors, the vast majority of writers don’t make a huge amount from their writing. They write because they love to write. Of course, we would all love to write the blockbuster novel and movie. But the reality is that you’re more likely to be hit by lightening than get such a pay-off.

Having worked in the City of London for almost forty years as a chartered accountant before retiring I’m fortunate in not having to rely on my writing to put food on the table. But other indie authors are not so lucky, many having to combine their writing with a full time job.

Is there anything else you want the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?

I’m always contactable through my website at and I would love to have feedback from readers. In fact, like most writers I crave feedback. Also if anyone would like to review my new book before publication drop me a line.

About Collision:
Collision - a sci fi romanceThis is a story about corporate greed, espionage and time travel. But it’s also a love story about two scientists from different times, who are caught up in the events.

A UFO collides with a US spy plane at 150,000 feet, but survives. US military intelligence track the path of the UFO to a beach in Northern England, before they lose sight of it. After a call from the Whitehouse to Downing Street, MI6 are tasked to work with the CIA to investigate the UFO. But with the UFO now gone, the only clue to its whereabouts is a mysterious cat woman seen by a witness on the beach.

The morning after the incident, a young woman wakes up in a service station after sleeping there overnight. Traumatic memories of her escape, from the night before, flood into her mind. Now her only chance of returning home is to find the scientist who shares her field of research, and persuade him to help her before the security forces catch her.

Find out more about Collision on Goodreads | Website

Review: Affairs of the Dead by A.J. Locke

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Affairs of the Dead (The Reanimation Files #1)Series: The Reanimation Files #1
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: November 25th 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis: "Help ghosts, stop a thief, and try not to die..."
Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can move on. But when breaking the rules gets her in trouble, she's bumped down to tracking ghosts trying to avoid the afterlife. Ghosts like Ethan Lance, who claims he was kicked out of his body when someone else jumped in. Which might be plausible--if such a thing were possible. And if Micah, Selene's partner, didn't pull her into an investigation of brutal murders that lead directly back to Ethan.
But when the whole mess puts Selene's life in danger, she suddenly has very personal reasons to get Ethan's body back. Between her uncomfortable relationship with Micah, and problems with her boss, Selene learns just how much trouble it can be when you don't follow the rules...
First Line: "I was in a strip club trying to help a ghost get laid, which was challenging but not impossible."

I'll be honest with you guys about the reason I decided to pick this book up. I haven't read a good paranormal book with a sassy heroine in a long time and one look at the cover confirmed for me that this was the perfect book to restart on. I know, I know, judging a book by its cover is a really bad idea, however this time it really did pay off. Selene was just as sassy as the cover model suggested she would be and the novel had the satisfying mixture of romance and action that I expect from a good urban fantasy. From the moment I read the first line I knew this book was for me. The reason I always include the first line in my reviews is that it is so important for the reader to be grabbed right away. This doesn't have to be through action or humour, it can also simply be from language style or plot set up. Affairs of the Dead nailed it, I like a book that fills me with questions from the start and slowly reveals all and A.J. Locke succeeded here. I doubt many of you who enjoy the genre are able to read that first line and be satisfied not knowing what comes next.

It has been such a long time since I actually prefered the female protagonist of the story to the male one. It is a fact that most books that are aimed at women very much focus on the male protagonist because the trick to gaining a fanbase is having all the women fall totally in love with the main male character. I am in no way complaining about this device, I love falling for a new guy every time I pick up a book, however the problem many authors come across is in focusing so much on this male character, the female protagonist winds up underdeveloped. I almost wrote that this device is reversed in Affairs of the Dead but that would be to suggest that the male protagonist was underdeveloped which is certainly not the case. You can tell that Selene is the main focus of the story, she is sassy, hilarious, independant but also sweet and kind, the kind of multifaceted personality you would expect from the traditional male love interest. She is a heroine so skillfully crafted that you can both admire and relate to her. There are various male protagonists in the novel and every one of them is just as developed. Ethan is absolutely adorable, like the younger brother we all wish we had, and Micah is just lovely, somewhat aloof to begin with but that's exactly what you would expect. You don't just automatically become comfortable with someone right away after all. Locke's characters are both likable and realistic in a balance that many authors just cannot manage.

