From mountains to seas: writing about different cultures

by Sonja Price

My debut novel The Giants Look Down will be published in April. It is about a Kashmiri girl’s struggle to become a doctor, much to the chagrin of her mother and the patriarchal society she lives in. The story takes place in both Kashmir and Scotland.

From Kashmir…

On the drive to work one day, I was listening to a report on the radio about the devastating 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, which killed 86,000 people. Besides the tragic details, it contained an evocative description of the Himalayas and the string of lakes stretching through the Vale of Kashmir. I later discovered that, with its mild climate and fertile landscape, the vale is the green heart of the region and could be a paradise on Earth if not for the natural disasters and political tensions that have blighted its development.

                                                      …to Scotland

I started to imagine the life of a girl who wanted to become a doctor and help her homeland. As the native population is mainly Muslim even though Kashmir belongs to India, which has fought three wars over it, I decided my protagonist would be Hindu. What problems would Jaya and her family encounter, and what would happen if a tragic event were to shatter her dream of a career in medicine and she were transported to the other side of the globe? The idea of the contrasting landscapes of Scotland and Kashmir appealed to me; I have often come across people who love either the mountains or the sea, depending on where they have grown up. What would Jaya make of the sea and the rugged landscape of Scotland? How would the rain and the cold winds that sweep its shores affect her? How would she navigate the differences in culture and religion, especially if she were to fall in love?

I allowed my imagination free rein long before I had a clear plot and my research was completed. I may not have pored over the histories of Kashmir before sitting down to write but I did keep two books of breath-taking photographs open next to my keyboard: for example, at the deep turquoise image of Sheshmag Lake, which is high up in the mountains, or the gondola-like shikaras gathering at dawn on Dal Lake when the vendors fix their prices for market day. John Isaac’s The Vale of Kashmir and Raghubir Singh’s Kashmir, Garden of the Himalayas were wonderful sources of inspiration.

I interviewed Indians about Kashmir and New Delhi, where Jaya spends some time with relatives, and talked to a German doctor who had practised in an Indian hospital. He recalled the rudimentary state of medical apparatus as well as the smell of iodine and coconut oil, and the presence of relatives, who slept in or outside the wards. It was relatively easy to switch to the more familiar Scotland, and a Scottish friend advised me on everything from the name and location of Jaya’s home in Scotland to the characters she meets there. I then placed all this in a 1980s context.

For me, writing about the unfamiliar is an adventure worth embarking on. My imaginary journey to Kashmir seems as real to me as if I had spent years there, and I have grown to love the region and to care about its fate.

The Giants Look Down will be published in April 2016.

9780719819957

Advertisements

Back to the beat: Constable Nick returns

Nicholas Rheaby Peter Walker

When ITV’s Heartbeat ended in 2009, I decided to bring a close to my series of Constable books upon which the TV drama was based. They chronicled the work of a village bobby in the North York Moors during the 1960s and the TV series became hugely popular in the UK and overseas – with repeats still being screened.

The first book was Constable on the Hill (1979); the last was, appropriately, Constable Over the Hill (2011) with 35 others in between. In transferring these to the small screen, I became the Heartbeat script consultant, attending planning meetings and production both on location and in the studio. What impressed me was the dedication of the cast and production teams and their attention to detail, which produced a response from a serving policeman who told me he had no idea that ITV made documentaries about the police (I had to tell him it was a drama, not a true story) and another policeman commented, “I wish we had a sergeant like Blaketon.”

This indicated the efforts made to produce a realistic police series. One surprising outcome was that applications to join the North Yorkshire Police soared, including some from urban officers who thought a transfer to such a rural spot would be most enjoyable.

After the series concluded, several viewers and readers told me how much they missed the exploits of Constable Nick, Sergeant Blaketon, PC Alf Ventress and a certain rustic rogue called Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. It seems they also enjoyed the countryside and rural atmosphere. After a time, I decided I could relate more tales, setting them several years before Nick became the village bobby at Aidensfield.

