Friday 31 May 2024

Extracts From The Writing Of April Taylor

On seeing the Holbein pencil sketch of Anne Boleyn, April Taylor’s parents remarked that it looked just like their daughter. This comment cemented an affinity April had felt for Henry VIII’s second wife since she had read Margaret Campbell-Barnes’ book Brief Gaudy Hour. However, it wasn’t until 2006 when April was working as a choir mistress on a cruise ship, that the idea for the Luke Ballard Chronicles was sparked.

‘The phrase Henry’s black-eyed boy kept going through my head,’ April says. ‘I wondered what would have happened if the boy child Anne miscarried in 1534 had been born alive.’

In her mind, April added a touch of very controlled magic, the forces of light and dark, and the setting of Hampton Court Palace. Her protagonist came to life; a somewhat shy, unconfident, but able apothecary called Luke Ballard.

April carried that idea around in her head for another 3 years before it became the novel, Court of Conspiracy. Two further books followed creating her Tudor Enigma series, but it was not until 2023 that April decided the story needed a prequel showing how Luke Ballard came to be who and what he was. 

Dangers of Destiny was the result and is the book that now opens the new Luke Ballard Chronicles. 

An extract from Dangers of Destiny 


‘Bitches. Useless bitches.’ He stood in the middle of the Fountain Court, frustration tinged with fear hissing from him. But quietly. The last thing he needed now was discovery, and he had made sure the light from the torches around the perimeter could not reach him. Aided, of course, by a little help from one of his incantations. Lowering his head in concentration, he could hear the guards at the Gatehouse of Hampton Court, just a few paces away. These imbeciles were so addle-brained, so far beneath his contempt. He stood within the walls of the most secure palace in England, save for the Tower of London, a few miles downstream.

Here they thought they could protect that useless mountain of hideous, stinking, flesh from his power. Had it been prudent, he would have laughed. A pity they had sent the Great Whore’s whelp to Greenwich, but what could a boy of 12 do against the might of a sunderer? A pity their plan to rid Henry VIII of Anne Boleyn had also failed, but that had been Cromwell’s fault and he had paid the price for it. Rightly so. 

He sharpened his concentration, sending out tentacles to see who was close by. Good. The enemy was nowhere near. Bastard elemancers. They believed in the power of the light of God. Milksop bunglers, all of them. As if their puny efforts could best the power of darkness. The Archon himself had promised promotion when his mission was accomplished.

His gaze dropped to the bodies of the two girls. This was not his fault. His dupe had not bothered to check they were suitable, the fool. The potion that should have made Great Harry waste away and die had failed. And what a soul-capture the dead king would make. So full of powerful, malevolent energy, to be tethered, drained at will and replenished. Aye, when he accomplished that, he could expect rich rewards. He would demand them. With a few curt words, he ordered his puppet to return to the royal apartments. He would deal with the simpleton at the appropriate time. What he must do now was find a way to instil terror into the complacent hedge-pigs who peopled this pile of useless bricks. He spent a few moments breathing in malevolence, then relaxed his shoulders. His mind now cool and working properly, he smiled. Aye, that would do it. As if picking flowers on a sunlit afternoon walk, he leisurely stripped the bodies, draped them across the fountain, and began his work.

Chapter One

Luke wiped his sweating palms down the front of his tunic. This would be the first time he had entered Hampton Court Palace since the discovery of two innocents, their broken, mutilated bodies discarded in Fountain Court. Rumour spoke of strange symbols carved into their flesh. Evil magic, some whispered. Luke’s assignment was to discover the truth and report back to Elemagus Verrall.

From the safety of Silas Parsloe’s apothecary shop in the precincts of the Outer Green, everything had seemed simple, yet enthralling. To be told that he, Luke Ballard, lowly apothecary’s assistant, had the elemancer talent. That he had a vital role to play in this year of our Lord, 1546. To expose the diablerie of sunderers who, even now, sucked the strength and life out of Henry VIII within the royal apartments. 