Affairs of the Dead is not your traditional ghost story. A.J. Locke creates a world unlike anything I have seen before. The necromancers and the normal people coexist peacefully, the ghosts are no secret they are a fact of life. I really think the deviation from the norm of the ghost world being shrouded in secrets works well here. Locke creates a world that we can actually imagine existing that operates almost exactly like ours with the exception of us lacking a necromancer network. Overall, I really loved this book and was gripped from start to end, which was rather inconvenient given that I started it in one of my busiest periods! Locke incorporates both light fun and serious, heartrending events masterfully. I would recommend this book to anyone remotely interested in the genre, or those who are bored of bland characters, because once you start you just can't stop turning the pages.

Look out for my review of Requiem for the Living, book 2 in the Reanimation Files, coming very soon!

Tell me what you thought of my review in the comments and while you're here please check out all my active giveaways in order to find gems just like this one! 

Sunday Spotlight: Christine Keleny, Author of Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

I know it's not Sunday, don't worry, but I am now caught up from my very busy period earlier this month.

Visiting with us today is Christine Keleny, author of Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up.

About Christine:

Christine Keleny
I am a writer, reader, author, editor, book designer and publisher. I am a mother of two, mostly grown, children and a wife. I like working with my hands, so when the need or desire arises, I crochet, sew, tile, paint, cross stitch, frame pictures, stain furniture, cut and split fire wood, x-country ski, train and ride horses…

But my main loves are writing and helping others publish the book of their dreams. I started writing in college (a while ago!) and haven't stopped since. I'm having the time of my life!

Find out more on Goodreads | Amazon | Website


Hi there Christine!
Tell us about your book, ‘Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up’.
Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym for some 28 writers of Nancy Drew, though there were three primary writers. But who really created Nancy is a significant controversy in the Nancy Drew world, so that is what my story is about, the three primary characters of Nancy and how she came into being.

What inspired you to write a Nancy Drew rewrite of sorts?
My book is not a mystery, but it is fiction. It tells of the lives of the three primary creators of Nancy and shows what influences they all had in writing her story.

Which of the characters is your favourite and why?
I think I like Nancy’s first creator, Edward Stratemeyer, the best. He sounds like he was a very interesting and pleasant man. He was very creative and a prolific children’s writer. He really made writing for children a thing. He wrote the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift and many many more.

Tell us about your other works.
My first three books are what I call my Rose series (Rosebloom, A Burnished Rose, Rose From the Ashes). They are three books about a young farm girl in Wisconsin in 1936 who runs away from home to get a job on a Mississippi riverboat. Book I is about her time on and along the river, Book II is when she becomes a nurse in WWII and book III is when she comes home.
Then there is “Living in the House of Drugs.” That is a memoir I wrote for a recovering addict and alcoholic that grew up in the Chicago projects.
“The Red Velvet Box” is a book I only have as an ebook. I want to illustrate that book so have not put it in print yet. It is set in 1951 and is about a young girl and her relationship to her grandmother, who is getting forgetful. She connects with and helps her grandmother through a box of old Christmas ornaments.

What authors would you say influenced your work the most?
I write mostly historical fiction because I love history and I think it’s a great way for people to learn about our past. I’m not sure there is any one author, but the king of historical fiction in my eyes is Gore Vidal.

I read that you also help struggling writers get published, tell us about that.
My day job (which is my second career) is my indie publishing company: CKBooks Publishing
I offer editing – all types - print book formatting, ebook formatting, simple cover design and book publishing. Or I can just answer any questions a writer might have. Whether you are self-publishing or going the traditional route, there is a lot of information out there and it can be confusing, so I like to help authors by answering any questions they might have about the process. I was a new author once myself, so I like to help when I can.

What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out?
Read a lot, especially in the genre that you’re writing in, but really any good writing is helpful to read, and of course, write a lot. Don’t worry if it’s any good, just write. Computers make it so easy to change things after the fact.

I read that you have won an award for your work; did you ever imagine you’d get so far?
It’s nice to feel like others think you are doing well with your writing, but that is really just a marketing thing when a writer puts their book into a writing contest. What readers I really want to impress are the ones I meet at book events or online.