The new series of Constable stories begins with Constable on Trial. As it was the ambition of many young constables to work in the Criminal Investigation Department, I decided to transfer Nick into civilian clothes and have him working as an aide to CID. It transpired Nick had been selected as a potential aide after arresting a thief whom he had noticed wearing a raincoat that had been stolen two years earlier (this was a true tale, it was my own coat!).

In those days – the late 1950s/early 1960s, suitable young constables were offered a short attachment to their local CID, being perhaps a period of three or six months. They were known as aides to CID but their attachment was really a test to determine whether or not they were suitable for non-uniform duties. This provided me with the title of the first in this new series – Constable on Trial. The “trial” was Constable Nick’s test period as an aide.

However, working as a police officer in plain clothes differed greatly from patrolling in uniform. Constable Nick was investigating crimes, not only those occurring in Strensford, but others in the entire Strensford Division which included a large rural area with lots of villages, a coastline and some busy market towns.

Among the crimes Nick had to investigate as an aide were break-ins on an estate near the town centre; car crime which was becoming more prevalent as people regularly parked their vehicles overnight on the streets, often with valuables on display; a thief taking cash from collection plates in a church; a murder in far-off Leeds and the many vehicles that were taken without consent. There were secret files, too, most dating to World War II when traitors were operating in Strensford, and a serious complaint from a householder who claimed that one of his garden gnomes had been stolen. It was all in a day’s work for Detective Constable Nick.

9780719818141I hope to write more tales about Constable Nick’s work as an aide to CID as I enjoy producing them, but whether the yarns will attract interest from TV is not something I can answer. I know my agent will be offering the books to a range of markets in the UK and overseas, but like a detective keeping observations on a suspect criminal, all I can do is wait and see what happens….

Buy your copy of Constable on Trial here.

New general fiction titles

Cag9780719816994ed Angel by Anne Marie Vukelic

And so he stood now, as he had done since the first moment he had taken a room opposite her house: watching. He let the curtain fall, and on the glass remained a smear where his face had been. ‘Angela…’ he whispered the name to himself. ‘Like an angel…’

Through his journal of bloodstained poems and deranged fantasies, the frenzied consciousness of the barrister Richard Dunn is revealed, as he pursues the young heiress Angela Burdett-Coutts relentlessly through the streets of Victorian London.Driven by a fixation that binds him to her through the years, the reader shares his moments of fluctuating sanity and madness as he wrestles with his delusions.With the aid of influential figures of her time – the writer Charles Dickens, the Duke of Wellington and the scientist Charles Wheatstone – Angela seeks to deal with the pain of family secrets, while refusing to be defeated by Dunn’s obsession for her.

Anne-Marie Vukelic

Anne-Marie Vukelic was born in Codsall, South Staffordshire in 1967 and went on to attend St Peter’s School in Wolverhampton. In the 1980s, she moved to Austria but has now returned to the UK. Vukelic is a lifelong enthusiast of both Victorian history and psychology and currently works as a health and social care manager. She continues to live and work in the West Midlands. Her two previous novels, Far Above Rubies and The Butterflies are Free, were published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Caged Angel here.

Duty and Deception by Roberta Grieve9780719816987

Anna Grayson has been a dutiful, loyal and obedient daughter her whole life but her world is transformed when she meets the lively and outspoken Mitchell sisters, employees in her father’s factory, who awaken her interest in the women’s suffrage movement. Anna soon abandons her unfaltering obedience to her father to join them and attend a forbidden rally. This new world of excitement and freedom comes with risks. No longer sheltered by her father’s protection, Anna is forced to grow up quickly when tragedy strikes at a rally and her beloved new friend Lily Mitchell is knocked down by a motorcar and killed. Anna suspects it is no accident. Suddenly the world outside no longer seems so enticing. Convinced of foul play, Anna enlists the help of young doctor, Daniel Peters. At first, he is dismissive of her claim that Lily was pushed into the road – who would want to kill her? – but she persuades him to join her fight to uncover the truth and find justice for Lily.

