Blog Tour: S C Skillman – Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire @scskillman @amberleybooks #blogtour #review #interview #newbook #travelphotography #curioustales #supernaturalwarwickshire

I’m thrilled to welcome Author S.C. Skillman to my blog to celebrate her latest release!

Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire
S. C. Skillman

Warwickshire, often known as Shakespeare’s County, has a host of strange and mysterious tales ranging from ancient legends and stories of the supernatural to more modern documented cases. Curious beliefs and customs were once widespread in Warwickshire’s towns and villages, some of which still flourish today.These strange and spooky stories include the quirky death of the Roundhead commander who owned Warwick Castle, the association of the great author J. R. R. Tolkien with the town, and the story of the hand of glory obtained at Warwick hangings. The historic buildings of Stratford-upon-Avon have witnessed many strange events over the centuries and more recently the Crackley Wood sprite has been sighted at Kenilworth. Other stories include the Wroth Silver at Knightlow Cross, an 800-year-old violent ball game played annually at Atherstone on Shrove Tuesday, and the unresolved mystery of the 1945 murder at Lower Quinton associated with witchcraft, along with other strange tales from the surrounding towns and villages. These stories are accompanied by the author’s photographs in this hugely entertaining book.

Q & A

  • How did you find your publisher for Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire and Paranormal Warwickshire?

A:  It all started when I shared my WIP (Paranormal Warwickshire) with my writing group. I read out the chapter on Guys Cliffe Warwick, and another member of the group, a historian, suggested a few history publishers to me.  I tried them with a proposal and Amberley were the ones who responded positively, saying they would like it for their Paranormal section.  So that’s how I focused the first book and subsequently Amberley asked me to write another 3 books about Warwickshire for them, which I have been very happy to do.

  • Out of all the tales in this latest collection which one/s is/are your most beloved. And/or which one surprised or intrigued you the most.

A: Probably the story of the footsteps in the derelict 17th century coach house near the beginning of the book. I like this one because it came to me unsolicited via a first person account from the individual who experienced it, and he volunteered the story.  Also, it had a truly authentic feel about it, with several satisfying elements; it came over as a genuine spooky tale. The narrator had experienced this in his teenage years, and never forgotten it. At the time of the experience, he sought rational explanations, and then tried to confirm those explanations, and had to accept it as paranormal. Finally, verification decades later from an independent source made it even more convincing. It also reminded me a bit of an MR James ghost story; ‘years later, curiosity drew him back to the scene of his youth’… those words give me a delicious frisson!

  • It must be fascinating and fun collating all the information for these tales. Tell us a little about the people you have interviewed in person and the places you have been.

A: I have spoken to people of all ages and backgrounds. One gentleman, Philip, I met through a chance encounter in the Warwick Tourist Information Centre, and he volunteered his story of hauntings in the basement of the Old Coffee House Tavern.

Another person was Caroline, a lady inspired by the spiritual rituals of the First Nation peoples, who calls herself a ‘Hedgerow Healer’ and holds healing ceremonies in a local community woodland using ancient smudging rituals and sage sticks. I had to be careful in the information I shared about her because she was wary of being misrepresented and wanted to ensure I wasn’t comparing her to spiritualists (I had no such idea in my mind). I feel privileged to gain the confidence of remarkable people like her, and being able to include their story, in such a way that they are happy with.

I also met a lovely elderly gentleman called Cyril in Costa Kenilworth, who has for many years been a traditional wooden toymaker, and he was fascinating. He appeared as a real life Geppetto in the ‘extra footage’ on a remastered version of Disney’s classic film Pinocchio. Though retired now, he is still a highly gifted painter and street photographer, fizzing with energy and humour.

  • I believe you have lived in Warwickshire for many years and the area is rich in intriguing history. Have you ever come across, or seen any of the tales you speak of… such as the big cats?

