Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Majestically Musical Harriet Cunningham

The annual orgy of debauchery and dodgy folk music, that is 'Holbrookfest', had been raging below for nearly two days now.

Every year I would open the grounds of the castle up to bearded starchildren and crusty jugglers, all of whom seemed intent on exploring the most experimental of music styles whilst testing their own bodies pharmaceutical capabilities.  

It was a good way for me to keep an ear to the rumblings of the tragically hip, whilst also producing inordinate amounts of spare cash which their grubby, patchouli stinking paws would hand over to me gratefully.

This does not mean I mixed with these sorts, that invaded my precious property so willingly,  oh no!  I would confine myself to the tallest tower of the castle for the three day event, observing them from a tall window in between counting all of their probably not very hard earned but well wasted money.

It was late on the second evening, whilst I sat at the window breathing in the smell of hastily built campfires, tofu burgers, and portaloos that I was disturbed by a sound on the stairway outside my door.  I pressed the call button on the tannoy and called to the butler.

"Manson!  It sounds like another hippy has found their way into the castle.  Set the hounds loose will you?  They haven't been fed for two days now and they do like the taste of a woodsmoked festival goer."

Content that I had dealt with the interloper, I laid back on my Chesterfield, and helped myself to another handful of jelly beans.  One more day, I told myself.  One more day and I would rid myself of money laden hipsters for another year.

I heard the snarls and snaps of the dogs as they obviously fed well on the stairs.  The sound pleased me somewhat and I smiled comfortably at the good deed which I was doing for the world.  As the sound of the hounds abated though, my smile became short lived as a gentle tapping sounded on the door.

"What is it now, Manson?!"  I yelled, jumping to my feet and throwing open the door.  It was not the butler that I saw stood before me however.  For there, framed by a scene of complete devastation that involved the dogs tearing my useless butler to pieces, stood a woman holding a book in her hands.

'Ah, delightful' I thought.  It's this week's author come to distract me from my festival misery.  I bade her come into my chambers and take a seat.

And, as happens every week, our conversation is recorded as follows;

Who are you? What brings you to my dusty and crumbling castle at this time of night?  Have you brought me a book?

I am harryfiddler, a storyhunter from down the road, round the corner and across the ocean. I write fiction and non-fiction and classical music reviews and brochures and... Anything with words, really. Excuse my calling in so late.  My flight from Australia, where I live, was delayed in Dubai and then the 37 bus didn’t come.

Have I brought you a book? Jeez. I’ve come 10,000 miles, and you want a book as well? Sorry. It was a long trip, and I confess I haven’t finished the non-fiction book I’m crowdfunding with Unbound. I have finished two novels, but more of that later...

      I am old and confused most of the time.  Explain your book to me in no more than 27 words.

Sanctuary is a scrapbook of memories and photos and made-up stories inspired by the archive of a festival in darkest Devon that has nurtured generations of musos.

     You are stuck in a traffic jam in central London.  Outsider your car tempers are fraying, road rage is imminent.  What piece of music or song do you play to soothe your mind and remove you from the madness?

Oo er. You do ask all the hard ones, don’t you? I’m remarkably susceptible to ear worms so I probably have multiple tunes going at any given time. Rather than add something else in, I might just concentrate on listening to all those sounds that are around but you never quite hear. Your heartbeat, for instance. Your breath. The lesser-spotted leaf-blower. Failing that, Bach.

     What's  your favourite instrument in the orchestra? I'm very fond of a kettle drum myself.

I’d be in trouble if I said anything other than violin. So violin.

      If you could start your own theme park for adults, what would be the theme?

I’m just emerging from that part of life where you are constantly at the beck and call of children, so my concept is a fantasyland for parents. The rides include “Uninterrupted Reading Time” and “Dinner I didn’t cook myself.”

What's your biggest claim to fame, and, more importantly what would you like your biggest claim to fame to be?

My biggest claim to fame, to date, is making international news when I was banned from Sydney Opera House by the artistic director of Australia’s national opera company. I particularly liked getting digital highfives from music critics from around the world.
That said, I’m still hoping to be famous for writing a best selling novel one day. Working on it...

How much of your own personality do you put into your characters and do you ever find yourself displaying the characteristics of the people you are created?