Roberta Grieve

Roberta Grieve has always loved writing and when she took an early retirement, after working for West Sussex Library Service for over twenty years, she was determined to turn her hobby into a second career. Her first book was published in 1998 and since then she has had many stories and articles published.She is secretary of the Chichester Writers’ Circle and editor of the Chichester Literary Society’s quarterly newsletter. In her spare time she enjoys painting and walking, although writing and research always take precedence. She lives in Chichester, West Sussex.

Buy your copy of Duty and Deception here.

9780719817069The Rescuer by R. S. Hill

Bideford, Devon, April 1873: the River Torridge is in flood. Almost as soon as she sets foot in the town, Abigail March saves a young woman from drowning. Abigail, the daughter of a progressive Canadian politician, is in Bideford on official business, deputizing for her father. Accompanied by Inspector Theo Newton of Scotland Yard, she has travelled to the West Country to inspect the cache of smuggled weapons being guarded by the local borough police. That night, the woman Abigail saved is murdered and the weapons disappear. The police make an arrest, but when Abigail befriends Norman, the twelve-year-old brother of the accused man, she and Newton realize that the police have made a mistake which could have tragic consequences. At first, Newton is bewildered by Abigail. He has little experience of women and her forthrightness and ideas about women’s rights unsettle him. But, as their relationship progresses, Newton is inspired by her example. Spurred on by Abigail’s fearless determination and her sympathy for those less fortunate than herself, Newton shows bravery and strength, as they works tirelessly together to solve the case and uncover the truth.

R. S. Hill

R. S. Hill was born and grew up in North Devon. He taught EFL in Greece, became Head of Department in comprehensive schools and later a local authority consultant. He now writes full time. He has contributed travel, local history and educational articles to various magazines and newspapers. An experienced Western writer, The Rescuer is his first foray into crime writing.

Buy your copy of The Rescuer here.

Sherlock Holmes and a Scandal in Batavia by Jeremy Kingston9780719816116

When Holmes and Watson are visited at Baker Street by a frightened figure in a stovepipe hat, their interest is immediately piqued. The bizarre man turns out to be the reclusive Prince Alexander, the only son of the King of the Netherlands. In despair, he relays his suspicions to them about a plot to steal the throne, a jilted marriage proposal, and an attempted poisoning. The detective and his assistant agree to help solve the case and quickly enter a dazzling world of power, inheritance and ambition. Passing between the grandeur of The Langham and Claremont House, Holmes and Watson meet an array of enchanting and mysterious characters, each with their part to play in the struggle for the throne. With stakes this high, the game is bound to get dirty. With chapter headings derived from the titles of Conan Doyle’s short stories, Kingston cleverly weaves together the explosions in London, the extinction of the male line of the Dutch royal house of Orange, and the death of Queen Victoria’s favourite and haemophiliac son, the Duke of Albany.

Jeremy Kingston

Jeremy Kingston is a playwright, novelist and poet. For many years he was also a theatre critic, reviewing plays for the magazine Punch and then as a critic on The Times. His most recent play was Making Dickie Happy where he imagined Noel Coward, Agatha Christie and Lord Louis (Dickie) Mountbatten happening to meet at the start of their careers at an island hotel off the coast of Devon. Two volumes of his poetry have been published. He was born in London, brought up in various Home Counties and now lives again in London.

Buy your copy of Sherlock Holmes and a Scandal in Batavia here.

9780719816765The Upton Undertakers by Kerry Tombs

March 1891. A group of mourners gather for a funeral in a small country churchyard in Worcestershire, but events do not go according to plan. An old friend invites Detective Inspector Ravenscroft to investigate, and before long the detective and his associate Constable Tom Crabb are embroiled in the dark world of the Upton Undertakers. Their long and dangerous investigation takes the duo across the country, from Temple in London, to the ancient Shropshire market of Ludlow, to a strange educational establishment near Bromyard. Ravenscroft eventually draws the case to a dramatic conclusion, only to find that fate has one last surprising trick to play. This is the seventh book in the thrilling Victorian Inspector Ravenscroft series.

