Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Cadaverously Creative Tim Atkinson

The screams of the soon to be dead echoed though the corridors of the castle.  'What better way to relax on an evening than music and a soapy tub', I thought, as I hopped into my incredibly bubbly bath, which contained nearly half a bottle of Matey.

It had been a tiring day; my whipping arm was sore, I had hastily dug two shallow graves, and, in all the excitement, I had omitted my afternoon nap.  A hot, bubbly bath, a schooner of cherry brandy and an early night was definitely in order.

It was as I settled down and closed my eyes, dreaming of another day of horrific torture and bloodcurdling terror, that I heard a noise from the adjoining room.  At first I gave it no thought, but then I realised that I was supposed to be alone this evening.  Cat had been shut up in his cage, and I had given the butler the night off (or killed him, I couldn't remember which).  Quietly I pulled myself out of the water, grabbed the nearest weapon to hand and marched into the next room.

To many the sight of my naked, wet, and slightly bubbly body, looking menacing and wielding a loofah would be terrifying to behold and would send most people to the very edge of madness.  It was not so with my intruder however, who was sat on the end of my bed holding a book in his hand and a grin on his face.

It would seem that my, very full, day of torture had not yet ended...
Within minutes I had overcome the interloper, and dragged his semi-conscious body roughly down the stone steps to my chamber of delights.  As I entered, those that were hung from the walls, and who had been most vocal all evening, immediately ceased their noise.  They knew not to anger me further, especially this late at night, dressed only in a toweling bathrobe, and especially when armed with a loofah.

I turned to my captive.

Good evening!  How did you get in? Have I left the drawbridge down again? No matter, welcome to Holbrook Towers, the Castle of Despair. 

Make yourself comfortable, pull up a slave and tell me all about yourself, before I end you.

Pull up a slave? A slave is the personification of the corrupt power of the aristocracy. That should tell you all about me that you need to know!


I did not take kindly to his tone, yes, I had told him that I was about to kill him, but there were rules of decency and etiquette here.  After firmly strapping him to the rack, I emptied the contents of his wallet and saw that his name was Tim Atkinson and that the book he was carrying was called 'The Glorious Dead'.  Excellent title, I thought. Sounds like a busy weekend at my house.

Written a book have you? What’s it all about? Don’t dally though man; give me a
summary in 33 words or less.

When the guns stop firing, Jack starts digging - not trenches now, but graves. But for how long will the Great War’s secrets stay buried beneath the killing fields of Flanders?

I love a good onomatopoeia word. My favourite is ‘Thwacko!’ which is the sound made when a teacher in the 1950s smacks an errant schoolboy around the back of the head with his copy of The Times. Invent an onomatopoeia word and tell me what it is the sound of.

I like the word ’grupin’ but I’ve no idea what it means and I can’t find it in the dictionary so I must have made it up. It sounds, to me, like the noise of inner despair as you’re forced to endure the speech of yet another bullshitting politician. 

Do you think the world would be a better place if we just switched it off and then on again?

I’m glad you asked me that because I’ve been planning a little experiment for a while. You see, if I just push this button…

What drew you to writing? Was it the champagne lifestyle? The luxury yachts and supermodels? Or do you spurn the perks of the job?

It was the Railway Modeller magazine, who paid me the princely sum of £12 back in 1979 to write a feature on my (modest) model railway. I was hooked on the idea of being paid to write, and have been writing ever since. Just not getting paid (much). 

Could you have lived in a trench in Belgium for four years? What would you miss most, other than family?

No. Not now. Probably not then, either. But of course, back then I’d have had to if they told me to. But no-one’s ‘only’ obeying orders anymore. You couldn’t do World War One again. People just won’t take it like they used to. And I think, on the whole, that’s a good thing.

What’s your view on the supernatural? Is it all just bumph, or are we surrounded by the ghosts of the dead?

Of course, the question you really should be asking Paul isn’t ‘either/or’ but how can it be both? There’s no doubt ghosts exist. What they are (visitations from a spirit world or manifestations from our little-understood minds) is another matter. 

You have seen my dungeon; occasionally I invite my guests to stay here for a few years (all meals and manacles included). If I were to suggest that you spend some  time in this damp, rat infested room, who would you like in here with you to pass the long hours, whilst you wait for an unlikely rescue?