All knew the King’s life hung in the balance, even though Queen Anne Boleyn nursed him with the ferocity of a tigress. Henry’s death would plunge the realm into unrest. Strife would surely follow should the 12-year-old untried Henry, Prince of Wales inherit the throne now. 

Elemagus Verrall, head of the elemancers’ guild, had explained the importance of Luke’s investigation, filling his pupil’s head with thoughts of honour and chivalry. He had envisioned himself a latter-day knight of King Arthur, striving for good against the demons in their midst. The speed with which he had learned a few basic spells had only intensified these daydreams.

Now though, as he joined the queue at the Gatehouse for entry, icy jabs of reality punctured his new-found confidence. He was no knight errant, but a man with flesh that could be torn and blood that could be spilled. Luke peered round the people in front of him and his heart sank. Ulric Nutt, Captain of the Yeoman Guards, was on duty. 

Nutt had a reputation for corruption and bullying. With no pretence at discretion, he fingered through the case of satins and silks presented by a tailor’s assistant. The tailor, quick to offer the captain a length of netted cord adorned with spangles for your lady, sir, was waved through. The two guards on the huge doors immediately uncrossed their halberds to allow the visitors entry.

Luke glanced at those waiting behind him. Since news of the King’s ill health had been bruited abroad, the palace had become the focus for all manner of merchants and travellers, anxious to flock to court, waiting to take advantage of any opportunity for patronage or advancement such royal crises provoke. He wondered what had attracted the flamboyant group of actors behind him. A place of anxiety and grave faces was hardly the ideal setting for mummers.

Now there was only an old woman with a basket of rosemary sprigs between Luke and Nutt’s predatory scrutiny. Luke looked down into the eyes of Joss, his greyspring, no mere dog, but his constant companion and helpmeet. Only royal pets were permitted inside the confines of the palace. Luke had taken the precaution of smoothing shimmer oil through her coat. It would render her invisible to others, who, if they saw anything at all, would dismiss it as a shadow or gleam of light. The steadfast expression in her golden eyes gave him the courage he needed. He looked up as Nutt snarled at the old woman, thrust her away and turned to him with a swagger.

‘What d'you want, Ballard?’


Although the delay between the original series and the current book was unplanned, April refers to it as pure serendipity. 

She explains. ‘I wanted to write other books, so took time out to do that. But then, quite out of the blue, came a commission for a non-fiction Tudor book.’ By that time, April had regained her rights to the Tudor Enigma books and decided that, as they had originally been aimed at an American audience, she would edit and revise them to be truer to their British historical setting. The new book became Dangers of Destiny. ‘The commissioning editor for Pen and Sword Publishing had read and enjoyed the original novels and asked if I would consider writing a book on the Tudors. We agreed that crime and punishment in that era would make an interesting subject, and the contract was signed.’

Crime and Punishment in Tudor England: From Alchemists to Zealots was published in 2023. 

April goes on to say, ‘I have been contracted to write more for Pen and Sword.  The first volume of two on court favourites of the English monarchy has now been accepted. It covers the period from 1066-1485. Volume 2 will cover the Tudors and Stuarts.’

For more information about these books

Dangers of Destiny 

Crime and Punishment in Tudor England: From Alchemists to Zealots

Learn more about April and her writing HERE

Friday 26 April 2024

Extracts From The Writing Of Joy Gelsthorpe

The Search For Family Became A Saga

When author Joy Gelsthorpe (writing as Joy Stonehouse) looked into her family history, she had no idea it would lead to a family saga spanning 5 novels. “I discovered that, on my mother’s side, I had descended from the Jordan family in Reighton, just south of Filey,” she says. “The Jordans had been substantial landowners living at Uphall, and there were plenty of wills available to add detail. One, from 1574, not only left the usual farm animals and implements, but also a coat of armour, a helmet and a long bow with half a sheath of arrows.”

The idea of dramatizing the story grew, the more she uncovered. “My imagination was first fired when I looked closely at the Reighton Parish Records from the early 1700s. The marriages revealed a closely-knit community, and the deaths were intriguing—an unusual mixture of young adults along with the expected babies, children and elderly.”