Kerry Tombs

Kerry Tombs was born in Smethwick, near Birmingham. After a career teaching in both England and Australia, he moved to Malvern where he became a genealogist, lecturer and bookseller. He currently lives in Ludlow, Shropshire. There are six previous books in the Inspector Ravenscroft series, including the Tewkesbury Tomb and The Droitwich Deceivers.

Buy your copy of The Upton Undertakers here.

New Fiction (Buried River Press): The Music Room by Laura Kalpakian

The Music Room by Laura Kalpakian

9781910208250Young Marcella McNeill’s family are always rehearsing: her father is an actor, her mother Valerie an aspiring opera singer, her grandmother Gloria a renowned violinist. During the summer of 1969 – after their parents’ bitter divorce – Marcella and her little sister Rose-Renee are sent to live with their enigmatic grandmother in her decaying countryside mansion.

Instructed never to disturb the formidable woman as she endlessly rehearses in the music room, the children are left to run wild. They form a relationship with their cheerful neighbour Dorothea, who convinces their grandmother to allow the girls to be home-schooled with her sickly son, Rodney. Dorothea recognizes and nurtures the children’s gifts in ways they have never before experienced.

That autumn, their wayward aunt Linda returns home with a drawling, Arkansas boyfriend in tow. The struggles between mother and daughter – Gloria angry that Linda has abused and denied her gifts, Linda attacking her mother’s musical delusions – create a storm of clashing egos.

The Music Room is a novel of arrogance and artistry, of sacrifice and negligence, of delusion and conviction, of interminable rehearsal and profound performance. It is a story of love muddied with need, expedience, and opportunism – as love always is.

Laura Kalpakian

Laura Kalpakian is the author of twelve novels and three prize-winning collections of original short fiction. Her work has appeared extensively in the UK and the USA. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a residency at Hawthornden Castle, Scotland, and her 2007 novel, American Cookery was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. A native Californian, Laura was educated on both the east and west coasts of the USA, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.

You can find out more about Laura at her website: http://www.laurakalpakian.com

Buy your copy of The Music Room here

New fiction (Buried River Press): Murder on the Minneapolis by Anita Davison

Murder on the Minneapolis 

9781910208267

Flora Maguire, a young governess, is on her way home on the SS Minneapolis after the wedding of her employer’s daughter. She meets the charming Bunny Harrington on deck on the first night, after having avoided the dining room, conscious of her status among the first-class passengers.

Flora finds the body of a man at the bottom of a companionway, but when his death is pronounced an accident, she is not convinced, and, having experienced her own tragedy as a child in the form of her mother’s disappearance, is driven to find out the truth.

Flora starts asking questions, but following threats, a near drowning during a storm and a second murder, the hunt is on in earnest for a killer.

Time is running out as the Minneapolis approaches the English coast. Will Flora be able to protect Edward, her charge, as well as herself, and uncover the identity of the murderer? Is her burgeoning relationship with the handsome Bunny Harrington only a shipboard dalliance, or something more?

Anita Davison

Anita Davison is a regular blogger for various historical blogs including Unusual Historicals and English Historical Fiction Authors, and also reviews books for the Historical Novel Review. Details of her other published novels are available on her blog: thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com

Buy your copy of Murder on the Minneapolis here

New fiction

Angel and the Actress by Roger Silverwood

9780719816154Award-winning actress, Joan Minter, is murdered in front of a gathering of her closest friends. However, nobody knows who the murderer is, nobody saw him or her, and nobody present could possibly be the guilty one. That’s the challenge facing Detective Inspector Angel and his team when they are called out to her luxurious home in Bromersley, South Yorkshire, at the foot of the Pennines. At the same time, an apparently innocent young insurance man is found murdered in his own house. The only clues are a new vacuum cleaner left by the murderer and an open refrigerator. Who committed the crime and what has the vacuum cleaner got to do with the case? This is the twenty fourth story in the highly successful Inspector Angel series.