A: I’ve lived in Warwickshire for 28 years now.  I have tried to experience or gain personal knowledge of many of the stories I tell.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any big cats though!  One of my stories is about the ancient tax gathering ceremony the Wroth Silver which takes place on 11 November each year at daybreak in a field off the A4 near Ryton on Dunsmore. I was determined to attend the ceremony! It was moving to see how several of those who keep the ceremony alive have been attending for many decades and I have since been in correspondence with the elderly gentlemen involved. Also, I was very touched by the poem read out at the Wroth Silver breakfast by Barry Patterson, a local Bard. It was called ‘Dear Ancestors’ and for me it crystallised my thoughts about how people like to connect with their ancestors, which is why they cherish these ancient ceremonies. I think this is true of folklore and folk rituals such as the Wassailing Ceremony and groups like the Border Morris sides too. I’m delighted that Plum Jerkum, the local Warwick Border Morris side will be performing at my book launch in May!

  • Tell us a little about you and your past, and future writing projects.

A: I was born and brought up in Orpington, Kent, and studied English Literature at Lancaster University. My first permanent job was as a Production Secretary at the BBC in Portland Place, London.  Later I lived and worked for four and a half years in Australia, then returned to England to live. Now I live in Warwick with my husband and son, and my daughter is now spending time living and working in Australia. I have long been fascinated by ghost stories and tales of the unexpected, and visiting ancient sites: castles, stately homes, and gardens. I’m a member of English Heritage and the National Trust and I live near two of England’s great castles at Warwick and Kenilworth. Currently I’m working on a third book for Amberley, A-Z of Warwick. I also have a completed mystery novel, Director’s Cut, out on submission to publishers and agents, and am nearly halfway through the sequel to that novel, Standing Ovation.

  •  Do you believe in ghosts and what is your personal experience of the paranormal/strange happenings.

A: I have a theory about ghosts; I believe energy can be trapped in stone, and in the fabric of certain buildings, and those who are sensitive can tune into it.  I haven’t experienced ghosts but have had curious experiences which seemed to me like out-of-the-body experiences. My sister has experienced phantom footsteps, and her story is very convincing. I suggest that those who see ghosts or hear phantom footsteps are experiencing a psychic recording. However, this doesn’t cover every kind of verified experience. Sometimes we may hear stories of a ghost apparently interacting with the living percipient. I am intrigued by the whole phenomenon and keep an open mind. I respect people who tell stories of genuine experiences. I don’t judge but listen. Some stories are very convincing, especially those experienced in the same place by different individuals at different times quite independently of each other. Some might possibly be the person’s imagination. I still respect their convictions about what they have experienced.

MJ: Thanks Sheila for the wonderful interview and your fascinating theory about ghosts.

MJ’s Review

Illustrated Tales of Warkwickshire is a wonderfully informative, interesting and beautifully illustrated book of tales of Warwickshire. Some of the images within are the author’s own photography. And I learnt a thing or two! Readers who enjoy strange, supernatural, historical and quirky tales will enjoy this book immensely. It is evident that the author S. C. Skillman loves her home in which she has lived for over 20 years. Judging by the lengthy bibliography and the book itself she has researched, interviewed and knows her subject matter exceedingly well. Warwickshire is deservedly known as Shakespeare country! Authors, writers, tale hunters, and those keen to discover more about Warwickshire would love this. It would make a lovely gift for both visitors to the UK and local folk alike.

Delve into tales of big cats, mysteries, magical forests, witchcraft, extraordinary true life stories, intriguing people, and much more… plus famous authors such as Lewis Carroll who studied at Rugby School, (though he wasn’t happy there!)

Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher Amberley Publishing and S. C. Skillman for a beautiful copy. Review given freely and readily with no bias.

BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
Publication: 15th April 2022
Price: £15.99
ISBN: 9781398110939
Size: 234 x 165mm
Binding: Paperback
Extent: 96 pages
Illustrations: 100 illustrations
Rights: World, all languages

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Illustrated-Tales-Warwickshire-S-Skillman/dp/1398110930/

I have also read and enjoyed Paranormal Warwickshire by S. C. Skillman – my review and author feature here:

And Mystical Circles which I also enjoyed. here is the link to my amazon review:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R730W80HJX1X5/

THE AUTHOR
S. C. Skillman is a writer of psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction, who has
lived in Warwickshire for over twenty years.