Whoever has the key!

I bestow upon you a power now. Much like the movie ‘Being John Malkovich’ you are able to inhabit the mind and control the body of anyone in the world for short periods. Who do you choose and what terrible mischievous act would you carry out?

I choose the 45th President of the US of A and what happens is this… I simply sow the slightest seeds of doubt deep in his hubristic hippocampus. 

Where else in the world wide web can I find you and where can I find your writings?

I’m everywhere, darling. Here (@dotterel) on Twitter, there (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTimAtkinson/) on Facebook; I have a blog here (http://www.bringingupcharlie.co.uk/) and another one there (https://knownuntogod.wordpress.com/). You can hear my dulcet tones on Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/dotterel), see my photographs on Instagram and probably watch me shaving in a morning on a webcam. Actually, no. I’ve got a beard. Not the last one. 

But the all-important writings are right here: https://unbound.com/books/the-glorious-dead

The day suddenly caught up with me, If I didn't retire too bed soon I would be worthless in the morning.  Time to wrap up the interrogation.  I asked him a final question.

This is your final chance this evening Mr Atkinson.  I need my pit and I am about to kill you.  What can you do to prevent your death?

He did not speak, but gestured to the floor where the scattered contents of his wallet lay.  There, among the worn credit cards, and crumpled supermarket receipts was a photograph. I bent to pick it up and all thoughts of murder immediately left my mind.



Without uttering a word I undid his straps and let him leave with his life (but without the photograph, which I had put into my bathrobe pocket and belonged to me now).

Tim has had a near death experience in his quest to get his novel published.  Perhaps you could reward his efforts by supporting his excellent book.  You will not be disappointed and the sooner he hits his funding target, the sooner I'll be able to get my copy.


If you have enjoyed this interview and the others which I am posting please do return. I command it.  

If you yourself would like to be a victim at 'The Castle of Despair', then please e-mail me at caraticuspholbrook@gmail.com and I will endeavour to entertain you.

Also please consider visiting my Unbound page here www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum and supporting my own particular effort at literary glory. 

Thank you


Paul x


Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Internimably Thrilling Ian Skewis

As surprising as it may seem, I am not usually a night owl.  It's my age probably, but long gone are the days when I would be awake all night; either playing in the dungeon, inventing in lab, or tramping around the local area... hunting.

That, it seems, is my past, although I do think that a few days in the gym would get me back to my predatory best.  For now however, I am more likely to be found in the late evening curled up in my bed with a good book, or watching a soothing cannibal horror movie on my iPad to drift me off to sleep.

One night last week, however, I found myself at an impasse.  I had seen all the gorerific films on offer, and was uninspired by my choice of book (there are only so many times you can reread 'Black Mass for Dummies')

I kicked Cat off of the bed (he had taken to cleaning himself in a most disgusting manner, which made me both nauseous and not a little jealous) replumped my pillows and hoped that sleep would take me without my normal dark bedtime fare. 

After an hour however I had done nothing more than toss and turn, stare hopelessly at my novelty Jack the Ripper alarm clock (the screams of the butchered are the ideal way to wake on a morning), and curse the bastard sandman for not visiting me.

This would not stand!  I would not abide a night of insomnia without someone else suffering also.  I got out of bed, as miserable as a haemoglobin intolerant vampire.

I stood at the window, and looked out over the valley below Holbrook Towers.  I could have shed my onesie and ran out into the fields below, but the moon was not full and the changing would not have come to me.  There is nothing less frightening and threatening than a slightly overweight, naked middle-aged man, running around in the dark, desperately howling.  (Although some may disagree)

I rang for the butler and told him to call the agency and send for a book.  It was not my normal late night order, but surely a book was simpler to find than the last time they were called to my bidding, when I desperately needed a sheep, a pink latex jumpsuit, and a dampened rolled up copy of the Radio Times from 1974.

Within half an hour I saw torchlight moving on the horizon and, as the light got nearer, I saw it was a tall figure carrying a bag.  I ordered the drawbridge lowered and told the butler to lead my late night guest to the library, where I would receive him.