What other upcoming books should we look for from you?
When you asked about writers who influenced me, one I have really resonated with lately is Alan Bradley. He has written the Flavia de Luse mystery series. So I am going to attempt to write my first middle-grade mystery about a 12 year old girl by the name of Agnes Kelly. Agnes is a precocious girl in 1961, who is taken under her grandmother’s wing after her father dies. Grandma thinks there is something fishy about her son’s death and Agnes gets drawn into the mystery. But in the style of Alan Bradley and JK Rowling, I’d like my book to transcend age limits. We’ll see!

Is there anything else you want the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?
As a promoter of indie authors, I would like to remind readers that no matter who you read, please leave reviews of what you’ve read. It is so important to any writer, but especially writers who don’t have a large publishing company to back them up. It also helps other readers. There are so many books out there to choose from and your opinion does matter!

Thank you for joining us at Confessions of a Bookaholic!
Thanks for having me! And happy reading!

About Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up:

Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up
If you always wondered how the plucky, intelligent, resourceful, and famous girl sleuth we affectionately call Nancy came into being, “Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up” will give you insights into the lives of the three primary creators of Nancy and her pals and the controversy that still rages today about who really created the Nancy that millions of readers across the globe have come to know and love.

"Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up is a fresh take on one of America’s most popular characters—Nancy Drew. Keleny offers readers a behind-the-scenes look at the dedicated and determined creators of the series. She also reveals the competing—and often conflicting—visions each author had for Nancy. This novel is entertaining, smart, and exceptionally well researched. It is certain to interest anyone who is curious about the surprising mystery behind the Nancy Drew mysteries." ~ Jenna Nelson, PhD

To be in for a chance to win enter the competition below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday Spotlight: John Elray, Author of Pattaya Beach

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

Visiting with us at Confessions of a Bookaholic today is John Elray, author of Pattaya Beach.

Hi there John, welcome to Confessions of a Bookaholic!

Tell us something about Pattaya Beach which isn’t covered in the synopsis.
That's a tricky question to answer without giving too much away but I'll give it a shot.  Probably the best way to address this is to talk about the methodology I used when writing Pattaya Beach, namely drawing on actual events and conversations and working them into the story.  These can be as simple as an off hand comment which could easily go unnoticed but in reality has a profound meaning.  For example, when Fah tells Ed that she doesn't like her step father because of the way he treats her mother:  "…he use her like a football… make red come out."  In part, it's the broken English Fah (a composite of two individuals) uses to express this the best she can that gives the statement more power than if I were to tell you the same thing in proper English.  Another instance where an actual event was used is the tale she tells of the bar girl whose body was found in a large duffle bag after sitting for three days under the hot sun in a vacant lot right off the main Beach Road.  Apparently a customer took her to his hotel room and got too rough with her… to the extreme.  As it was told to me, "the police know who he is, but they don't know where he is".  Pattaya is a small city, however, it's rife with drugs, local thugs, Russian mafia, and more than its share of crazies.  Life is cheap there. It can be a dangerous place.

That cover is really very unique, care to explain it?
The cover of Pattaya Beach is a collage made up of a few of the photos I took one night in 2006 in an effort to capture the night life of the town.  It's laid out in much the same fashion as you'd see Pattaya walking through one of the bar districts to the beach… illuminated signs overhead, the girls enticing passersby to patronize their establishment, and the gentle slope of the land down to the palm fringed shoreline of the Gulf of Thailand.  The sign being held by a young lady advertises Lady Drinks, which are mixed drinks containing little if any alcohol which one can buy for the girl(s) of one's choice to secure some conversation time.  The girls get a commission for every drink bought by their customer.

Who is your favourite character of your own creation?
I guess my favourite is the female protagonist, Fah, although I'm not sure I can take full credit for creating her since she's a composite character based on two real people.  So I'd have to go with Ed, the male protagonist.  He is a fabrication but has some stereotypical qualities found in many of the farang (pronounced falang, meaning western) men who frequent Thailand.  Ed has some interesting personality quirks that I spent a considerable amount of time researching so that I got it right.  Saying any more than that would be a spoiler.