Son of a Yorkshire businessman, Roger Silverwood was educated in Gloucestershire before National Service. He later worked in the toy trade and as a copywriter in an advertising agency. Roger went into business with his wife as an antiques dealer before retiring in 1997.

Buy your copy of Angel and the Actress here.

Dying Wish by James Raven9780719816932

Murder, kidnap, torture – these are not words usually associated
with Britain’s beautiful New Forest National Park. But when
local author Grant Mason has a heart attack, he makes a bizarre
dying wish: he wants his loyal assistant to burn his house down.
The request sets off a chain of events that leads to a huge police
hunt for a missing couple and a deranged killer. DCI Jeff
Temple and his Major Investigations Team take on their toughest case yet, and in the process they uncover vicious depravity and horror that was meant to lie buried forever. This is the fourth book by James Raven in the hugely successful DCI Jeff Temple series.

James Raven was a journalist for most of his working life. After
reporting for local, regional and national newspapers he moved into
television in 1982 as a news scriptwriter with TVS television where
he then worked his way up to become Director of News across
Meridian, Anglia and HTV. When Granada took over most of ITV he
became Managing Director of Granada Sport before setting up his
own production company. James spends much of his time writing and
travelling and also performs magic at various venues across the
country. James has previously published four novels with Robert
Hale, including Urban Myth and Random Targets.

.Buy your copy of Dying Wish here.

One Bullet Too Many by Paul Bennett9780719816215

Life in the Polish resort of Lake Cezar is idyllic, that is, until
local crime lord, Emil Provda, not satisfied with prostitution,
drug-smuggling and gun-running, starts a protection racket
among the resort’s businesses. But this time Provda has picked
the wrong battle. Local hotel owner, Stanislav, is one of a group of five ex-mercenaries.The old gang – Stanislav, Johnny Silver, Bull, Red and Pieter – must get together for this final fight. Putting their
lives on the line, they decide to close Provda down if it’s the last
thing they do. The gang’s crusade against Provda brings them up against their
toughest opponents yet and the odds against them rise with each
battle, until the final duel on a deserted island. Just when they
think it’s over, there’s one more bullet to come; but who is on
the receiving end?

Paul Bennett was born in London and educated at Alleyn’s School
in Dulwich. He studied Economics at Exeter University and spent
seven years in advertising before setting up a market research
agency which he sold in 1986. He is now semi-retired in order to
pursue writing. Bennett lives in a converted barn in Essex with his
wife and two daughters and his previous novels, Killer in Black,
Catalyst and Mercenary were also published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of One Bullet Too Many here.

9780719816314Riding the Storm by Heather Graves

Beginning in tropical North Queensland and continuing in Melbourne,
this is the story of two brothers, consumed by a rivalry that has
dominated their family for generations. Both love the same woman,
and both covet the same beautiful racehorse, Hunter’s Moon. But only one can win. When Robert Lanigan is the loser for the second time, he reaches out to exact a terrible revenge on his brother Peter. One wayor another, he is determined to own that horse. Peter’s death is only the first disaster to befall his son Ryan: that summer, a tropical cyclone devastates his entire life; his home is destroyed, along with the market garden
that is his livelihood, and Ryan’s mother is killed.If Ryan wants to see his father’s beloved horse Hunter’s Moon again,he must go to Melbourne and live in his uncle’s house. Here, past family torments are brought up, and he begins to unearth more about the disputes between Robert and Peter. The last thing Ryan expects is to fall in love with the clever, complicated girl who also happens to be his cousin….