Highlights of our subsequent meeting are recorded as follows:

Thank the Gods you are here!  What is your name? Have you got a book for me?

Hello! My name is Ian Skewis. And yes, as it happens, I do have a book for you! It's called A Murder Of Crows...



Mmm, sounds interesting. What's it all about? No more than 50 words though. I have the concentration span of a hummingbird.

Okay, here goes... DCI Jack Russell is on his final case, which he believes will be solved as a matter of routine. It turns out that he has discovered a murderer who is just getting started. Time is running out as he tries to prevent the evolution of a serial killer...

Did you always want to write or was it some kind of happy accident?

I was first published at the age of nineteen, but it's only recently that I've returned to it and really pursued it seriously.

Those Americans have been at it again! They've only gone and voted for you to be their next president. Come on POTUS what's that first all important executive order?

Well, they're always voting in oddities so hell mend them haha! I think my first order would be for them to stop waging war on defenseless countries. For such a relatively young nation they have a very bloody history.

If your novel was a movie, who would you want directing it? And who’s your leading lady/man?

I think it would be directed with someone who has a gift for conveying quiet menace in their work. I liked the relative silence of Steven Soderbergh's version of Solaris. It's that kind of eerie quietude that exists in A Murder Of Crows, I think. Brendan Gleeson would be the perfect fit for Jack Russell, because of his stature and that ability he has of conveying quiet self-doubt - that's very Jack Russell.



Are you an avid reader? And if so are you critical of other authors work when you read it?

I simply don't have the time to read anywhere near as much as I would like and I'm a very slow reader too. I'm critical of anything that's presented to me but I'm careful not to shoot people down unnecessarily. Many of us are at the start of our careers with Unbound and I feel it's important to support each other through the process. I think in the end it's the readers that should dictate, not the critics. But all criticism is good, as long as it's done constructively.

Your time as president has gone horribly wrong. I'm not going to go into too much detail but only a handful of people have survived. Who would you like to keep you company as one of the last of us left alive?

Laurie Anderson, because she would be able to provide some very good social commentary on the event; Suzanne Vega, who would no doubt write some very astute lyrics about it; Tom Baker, for those Doctor Who stories; Julian Clary for his smut and wit - and Colin Farrell, for I would be in dire need of something pretty to look at...

Would you like a drink? What's your poison?

I like gin and tonic, though it's so common now sweetie darling - everybody's drinking it now it seems! Rioja is good too - red and white. Coffee in moderation and herbal tea. Oh, and lots of water!

Inspiration. It's an elusive bugger some, and monsoons on others. Where do you find it, and is your supply inexhaustible?

I've been writing for so long now that I have a list of possibilities stretching well into the years ahead but I still find new ideas along the way so it's a positive tropical storm of inspiration just now.

Where else can we find you in the world of the interweb?  Where can I buy this fantastic new tome of yours? 

A Murder Of Crows is available in both digital and paperback format and can be ordered at your local library or bookstore. It can be found on the Book Depository and of course, on Amazon. Here is the link: amzn.to/2nmrfWC 



The distant scream of my alarm clock told me that morning had arrived.  I stood and drew wide the curtains, allowing the cold morning sun to stream in.  It would seem that my ploy to gain a new book had not solved my problem of sleeping, however I had spent a pleasant night in conversation with a very interesting author and for that I was grateful.

I took the book from him, and told myself to begin reading it that very night, (What better way to end a day of evil plotting and blood curdling mayhem than with a well written thriller?)

As he crossed the drawbridge, he turned and waved.  I should like to see him return one day, perhaps when he has written another.  In the meantime head over to Amazon and get a copy for yourself.  It doesn't disappoint.




If you have enjoyed this interview and the others which I am posting at the moment please do return. I command it.  

If you yourself would like to be a victim at 'The Castle of Despair', then please e-mail me at caraticuspholbrook@gmail.com and I will endeavour to entertain you.

Also please consider visiting my Unbound page here www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum and supporting my own particular effort at literary glory. 

Thank you

Paul x



Friday, 14 April 2017

The Absolutely Incomparable Tabatha Stirling

      Easter.  

A time for sunlight and colour; lambs gaily gambolling in the hills, baby rabbits happily hopping among the hedgerows, and children cheerfully chomping chocolate eggs.  