What is the best piece of feedback you have got on your work?
The most gratifying statement made about Pattaya Beach came from a literary agent who posted a review of it on Goodreads.  She described it as "…a tutorial in excellent writing."
What is it about Thailand that intrigues you enough to base your book there?
I first began travelling to Thailand on business, and while I've been there many times now since I started writing Pattaya Beach, the first two or three years were real eye openers.  It was the revelation of a culture which, on one hand, is vastly  different from what most of the English speaking world is familiar with… a Buddhist society with all it's charm, customs, superstitions, and religious devotion, while on the other hand is no different whatsoever when all the veneer is stripped away.  This contrast is especially true in Pattaya where pretty much anything goes.

What inspired you to write about this subject matter?
If you were to ask frequent travellers to Pattaya what its most prominent feature was, they'd probably say the bars… and lots of them.  It's these establishments and the women that work there, in one fashion or another, that provide ample fodder for the novelist.  Each lady has her (or in some cases his) own unique story, sometimes resulting in happy ever after true love but more often than not ending in heartbreak, trapping them in a world that beckons with opportunities that seldom pan out.  It was this seemingly futile, revolving door, pursuit that led me to create Pattaya Beach driven by one of those "gotta write this story" obsessions.

What authors do you believe have inspired your work the most?
Two names come to mind.  One is Leon Uris, whose outstanding works of historically based fiction ignited the spark in me to write my first novel, Khalifah – the story of how the son of Muhammad's archenemy took control of the Muslim empire in the seventh century.  Like Uris's works, it's by and large a historically accurate (albeit fictionalized) epic that spans many years in the main characters' lives.  The other author is John Burdett who has written several fascinating novels set in Thailand.

Have you any more works planned that we should look out for?
I'm presently doing a book of short stories, most of which can be generally described as dark humor.  It's about half completed and has the working title  "… And You Though You Had It Bad".  I plan to have it ready for publication by early summer.

Fancy telling us about your publishing company, Aardwolfe Books, and what it is you do?
I'm one of the principals of Aardwolfe Books, a small publisher of distinctive works of fiction and narrative non-fiction.  We also provide editorial services to authors, either directly or through agents, to include line editing, story editing and ghost writing.  We're always looking for new (or established) authors with promising manuscripts and provide thorough proofing and copy editing before releasing a book for publication.  Our only requirement is that the author provide us a high quality product before going into copyediting, but we never insist that they use our editorial services to get there as a condition of publication.

Finally, is there anything else that you want the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?
Only to acknowledge the superb effort you put in, Emily, to connect writers and readers on Goodreads .  I'll be happy to respond to any members who have further questions via the Ask The Author feature on my profile page  Thanks for the opportunity to showcase Pattaya Beach.

Thank you for joining us John!

About Pattaya Beach
Pattaya Beach
Fah, a twenty-two year-old farm girl from Thailand's rural northeast has moved to Pattaya City to do the one thing that has any hope of bringing her decent money – work in the sex trade. Her goal: land a well to do foreigner who can deliver her and her family from a subsistence life. Ed, a recent arrival from America, looks like he might just be the one. What Fah doesn’t know, however, is that Ed is a deeply disturbed man who has traveled to Thailand to kill his nemesis, Bill (Fah's employer), in retaliation for an imagined betrayal. What Ed doesn't know is that he's about to fall in love – and that's when all the trouble begins.

Whether you're a seasoned traveler to the Land of Smiles or a neophyte, you'll be totally absorbed in John Elray's latest novel, Pattaya Beach. Based on a true story, Pattaya Beach exposes the grit beneath the veneer of the fun capital of the world, and delves into the psyches of its cast of inimitable characters in this compelling novel that you won't want to put down. The author guides you along the broad arc of Fah and Ed's engaging odyssey to convey invaluable insight into the people, passions and perils of Thailand – a land of pleasure unmatched anywhere else on earth.
Find Pattaya Beach on Goodreads | Amazon | Aardwolfe Books

Enter the giveaway below to be in for a chance to win and don't forget to comment and let us know what you think!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: Fluence by Stephen Oram

Thursday, 18 June 2015

I'm sure you all remember Stephen Oram from his spotlight here at Confessions of a Bookaholic a few weeks ago, today I have a special cover reveal for you all for his newest book!