Not sure about the second. Definitely the first. Nothing is safe from me when I’m on a story hunt. I use my own personality, but I also shamelessly filch personality traits from others. My friends are now wise to this. They’re still my friends, but they’re scared. Very scared.

     What would be your ideal superpower? And could you describe your superhero costume to me? Would there be a cape?

My superpower is writing. My costume is pajamas. The cape is only for best.

     My mind is addled, I am in need of grounding.  Could you calm my troubled spirit through the form of poetry? Either a Haiku or a rhyming couplets which reflect your secret to inner happiness.

Would it be showing off to give you a sonnet? It’s just that I have one up my sleeve at the moment. I’m doing a PhD and it’s driving me nuts and so instead of writing my thesis I write poetry.

All I want to do is write some stories,
Ripping dogs or shaggy yarns will do.
For ever has a man or woman stopped
And looked and thought “How cool
Is that? I want to share it with my mates.
I want to tweetit; bloggit; instagrammit;
Paint it on the cave walls; sing a song;
Whisper bitter somethings round a fire;
Fashion my experience and in so doing
Make sense of what I see." A modest aim,
But how? It’s no more possible to drink
An ocean, and then piss a cup of gold.
History, mystery, my story, memory
I’ll be doing this PhD until I’m old.

     Where else may I find either you or your work?  If I wanted to buy your most intriguing novel where would I find it? Do you tweet? Blog? Insta? YouTube?
I write music reviews and features for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper and various other old media things. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll take a look at my pitch for Sanctuary, crowdfunding with Unbound: I blog about music and other stuff at and I tweet under the name @harryfiddler. My most intriguing novel is yet to be published but as soon as it is I’ll be yelling about it. 

Our discussion was halted however, by the sound of screaming from the grounds below. I walked to the window to see what all the commotion was.

There below was a scene of abjest horror.Some fool had decided to take a drug induced swim in the moat, not realising that it was full of crocodiles.  A gathering of fools had tried to pull him out, tempting my aquatic reptilian pets onto the shore, where they were now parading through the festival, ripping a path through the white faced mimes, tattooed fire breathers, and drunken hair braiders, that ran screaming from them.

"Oh bugger."  I said. "This happens every year.  You'll have to excuse me.  I'll need to get this mess cleared up before some rainbow child snapchats it and I have the police come knocking again."

And with that I escorted my guest downstairs and through the relative safety of the tradesmans entrance at the rear of the castle.  I wished her well with he book, and with her journey back to Australia and watched disappear into the gloom of the evening.

I would encourage you to invest in her book, it sounds a most wonderful thing.  Everyone that supports it, gets their name listed within.  If your name doesn't appear I shall know about it and you may receive an unexpected gift through the post of two tickets for 'Holbrookfest' next year.  It is a weekend that you will never forget, as it will be your last.

If you have enjoyed this blog interview, and the others which I am publishing on a weekly basis, then please visit my own Unbound page where my own book Domini Mortum, A Victorian Mystery novel is in much need of love, attention, and most importantly pledges.

If you wish to be a guest yourself at the 'Castle of Despair' for your very own author interview, then please email me at whereupon I will devise a visit of the most exquisite torture especially for you.

Thank you.


Friday, 19 May 2017

The 'Shabby Genteel' EO Higgins

I sat at the table with a carefully selected group of ne'er do wells, the naively rich, and the superstitiously gormless.  Our hands were joined, and all eyes, except for mine, were closed.  The room was dark; lit only by candles placed around the room; the shadows, caused by their meagre light, dancing above the assembled idiots.

"Is anybody there?"  I called in my deepest, most commanding voice, breaking the silence.

There was no response.

"It is common,"  I said to my collected numpties.  "for the spirits to be a little wary of returning to the physical world.  Often they have painful memories, or have met violent ends; they do not wish to face the horror of the human world once more."

I saw, in the corner of the room, a movement, it was Manson, the butler he was ready to begin the next phase of the performance.

"In instances such as this" I continued.  "I call upon my spirit guide to help me.  Prepare yourselves, for he is often not best pleased to be disturbed from his eternal slumber."  I felt a ripple of excitement circulate through my guests.

Suddenly, almost as if it had been meticulously  planned, a cold breeze flushed through the room, extinguishing all lights except for the solitary candle in the centre of the table.

