Tuesday, 20 June 2017

One Punch by Keith Dixon ~ A Paul Storey Crime Thriller - #BlogTour #Excerpt

TITLE - One Punch

AUTHOR - Keith Dixon 

PUBLISHER - Semiologic Ltd

PRINT LENGTH - 304 Pages 

Paul Storey is an ex-cop looking for a job. Bran Doyle was a boxer but he’s now looking for a driver. And perhaps a little more.

Storey takes the job but soon finds himself involved in more than driving. There’s a murder. And conspiracy. And another murder.

And then the real trouble starts.

One Punch continues the series begun by Storey, described by one reviewer as a “highly intelligent, witty and well-plotted thriller”, and by others as “very entertaining”, “a great read” and “an unusual thriller”.

If you like thrillers with surprising characters, intricate plots, lots of humour and exciting action, then One Punch should fit the bill.



When Norton saw Storey walk into the bar he knew straight away the type of man he was dealing with: alert, cagey, possibly dangerous.
He was maybe six feet tall, had black hair curling on his collar and seemed restless. Norton noticed a couple of women turn their heads to take him in, as though he’d brought a different kind of energy into the place.
But Norton knew all that from the clippings he’d read about Storey before contacting him. He’d been plastered over the newspapers a few weeks ago—hero ex-cop, saving lives, foiling smugglers. Norton’s boss, Bran Doyle, liked that. Said Storey would be a good man to have on board now they’d got rid of Monks.
Norton wasn’t so sure, thought Doyle was buying into the hype. Look at the way Storey stood at the bar, smiling at the barmaid, struggling to get his wallet from his jacket pocket. Playing the fool, getting a laugh from the girl. He could have done with a shave and his jeans were faded, though he seemed fit: slim and broad in the shoulders, moved well, probably not yet forty.
He wore a brown leather jacket over an open-neck blue shirt, with a name on the pocket Norton couldn’t read, and his shoes were scuffed at the front, as though he’d been kicking stones.
He didn’t look at ease in this place—maybe it was too high class.
Which is why Norton had chosen it, give Storey a glimpse of what was coming if he took the job. Let him taste the atmosphere, the possibilities. Norton didn’t mind if Doyle wanted to hire Storey, but that didn’t mean he got an easy pass.

Now Storey had seen Norton staring at him and was walking over, pint of beer in his hand, looking down at the shiny table-top, glancing at the other people in the bar before speaking.
‘Yes, take a seat.’
Storey sat in the chair on the far side of the table, still wary. He said, ‘Posh place, this. Your local?’
‘You think it’s posh?’
‘Fancy weddings and so on, isn’t it? Horse-drawn carriage taking the bride and groom away to a fortnight in Bermuda.’
‘We’re not here to talk about weddings,’ he said. Noticing Storey registered the rebuke but didn’t react. ‘We’ve got a proposition for you.’
‘So you said. You and your mysterious boss. I’ll drink this beer and listen to your pitch but I’m not guaranteeing anything.’
‘Understood. You should know this is completely legit, nothing dodgy. You’ll be on salary and some benefits.’
Storey was still staring at him. Then he said, ‘Were you in the services?’
Norton feeling himself drawing back, surprised. ‘Irrelevant.’
Storey shrugged, looking away, taking in the high windows of the bar, the well-toned young couples possibly discussing wedding plans. The talk was low, the surroundings refined. Norton could see the disapproval in his eyes.
Turning back to him, Storey said, ‘There’s something in your skin-tone, your hair-cut. The way you sit. You’re controlled. It was just a guess.’
Norton felt unnerved but before he could speak Storey was talking again.
‘You said it was something to do with security. What kind of security?’
Norton took a sip from his whisky and counted to five, steadying himself. He said, ‘My boss is a businessman, quite well-known in the city. He has a high profile, you might say. He needs someone to take him from place to place—’
‘Like a chauffeur?’
‘Well, more than that. There’d be some driving but other general duties.’
‘Standing around pretending to be alert but actually bored as shit.’
Norton felt himself growing frustrated, the other man seeming to enjoy being contradictory, pushing him. He said, ‘It’s not like that. It’s interesting work, lots of variety, working for a good family.’
‘Why me? You can pick up drivers at the Job Centre.’
‘Coventry isn’t teeming with people with your qualifications.’
Now Storey was grinning, as though Norton was suddenly comical.
‘You read my CV in the papers, didn’t you, and thought you’d get a thug for cheap. You’d be amazed the offers I had after that little event. TV interviews, book offers. A couple of women wanted to marry me, show their gratitude for my service to the city. I don’t know, you shoot someone and people either want to bury you under a ton of shit or make you the new pope.’
Norton shook his head. ‘I look at you and I don’t see anything special. Admittedly it took some balls doing what you did. But I suppose you’d done it before, shooting someone. I read you were a specialist when you were in the police. Firearms. Must have known what you were doing but still a risk. My job, I never took risks. Anything went wrong, you got a bollocking and maybe half a dozen men dead in the street, dogs licking their ears. Know what I mean?’
Storey looking at him again, his eyes still, like he was thinking something through.
He said, ‘When I went down to London I went for the excitement. Coventry was dead. Didn’t have all these students, this buzz it’s got now. I come back and the place is changed, like it’s had a transplant, something new in the bloodstream. I don’t know what it is and I don’t know whether I like it. You like it, don’t you? Makes you think you’re still back in Iraq or wherever the hell you were.’
‘It was—’
‘Well I don’t need that buzz any more. I had enough of it in London and now I’m back here I want to be still. I don’t want to wake up every morning with my head already pounding because of the noise I can hear in the background, a noise I don’t know whether it’s really there or not, or whether it’s just my imagination gearing me up to deal with the day.’
‘I think you’ve got the wrong idea of what we’re asking you to do.’
‘I don’t think I have. I know exactly what you want me to do. Drive a car, open doors, keep a straight face, say Yes, sir, No, sir.’
‘This place needs people like Bran Doyle—people with energy and vision, people who can get things done.’
‘I’ve never heard of him.’
‘He wants to meet you.’
‘So why didn’t he come in person?’
‘He wanted me to meet you first. Sound you out.’
‘First interview. See if I’ll spit on the carpet. So what do you think?’
‘I think you won’t last forty-eight hours.’
‘I’d better meet him then, hadn’t I, while I’ve still got the chance?’