Ten thousand minutes and counting
Genre: Dystopian
Published by Silverwood Books

Amber is young and ambitious. Martin is burnt out by years of struggling. She cheats to get what she wants while he barely clings on to what he has. It’s the week before the annual Pay Day when strata positions are decided by the controlling corporations. The social media feed is frenetic with people trying to boost their influence rating while those above the strata and those who’ve opted out pursue their own manipulative goals.
Fluence is a story of aspiration and desperation and of power seen and unseen. It’s a story of control and consequence. It's the story of the extremes to which Amber and Martin are prepared to go in these last ten thousand minutes before Pay Day.

Find Fluence on Amazon | Website

About Stephen
Like each and every one of us, my perspective of the world has been affected by many people and
experiences: as a teenager I was heavily influenced by the ethos of punk; in my early twenties I embraced the squatter scene and then joined a religious cult, briefly; I did some computer stuff in what became London’s silicon roundabout; and I’m now a civil servant with a gentle attraction to anarchism. I really enjoy taking a sideways look at our world and thinking, “what if,” and then writing about it through speculative fiction.

Visit Stephen on Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

What do you think of the book so far? Enter the below international giveaway to be in for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There will be a review tour for Fluence soon. Read the book or interview the author! Sign up for the tour by emailing

Sunday Spotlight (on Wednesday): Elisabeth Grace Foley, author of the Mrs Meade Mysteries

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

Visiting with us at Confessions of a Bookaholic today is Elisabeth Grace Foley, author of the Mrs Meade Mysteries.

I have been so busy recently which is why the spotlights I missed are being posted this week - don't worry I am back on track now!

About Elisabeth:
Elisabeth Grace Foley is a historical fiction author, avid reader and lifelong history buff, the author of Peacemaker Award-nominated Western novella Left-Hand Kelly, and short story collections The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories and Wanderlust Creek and Other Stories. Her work has appeared online at Rope and Wire and The Western Online. Her other books include a series of short historical mysteries, the Mrs. Meade Mysteries; and short fiction set during the American Civil War and the Great Depression.

Find out more about Elisabeth on Goodreads | Blog | Amazon


Hi there Elisabeth, welcome to Confessions of a Bookaholic!
Thank you! I’m excited to be here!

Firstly, you have written a lot of books! Tell us about some of your most popular ones.
My series of historical mystery novelettes, the Mrs. Meade Mysteries, have been my bestselling titles most of the time. Everybody loves a mystery! Mrs. Meade is a shrewd but kind-hearted widow lady with a knack for solving the puzzles that arise in a small Colorado town in the early 1900s. Think Miss Marple in the Edwardian era, in a part of America that still has a bit of the frontier element left. And my novella Corral Nocturne, which is a retelling of Cinderella set on the Montana prairies, has also been popular with readers; it’s been receiving some lovely reviews!

What is it about historical and western fiction that you like so much?
History has always fascinated me from a very early age—I love reading about past times and about the personal stories of the people who lived them. There’s a quote by Louis L’Amour that I like: “Historical novels are, without question, the best way of teaching history, for they offer the human stories behind the events and leave the reader with a desire to know more.” That’s definitely been true for me. As for westerns, I grew up watching western movies with my dad and enjoying them, and then later, when I ventured into reading western fiction and history, I became interested in the Old West era as a part of American history. I find it a wonderful backdrop for storytelling: you have such a large slice of the country to choose from for your setting, and so much history to spark ideas for plots and characters. It isn’t only about the cowboys and outlaws; it’s about the families who settled the country, those who went west to start a new life after the Civil War, the young people who headed west to seek their fortunes. There are so many stories there to tell.

How do you balance fact and fiction in your works?
Usually when I set out to write a story it’ll be in a time and setting that I’m already interested in, so I have a background gathered from the history I’ve read, and also from fiction written at that time. I try to have my characters speak and act in a way that’s realistic for the time period—reading fiction written during the era itself is an excellent way to get a sense of that—and I research factual things like clothes, houses, inventions, etc. as I go along, if I run into something that I don’t know about in detail.