"He is here."  I said.

"WHO DARES DISTURB THE GREAT BEAST!" came a loud, but high pitched and slightly uninspiring voice.

"It is I, Aleister." I replied. "Holbrook, Grand Wizard and Foul lord of the castle of Despair. I call on you to bring forth spirits.  I wish to have a conversation."

The beast laughed, a dry cackling report.  "If it's conversation with spirits you require, I have just the man. Give me a moment, he's around here somewhere."

There was an awkward silence in the room, before Manson gave me a nod and I continued.  The recording of my discussion with the spirit world is recorded as follows.

Hullo? Who's there? What is your name? What is your plan?

My name is Edward Oliver Higgins.
I have no plan. I am like that Britain off the telly.

You write, don’t you? I think I may have read one of your books. Remind me of it,
will you? Be quick though, I am old. My eyes are tired, my ears are bent, and my
memory is as loose as a ha’penny doxy.

I wrote a book called Conversations with Spirits. It’s about a drunk ponce
investigating spiritualism. During the First World War. With a female character that I
stole from a film. And a homeless man. Oh, and some famous people, that I put in
just to pad it out a bit.

The lead character in Conversations with Spirits, Trelawney Hart, is highly critical of spiritualism and those that claim to have connections with ‘the other side’. Is this a viewpoint that you share and what would change both you and Trelawney’s

I am a man that has spent many years searching for ghosts – and have, thus far, been
unsuccessful. If I saw one tomorrow, that would probably change my mind. But,
from what I can gather from watching TV, they only contact Scouse liars – so I guess
I’m out of luck.
Trelawney experiences a bit of a of paradigm shift in the book (most readers seem to
miss this, weirdly) – but it is fiction. And I know that, because I made it up…

What's your all time favourite cult? If you were to start your own, what would it
be called, and tell me a little about the beliefs and rules of living under the loving
stewardship of the new messiah EO Higgins?

Well, as you know, I’m pretty loyal to the good people at Heaven’s Gate. The Hale-
Bopp cult. Great guys. Mysteriously – considering they all killed themselves in 1997 –
the website is still up and running: (Be warned: the Gatorade
in the club house is a bit stingy.)

I would start a cult called The Temple of Askwith. The members would be forced to search for the esoteric truths hidden in the Confessions films. The Confessions of a Window Cleaner companion book (hastily penned by me) will be required reading for all. And, lo, vast sculptures of Robin Askwith’s gormless, fish-like face will adorn the walls of my inner sanctum.

One of our first online exchanges was about the potential for Conversations with
Spirits to be filmed. Give me a director for this movie, and who would play
Trelawney and Billy? (Alive or dead)

Yes, occasionally, film producers do get in touch, tell me they’re desperate to make a
film adaptation of Conversations with Spirits – then disappear again. That’s
happened four times now.

Well, obviously, Hitch would be the director. That’s contractual. (Ah, this could be
the issue.) Casting decisions I’m not so good with. Perhaps Matt Smith – in a fat suit
– or the young Dennis Price would be good as Trelawney, and, Steve Pemberton or,
erm, Alfie Bass as Billy. (I had no one in mind for either character whilst writing the
book – but, oddly enough, the actor John Shrapnel was the model for Harry Price…)

The earth, as we know it, is reaching a turning point. The atmosphere is fading and
it will soon become impossible to live on the planet’s surface. Would you board
one of the many shuttles flinging themselves into the abyss of space in the
desperate hope of finding a new world to live on, or would you prefer to move
underground and hope that it all blows over?

I grew up in Basingstoke.
A subterranean pit actually sounds quite elegant.

I'm planning the dinner party of the year. You are, of course, invited. Could you
please help me to complete my preparations? I need the following;

1 author
1 literary character
1 male actor
1 female actor
1 comedian
1 Z list celebrity desperately trying to revive a non-existent career

Ooh, and a celebrity chef to cook for us (not Jeffrey Dahmer)
They can be living or dead, I don't mind, the dead make for a cheaper affair.
Plan my PARTAY!!!!

Obviously, the author you’d want is Andy McNab. Got some great stories. (Will
require a dark corner, though.)
The literary character would be Ignatius J. Reilly. He’s a lot of fun.
You can’t go wrong with a bit of Lew Collins. (Don’t mention Shaw.)