Outside, Storey watched Norton drive out of the hotel’s car park, then followed. Norton had said it was only a few minutes’ drive but be sure to keep up or he’d miss the entrance.
By now he was interested to meet the guy, Doyle, see what he was like and whether he could work for him. He didn’t want to work for anyone, but he couldn’t afford to live without some income and at least this sounded interesting, so far as it went. After the business with the Syrian he’d laid low for a while, let things settle down. His former boss in London would still take him back but he thought he was past that now—he’d been his own boss for a while, in a manner of speaking, and he found he liked it. So he wanted to keep his freedom but he needed money and he didn’t want to prostitute himself for it. Besides, Norton had said it would only be for a couple of months so maybe he could stomach it for that long.
The hotel had been on the edge of town but now the route Norton was taking him had become more countrified. Without city lighting the road suddenly grew darker, so Storey turned on the Volvo’s main beams. He didn’t know this part of Coventry and was surprised to see the dim outlines of flat fields to his left, while on his right a succession of expensive-looking executive houses with their own driveways slipped by, their living-room lamps just flickering on, the executives well insulated from whatever was happening outside.
Storey wondered what he was going to find. Who was Bran Doyle and what impact was he going to have on his life?

Five minutes later Norton’s brake lights glowed and he turned and disappeared behind a stand of trees that edged the road. When Storey arrived he saw a wide metal gate was still swinging open, Norton waiting for it to complete its arc before driving through. Storey followed.
Jesus, he thought, looking ahead. How the other half lives.
They’d entered a compound, the drive paved in grey slabs, and at the end of its arc, beyond a raised circular decking area, he could see the main house, looming grandly against the night sky. The house seemed in fact to be two identical structures, perhaps barns in a previous life, that were now connected by an entrance foyer made entirely of glass and lower in height than the buildings either side. This entrance and the building on its left were lit up while the other was dark.
As he followed Norton to the parking spaces in front of the house he passed three self-contained cottages, perhaps stables at one time, and looking further, beyond the house, he could see a tennis court, lit-up by lights on tall poles, and what looked like a covered swimming pool next to it. He could tell the house was set in several acres of its own grounds, though in the growing dark he couldn’t see the property’s furthest limits.