It was a beautiful scene of young life, gleeful innocence, and hope for the future that I saw, as I sat in a window of the tallest tower of the castle.  I surveyed the view and hummed merrily to myself as I gazed through the sight of my rifle. The butler would shortly be bringing me breakfast, and I had resolved to pop off a couple of random targets before the kippers arrived. Perhaps a vole today.

I drew my line across the fields which lay between Holbrook Towers and the small village of Nether Stinkhole which lay on the horizon.  The fetid ramshackle collection of dirty houses were surrounded by high fences and barbed wire to protect them from me when the moon brought on 'the altering'.

That morning however a curious thing entered my gaze; something which I had not expected to see at all.

Skipping, yes skipping, up the gravelled drive, without a care in the world and innocent to the fact that she was the subject of my crosshairs, there danced a woman carrying a basket, and followed by a parade of small furry voles.

In a twisted scene reminiscent of a fairy tale, much like Little Red Riding Hood but without a hood, and with a more devilish look in her eye, and further mixed with The Pied Piper of Hamlyn, as her small friends danced behind her, my potential prey... skipped.

Perhaps she was a modern day Red Riding Hood? A wolf hunter in innocent clothing, who had heard of my ventures out of the castle at night and had decided to acquire a new wolfskin rug.  Perhaps she was bringing upon my castle a plague of voles? Perhaps she had been sent by the villagers to finally oust their cruel overlord?  It would be so easy to end their plot; just a quick twitch of the index finger and 'Little Red' would be 'suddenly dead' and I would take my callous vengeance on my neighbours when the next bright moon arose.

I did not however.

Something held my finger firm, a curiosity perhaps.  My quarry had continued gaily skipping and had finally reached the moat, where she stood waving mischievously at the crocs. Her small furry collection of followers day obediently at her feet.

I rang the bell and instructed the butler to lower the drawbridge and see her in, before skipping a little myself into my dressing room to prepare myself for my guest (apparently it is not proper  to receive early morning visitors whilst wearing a Tellytubbies Onesie).

When I finally descended the stairs to the drawing room, I saw that she was seated by the fire, basket at her feet. (The voles gathered on the rug, watching for her next instruction).

Our discussion is recorded (as all conversations within the house are, by my intricate array of bugging devices) as follows;

Hello, welcome to my house. Who are you and did you bring me a present?

I am Tabatha Von Spanksalot, villanous alter ego of Volequeen, the velvet whiskered alter ego of Tabatha Stirling.

And I have brought you ‘Troubadour Tulip’, a bard vole of great renown.  You may keep her but she has Tuesday afternoons off to get her whiskers done.



     I hear you've written a book.  Is this true?  What's it all about then?

I have written a book.  One complete and several chapters of various things.  Blood On The Banana Leaf is my debut novel.   raucous applause from the voles .  It’s about sad & joyous things.  Courage and hope in brutal circumstances as experienced by many women all over the world but impoverished women are particularly succestible.   

I would very much like to animate the fictional zombies from my novella, ‘Light Crisis’ and set them lose on despicable Singaporean employers.  voles applaud the catchy second book plug & the use of zombies.



What did you want to be when you were little?  Astronaut? Pig farmer? Accountant? Do you still dream of getting this job?

      All  my childhood fantasties surrounded adulation and ‘otherness’.  Specifically a Witch Queen of some sort.  I always felt different & sought difference.  My brother calls this my unconventional spirit.  My father calls it ‘bloody stupid nonsense’.   I was always wanted to be the hero and oddly, ‘Daddy’, when playing the ubiquitious childhood game, ‘Mummys & Daddys.   Since then I have aspirations to be a burlesque dancer and a published author.

     How long is a piece of string and what's the best thing to use it for?

     I’m more interested how string feels about itself.    It has many uses and most of them noble but none very glamourous.  Often used in conjunction with ferrets,  green marbles and  to the consternation of big bosomed women.  

     You're having a dinner party.  Do you invite interesting and engaging people who hate your food, or marginally interesting people with a good appetite?
   
     I will invite everybody I have ever found attractive and flirt for England the entire time.  There will be enormously fine burgundies of both colours & I shall wear YSL sandals & something Temperley.  I shall invite The Beagle for the after dinner speeches. 