The female actor would be Letitia Dean.
The comedian would be TV funny man Duncan ‘Chase me’ Norvelle.
My Z-lister of choice is always Terry Coldwell from East 17.

The celebrity chef would be Nathan Outlaw. Mainly, on account of his name being
Nathan Outlaw.

You are approached by the BBC, who are in need of a new injection of talent and
innovation to boost their flagging ratings. What programmes would you pitch to
them? Would you be happy as a game show host? A roving reporter? Perhaps a
game changing sitcom? Pitches please! (No monkey tennis)

I would propose sending Keith Chegwin to provincial hospitals and asking people on life-support machines general knowledge questions. If they get the answers wrong, he pulls the plug. 
It would be called Chegger’s Plays God.

Unfortunately, you have expired. Never mind, let's look on the bright side, shall
we? Who would you choose to haunt, terrorise and turn into a quivering wreck
with little control over their bowels?

Heavy D from Storage Hunters UK.

In your opinion, what is the greatest piece of cinema ever committed to the screen
and how would you react if it was announced that it was to be remade with Danny
Dyer directing and starring in it?

Kind Hearts and Coronets.
I would be sickened, obviously. But, also, curious as to whether it would make less at
the box office than Run for your Wife.

Where else can I find you on the World Wide Web? Do you tweet? Blog? Have you
a website? Perhaps a podcast you would like to tell me about? Time to blow your
own trumpet. Where can I buy your brilliant book?

I do a podcast called Hello Shite. You got a mention in the last one, Holbrook. (Oh,
how sharper than a serpent’s tooth…) You can find it on iTunes. 

And, yes, I also have a book. It’s called Conversations with Sprits. It’s shiny and
golden – and, as such, President Trump’s favourite novel. (Though he’s never read it,
obviously.) It’s for sale in the shops. 

Conversations with Spirits will also be a major motion picture any day now. Starring
Danny Dyer.

... and he was gone.  The microphone linked to the cell where Mr Higgins was being kept in the dungeon below, and monies were collected from the idiots who had paid to talk to the dead.
As a reward for his efforts I freed the author from his confines and waved him on his way.  As he scuttled off, feeling blessed to survive the experience I called after him.
"Oi, Higgins!"  I shouted.  "When is the next book out?"  He paused for a moment, shrugged his shoulders and flicked me the Vs.
I hoped it would be soon, Conversations with Spirits is one of my favourite books and I would thoroughly recommend that you buy a copy (or four).

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 and I will endeavour to entertain you.

Also please consider visiting my Unbound page here and supporting my own particular effort at literary glory. 

Thank you

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Actually Artistic Auriel Roe

     I stood victorious, atop a pile of variously dismembered and broken bodies, the bloodied sword in my hand held aloft.

“How much longer must I hold this position?”  I called down to the figure at the easel below.  “This sword is heavy, my arm aches, and I am sure that I have put my foot through a rib cage.”

“Not too much longer.”  Came the reply.

It had been a long day.  

I had been awoken, as normal, by the butler carrying a silver tray containing coffee, orange juice, four pan au chocolat, and a copy of ‘Villains, Murderers and Dictators monthly’.  I had just finished breaking my fast and was thoroughly engrossed in reading an self help article within the magazine ‘How to find peace and contentment by slaughtering your enemies and their families’, when I was interrupted by a short cough from the bedroom doorway.

“What is it, Manson?”  I barked.  “Can't you see I’m reading?”

“A reminder, Lord.  The artist you called for will be arriving at ten.  I have created the scene that you requested in the drawing room and it is imperative that the initial paintwork is created today as we will soon have a problem with flies.”

I grumbled somewhat, but got out of bed all the same, removing my pink Jigglypuff onesie, and stepping into the en suite wet room.  After twenty minutes of being hosed down and scrubbed with a wire brush by Manson, I felt suitably clean and ready for the day.  Clothes had been laid out, my finest mail shirt, a cape of deep crimson, and a crown adorned with the shrunken skulls of the Carol Singers who had interrupted an episode of Morecambe and Wise, last Christmas.