He pulled in next to Norton’s car.
Norton was already out and was waiting by the glass door of the entrance.
He seemed to know what Storey would have been thinking, because he said, ‘Valued at one and a half million last year. Not that I think he’ll ever sell it. Put too much work into getting it right.’
The door opened and a woman somewhere in her fifties stood there, looking first at Norton and then at Storey. He saw she was still shapely and was attractive in a natural way, slim and with a single loop of gold around her neck, her dark hair cut to reach her shoulders and showing traces of highlight here and there.
She said, ‘Bran’s upstairs. Can this wait?’
‘I told him I’d bring Mr Storey tonight, if he’d come,’ Norton said. ‘Mission accomplished.’
The woman gave him a look then turned a smile on Storey and stepped back.
‘I’m Charlotte Doyle, the missus,’ she said. ‘Please come in.’
Her voice was well-modulated and had the kind of accent Storey usually associated with blue-rinsed stockbrokers’ wives from Kent. He’d begun to form some ideas about Bran Doyle but was already having to change them.

He followed Charlotte Doyle across a tiled foyer and through a door into the largest sitting-room he’d ever seen. The walls and ceilings were white, the floor pale wood and the leather chairs a chocolate brown. A huge television was showing a natural history programme but she flicked it off and threw the remote control clattering onto a low glass table.
Now she was turning to him again with her bright smile, saying, ‘You boys sit here while I fetch him. He’ll be asleep by now, mouth open in front of his television. Norton, try not to get your shoe-polish on the rugs.’
She clipped out of the room and Storey walked further into it, passing the two huge sofas and rounding a table set with six upright chairs, then approaching a dozen or more black and white photos ranged in a display on the far wall.
Norton had followed him and began to explain. ‘Doyle in his pomp. That’s Sean Connery, without his wig. That one’s the man from Eastenders. The one sitting there is Felicity Kendall. I don’t know the others.’
The photos were all taken in clubs or restaurants, people grinning in the background, faces pale in the photographic flash. Storey noticed the man who appeared in all the photos was tall and solidly-built, as tall as Connery but broader across the shoulders. He didn’t recognise the man’s face but saw that it had a definite character. In the photos he was perhaps in his thirties but his features were large, raw, as though they’d been pushed out of shape and then re-formed. It was an eager face, the face of a man who enjoyed life and looked like he wanted to swallow it whole.
He said over his shoulder, ‘You haven’t told me what he does yet. An actor or something?’
‘In a manner of speaking. He’ll tell you himself. Try and stop him.’
Storey was about to reply when someone else came into the room at the far end, a girl in her twenties, he guessed, by the lithe way she moved.
Norton saw Storey looking past him and turned around.
‘Felicity. We’re just waiting for your dad.’
The girl came forward and now Storey could see her better. She had her mother’s clear features and direct eyes but there was a colour to her skin that her mother lacked. She wore tight black jeans and a white Fruit of the Loom tee-shirt and her red hair was tied back in a short pony-tail.
Without holding out her hand, she said, ‘I’m Fliss. Are you the new man?’
Storey said, ‘That depends on whether your dad passes the interview. Too soon to say but it’s not looking good so far.’
A smile flitted over her face but she didn’t give in to it completely, turning to Norton instead to say, ‘Tell Dad I’m out with Darren, will you? I’ll be back later.’
‘Your wish, etc.’
She looked at them both again, one after the other, as if checking they’d understood their instructions, then turned and left.
Storey said, ‘She still lives with mum and dad?’
‘You’ve seen the place. Why would you move out? She’s practically got a wing to herself.’
‘A bird’s got to fly the coop eventually. Otherwise the coop gets torn apart.’
‘You do Chinese wisdom?’
‘Only in my spare time. When I’m not practising my levitation.’

Storey heard voices outside the room, Felicity talking to someone, then an older version of the man from the photos walked in. Bran Doyle. He wore a black shirt with a wide collar and green cargo pants with big pockets. He was as large as Storey expected, having seen the photos, but moved swiftly with a contained energy. Storey thought he was probably in his early sixties but appeared ten years younger. He had a broad, firm chest and hands like a bricklayer.
He was standing now with those hands on his hips, about ten feet from Storey, looking him up and down.
He said, ‘I’m Bran Doyle and this is my patch. Nice of you to come. I read about you in the paper and told Norton I wanted to meet you. Been banned from driving for twelve months, bloody stupid. Said I’d get myself a driver. I did my research and read up on you but on second thoughts I reckon you ain’t up to it. Ran away from your job with the cops then got yourself caught up in something tasty. Ratted out your gang and shot a bloke in the ‘ead. What use is that to me? I could just as soon get one of our own up here. There’s a lad in Brixton wants to come up and work for me. Why should I go outside, especially as you was one of them rotten bastards what worked in the police? Hey, come back ‘ere. I ain’t fuckin’ finished talking to you yet.’
Storey was nearly out of the room. Stopping, he turned back and said, ‘I’m loving your interview technique but I’ve got another engagement.’
Doyle grinning. ‘Good. What else?’
‘I don’t like rich people who are full of themselves and I won’t work for you if I’m like one of those lucky charms you hang around your neck.’
‘I’m not rich.’
Storey laughed. ‘You’re not poor.’
‘Nothing wrong with being poor.’
‘I never said there was. But if you live in a place like this and say you’re not rich you’ve got a weird view of the world.’
Doyle paused, glanced at Norton, who looked as though he’d been enjoying the conversation.
‘Fetch us a couple of whiskeys, Craig, there’s a good ‘un.’