     What book do you wish you had written, and if you had a time machine would you try to write it first?

The Bible.  Oh! How much fun would that be.   ‘And God sent forth rainbows to show how fabulous the LGBT community are at all times.  And she sent re-runs of the Golden Girls to soften bigots hearts.  And after the full moon of world peace she drove mental illness to the hills of ice where they froze for eternity never to provoke her children’.  

But I would keep Ham. 
Because bacon.


     Tell me something that made you smile in the last twenty four hours?

     My husband shouting ‘hashtag ouch’ after cutting his finger, tying to avoid swearing in front of the children.

Have you got a new project on the go? Are you able to give me a little taster?

    YES! It’s Light Crisis, my zombie re-think.  All the characters are named after volunteers   And I’m always taking new names.  But you can’t all be Oscar Lilley, Scourge of the Bone Lords.  Some have to be concubines and pack horses. And someone has to be The Camp Commandant’s pet Pangolin.  I love writing it and will be delivering it to Simon Spanton personally on a bed of  vole kisses & great fanfare.   I have two safe spaces specifically Waitrose & zombie films.


     You're a smart cookie. Tell me something I don't know. Enlighten me with your wisdom.

     Have you heard of the Beagle Cross? Beagles have been pulling the wool over our eyes for centuries.  Not only are there 67,000 volumes of the Beagle Histories but Beagles also foiled Operation Sealion by digging complex networks of tunnels underneath the Channel and through to Switzerland.   There was a slight delay in France when they berserk over some Toulouse sausages but apart from that the breed were awarded this hereditary honour for their valour and tenacity.



     Where do you keep yourself on the interweb? Where can we find you?
Volequeen on Twitter.
Volequeen.com  for poyetree & fikshun.


In spite of my better (or should I say more wicked) instincts I resolved to let her leave, with the promise however of a return in the future.  I immediately visited the Unbound site and found her lovely book, which I pledged my wholehearted support for, and look forward to seeing being brought to the castle by the postman (if only to see the postman try to swim across the moat to deliver it).

Perhaps she would return unsuspecting to the crosshairs another time.  

I hoped so; she was devilishly good company.

(Although perhaps not bring her tiny entourage next time. The butler will be clearing up vole shit from the castle for at least a week).

If you have enjoyed this interview and the others which I am posting at the moment please do return. I command it.

Also please consider visiting my Unbound page here www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum and supporting my own particular effort at literary glory. 

Thank you

Paul x

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Incomparably Balletic Iestyn Edwards

I sat in the south wing library of Holbrook Towers, smiling happily to myself.  

I had spent a useful afternoon rearranging the many shelves of books; returning the many works of the Marquis de Sade to the children's section, scribbling humorous pictures in my first edition Dickens novels, and opening the large box of  Dan Brown books delivered that morning.  The rest of the afternoon was spent in pure delight hurling Brown's beige words into the fireplace book by book.  

I rang the bell for the butler as the last book disappeared into flame, the warmth adding to the general cosy atmosphere of my favourite room. (the most useful that works of Brown had ever been, I thought).

Such joy; I was in most excellent mood.

My smile was disturbed however when the butler arrived.  For I could see that he held a small silver platter in his hand; this meant visitors.

"Sir, there you have a gentleman caller.  He is wearing a...tutu."

"A tutu?  Good lord!  It’s not a Wednesday! I shall have to complain to the agency again." I barked.  "Send him up at once.  Someone shall pay for this and for once it won't be me!"

Minutes later the man, calling himself Iestyn Edwards, pirouetted into room with a grace and balance that I had not seen since Markova.  I offered him a seat, ordered drinks, and decided to find out more.

So who are you and what brings you to my humble castle?

Mainly performing as Madame Galina Ballet Star Galactica, I am a variety turn. The Liverpool Post said, ‘Has to be the result of a drunken one-night stand between Captain Mainwaring and Anna Pavlova.’ I’m part of the reburgeoned – is that a word? – London scene, and of the never went anywhere Blackpool scene.