What authors influenced your work most?
For westerns in particular, my biggest influence is probably my personal favorite B.M. Bower, an early woman author of westerns who began writing around the turn of the 20th century; and also Henry Herbert Knibbs, Dorothy M. Johnson, Max Brand, and Elmore Leonard’s early western short stories. O. Henry, P.G. Wodehouse and A.A. Milne taught me the delights of wordplay and a sense of humor; Booth Tarkington and Leo Tolstoy I love for their ability to create wonderfully human, sometimes flawed but relatable characters; while authors like Mary Stewart and Daphne du Maurier leave me awed by their skills with description and creating a sense of place and atmosphere.

I notice that you write lots of short stories/novellas, what is it about those that appeal to you more than the traditional novel?
Actually, my ambition has always been to write novels. If anyone had told me five years ago that I’d have written and published this much short fiction, no one would have been more surprised than myself. But I’ve enjoyed writing short stories and novellas, and I feel that all the work I’ve put into them has been like serving an apprenticeship in honing my writing skills. At present I’m trying to take a step back from shorter works for a while (except for continuing the Mrs. Meade Mysteries) and focus on finally completing a novel—I’ve got a few novel manuscripts in various stages of being written or edited.

On your blog you say that you’re a Christian, many writers cite their faith as a major influence on their works – is this the case for you?
I don’t see myself as writing so-called “Christian fiction,” because I’ve always been rather ambivalent toward that term—but yes, my Christianity does influence my work in the way it influences all areas of my life. I always strive simply to craft the best quality book that I’m able, but I think my writing will always reflect my beliefs and worldview in some way, as all writers’ do. Sometimes Christianity may play a direct role in a story, if I feel it’s needful to the plot; other times it won’t; but I think it always influences what I write in some way.

What books would you compare your works to? Comparisons are always helpful for readers looking for more books.
Well, as I mentioned before, I think anybody who enjoys Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books and similar mysteries will enjoy the Mrs. Meade Mysteries. A recent reviewer of Corral Nocturne compared its style of that to L.M. Montgomery, which was a very flattering compliment! For my westerns, I think readers who like the traditional westerns of Louis L’Amour and others will enjoy them; but my stories are not just based around gunfights and action; they’re largely character-driven and I think they would appeal to readers of general historical fiction too.

You described a liking for ‘obscure forgotten gems’ in your blog, will you share some of those with my readers?
Some of my favorite discoveries from the past few years: Thorofare by Christopher Morley, Poor, Dear Margaret Kirby and Other Stories by Kathleen Thompson Norris, The Street of Seven Stars by Mary Roberts Rinehart (one of her non-mystery novels, set in Vienna just before the outbreak of World War I), and Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries by Melville Davisson Post, to name just a few. And one of my favorite books ever is Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, a splendid adventure novel set in the Elizabethan era that doesn’t seem to be as well known.

Which of the characters that you’ve created do you like the most and why?
I get quite attached to most of them, but I think some of my favorites are Claire Lester in Left-Hand Kelly, Cole Newcomb in Corral Nocturne and Sheriff Andrew Royal in the Mrs. Meade Mysteries. Sheriff Royal has been one of the most fun characters for me to write. As for Cole, when I set out to write a Cinderella retelling, I knew I wanted to give my Prince Charming character a little more personality and charm than the prince seems to have in most traditional versions of Cinderella—and I think I succeeded pretty well, for I’m quite fond of him myself. With Claire, it’s a little harder to say, but by the time I finished writing the book she was one of the characters that I liked and empathized with the most.

Which of your works did you find the most enjoyable to write?
Probably my short story “The Rush at Mattie Arnold’s” from Wanderlust Creek and Other Stories. The idea for the story came to me on the spur of the moment, and it only took a few days to write, which is much faster than I usually complete a story. I knew where the story was going, the ideas for dialogue came to me smoothly as I went along, and basically it was just plain fun.