Norton left and Doyle watched him, then sat on one of the brown sofas. Storey noticed he still had all his hair but his face was lined, with scars showing around the eyes.
Doyle said, ‘You give as good as you get, don’t you? I like that in a lackey. Sick to death of people who tell you what you want to hear. Norton’s a good man but he’s still scared of me. You’re not, are you? No use to me if you are. But I expect you knew that.’
‘I don’t play games.’
‘Sit down. Take the weight off your principles.’
‘I might not be stopping.’
‘Were you looking at my photos? A bit old now. I should get new ones, though I don’t meet the same people up here as I did in London. You haven’t asked what I want you to do—or did Norton lay it out?’
Storey sat facing him, enjoying the man’s ability to dance around the subject as if it were all part of the same conversation, the subject being himself. Doyle sat on his sofa like a ton weight, not just owning it but laying claim to everything in the room through it—the coffee table, the magazines scattered on its shiny surface, the unlit logs in the marble fireplace, the patterned stretcher that lay lengthwise on the dining table … Everything he looked at, he owned, and Storey wondered what it must be like to have that power. Or at least to think you had it.
Doyle said, ‘You met the missus, didn’t you? She liked you. Said you’d do. Tonight must be like one big interview, from your perspective.’
‘I don’t think I want the job.’
‘The fuck do you know? You haven’t talked to me about it yet. I haven’t had chance to exercise the full extent of my fucking charms on you. Incidentally, you don’t mind bad language, do you? Can’t help meself. What you get being brought up in a London armpit. Eloquence comes second to a punch in the gob.’

Norton came in with two glasses, handed one to each man then moved away.
Doyle said, ‘What’s your opinion, Craig? You’ve had a chance to see Mr Storey here at close quarters.’
Norton glanced at Storey, then said to Doyle. ‘He can drive, so he’s qualified. Thinks a lot of himself, but so do you, so you’re square.’
‘He says he doesn’t want the job. Do you think we could persuade him?’
‘All the press articles said he was a man of principle. Perhaps he’s making a point.’
Doyle said nothing, swirling the liquid in his glass, and Storey took this as a cue and tasted his drink—he knew nothing about whiskey but it was smooth and burned the back of his throat in a way that suggested it was a good brand.
Doyle said, ‘You’ve gone quiet.’
‘You two are doing all the talking. I’m just enjoying the view.’
‘So do you want to play with us or not? Nice big car to drive, you can live in one of the cottages for a couple of months, we’ll feed you and a woman will come in and do your laundry and cleaning. All you have to do is smile at me and make sure the petrol tank’s full.’
‘What happened to your previous driver?’
Doyle glanced at Norton, saying, ‘Difference of opinion. We had to let him go. Now you’re looking at me as if I left him face down in a fuckin’ ditch. Don’t worry—I can give you his phone number if you want to talk to him.’
‘What did you do? I mean, for a living? Why all those photos with famous people?’
Doyle looked away for the first time. Storey thought maybe he was embarrassed.
‘People wanted to be near me,’ Doyle said. ‘I was famous in some circles because I was a fighter. A boxer.’
‘I’ve never heard of you.’
‘You wouldn’t have. I wasn’t on telly. Started out, I’d show up at a fair where people were selling cars. There’d be a challenge and I’d knock down a couple of people and walk off with five hundred quid in my pocket. Then it escalated. By the time I finished I was fighting in working-men’s clubs and the back rooms of pubs. Five grand a time, or more. These famous people would roll up at the door, watch me fight for a couple of minutes—that’s how long it usually took—then they’d want to rub the top of my head for luck.’
‘Looking at this place you had a lot of fights at five grand a piece.’
‘You’ve got the wrong end of the stick, my man. I didn’t make money from boxing. I made it from property. Investments. Done well in London then moved up here, bought this place when it was a shithole and done it up. And I’m still ducking and diving.’
Storey said, ‘Well, thanks for the whiskey and the biography, but I don’t think I’ll fit in here.’
‘Sorry to hear that.’
Storey put his glass down and stood up. He said, ‘Were you a good boxer?’
Doyle was also standing now. ‘Terrible boxer. Good fighter. Do you know what they called me?’
‘No idea.’
‘I’d knock ‘em down so quick they called me One Punch Doyle. Bear that in mind.’