Three sell-out gigs in the Tower Ballroom, don’t you know! And one on the North Pier when the electric fused, the producer absconded with the Festival takings and my guest sword swallower lay down in the road to stop him reversing his Ford Anglia out of the N.C.P. car park.

Truth! Am here because your posts make me chuckle.





Written a book have you? What’s the devil is it all about, and can you reduce it down to a summary of 5 words?

My Tutu Went AWOL, which has its London launch on April 3rd, 7pm, at the Hippodrome Casino Leicester Square, is about being the only cross-dressing variety turn ever booked by Combined Services Entertainment to tour outlying bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.


I got to Combined Services through singing uber-formally on board H.M.S Victory at the naval supper marking the two hundredth anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar, in the presence of Her Majesty. That gig was hosted by Stacks, Royal Marines Commando. Six two, baby of face, blue of eye, rock of outcrop. And shouty. He was then out in Iraq liaising with Combined Services. He gets the ‘arty’ gigs, you see, because his granny was a church organist. Out in theatre he and I had, as he later called them, a number of honourable enemy exchanges.

Five word summary: Marines’ mascot – eventually - MoD’s bane.


You have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity. You are able to send a message to the entire world, but you only have 30 seconds. What would you say?

It’s all a Jolly Caucus race, so keep running until the Dodo says to stop. And if it turns out that you must, award yourself the prize.



I hate the blank page. It laughs at me and visits my nightmares. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Word order for gags. Ken Levison, the great, took my book roughly apart and said that I needed to read the whole thing – for another rewrite - in my Madame Galina voice and above all check for word order. ‘You as her onstage never put a foot wrong in this respect. You writing as you can unforgivably misplace in a sentence “tutu”, “semtex” and “knocked up”.’



What is your earliest musical memory?

My dad, country and western singer Terry Edwards, rehearsing “She Taught me to Yodel”.



Welcome to the Holbrook Towers cinema club! Today’s matinee showing is ‘Iestyn Edwards – A life’. What kind of movie am I in store for this afternoon? Do I need to bring tissues?

Ken, again, thinks that I’m a made-up person. What with my dad being a country and western singer and my mother being a failed opera singer/stage psychic, nowadays member of a healing lodge whose membership continually flouts the rule: No Past Lives and Spirit Guides to be Discussed on the Premises. You’re in for Nathanael West meets all three Trollopes.



When you are 90 years old what will matter to you most in the world? (other than control of your bowels)

Still being able to take an interest.



Describe to me your method of writing in bullet points.

* Sick it up.

* Ignore it for a time.
* Wonder who the hell wrote this shit.
* Edit it for them.


In your opinion what is life’s greatest adventure?
Putting yourself in the way of the most opportunities for serendipity.


Where am I able to find you on the world wide webby thing? Do you tweet? Blog? Can I get hold of some of your writings in online bookshops?

@edwardsiestyn Insta


@iestyedwards and @madamegalina twitter

www.Iestynedwards.blogspot.com

My Tutu Went AWOL is on sale in book shops, from Amazon and the e-book is available from Amazon Kindle.

Bit of YouTube footage: formal singing, then cross-dressed Tytania opposite Gemma Jones’s Bottom! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yki5hxgQau0


Thank you so much for asking!

...and that was it.  

With a spring in his step, a twinkle in his eye and my heartfelt thanks for his time, he was gone.  Dancing over the drawbridge and off into the golden sunset of a most enjoyable day.



If you enjoy my blog, please consider supporting my novel on Unbound, Domini Mortum.  You can find it here: www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum 

You won't be disappointed.

(and I may invite you to the castle)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Ashael Rising Review



When I was younger I became obsessed with fantasy novels.  I would seek them out like rare jewels, scouring book shops for anything new and spending any spare penny I had on buying them on a weekly, or even daily, basis.  I know it was an obsession I admit that now.  Like all addictions I did not realise at the time the extent of my mania.  It lasted for years.

But then something happened, and I’m not sure what.  Perhaps it was a bad run of poorly written books, maybe I had read so many that they began to blur into one and I became confused.  There is even the desperately grim idea that I just grew out of them, that I could no longer spend my days locked into fantasy worlds; where good always triumphed over evil, where heroes and heroines were flawed but ultimately triumphed over adversity to win the day.  Perhaps I just started having to concentrate on the real world, a place where it is frowned upon to carry a sword, ride dragons, or shoot fireballs from your fingertips. 