As a lover of all things historical, Joy wanted to recreate the atmosphere of a small coastal village in Filey Bay three centuries ago. It would have had no electricity, no running water and poor roads. Joy says, “I decided to begin the story of the Jordans of Reighton in 1703 as the Great Storm of that year was well documented by Daniel Defoe. The weather becomes as important as the characters, often determining the action.”

The following extracts are from Book One, Witch-bottles and Windlestraws


They dreaded the return of those winters of the late 1600’s; years when they were cut off completely from the outside world and when heavy snow even fell in May.

William Jordan, watching his breath steaming above the pew, was also remembering those cold winters. He and most of his brothers and sisters had been born then. He’d spent long, dark days kept indoors for weeks at a time, bundled up in such thick clothes he could hardly move. Other memories were of a silent white world, the snow piled up outside and small birds, frozen to death, dropping from the trees. 

The really cold spell began on the evening of 5th January. That night the temperature plummeted dramatically and kept falling. Rabbits froze in their burrows, and pheasants lay dead in the hedgerows. The wind came from the northeast and, although Filey Brigg looked clear and distinct one morning in the sunshine, all views were soon blotted out by a snowstorm. The sky became a dirty yellow and everything went quiet as if nature itself had shut down.


By the end of January, the Gurwoods sat with as many clothes on as they could manage, as near to the fire as was safe and, even then, did not feel warm. John had the unwelcome experience of waking one morning to find his nightcap frozen to the bed-head. He couldn’t shave because the water froze on his stubble before the razor could do its work and, when he cut his chin, his veins were so far below the skin that he hardly bled.

Water froze in the bowls and buckets and even Martha Wrench’s ale froze in the casks. The ponds and wells, and even the cistern at Uphall, all turned to ice; chunks had to be hacked off and melted over the fires. Dickon tried to make sure all the animals drank warm water but, by the time he carried it from the fire to the troughs, it had gone stone-cold again. Within minutes of pouring it out, ice would start creeping over the surface like ghostly fingers. The still air had almost a tinkling sound and, out in the yard, any sound carried for miles. At night, trees could be heard cracking apart as frost penetrated the trunks. Reighton, lying in a hollow, was trapped by the ice and snow. No one came into the village and no one left it.


The novels are full of old remedies and superstitions. The following extract describes one strange rite—placing a witch-bottle in a new house to ward off evil spirits and/or witches.


There was just one thing, however, that Mary needed to do before she could consider the house ready to live in. When the men were out ploughing, she fetched Sarah Ezard to carry out a secret ritual in the kitchen.  Sarah had brought a small brown stoneware bottle full of urine.

Mary shuddered. ‘William will hate us doing this.’

‘What ’e won’t see ’e can’t grieve over,’ Sarah replied.  ‘Come on, let’s get on with it.  Pass me all that I need.’  Mary handed over a few small iron nails, some human hair and finally some small chicken bones.  Sarah put them in the bottle and then stopped it up with clay.  Then she tied on a piece of leather to secure it.  They prised up the hearth stone, dug out a small hole and wedged the bottle in upside down, packing the earth back round it and over it.  Then they laid back the flag, satisfied they’d done what was necessary to ward off evil spirits.


The five novels cover the years 1703 to 1734.

Book One: Witch-bottles and Windlestraws 

Book Two: New Arrivals in Reighton  

Book Three: Whisper to the Bees 

Book Four: Bonfires and Brandy 

Book Five: A Time for Reaping due out in 2024

The saga might be finished, but Joy has not forgotten Filey and is working on a new book called The Boy with Mussel-shell Eyes. “I had an idea inspired partly by the folk song, The Bonnie Fisher Boy, and by a report in a Scarborough Newspaper from 1822. It’s a love story written through the letters of a girl who stays in Filey one summer.”