Keith Dixon was born in Yorkshire and grew up in the Midlands. He’s been writing since he was thirteen years old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. He’s the author of seven novels in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, as well as two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing. When he’s not writing he enjoys reading, learning the guitar, watching movies and binge-inhaling great TV series. He’s currently spending more time in France than is probably good for him.

Learn more about Keith by following him on Twitter , by reading his blog at  or connect with him on Facebook  On his website you can download a couple of free books and find out more about the others: www.keithdixonnovels.com.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

#Authors discovered to be living in my Home County of #Northamptonshire.

Recently I decided to write a post on Northamptonshire for the Travel side of my blog. Then I had a light bulb moment and wondered how many Authors past and present, actually lived in Northamptonshire too. So there my mission began.....

I already knew that one of my favourite authors, lived close to me, but I knew there must be others. It was interesting finding out who hailed from, or made their home in Northamptonshire.

Now I just had to come up with a plan of how to put this post together. Please read on for the low-down on Northamptonshire Authors.

In alphabetical order they are as follows:-

Morgen Bailey

Morgen Bailey – Morgen with an E – is a freelance editor (for authors and publishers), tutor, blogger, reviewer, speaker, author of eleven novels (in various stages), 400+ short stories, novels, articles, and has dabbled with poetry.

Former Chair of three writing groups, she is the 2015 Head Judge for annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, and can regularly be found on Social Media.  When not online, she is a British Red Cross volunteer (sorting their donated books), walks her dog (often while reading, writing or editing), reads (usually for review) and somewhere in between all that she writes.

Like Morgen, her blog http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com is consumed by allthings literary, .
You can read / download her eBooks (paid and free) at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo.  

Ok, now to the questions!

1. Do you think 
competition success helps with a writer’s success?

I had a spate of sending stuff out to competitions (Writing magazines and Writers’ News mostly) and have won a couple of local ones, was shortlisted a couple of time in the Writing Magazine and a couple of times at Verulam Get Writing competition (Geoffrey Guiver won this year’s… hello Geoffrey!) so they’re on the CV.

2. Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?

I do, and I love it. It’s like someone being called a middle name because they prefer it to their first name. I had this conversation with my mum a while back and she said I could have picked one of my middle names; I have two. Elizabeth is the one I’d have gone with if I’d found out, or thought about it, earlier… or a variation probably Libby but it was too late by then but now I prefer Morgen (despite it often being spelt with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘e’). I don’t think anyone knows about the Libby thing, not even my brother (hi Martin) and not sure how my friends would react now… guess I’ll find out when they read this.  But no, never been keen on my first name. Which, is Alison by the way. Ali as in Ali McBeal has been a suggestion but I’ve never warmed to it (despite liking the TV series) and ‘Al’ always seemed too butch so it’s been plain ‘Alison’ until Morgen came along, and it’s what I am online so it’s easier. 

3. Do you ever Google yourself? Everyone is getting this question! I rarely Google myself but I have google alerts for MorgEn Bailey and MorgAn Bailey which picks up on some gems, especially as one of the Morgans is an American transexual porn star.

Morgens latest book is The Writers Guide to Editing Fiction (2nd edition) Published May 2017. Click here to buy it now.

Find out more about Morgen here:- Blog  Twitter  FacebookGoogle+PinterestTumblr, and LinkedIn.

Courtesy of WikiPedia
Herbert Ernest Bates was born in the town of Rushden and was educated at Kettering Grammar School. Most of his writing centres around the rural Midlands and in particular Northamptonshire. He loved walking around our beautiful countryside where he would get inspiration for his novels.  He worked briefly for a Newspaper in Wellingborough, and then like a lot of men in our county, he went to work at a local shoe-making warehouse where he had time to write the whole of his first novel.
During WWII he was commissioned into the RAF solely to write short stories

Questions I would ask him and imagined responses I would get. 