Social Media Links:
Website and blog: https://scskillman.com/
Amazon Author Profile: http://bitly.ws/9SK9
https://www.facebook.com/scskillmanauthor
https://twitter.com/scskillman
https://www.instagram.com/scskillman/
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/scskillman/_created/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sc-skillman-42347a47/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4692653.S_C_Skillman

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Portugal travels, Vila Nova de Castelo, Almancil, Altura and Vale De Lobo #poetry #haiku #travel #portugal

I took these photos last autumn while I was travelling in Portugal. So, with colour poetry, taste the rainbow as the theme for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday, it seemed the perfect opportunity to share these now, along with some haiku.

muted life’s colours

tranquil portuguese autumn

bringing me much joy

blue sky and blue sea

green leaves but autumnal earth

orange underfoot

golfer’s paradise

val do lobo is so green

autumn algarve day

my favourite spot

empty of souls only shells

autumn on the beach

I’m excited to reveal that I am working on my next poetry collection: Do What You Love… I will share more about this soon!

Also, I’m delighted to be a contributing author in Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships compiled and edited by Kaye Lynne Booth and Robbie Cheadle.

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MJ’s Book Reviews: The Legend of The Taken Ones by Janice Spina @janice_spina #book #review

Synopsis

This is Book 1 of a fantasy series that will have six books in all. In this book learn about the three children of King Gateskin and his wife, Queen Solinara. The children have had powers since they were quite young..

Serena was three years old when she learned of her power to move objects with her mind. Her brother, Simon, can fly and their sister, Catalina, can become invisible or blend into her surroundings. They live with their parents in Sovorotskina, the Land of Light.

With these powers comes responsibility. The children must try to use their powers for the common good and responsibly to help others. The three children befriend a Sprite named Spindle who accompanies them on their adventure. Along the way they meet up with their aunt and uncle, their mother’s brother and his wife, Wizard Hotenfaran and Fairy Procelina. The group must travel into the evil land of Parotovina, Land of Darkness, to save King Gateskin, who was kidnapped, and also rescue some of the descendants of their friends and fellow Sovorotskinans who were captured and taken by the Evil Ones. These descendants have been waiting a long time to be free to return to the villages of their ancestors.

The children have many trials and adventures along the way. Will they be able to rescue their father and fellow Sovorotskinans without endangering their own lives? Will the evil King Kaposkaran and his Queen Beregina stop Serena and her siblings from being successful or will they turn Serena and her siblings to their dark ways?

The Legend of the Taken Ones by Janice Spina

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is book 1 in a cute fantasy adventure about good versus evil kings, saving the persecuted and reuniting communities through magic. The emphasis is on family, love, friendships, and trust. It is a gentle fantasy tale suitable for middle grade readers.

The text relies heavily on dialogue. I would have preferred some more descriptive passages to get a better sense of place and where the action is happening.

I enjoyed the short poetic passages in the tale.

I particularly enjoyed the characters of Spindle, a Sprite, and King Gateskin’s children whose magic is far beyond what is expected for their ages.

Recommended for middle grade readers and all who enjoy a good fantasy tale.



View all my reviews

Janice Spina is an award-winning author with 18 children’s books,12 MG/PT books and one book in a YA series with five more coming over the next few years, five novels and a short story collection for 18+ written under J.E. Spina. She is also a copy editor, blogger, book reviewer and supporter of fellow authors. Her husband, John, is her illustrator and cover creator.

Janice can be followed on her blog: http://jemsbooks.blog

Website: http://jemsbooks.com

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April #BookReviews @linneatanner @teagangeneviene @RobertaEaton17 @harmony_kent @ColleenChesebro @Marjorie_Mallon @mhurdle112 – Writing and Music

Thank you so much to Jan for sharing her April Book Reviews of Teagan Genevieve, Linnea Tanner books and Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships the Wordcrafter Poetry Anthology which I am a contributor to.

Do check out the reviews at source: April #BookReviews @linneatanner @teagangeneviene @RobertaEaton17 @harmony_kent @ColleenChesebro @Marjorie_Mallon @mhurdle112 – Writing and Music

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