Learn more about Joy and her writing HERE

Friday 29 March 2024

Extracts From The Writing Of Linda Acaster

Base image by dsdkcgl via Pixabay

The Story Must Begin

As readers, we all know of books we picked up idly to pass a few moments, but then found ourselves so engrossed in the unfolding fictional world that we had no choice but to read on. It’s as though a pair of invisible hands reached out by chance and drew us effortlessly into the story. But like so many things, that smooth transition is the product of a carefully crafted opening that took considerable work to construct.

Novelist Linda Acaster, talking about the opening to a story, advises writers, “Don’t faff!” She goes on to say “A book is not a movie script. There are no credits rolling over the opening scene. The story must begin immediately.”

The extracts below are from two very different stories whose opening scenes are constructed differently, but convey the same intent.

The Paintings

Magnolia House, Tavistock Square, was not what I’d expected. The formal gardens out front were there: the usual expanse of muddy grass and bare-limbed trees, all tidied a little too neatly behind an endless run of chipped railings. But where the multi-chimneyed, multi-windowed, Regency terrace should have stood was a 1960s monstrosity of glass and steel.

How its construction had been passed by the planners was beyond comprehension. What the owners of the Regency terraces on either wing thought of it didn’t bear considering. This was, as I’d suspected, going to be a complete waste of my time. No artist worth the name would want to be associated with such a property.

Despite the condensation clinging to the floor-to-ceiling glass of the foyer, I could see a darkened figure prowling inside. Definitely male; doubtless my contact. At least I wouldn’t be kept waiting.

He was turning towards me even as I pushed open the door and walked into warmed damp.

‘Ms Jeffries? How good of you to come out in this dreadful weather. I do appreciate it.’

Thin-faced, thin-shouldered, forty-something Mr Compton sounded as effusively servile as I’d been told he had on the phone, and his smile was no mitigation. We shook hands but I didn’t match him in removing my glove. I trust he got the message.

‘Shall we go up?’ I said.

‘Yes, of course.’

I watched as he did a little side-step to push the button to call the single lift. I hoped it wasn’t tiny. I didn’t want to discover that he had bad breath or personal hygiene problems hiding beneath that overcoat.

‘Em, I apologise for asking,’ he said, his shoulders drooping a little more, ‘but did your company make you fully aware of the unfortunate circumstances of, em... Mr Needsham’s...’

The doors to the lift opened and he seemed relieved to turn away.

‘Mr Needsham’s disappearance?’

‘Em, yes...’ He ushered me inside.

‘The apartment is to be cleared and the paintings are to be valued prior to auction.’

I turned in the small space to find him gazing at me, the doors still open behind him. His eyes seemed to be drooping at their corners, mirroring his stance. I’d been too brusque.

Inclining my head, I said, ‘I’m sorry, Mr Compton. I was led to believe you were a... business associate?’

He prodded the console and the closing doors shut us into the small space.

‘That’s how I met him, many years ago.’ He forced a smile. ‘I was his agent for a number of years, and then a friend.’ He looked at me and smiled again but there was no joy in it. ‘Unfortunately I was not as good a friend as I’d believed.’

I wondered what that meant, exactly, but wasn’t going to pry. I wanted a fast in, out, and goodbye.


Linda explains, "The first-person viewpoint is a deliberate choice that holds the reader close, showing the story unfold through the main character’s eyes, giving us access to her thoughts and feelings. We emerge with a surprising level of knowledge about the setting, character, and the backstory." 

She also points out that if we are cynical about that ‘fast in, out, and goodbye’ then we have been left a small step ahead of the main character.

Click HERE if you want to read more.


BeneathThe Shining Mountains

“…but other women my age have a lover.”

“No man of standing will bring horses to the lodge of a woman who’s had lovers. You know this. So do they.”

Moon Hawk stopped scraping the clinging fat from the pegged buffalo hide and sat back on the heels of her moccasins. She eyed her mother irritably. “At least they are happy. At least they aren’t ridiculed for still being a maiden.”

Little Face did not falter in the rhythm of her work, nor did she raise her gaze from the skin. “Who’s teasing you? Other young women? They’re jealous. They know what they’ve let slip through their hands. Is it the young men who tease you? They’re showing interest. They see in you the makings of a wife, a woman for whom they would bring horses to the lodge of your father.”