1. Have you ever written under a pseudonym?
The WWII short stories were originally written under the name of Flying Officer X

2. How many rejections did you get on your first book before it was published?
It was rejected by 8 or 9 publishers before it was finally accepted by a publisher under advice from a highly respected reader and author, Edward Garnett.

3. What do you believe was your most popular creation?
The adventures of the Larkin Family in Darling Buds of May. Pop Larkin was based on a colourful character seen whilst on holiday in a village in Kent. 

John Clare (Poet) 1793 - 1864 

Clare was born into a peasant family in Helpston a small village which over the years has moved from Northamptonshire to Cambridgeshire. Both of his parents were illiterate, however he still received some schooling. He went on to publish several volumes of Poetry. His Poems include, The Dying Child, Autumn, I Hid My Love and First Love. Click here for a selection of his work.
Sadly for the last 20 years of his life he ended up living in an insane asylum.

Justin Davis - Childrens Author

Justin's' Debut book is called Escape From Nettle Farm
Escape from Nettle Farm, a children's novel, tells the story about Harvey, a Newfoundland puppy. He's the smallest pup, with big ears and big feet, who's bullied by the rest of the litter. His owner, a grumpy farmer, is mean and dishonest and breeds the pups as a profitable sideline to support his hobby of restoring farm machinery. When all of the other puppies are homed, Harvey is told that he's to be sent to a working farm with a cruel owner, in exchange for an old tractor. Terrified of what lies in store, he escapes...and is found by Millie Baker and her Dad at the allotments. Falling in love with Harvey, Millie enters him into a puppy competition - little does she know that the grumpy farmer is going to be there too!. Is Harvey safe with the Bakers? Will he ever escape the grumpy farmer? Can he win the competition? Escape from Nettle Farm is a beautiful full-colour children's picture book, ideal for young readers aged 5-10 - to support progression from assisted to independent reading.
You can buy it here 

This book, published by Matador 4th Nov 2016, has already attracted several 5* reviews and rave reviews on Goodreads. The Illustrations are fabulous and Justin has shared some illustrations with me of his book that's in progress. They are wonderful.

I have set each of the authors 3 questions about themselves or their writing. Here is what I asked Justin.

1. What made you choose Children's books as your forte and not for example fantasy novels? I got a great reply!
I chose children’s books to help my son read (hopefully you received the newspaper article .jpg in the last email).  He struggled with reading and desperately tried to keep up with his friends and read what they were reading.  He would bring home books with complex character and place names that were difficult to pronounce.  This would break his flow of reading and prevent him from fully engaging in the story, resulting in frustration, a lack of interest in books and a challenge to get him to read at night.  I wanted to do more to help him so took a course in writing and wrote an engaging chapter novel that felt like a grown up book.  I had it illustrated with beautiful colour pictures and wrote it so that it would appeal to a broad age group and also engage adults.  My first book, Escape from Nettle Farm was complete and published in November 2016 and I was delighted to see it showcased in the spring collection of The People’s Book Prize.  I have since been notified that I am a finalist with voting ending on 21st May 2017.
Passionate about engaging children in reading I have also written a rhyming picture book, for under 5’s, that has been beautifully illustrated.  I am currently looking for a publisher for this book.  I have also just finished my second chapter book in the series and will soon be looking for a publisher for this book too.

2. As a Writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? 

My Avatar would be a huge black panther like the character Drizzt has in RA Salvatore’s fantasy series.  I love fantasy books and the idea of a huge black panther around when I wanted could be very useful!!

3. Do you ever Google yourself? I ask all authors this one as some of the comments make me laugh!

I never googled myself until my first book was published.  I have done numerous times size but
purely to see how my website comes up in search rankings or to look at reviews of my books on other websites.  I’m certainly not obsessed with my personal profile… yet.  After my other books are released there will undoubtably be more to look at so I may find out more about myself!  I tell myself that all feedback is positive - lets just hope it is!

Find out more about Justin here:- Webpage // Facebook // Twitter

Annie Ireson 

Annie Ireson lives in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Her first book in her Jeffson Family Trilogy, set in Kettering, was Sunlight on Broken Glass, based on a true story. 

As Tom Jeffson inserts the key into the lock of an empty house on Easter Saturday in 1922, he is completely unaware that his youngest daughter, eight year-old Daisy, is hiding there following a childish prank.
Although Daisy is the innocent witness to her father's adulterous liaison that day, it is her older sister, Rose, who forever carries the burden of his deception.