Born in Warwickshire, Heather Graves has spent a great part of her
adult life in Australia, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
Her father maintained a lifelong interest in racing and Graves now
regularly attends races in Melbourne. A writer for over twenty years,
her books include Red for Danger, Starshine Blue, Indigo Nights and
Magenta Magic.

Buy your copy of Riding The Storm here.

Terror by Gaslight by Edward Taylor9780719816611

Victorian London is gripped by fear as a serial killer slays an
apparently random victim on Hampstead Heath every month, each
with a single knife thrust.Two men begin to suspect a mysterious link between the victims: Major Henry Steele and ex-Sergeant Mason have been discreetly retired from Military Intelligence following the suspicious death of a dangerous German agent in the Middle East. Now they work as private investigators, and are helping Scotland Yard hunt the so-called ‘Heath Maniac’. Their search takes them into large Heath-side houses where certain residents seem to have secrets, to the offices of shady lawyer, to the laboratory of a vivisectionist, back-stage at a London music-hall, and
later at the bedside of a dying comedian. Steele and Mason find themselves fighting for their lives on Hampstead Heath, before the Maniac is finally exposed in a shattering
climax.

Edward Taylor wrote and performed with the Cambridge University
Footlights, and was spotted by the BBC during the London run of
their 1955 revue. Offered a twelve-month contract as writer-producer,
he accepted and stayed for thirty-six years, being responsible for
Round the Horne, I’m Sorry – I’ll Read That Again, Just a Minute,
The Men from the Ministry and other top shows. Since then he’s written six plays, and Murder by Misadventure is widely performed throughout the world after a long London run. His first novel, The Shadow of Treason, was published by Robert Hale in
2012.

Buy your copy of Terror by Gaslight here.

New fiction: Twice Royal Lady by Hilary Green


9781910208335
Twice Royal Lady

Destined from childhood to be an important piece in the intricate chess game of power, Matilda is the granddaughter of William the Conqueror but also descended, through her mother, from the ancient line of Anglo-Saxon kings.

Betrothed to Emperor Henry of Germany at the age of eight, she is married at twelve and crowned Empress. By her early twenties she is a widow, and the only surviving legitimate heir to her father, Henry l of England. Forced into a second marriage to a boy ten years younger, she gives birth to three sons, the male heirs her father longs for. However, on his sudden death, the throne is usurped by her cousin, Stephen.

Matilda is forced to choose between her husband and her rights as her father’s heir. Intelligent, determined and courageous, she chooses to fight for her rights.

Hilary Green

Hilary Green is a trained actress and spent many years teaching drama and running a youth theatre company. She has also written scripts for BBC Radio and won the Kythira short story prize. Hilary now lives in the Wirral and is a full-time writer.

Buy your copy of Twice Royal Lady here.

 

New fiction: Dreams That Veil by Dominic Luke

Dreams That Veil9781910208236

December 1911. Twelve-year old Eliza Brannan eagerly awaits the return of her brother Roderick from university, a welcome but brief diversion from her otherwise cosy existence in the heart of Northamptonshire with her widowed mother and cousin Dorothea.

Roderick and Dorothea are growing up fast. They are forging lives and loves of their own, and Eliza feels she is being left behind. When an unexpected proposal of marriage leads Dorothea to a search for her long-lost father in the slums of London, Eliza begins to realize that the world is a bigger and more frightening place than could have ever imagined.

Dreams That Veil is the story of England basking in the calm before the storm of the First World War and of a young girl’s struggle with her transition to maturity.

Dominic Luke

Dominic Luke was born in London and studied history at the University of Birmingham. He lives in Northamptonshire and has written four previous novels: Nothing Undone Remained (Buried River Press), Aunt Letitia, Snake in the Grass, Autumn Softly Fell and  Nothing Undone Remained.

Buy your copy of Dreams That Veil here.