It took a hastily arranged pulley system to haul me up to the top of the soggy pile of ex-neighbours from the nearby village of Nether Stinkhole.  It would seem that no matter how many times I culled their number, the village continued to be steadily populated, a fact that only confirmed to me how important the continual management of my neighbours was.

And now here I stood, a full two hours later, arm aching and the blood of others seeping into my favourite pair of moccasins.  I had had enough.

“Manson!”  I shouted.  “Get me down from this infernal mess, it must be lunchtime and the smell is making me hungry.”

The figure at the easel below tutted to herself, but knew that it was not worth the argument.  The last time I had commissioned a portrait, the artist had found himself impaled upon a spike by the drawbridge; a warning to all those who dared challenge me.

It was over a lunch, that I decided to engage in conversation with the artist.
The details of our discussion are recorded, and can be recounted as follows;

So you paint do you?  Is that all you do? Tell me about yourself?

I’m Auriel, an Art teacher, Art examiner, Artist and now Author (I am only things beginning with A). I’ve spent most of my working life abroad in international schools. My favourite postings have been Egypt and Turkey (where I am now). I like the UK but they work you too hard in schools there, 30+ in a class, etc. plus the weather’s generally naff. 

An Author? Written a book have you? I like books, especially funny ones. 

Unfortunately I have the mind of a broken sieve and cannot retain information. Can you sum it up first in 50 words, then 15 words, then 5 words, and then 2 words? 

A Blindefellows Chronicle is a comic novel, comprising thirteen interconnected stories that take place over forty years. Its setting is Blindefellows, a second rate public school in the West Country, founded as a charity school for poor, blind boys, but long since converted into an ‘elite’ educational institution for anyone who can pay.
Central to this is the friendship between man-of-the-world Japes and wilting violet Sedgewick.

Sedgewick will not be tempted into an extra-curricular romance…

Or will he? 

2018 has been a hell of a year; Trump impeached and imprisoned, May sent to the Tower of London, El Presidente Farage boots the Queen off of the throne to take his rightful place as head of state, and to cap it all off, the new leader of the free world, President Chuck Norris, takes it upon himself, in his first day of office, to give Vladimir Putin a bone-shattering roundhouse to the face. 

Putin is not a happy man to say the least. From his hospital bed, in a rare show of generosity, he has given the USA and Europe 4 hours until he crushes us with his nuclear biceps. How would you spend the last four hours? Make it fun, we’re all going to fry!!

Picture this, a deckchair in a shady spot with a low Turkish table just within reach, upon which there are at least four flavours of Ben & Jerrys and an array of silver spoons (in case one of them gets sticky which is a bad feeling to have just before you die). 

Frisking about one’s idyllic spot are two tame lambs. A hoopoe alights upon a nearby branch, not the usual shy hoopoe who flutters off at the slightest flinch, but one who boldly displays his crest for close examination. All this would be enough.

Your book is about a school. Where do you stand on the ‘best days of your life’ view point? Do you agree, or are schools just state run torture camps built for torment, humiliation and numbing the minds of our youth? 

I was really not into school so it makes no sense I became a teacher. I was dropped off on the corner, waited until my mother’s car was out of sight, then went over to my grandmother’s for tea and biscuits. I thought the life of the elderly was the best. I used to do her windows and accompany her to bingo. Ah, those were the days. 

Which do you prefer, painting with words or pictures? And also what are your most favourite things that you’ve ever created in these mediums?

Good question. I properly returned to art about four years ago – I switched from teaching Drama and English to purely Art and sharpened my long-neglected painting skills. I suddenly had the urge to write after this so I think art was a catalyst and homed the written visuals. 

As for writing, it has to be the book I’ve just finished as it sort of popped out of nowhere… it was a heatwave almost two years ago and I was spending a few weeks in an attic flat in Germany with no air conditioning. I had this funny little “What if…?” idea…. “What if a man in his sixties suddenly and rather awkwardly has his first crush….?” I then sat in the bath, fully clothed, and wrote a short story which ultimately became the last chapter of my novel. As for artworks, I really like the giant ram-sized pugs shown above. 

That one has an interesting story… it was in an art gallery in London and I had a call early one morning from the police asking me if I knew how to contact the gallery owner – there’d been a robbery and mine was the only number they could see on the desk (on my business card). Anyway, they’d stolen the Warhols and the Hirsts but not my pugs. I like to think this is because mine was huge and on wood and not because I’m only a minor celebrity. 