Sunlight on Broken Glass is a story of two sisters, united as they endure the consequences of their father's increasingly appalling behaviour. But, as the story reaches its climax and Tom is diagnosed with a chilling psychopathic disorder, can their love for each other withstand the strain?

To buy click 

1. Do you think someone could be an Author if they don't feel emotions strongly enough?

In some ways, being human is like being in solitary confinement despite being social animals. Our own existence is completely personal to us as individuals. How do we know if we feel emotions strongly enough when it is impossible to know exactly how much is enough? 

2. What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I reiterate that I have had no formal training in creative writing, but I think I instinctively know when something doesn’t work, even though I sometimes don't know why. Here are three traps I think aspiring writers need to avoid.

The Snare: Looking back at some of my early work as a teenager and in my twenties, I can see many faults, one of which is definitely over-writing. Why use two paragraphs when one punchy sentence will do the same job? Yes, the prospect of writing between 70k and 90k words is daunting, but the answer to getting your first novel written is not to become ensnared by the desire to fill those pages with superfluous airy-fairy words, because all that will achieve is the loss of readers’ attention. I always ask the trusted readers of my first drafts to tell me where their attention wavered, and then fix it accordingly. Nine times out of ten it will be because of over-writing – and it will usually be the bit that I think is the best scene I have ever written! I'm afraid there’s nothing for it but to hit that good old delete button and “kill your darlings”.

Death trap: This has to be the soul-destroying blow of rejection. My first published work was in The People's Friend back in the early eighties. My grandma had sent off one of my stories without my knowledge and, although I remained a secret writer, embarrassed by my unusual hobby, I was chuffed to bits. The next story was accepted, too, and I was on cloud nine. Then the next two were rejected, and like an injured fledgling I retreated back into the dark undergrowth for the next 20 years. (I didn't stop writing though - it's like having OCD, I just can't help myself.) Don't let those rejections put you off as an aspiring author. They can so easily destroy your confidence and smother your creativity. Embrace them, learn from them and then move on.

Honey trap: Everyone thinks that writers live a glamorous lifestyle, surrounded by beautiful arty people, writing their novels in neat, sunny conservatories overlooking extensive gardens paid for by their best-selling novels. Let’s just stop there for a minute. Very few writers earn enough to live on, and even authors of best-sellers rarely reach the dizzy heights of J K Rowling or E L James. Most authors are ordinary people with day 
jobs and write because they love it, not to make money out of it.  However, it's great to hear of success stories and it’s nice to dream. This is what keeps us going when the muse deserts us and we stare blankly at the computer screen.
3. Have ever Googled yourself and if so what did you find?
1. I am not alone. There are four of me.
2. Despite calling myself ‘Annie’ with my writing pen in hand and Anne in everyday life, Google is very clever and finds me anyway.
3. Typing in your name backwards yields very interesting, sometimes hilarious, results
4. Someone has taken the trouble to list every novel ever written with ‘White’ in the title and my first novel, The White Cuckoo, is listed along with the utterly brilliant The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, which is awesome.

Find out more about Annie on Facebook // Twitter  //  Blog // Goodreads

Jane Isaac 

Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.'

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as 'Thriller of the Month - April 2014' by E-thriller.com and winner of 'Noveltunity book club selection - May 2014'.

In 2015 Jane embarked on a new series, featuring DI Will Jackman and set in Stratford upon Avon, with Before It's Too Late. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes, was published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016 with the 3rd, The Lies Within which came out on 2nd May 2017. Buy it here

Both DI Jackman and DCI Lavery will return again in the near future. Sign up to Jane's newsletter on her website at www.janeisaac.co.uk for details of new releases, events and giveaways.

1) Do you believe in writers block?

Yes, absolutely. I write in scenes and I simply cannot put pen to paper until the scene is set in my mind. While I'm working it all out, I tend to spend my time researching or editing previous text so that I'm still doing something constructive towards the overall story.

2) Have you had to make any sacrifices to become an author?

If there are sacrifices, they are very minor. Spending your days writing stories is a lovely way to make a living. I used to balance my writing with a part time job which I had to give up recently because I could no longer manage to do both. It was a shame, because I loved the company I worked for and my colleagues, and I do miss the daily people contact. There are lots of events and book launches to go to where you can connect with other bookie people, and they are lovely, but they don't happen every day.

3) Do you ever Google yourself?

Not really, no. Although now you've mentioned it, I just have and there are a few photos of me and my books, alongside some other Jane Isaacs including a black and white picture of a stern looking eighteenth century woman. Hilarious!