Moon Hawk slapped down her elk-horn scraper, losing grip of her rising annoyance. “Tease me? I would need a love-charm for them even to notice me!”

Sighing, her mother raised her eyes from her work. “You exaggerate beyond belief. If you stopped scowling your true beauty would be seen by all. Your nose is straight, your eyes bright. Your skin is soft, and unmarked by the spotting sickness which killed many during your childhood.”

“I’m small.”

Little Face straightened her bent shoulders and raised her chin. “My lack of height did not deter your father.”

Moon Hawk was about to point out the dissimilarity of their situations but drew back. Bear On The Flat had never taken horses to her mother’s lodge. She was not an Apsaroke, but born of their enemies, the Piegan. He’d captured her on a raid and carried her back in triumph as his personal property.

Because her mother rarely spoke of her life before being brought to the Apsaroke village, Moon Hawk didn’t mention it, either. On the few occasions that she had, Little Face had merely smiled and said, “I was happy there. I am happy here.” At times, it was difficult to know what she truly meant.


This opening is different from the first. Linda points out, "This scene does not take us inside the head of either of the characters and so is less staccato. Instead, we eavesdrop on mother and daughter, listening and watching as they work. As we listen in, we again absorb a surprising amount of detail about both the story's setting and the events that have led to this point. Backstory can be carried via narrative due to the further distance third-person viewpoint offers."

If you want to read more, click HERE


Talking about the reasons for constructing the opening scenes this way, Linda says, "My priority is for the reader to emerge from both openings with a sharp image of where the story is set, tangible knowledge about the backstory and, due to the chosen tone as much as what is being conveyed, becoming alert to problems likely to be encountered by the characters." 

She goes on to note that despite the different techniques used in each opening sequence, "...both setting and backstory only appear as incidental touches - anything more would smother the growing drama - but as that drama becomes more intriguing, those touches build in transparent layers to give depth."


Learn more about Linda and her writing HERE


Friday 23 February 2024

Extracts From The Writing Of Stuart Aken

Exploring The World Of Artificial Intelligence

Stuart Aken started to delve into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) in the early 2010s when he began work on a novella, The Methuselah Strain, which featured androids designed to pleasure their owners in any way the humans wished. Realising that these androids could never be convincing substitutes for human companionship without an emotional aspect, Stuart considered the consequences.

‘Once emotion was a requirement,’ he notes, ‘self-awareness naturally followed. These artificial servants were built for profit. Their self-awareness and emotional capacity would be paramount to their owner’s experience and such qualities would quickly become sophisticated.’

In The Methuselah Strain, one of these androids is abandoned for a human partner, and then taken on by another android. The story explores how self-aware and emotionally intelligent androids react to this experience, and how it colours their views of the human beings who share what is now their world.

The Methuselah Strain was published in 2015. In a later trilogy, Generation Mars, Stuart takes the ideas developed in The Methuselah Strain and puts them in the context of the colonisation of Mars, following catastrophic climate change that has made Earth almost uninhabitable. In terms of AI, Stuart says, ‘Early in my research, it became clear that AI would be an essential component of the automated systems needed to establish a place on the Red planet where humans would be able to live in some sort of comfort.’

Although the AI in Generation Mars has been developed with very different aims from the AI in The Methuselah Strain, this story, too, explores the consequences of building entities with self-awareness and intelligence.

9 Short Extracts From The Methuselah Strain

In the heart of town, Randal sprawled on his bed next to LoCon in the TipTop NonStop Hip-Hop Pop’n’Shop Mall. Oblivious of the dawn, he dreamed recurrent fantasies of human female companionship; all that life now seemed to hold for him as a Sexual.


In an ancient stone barn, preserved as a picturesque relic overlooking town, the Prime Renegade stirred at sudden silence as rain ceased hammering the roof. Her movement rustled the dry straw of yet another temporary bed. Pulling her stolen fun-fur coat close about her, she considered the coming day and hoped, without expectation, it might bring some release from loneliness.