I’d find it difficult to choose a preference between art and writing – I’m doing both when I’m not teaching – one or the other suits the moment.
If you had to live inside a painting, which one would it be? I’d choose something by Picasso just because I’d like to have my face all in the wrong order.

Maybe a Cedric Lockwood Morris with some of his friendly looking birds. Definitely not an Escher. 

Would you like something to eat? My larder is quite well stocked at the moment, I’m quite the chef and I’ll happily cook you a three course meal. I promise I haven’t poisoned anyone in weeks. Anything you like, name it?

Anything vegetarian, possibly even vegan. I haven’t eaten meat since I was sixteenish.

I hear you’ve painted Jane Goodall. I’m a bit of a Goodall Geek as I’ve always wanted to work with Chimpanzees. (I work in a school now, that’s called karma). If you could choose a commission from one of your inspirations who would it be, and would you feel the pressure?

    I’m reading Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There at the moment so an excuse to spend some time listening to his stories in person would be fabulous, only I may be laughing too hard to paint.

If you had to live one of the days of your life as a Groundhog Day, which one would it be? Would it end up being a curse?

A typical day at my house in Madrid – I’m there about two months over the summer every year and it’s just marvellous – great nosh, painting, bit of taming of the garden, walking the dogs in an amazing landscape, proper sleeping, finding mantises, etc. It would never be a curse, unless I got stung by a wasp at the same moment every day. 

Where else can I find you on the world wide thingamajig?

I’m the only Auriel Roe in the world as far as I can see – who else would give their child a name with this many vowels – so Facebook 
Or my art site 

“I'm not climbing up on top of those again.”  I said motioning to the already festering mound of corpses which dominated the room, and were frankly making a terrible mess of my favourite rug.  You will have to complete your work without me in situ as it were.  It shouldn’t be a problem, I am not one who can be forgotten easily.

And off she popped, promising to return with a finished portrait suitable for hanging in the entrance hall of Holbrook Towers; something to awe, to inspire, and to strike fear into every visitor.

As I waved her off, I made a note to order her lovely book too and I would advise you to do the same  (Unless you want to appear in my next portrait).

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 and I will endeavour to entertain you.

Also please consider visiting my Unbound page here and supporting my own particular effort at literary glory. 

Thank you

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Necessarily Nordic Susie Wilde

A thick blanket of grey surrounded and obscured Holbrook Towers.  If you had been stood on the outskirts of Nether Stinkhole on the plains below (and I can advise you not to bother  if you were ever tempted) then only the tallest tower of the castle would have been visible, poking up out of the dark curtain of suffocating smog.

This was a common phenomenon, especially when my home was beset with one of the many frequent and violent thunderstorms that seem to plague me wherever I go. The smog however was not however a natural occurrence.  The mist and smoke which surrounded  the castle was one of the many side effects of my desperate attempts to create life; the smoke billowing out from the window of my laboratory.  

On this particular night though, to those that were listening from outside (if one was to be brave or naive enough to come anywhere near my ancestral home)  they would have supposed that I had at last succeeded.

"IT'S ALIVE! ITS ALIVE!" came my shrill cry, as the lightning rained down on the castle, striking the large iron conductor which was being held in place by my butler, who now had smoke of his own poring from his ears.

I held the yoghurt aloft, as the sound of my voice echoed around the damp stone walls of my diabolical laboratory.

Suddenly a movement in the corner of my eye caused me to turn suddenly.  Slowly appearing from the side of the window, out of the mist and smoke, was what appeared to be the head of a dragon.  Strange, I thought,  I thought I had caught the last of these and put him in the pens at the back of the castle.  It was only as it drew nearer that I saw that the dragon's head was carved from wood.  I ran out into the hallway and opened the door.  There appeared to be a longboat in my moat.

Looking up to the fore of the boat I saw someone who I instantly recognised.

"Welcome, Sif!"  I called.  "Have you come to see what terror your husband's lightning has brought here tonight?  Park up Skoblaonir and come in for a cup of tea!"

It was only when I got nearer that I saw that it was not Sif, goddes of the earth at all, and the boat she sailed was not magical (although I did wonder how she had sailed it into a moat).