 

 

 

 

 

New fiction titles

9780719816086An Oxford Tragedy by Norman Russell

1894, Sir Montague Fowler, warden of St Michael’s College, Oxford, dies from apparent natural causes but an autopsy reveals that his body was full of the deadly poison mercuric chloride. Detective Antrobus of the Oxford city police is summoned to investigate. Who would benefit most from the warden’s death? His three children are all in desperate need of money and each are embroiled in their own scandal. Antrobus’s list of suspects grows as it seems everyone had something to gain from the death. Aided by pioneer physician, Sophia Jex-Blake, the detective sets about unravelling the truth behind this Oxford tragedy.

Norman Russell was born in Lancashire but has lived most of his life in Liverpool. After graduating from Jesus College, Oxford, he served a term in the army and was later awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He now writes full-time. Among his previous novels published by Robert Hale are Depths of Destruction, The Dorset House Affair and The Calton Papers.

Buy your copy of An Oxford Tragedy here.

9780719815607

Imperfect Pretence by Ann Barker

Max Persault loves his sea-faring life as a ship-owner and merchant. When his cousin Alistair, the newly elevated Duke of Haslingfield, appeals for his help, he finds himself masquerading as the duke and on his way to Cromer, while Alistair sets off to France to complete an undercover mission. Before even arriving at his destination, Max has aroused the suspicions of Miss Constance Church. Constance struggles with her misgivings about Max. At first dismissing him, she soon begins to suspect that there may be much more to him than meets the eye. In this lively and comedic tale of love and masquerade, first impressions are questioned, judgments are upturned and pretences must eventually come undone.

Ann Barker was born and brought up in Bedfordshire, but currently lives in Norfolk. For more information about Ann Barker and her books, please go to http://www.AnnBarker.com.

Buy your copy of Imperfect Pretence here.

9780719815843Give Me Tomorrow by Jeanne Whitmee

The Davies family is as dysfunctional as they come. When Frank marries a younger woman, Susan, his ten-year-old daughter Louise feels pushed out, and even more so when baby Karen arrives. Now, years later, with her father gone, Louise feels even more the odd one out. Obsessed with finding her birth mother, she distances herself from her family, hiding the truth of her flailing acting career from them, and spitefully makes trouble for Karen whenever the opportunity arises. Karen meanwhile wants to return to her career as a teacher after baby Peter is born, but her husband Simon has other ideas. Susan longs to see her girls reconciled and to pick up the threads of her own life again.Eventually each one, in her own way, is shown the path to happiness. But will they take it?

Jeanne Whitmee originally trained as an actress and later taught Speech and Drama until taking up writing full-time. She has written many novels including Too Late to Paint the Roses, To Dream Again and True Colours, also published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Give Me Tomorrow here.

9780719813009Sherlock Holmes and the Unholy Trinity by Paul Gilbert

A colourfully dressed Bedouin interrupts the breakfast of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson with a cryptic message of warning: they must stay away from the affairs of his people. Before long the detective and his assistant are dispatched to the Vatican to investigate the murder of Cardinal Tosca. Considered the Pope’s natural successor, Tosca was killed as he worked on the translation of an ancient scroll. All clues point towards Holmes and Watson’s Bedouin intruder and there are whispers of the involvement of a so-called ‘unholy trinity’. The duo embark upon a dangerous trip to Egypt, the birthplace of the Coptic Church, to uncover the nature of a parchment missing from Cardinal Tosca’s office and, ultimately, the motives of the Bedouin.

Paul D. Gilbert was born in North London and now lives in Harrow with his wife Jackie and their two sons. As well as his passion for the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, he also enjoys history, science-fiction and Tai Chi. His previous two novels, Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra and The Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes, were also published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Unholy Trinity here.

The Bookseller as Romantic Heroine by Caitlin Raynes

9781910208243What Would Ginger Rogers Do? testifies to a life-long love of bookstores.  I never tire of the smell of fresh print-and-paper spicing the air, and the bright array of appealing dust jackets gleaming.  The titles shelved on those long narrow aisles each seem to whisper Your next favorite book is right here, right now.  Bookshops are physically full of promise and sensory delight, an experience the internet cannot duplicate.