Randal woke for the second time, in his customary sweat, and covered it with a disposable t-shirt he’d worn for three weeks. It mattered not that it stunk and was tattered and torn beyond its intended daily life: no other human being had visited the Mall for years.

Life as Mall Manager seemed pointless, and demeaning.


‘But she ain’t real; can’t be. That Prime Renegade’s just a bogeyman, lurking out there threatening civilization. I mean, nobody really believes in her; especially not looking like that. It’s a horing rumour, put about by CenCon to make us think they’re horing wonderful.’

At Sports Emporium he stopped the trolley and viewed Hengst’s 2224 Olympic Gold one hundred metre sprint: 8.7962 seconds from start line breach to finish laser. He’d watched it a thousand times. The last Olympic sprint run by real men, and there was no doubt these men were real.


Luce knew Repoz held everything known to man but it was no place to find the type of man she wanted. Her ability to bypass security made such a hunt simple. But a technophobe or a natural wouldn’t make the use of technology that would leave the traces she needed. Once she’d identified the actual presence of humans in certain geographic locations, a physical quest was the only answer.


So, she crossed to the east, found the landing point for the Atlantic Seabridge, and walked, transtrolled and hopped freight monorails right across the ocean. Misnamed Greenland, she’d discovered, was mostly barren rock and more or less deserted. The remnants of the great glaciers now causing no more than a slow flow of grey river water. Iceland had no ice but plenty of volcanic activity and hot springs to bathe in with frisky natives.


Caution slowed Luce as she left the tree-lined lane. Without the vagabond cover of her old coat, she was aware of her vibrant femininity and felt vulnerable, in spite of her bodyguard. Though she hated labels, she knew she’d be marked by all and sundry as a Sexual. Earlier attempts to alter her appearance had made no difference and she no longer bothered trying to hide her appeal. That the Intellectual tag wasn’t so readily attached, in spite of her extraordinary mental abilities, sometimes peeved her. But she understood she presented a rare combination.


‘I want to be loved! And you, Monster, for all your muscular good looks, boundless energy and deliciously sensitive touch, can’t love me. Love, Monster, causes tears and laughter at the holodrome or theatre, when there’s anyone there; blocks throats with lumps, makes hearts race, inspires poetry in books. When did I last curl up with a good book?’


‘Does anybody live here? Anybody at all?’ Her call echoed from lifeless buildings, mocking her as it returned splintered and unanswered from a thousand gleaming surfaces. Ahead, stood the glittering crystal and chrome icosahedron of the Mall, perched on its seven hexagonal pillars of glass. The reference was not lost on her and she smiled at memories of the ancient comedy.


Learn more about Stuart and his writing HERE


Friday 26 January 2024

Extracts From The Writing Of Madeleine McDonald

Experimenting With Different Angles

Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash

Author Madeleine McDonald is a novelist but is better known for her short pieces, both fiction and non-fiction. The example below shows her taking an idea and expressing it using two different forms, a 50-word story and a tanka.

Madeleine says, “Very short stories simply have to meet a word count, whereas a tanka must be shoehorned into a non-rhyming formal pattern of five lines with 5,7,5,7,7 syllables respectively. Sometimes I just cannot make a particular word fit into the required number of syllables and still 'sound' right, and I have to find an alternative.” She notes in passing that, “The Japanese have other, arcane rules which Western authors ignore.”

The 50-word story
‘Come with me,’ he says, ‘to the islands of the west, golden in splendour.’ A number 9 bus looms out of the London murk. As we board, hand in hand, an aura of dejection and wet coats envelops us. Who cares, when mythical lands of adventure stand on the horizon?

The tanka
Come with me, he said
To the islands of the west
Golden in splendour
A number 9 bus arrived
All adventures start somewhere...

Madeleine also writes poetry although she notes that “Poetry is not my forte. I prefer short fiction.” She says of her prizewinning poem Hidden in Plain Sight, “Although I have written articles on modern slavery, I hoped the message would have more of an impact as a poem. I wrote it because the comfortable Western world ignores the realities of modern slavery. Out of sight is out of mind, just as sugar plantation slavery was 200 years ago.”