I noticed that you're quite young to have so many works published, what advice would you give to a young writer like yourself?
First of all, read—read plenty of good books, and definitely include classics that have stood the test of time. There’s nothing like reading quality books to observe what good writing looks like, and to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t work. Second, if you are young and just considering publishing for the first time, I’d advise taking a good hard look at your work and deciding if you’ve really made it the best it can be before you go ahead and put it out there. There are some manuscripts I wrote not too many years ago that I’m glad I didn’t rush ahead with, things I’m quite content now to regard as practice for what came after. Edit it as many times as you need to; get honest feedback from friends or beta-readers, and just try to appraise it honestly.

Finally, do you have any upcoming works that the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic should look out for?
The one definite thing on the agenda at the moment is the next entry in the Mrs. Meade Mysteries, The Silent Hour, which I’m aiming at releasing in autumn 2015. After that, I don’t know yet which of my works-in-progress will make it into print next!

Elisabeth has kindly agreed to give away a copy of Left-Hand Kelly, which was recently named a Peacemaker Award finalist for Best Independently Published Western Novel

Left-Hand KellyAbout Left-Hand Kelly

Sixteen-year-old Lew Kelly grew up idolizing his enigmatic ex-gunfighter father. Everyone thought Lew’s habit of practicing his quick draw was a harmless amusement—until the day when a boys’ hot-headed quarrel exploded into gunplay, with disastrous results.

Three years later, Lew is withdrawn and bitter—and he still carries a gun. When an unexpected twist of circumstances forces him to face again the memories and the aftermath of that ill-fated fight, will old wrongs be righted—or will the result be an even worse tragedy than before?

Find the book on Amazon | Goodreads | Blog

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review and Book Tour: Warrior's Surrender by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Friday, 12 June 2015

Series: Standalone 
Genre: Medieval Romance 
Release Date: November 7th 2014
Source: Received as part of the book tour in exchange for an honest review
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars 
Cover Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Synopsis: A shared secret from their past could destroy their future…
Northumbria, 1077. In the years following William the Conqueror’s harrying of the North, Lady Alfreya of Tyrswick returns to her family home after seven years in exile. But instead of returning victorious as her dead father had promised, she returns defeated by Baron Sebastian de la Croix, the Norman who rules her lands.
To save her gravely ill brother's life, Alfreya offers herself hostage to her enemy. As Alfreya gets to know her new husband, she finds he’s not the monster she feared, and their marriage of convenience soon becomes a bond of passion.
But Sebastian is a man with a secret—one that could destroy him. As a series of brutal murders haunt their nights, the man who betrayed Alfreya’s father returns claiming to be her betrothed. He has learned Sebastian’s secret and will use it to further his own ambition—using Sebastian’s own family—which will destroy Sebastian and mark him a traitor, and plunge an unprepared England into war with the Scots…
First Line: The flare of a pitch-soaked torch lit the corner of the timber long-house.

When I read historical fiction I really do tend to love it however I do not pick it up very often for reasons unknown even to me. Therefore, obviously, I haven't read very much historical fiction but I was a huge fan of Phillipa Gregory so I thought I'd give another historical fiction a try and I'm so glad I did. Carter's Warrior's Surrender vastly surpassed anything Gregory ever came up with, and that's not just because it name-dropped a few areas really close to where I live! In fact, it was by far the best book I have read in a very long time. I know reviews always say things like 'I couldn't put this book down' and I always look upon those reviews and recognise exaggeration but now I get it. I literally couldn't put it down. The moment I read the excerpt (which is below so that you can see what I mean) I was gripped, I had to read it. This is one of those books that you speed through all the while mourning how fast it is going. I wanted so much more.