Catch up with Jane on Twitter II Facebook

Louise Jensen - No 1 Bestselling Author of The Sister

Louise is a No. 1 bestselling author. Her debut novel 'The Sister,' is a psychological thriller and was published in July 2016. It reached No. 1 in the UK where it stayed for over 5 weeks, and it also No. 1 on the Canadian Amazon chart. It was the 6th biggest selling book on Amazon in 2016.

'The Sister’ is a book about a grieving girl who thought there was nothing as frightening as being alone – she was wrong. Buy here
'The Gift' Louise's second book, was published in December and within a week of release gave Louise her second No. 1 in 2016 both in the UK, where it stayed for over a 5 weeks, was No. 1 in Canada and is also a USA Today Bestseller. Buy it here.

'The Gift' is a book about a perfect daughter and how a secret is eating her family alive...

To date Louise has sold over 700,00 books and her novels have been sold for translation in fifteen territories. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?The Sister was the first book I ever wrote, and The Gift the second. I've been lucky and so far nothing unfinished or unpublished but I'm a relatively new writer - there's still time!

2. What was your hardest scene to write?The hardest scene I've ever written was probably the opening to my debut, The Sister - it was the first time I admitted to myself I was going to try and write a book and it felt like such a huge step. That said I currently have 12 versions of the final paragraph of my third book on my computer- it's proving tricky!

3. Have you ever Googled yourself and if so what did you find? I've never googled myself - I know all I need to know!

Follow Louise on Facebook // Twitter // Web page // Goodreads

Sue Moorcroft - Award winning Author

Sue Moorcroft writes women's contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes.

The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers' Best Romantic Read Awards. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue is a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner. She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing 'how to'.

Her new book is Just for the Holidays. A perfect summer read published by Avon Books


In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…
Buy it here
1. If you could have been the author of any book that's out today, which would it have been? 

I had to give this a lot of thought but I’ve decided on Cry No More by Linda Howard. It tackles hard issues but brings together two people who otherwise would never have met and who are unlikely bedfellows in any sense. It was the first Linda Howard book I read but by no means the last. I love romantic suspense and she’s fabulous.

2. Writers are often associated with loner tendencies. Is there any truth to that?

I’m a mix. I’m very chatty and in the thick of things when I’m with people but I write best when totally alone. I’m fine with my own company outside of writing, too – reading, watching Formula 1 or going for long walks.

3.  And my favourite question, do you ever Google yourself?

Yes, but nowhere near as much as I used to. I do have Google Alerts set for my name though. I’d hate to miss something good.

Thanks for inviting me onto your blog!

Follow Sue - Website I Blog I Twitter I Facebook I Facebook Author Page

Mark West

Mark West was born in Northamptonshire in 1969. Writing stories since the age of eight, he discovered the small press in 1999 and since then, he’s published more than 70 stories in various publications around the world. Check out his website below for links to his amazing bibliography.

One of his more recent Novellas was The Factory

Twenty years ago at college, Martin, Paul, Jane, and Gwen were members of the GLUE Club - the Gaffney Legendary Urban Explorers - run by the charismatic Tom. Now, following his mysterious death, they agree to meet up again and undertake one final exploration to honour his name.

Aside from Paul who never left, none of them have been back to Gaffney since and the reunion is awkward, re-opening old wounds. As they begin to explore the long-abandoned Pocock Factory, it seems they might be intruding on something better left alone. As they succumb to the spirits in the darkness, it quickly becomes a battle to see who will survive the night...
Buy it here

Ok here are your interrogation questions Mark! I’ve been gentle

1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Writers & Artists Yearbook. I haven't used one in years but discovering one, that first time, opened so many doors for me it's quite astonishing now to look back on it. Well worth the investment.
2. What author/s did you dislike at first but grew into?

I don't think that's ever happened (though the reverse has).  I protect my reading time zealously because I don't get as much of it as I'd like to, so if a book doesn't grab me it now doesn't get finished (it would have once but now I think "no, too many books, not enough time!").

3. Lastly, the one everyone gets as it makes me laugh, Have you ever Googled yourself and if so what did you find? 
(*Braces self for answers!*

Yes I have and I discovered that Mark West was once a very prolific (and hairy) gay porn star.  And a basketball player also shares my name but when I did an image search, my porn star compatriot took the lions share of space :)

Connect with Mark here - Website I Facebook I Twitter

Thank you to all the Authors who took part. I am proud we have such talent in my home County. 

For other Northants Authors check them out:-
Web Page I Twitter page