No matter, I fancied a cup of tea anyway.

    Oh hello, park your longboat up in the moat and come rest your sea legs on a pouffe in Holbrook Towers.  Who are you and what's that book in your hand? 

    Heill(That’s Old Norse, by the way, no goose-stepping here.) I’m Suzie Wilde and I’m clutching my debut novel like a life-vest. It’s called The Book of Bera, Part One: Sea Paths.

    Can you sum up this book of yours in no more than 28 words? I have the brain of a guppy, with the memory span of mayfly, I can't retain anything longer than that.

   One Viking girl’s choice between salvation and revenge.That mainstream mayfly enough for you?

   “Mutiny! Mutiny! They've all got it…” oh sorry that doesn’t quite work. Anyway, your crew has turned you and cast you adrift in a rowboat.  300 miles from the nearest sight of land, Water, water everywhere and all that.  Who would you want with you and why? And how long do you think it would be before you decided to kill and eat them? Roughly 3 hours, after which I become feral even on dry landIf I’m allowed a dead person I’d have to go for Sir Ernest Shackleton (navigation and morale-boosting); if fictional, Billy Bunter (sure to have tuck until he becomes tuck himself); plus Sean Connery circa 1968. A girl can dream.

   Do you like reading the genre you write in?  Or do you find yourself being over critical and getting frustrated?

   My genre has been described as ‘true fantasy’ : meaning even the undead and twin spirit ideas are genuine Viking beliefs. Draugr = Drorgher and fylgja = skern, a twin-spirit with attitude. So I haven’t read any books quite like it. The closest would probably be Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy. I think I am to the Past what Margaret Atwood is to the Future. Despite this, I’m always over-critical of my own work but never get frustrated as I love editing.

   You're woken in the night by a strange light in the sky outside.  As you step out of your back door, you are sucked up into an alien saucer and whisked away to a distant planet.  What would you miss most about earth, and would you be prepared to start an intergalactic war in order to get back home? 

   Dogs. Specifically, steady old Labradors – so even if there was an alien pet equivalent, with the same ability to inhale its food, roll in Martian poo or chase smaller pet equivalents, I would certainly start an intergalactic war to get home to Ted. I think that’s why dogs feature strongly in the book, as well as other animals. One episode makes strong men cry – and naval officers.

   You've been very bad.  You are condemned to spend an eternity in hell reading the same book over and over again. What book is it that would make you really regret your sins on earth. 

   The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser. I hate allegory generally and this one with passion. Hatred is a sin, one of many I possess – and this (unfinished!) work praises Holiness, Temperance, Chastity, Friendship, Justice, and Courtesy. Come on. I sometimes dream I am at UCL again and forced to ever finish the damn thing then sit an exam: in fact I’m going to have to lie down now.

   Would you be prepared to take up a short career in cage fighting if you knew it would make your novel a best seller? 

   Yes. I’d also be prepared to lose.

   I need to hear the soothing tones of beautiful poetry in order to stop me from losing it in public.  Could you please sum up the secret to eternal happiness in the form of a haiku? 

   No - but I did the next best thing and randomly constructed a haiku from words that matter to me: 

Whale road
child, who steers,
to the stars in their paths.

  “The word processor is mightier than the AK47.” Discuss. 

   Both will become obsolete, and very fast if used in a sandstorm. 

   Where in the World Wide Web can I find out more about you? Have you a website? Do you twitter? Where can I buy this lovely book of yours? 

    I enjoyed this random set of questions, Paul. Thank you. I hope a non-guppy or unmayfly reader, having got this far, will menace an independent bookshop to buy a copy. Or online here:

Or via my website:
twitter: @susiewilde

And off she popped. Stepping up the gangplank and away in her boat (which I was most shocked to see raise itself from the water of my moat, and drift off into the night sky; bolts of lightning appearing in her wake)

I should have stuck her in the dungeon and nicked her boat, I thought, as I watched it disappear off to Valhalla, or the Isle of Eight, Neverland, or wherever it was heading.

Never mind, I'll just have to read her lovely book instead.  You should too.

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 and I will endeavour to entertain you.

Also please consider visiting my Unbound page here and supporting my own particular effort at literary glory. 

Thank you

Paul x