The characterisation of a novel is always the most important part to me, as I know it is to many other reviewers. How can you possibly fall in love with a book if there are no love-worthy characters? It's impossible! I loved almost every character in this book, even the ones you were supposed to hate, because they were all so well developed and relatable. Alfreya, or Frey, was one of the best heroines I have come across. She managed to be both feisty and in love - at the same time. There are so many authors out there who keep their feisty heroines cold with the men in their life in order to keep their independent spirit (Katniss Everdeen comes to mind) but that is not how it has to be and Carter realised that in her portrayal of Frey. She managed to create both a tender and feisty character and that is so rare, I was very impressed. It is not often that I love the heroine of a story as much as the hero but in this case I did - Frey and Sebastian were perfect. Despite this, it was indeed Sebastian who I became most invested in, he had the typical characteristics to begin with: he was cold, guarded and witty. However, unlike most characters who fit these qualities, he had genuine reason to be - given that Frey was his enemy for a long time - and he did not keep these qualities any longer than he needed to. Sebastian, alike Frey, managed to balance his strength with his loving nature. Seriously guys, I loved these two!

The plot itself was unbelievably tense! A compromise for many authors who focus on characterisation is that they sacrifice the plot, it gets slow and uneventful a lot of the time. Once again, this was not a problem for Carter. The plot really kept me on my toes - me! The queen of working out endings in record time. From start to end the plot kept me wanting to turn the pages (aka swipe my phone screen) faster than humanly possible. I will definitely be re-reading this one, it was too good not to. As many of you know, one of my favourite series' of all time is the His Fair Assassin series and this book reminded me of it so much. Yes it lacks nuns, assassins and the god of death but in writing style and characterisation it was on par. Anyone who loved HFA like I did will absolutely love Warrior's Surrender. I can't wait to read more of Elizabeth Ellen Carter's work and I fully intend to get my hands on some more very soon. In the meantime I am praying for a sequel.

Seriously, enter the giveaway or you will really regret it!


By the light of the fire she could see the abandoned chair. To see the second chair Frey must peer around the door. 
It too was empty.
Frey frowned. Did she doze and Sebastian slipped past her unseen? She took a further step or two into the room and looked.
The bed was…
Before Frey could complete the thought, she was grabbed roughly from behind and held firmly against a man’s broad chest. A large hand covered her mouth and suppressed an involuntary scream.
The man recognised her and relaxed but did not remove his hand.
“You picked the wrong night to slit my throat while I slept, princess.”
Sebastian’s whispered voice filled her ear. He held her still for long moments before speaking.
"Are you recovered? You will not scream?”
Frey nodded and shook her head in answer to each question and she was released, her heart pumping furiously.
“Do you suggest I pick some other night then?” she said, wiping her mouth to rid the sensation of his hand. 
Sebastian ignored her barb and poured a small measure of spiced wine into his goblet. He handed it to her and watched as she drank.
“Why do you assume the worst of me?” she asked.
“Habit,” he answered, arms folded across his chest.
“Now tell me what you’re doing in my chambers while others sleep.”
“I have to speak to you.”
Sebastian’s eyebrows rose in surprise. It might have been scepticism, but Frey couldn’t be sure.
“And it couldn’t wait until morning?”
All of a sudden Frey’s courage left her and she wondered if her senses had taken leave of her too.
She was an unmarried woman, alone, late at night in the bed chamber of a man whose mere presence made her feel powerful sensations that she struggled to understand. What on earth was she doing?
She shook her head softly. 
“This was a mistake.”
As she turned to leave, Sebastian grabbed her wrist.
“It’s a mistake to not finish what you start.”

About Elizabeth:

A future with words was always on the book for Elizabeth Ellen Carter who started writing her own stories when she ran out of Nancy Drew mysteries to read when she was 10.
Using her mother’s Olivetti type writer with the italic keyboard, she spent endless school holidays making up her own stories and then using the Dewey Decimal System to arrange and categorize her bookshelf. Somewhere around the age of 13 she determined to become a journalist and at 17 was awarded a cadetship to the Gold Coast Bulletin. She covered news, council, education, health but had the most fun as the paper’s entertainment and features reporter covering film, TV
and music. Best of all she met her husband there and together they started a small award-winning media, marketing and advertising agency and now she works as marketing manager for an international organic skin care company. In 2012, Elizabeth also returned to the keyboard to write
stories (and laptops are so much better than manual typewriters). Her debut, Moonstone Obsession  was shortlisted for the 2013 Romance Writers Of Australia’s Emerald Awards for unpublished

Blog contents © Confessions Of A Bookaholic 2010. Blogger Theme by Nymphont.