Thankfully my time in Limbo has been brought to an end.  Through a patch of good fortune, the like of which only usually seen in a good book, I came across Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella, and in doing so I have stepped once more back into the type of world which I can lose myself in.

I must admit some nerves upon starting to read; I didn’t wanted to be disappointed once more, I struggle at the best of times to get engrossed in a book at the moment and I was afraid that my own lack of concentration may ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience.  I was wrong to be worried however.  From the very first few pages Ashael Rising drew me into the world that Shona Kinsella had created.  The characters are believably interesting, rewarding and flawed, but in a good way.  I found myself fully immersed in Ashael’s world, as though I lived in her cam alongside her.  I became emotionally attached to the characters and found myself actually caring for their wellbeing and worrying for their future (I am not an emotional type, so this was a very bizarre side effect).  It is not just a story about good versus evil or love conquering hate.  It is so much more,  and to Shona Kinsella I am grateful for that.


I will not reveal too much of the plot or the story, you can read about it on the Unbound or Amazon pages, and I don’t think that it is the job of a reviewer to give away too much.  I will say this though; for me it was a rewarding experience.  It has reawakened a need to visit such worlds more often, and has definitely made me want to read more from the work of this imaginative, insightful and talented storyteller.

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Fantastically Minded Shona Kinsella


It was a dark and stormy night...

Actually it was bright and sunny outside, but the power of the darkness within my soul had created a virtual thunderstorm around Holbrook Towers; black rumbling clouds of discontent, frequently assaulted by sharp splits of electric anger.  

This was my mood, and I was taking out on the cat - I say the cat, because I don't know his real name. he stopped by to introduce himself as my new neighbour some weeks ago.  I didn't like the look of him and so decided that I could make use of him. He has been most responsive to my experiments, and no longer seems to want to leave.

(I call him cat because he uses a Kitty Litter and has to lick himself to wash).

Anyway, my mood was black when the scream of a banshee distracted me from my misery. It was the new doorbell.  I opened the door to find a woman with a book in her hand.  


     "I'm not interested!"  I shouted.  "I've already told your lot that I'm a Wicca-Loving/Satanist/Jedi, I have cloven feet and if a bible enters my house it will spontaneously combust!"

     It turned out that she wasn't from the local fellowship however, but was a wandering author, who had travelled all the way from Scotland after hearing of a mythical castle owned by a dark overlord who loved books.

     I invited her in, threw the cat out of the catflap to chase birds outside, and offered her a chair in front of the fire.  Our conversation I recorded as follows...


Let’s start with your name shall we and a little bit of background about what in God’s name made you want to write?

My name is Shona Kinsella and I started writing on a whim. Well, sort of. I loved writing when I was young and wrote short stories and (bad) poetry in notebooks that I carried about with me. When the film Bucket list came out when I was in my teens, Write a Book was number one on my list. Then exams and life got in the way and I stopped writing.

In 2014, I took a career break to care for my children. My husband and I were joking about what I would do with all my spare time and he suggested that I turn my hand to writing a book, like I’d always wanted to. Well, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and a month or so later, I sat down and tentatively wrote ten pages. That was the start of Ashael Rising.



Have you got a book out at the moment?  Imagine you are stood in front of a panel of potential film directors (Scorsese, Spielberg, Burton, Branagh, Ed Wood etc.) Pitch your book - what’s it called and what’s it about, who’s your leading lady or man?  Would you think about turning it into a musical? If so what would the song that goes into the Oscars shortlist?

My book is called Ashael Rising and it’s a secondary world fantasy. Ashael is an apprentice medicine woman who must somehow protect her people from the Zanthar, soul-sucking invaders from another world, who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of others. The Zanthar were banished from KalaDene two centuries before but they have returned looking for a being known as The Vessel; someone who will be the key to the soul of KalaDene itself.

 What was the last thing you wrote? Be honest, even if it was a shopping list.

A text message to my husband. Before that, a meal plan for the week. The last creative writing I did was on the novella I’m working on. It’s called The Longest Night and concerns a tribe living in the arctic, when the sun fails to rise after mid-winter.