Hidden in Plain Sight
We do not want to see, hear or know.
To preserve our ignorance, we allow shifting
sands to settle over brutal truths.
Day by day, hour by hour, we unlearn
inconvenient facts; we lock them into a vault in
our minds.
50 million people are held in slavery or
servitude in our interconnected modern world.
The facts are there, recorded in stark newsprint
or on fleeting digital screens.
We turn away. It is not our children who choke
on dust, or whose fingers bleed. It is not our
children who sleep under workbenches and
see no daylight.
We turn away, unwilling to acknowledge the
human price of our modern comforts. It is
easier to focus our outrage on the slaveries of
A hundred years hence, once our denial has
acquired the patina of history, our
grandchildren’s grandchildren, appalled, will
ask, ‘Why did you not act?’
Hand on heart, we will say, "But we did not know."

Links to Madeleine’s novels and several of her many published shorter works can be found in this profile

Friday 22 December 2023

Wishing Our Readers Festive Cheer!

Image by Speedy McVroom via Pixabay

Members of Hornsea Writers raise a glass to you, our Readers, who make all our efforts worthwhile.

We wish you personal happiness, the contentment of a good book and, most importantly, the best of health as we move into the New Year.

Life is for living – so enjoy!

 Merry Christmas


Friday 1 December 2023

Hornsea Writers At The Massive Autumn Book Launch Event: Madeleine McDonald

Hornsea writer, Madeleine McDonald, a prolific short story writer was shortlisted in Fantastic Books Publishing’s flash fiction competition and her story appears in their latest anthology, Kaleidoscope, that was launched at the Massive Autumn Book Launch Event (MABLE).

Friday 24 November 2023

Hornsea Writers At The Massive Autumn Book Launch Event: Penny Grubb


Hornsea writer, Penny Grubb, launched her new novel, Death By Column Inches,  at Fantastic Books Publishing’s Massive Autumn Book Launch Event (MABLE).

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a pseudonym. Penny says, “This book was first conceived before any of my private investigator series had seen the light of day. It’s very different and I was advised not to use the same name.”

The story of the book and its long journey from initial idea to launch is outlined in its launch video.

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Hornsea Writers At The Massive Autumn Book Launch Event: Stuart Aken


Hornsea writer, Stuart Aken, was featured more than once at Fantastic Books Publishing’s Massive Autumn Book Launch Event (MABLE).

He appeared in an Eco-Thrillers Spotlight where 4 of his books were highlighted — An Excess Of… and his Generation Mars trilogy. In the spotlight video he can be seen chatting to fellow author, Linda Nicklin, whose novel, Storm Girl, set in Yorkshire & Lincolnshire, is also featured.

Later in the event, Stuart’s fantasy trilogy, A Seared Sky, was featured, along with fantasy series End Of Empire by Alex Janaway and The Filey Chronicles by Janet Blackwell.

Don't be too quick to think that the participants were all seasoned recording artists who sailed through without a glitch. The video editor occasionally slipped in some entertaining outtake sections.

Friday 22 September 2023

"Crime and Punishment in Tudor England". How I made the jump from fiction to non-fiction

 At last, some three weeks later than scheduled, my first non-fiction commission is in the world and available for purchase.


I have always enjoyed history, but this was the history we never learned in school. In fact, it turns out the history we were taught in school was eons away from the stark reality of life for ordinary—and extraordinary—people who lived in the Tudor era.

I learned things that surprised me, sickened me, but also things that made me laugh. The experience of researching and writing such a book proved a steep learning curve. One I wanted to keep climbing. So, it will come as no surprise that I have signed contracts for two more books for Pen and Sword, the first of which is proving just as fascinating to research as the Tudor one.

 For more details on the adventures of getting a book published, you can read my blog here:


Crime and Punishment in Tudor England: From Alchemists to Zealots 

You can find it here: and here: 

You can read more about April Taylor here:

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