I especially like bookstores with high ceilings, worn wooden floors and a little dust here and there.  The best bookshops are warmly lit, lending a glow to the shelves. No cold, utilitarian fluorescence, thank you. I feel instantly welcomed in bookshops with creaking fans and a bell over the door. These affections are clear from Carter &Co, the bookstore I created for my romantic heroine, Tosca Tonnino.  Tosca’s job at Carter &Co is Events and Publicity, scheduling author events. (These always guarantee sales because writers absolutely cannot walk out of a bookshop empty-handed.  I know this from experience, and I passed that experience on to Tosca.)

In Carter &Co, as in any bookshop, you immediately sense the implied camaraderie between the staff and the customers, confirmed readers, one and all. Or not. Booksellers are also unfailingly kind to those grouchy customers, the non-reader desperate for a gift for Weird Uncle Ned.  As a writer and avid reader, I enjoy conversations with booksellers.  I admire their enthusiasm; their swath of knowledge and taste boggles the mind.   How can they be so well read, and yet work such long hours?  What Would Ginger Rogers Do? is a sort of  love-letter to booksellers in general.

The creative nub of the novel came to me—not surprisingly—from a bookseller.   This woman once placed a book in my hand, and with reverential solemnity said, “Here, take this book.  I promise you will love it. I love it. It’s an incredible novel. I’m so convinced you’ll love it, I’ll buy it back if you don’t.”  Or maybe the shop would buy it back; I don’t remember her exact words. I bought the book. I couldn’t possibly refuse after an intro like that. However, I don’t remember if I liked it. Sad to say, I don’t remember the book at all, not even the title. The incident shines in memory because her gesture made me dream of the day when a bookseller would press a book I had written into readers’ hands, would laud my novel with such conviction and sincerity. (Though I confess that What Would Ginger Rogers Do? is not a solemn novel. Quite the contrary.)

What Would Ginger Rogers Do? is a sassy tale of sex, ambition, and assumptions that all go awry. As Tosca says, “I felt less like Ginger Rogers and more like Tess of the d’Ubervilles: I knew I had been screwed, but I wasn’t sure how it had happened.”

Tosca Tonnino loves the old, romantic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals where Ginger invariably plays  one of those crisp career women, wise-cracking, sure of herself on the dance floor and everywhere else.  Tosca’s own breezy self-assurance, taken for granted in chapter one, is shaken by the arrival of a new co-worker, the brooding Ethan James. Like most romantic heroes as far back as Heathcliff, Ethan James might be best described as tall, dark and surly. Unlike most romantic heroines, Tosca might be best described as a Francophile, flawed, funny and fond of flingettes (this last surely self-explanatory).

Though the old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies are patently false with giddy plots and silly sidekicks, they are redeemed by the timeless music, the beautiful dancing. (As one feminist critic tartly observed: Ginger does everything Fred does, only backwards and in high heels.)   Of course the audience never sees the grueling hours of work that culminate in these famous dance duets, just as the reader never sees the grueling, unromantic  hours of work that go into creating a novel, even a novel as blithe as this one.

What Would Ginger Rogers Do? does not aspire to War and Peace, just as Fred and Ginger films did not aspire to be Ben Hur. Don’t look for chariot races or the Napoleonic wars in these pages.  What Would Ginger Rogers Do? offers readers thwarted romance, an island bookstore, a super-competitive cyclist, a family secret, a literary melee, and pizza. Then too, there’s the irreverent narrator herself, Tosca Tonnino, who will enliven your shuttling, fluorescent-lit Underground commute, brighten a rainy day, or enhance a sunny afternoon.

And should you, Dear Reader, find a bookseller who places my novel in your hand, swearing that you will love this book, please Tweet me immediately. I will Favorite, Retweet and pop open a bottle of champagne, no matter the time difference.

Order your copy of What Would Ginger Rogers do here