What’s the book on your shelf that you have read the most and why?  Could you live without reading it again?

This is tough because I re-read books all the time. It’s hard to know which one I’ve read most. It’s probably The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I know I’ve read the entire series three or four times and the early books more times than that. I would be devastated if I had to live without reading it again. It feels a little like coming home when I settle between those pages. I’m not sure I can articulate why I love it so much. It’s something to do with the epic scale with a western feel to it. It’s the strength of King’s writing and characterisation – the characters feel real to me. It’s how the series sits over the rest of King’s work with threads to be found, all leading back to the tower. It’s the warning that I see in the story, despite it never being stated outright. On top of all that, it’s just a great story!

You are stuck in a lift; everyone else in the building has gone home for the night.  Who would you like to keep you company for the next 12 hours, to soothe away the infinite panic, claustrophobia and need for the toilet?

Is it cheating to say my husband? He’s always the first person I want to spend time with. I guess you mean someone famous though. Honestly, if I couldn’t have my husband, I’d rather have my laptop – can you imagine how much writing you could get done in 12 uninterrupted hours? Hmmm, have I given too much away about myself with that?

Oh, I’ve got a good one! The Writing Excuses crew! I’d come out of that lift a much better writer and I’d have had a great laugh as well!

“It is braver to open up your heart through your writing than to get into a ring with a very short tempered Mike Tyson.” Discuss.

I agree with this, absolutely. I can’t speak for other writers, but for me, well there’s a lot of me in my work. Many of my characters have aspects of my personality, I write about issues that are important to me, especially around equality and the way that we live with each other and with our planet. There’s a lot of my heart laid out on the page for people to look at and criticise and reject.

Your partner talks in his/her sleep.  One night, in their sleepy babble, they give you the idea for the greatest story that will ever be written.  Do you take the credit/royalties?

Sort of? I mean, they might have given me the idea but if my track record is anything to go by, the end result will have moved quite far from that original spark. I would acknowledge that’s where the idea came from and since we have shared finances, the royalties would be shared anyway!

What is the worst thing anyone has said about your writing and how did you react?

When I first joined Scribophile, an online writing group, my very first critique of the first story I posted, started out with “Let’s be honest, this was boring.” They proceeded to tear the work to shreds. I cried when I read it and considered taking my piece down in sheer embarrassment. I didn’t though and the story went on to win first place in a competition without any changes being made. I think that was a useful thing to go through early on. It showed me that I shouldn’t put too much stock in any one person’s opinion. We all react to art so differently.

What’s the best thing anyone ever said about your writing? You cannot include a family member, that’s cheating.

I was very moved when a member of my critique group said that he had to read the chapter several times because he kept getting caught up and forgetting that he was meant to be critiquing. From a complete stranger, I think the best thing is that they can’t wait for the next book. Or the reviewer who said she sneaked reading the book at work because she had to know what happened next.

Tell me something nice that you’ve done for someone in the past week?  How have you improved the world through your acts of niceness?


I really struggled to come up with an answer to this – my toddler has been ill and I haven’t left the house much over the last week! I’ve been looking after my sister’s dog while she’s at work – does that count? I brought my neighbour’s bins in after they had been emptied. I feel like my kindness standards are slipping. I need to get on that and start spreading kindness about again.

 I have an uncle with an insatiable desire for great new writers.  Where can he find your work?

Ashael Rising is available on Amazon (http://bit.ly/ashaelrising) and from all major bookshops. You can even request a copy in your local library or support Unbound and buy direct from them https://unbound.com/books/ashael-rising

I also post flash fiction to be my blog on a fairly regular basis – www.shonakinsella.com



Is there anything else you wish to tell me or confess to today?

I’m really glad that we ‘met’.



My mood had lightened.  The clouds of misery had parted and a nervous sun poked through to warm my face.  I heard a scratching at the door; the cat was obviously ready for a tin of Sheba.

I waved Shona off and ran to my computer to order myself a copy of her book 'Ashael Rising'.  

You should too.


If you enjoy my blog, please consider supporting my novel on Unbound, Domini Mortum.  You can find it here: www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum 

You won't be disappointed.

(and I may invite you to the castle)