Author Interview – Lynn Mullican #GhostlyWriters #GhostlyRites2019 #PlaistedPublishing

A big welcome to my next Ghostly Writer from Plaisted Publishing House – Lynn Mullican.

Interview questions: 

  1. Why did you decide to write? It’s just something I have always done and enjoyed. It’s in my blood.
  2. What do your family and friends think of your writing life? Most of my family and friends are excited for me. They know it’s something I have always enjoyed, so I have a lot of support behind me.
  3. Tell us a bit about your current writing projects. I’m currently working on many projects, one of which I feel is way overdue, my religious horror novel The Shadow of Evil. I’m also working on the fourth book in the paranormal Bad Elements series, Rise of the Underground. I have also started a spinoff of the Bad Elements series, Immortal Blessings. I have several short horror stories in the works, The Awakening III, Raven’s Hill III, and a few others.
  4. Do you have a muse? Yes, this muse lives in my dreams.
  5. What do you think of collaborations? Are you a member of any groups for authors that you would recommend? If you have the right mix of authors, you can get some good collaborations. The Ghostly Writes/Rites anthologies seem to gather a great mix of authors who work great together. I’m in several groups, some of which I would recommend. My suggestion for authors is to determine why you want to join some groups and then start looking for them on your social media account. What might work for me might not work for another author.
  6. Have you any unusual hobbies? Please tell us about them… Hmm, I don’t know if it’s unusual but I enjoy archery and I’ve started working on some Halloween DIY projects, a couple of which have turned out pretty good so far. I’m still working on them, though.
  7. Do you have a favourite word, phrase or quote? I think Marilyn Manson said it best, “What doesn’t kill you is going to leave a scar.”
  8. Finish this sentence: For me writing is… my life.
  9. Where do you live and with whom if you don’t mind saying… I live in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. with my husband, Pat, my adult daughter, Cassie, and our two cats, Murray and Wilbur.
  10. Do you believe in ghosts? Do you have a favourite supernatural being? Yes, I believe in ghosts. My favorites would probably be ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and witches. I don’t have just one favorite supernatural being.

Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon

“Live and breathe your darkest fears!”

Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon – Synopsis

Crystal Bouchard awakens imprisoned in an underground cell with no recollection of how she got there and with no memory of her prior existence. Held against her will, her captors threaten to kill her son unless she fights to the death in the underground fighting circuit. Nicknamed “The Dragon,” she spends the next several years among werewolves and vampires.

Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon – Excerpt

After the commentator announced Kara, the crowd chanted her name. Kara entered the arena. I had to admit, I stood in awe of the woman. She was at least a foot taller than me and exceptionally muscular. I looked like a midget compared to her. Her hair was straight, black, and shoulder length. She looked like she might have been on steroids.

I would have to get the upper hand early in the fight, then go low and take her down. As Kara and I faced off, our fans screamed.

Kara threw the first punch which I was able to dodge. I sidestepped her and caught her in the rib.

She groaned and doubled over.

I moved in, grabbed her by her hair and brought my knee up into her face.

That was when she wrapped her arms around me, and tried to take me to the ground.

Instead, I ran into the wall behind me. An uppercut rocked my head back, banging it against the wall. I groaned. I took a shot to the stomach before I was able to get her off of me.

While we fought, the fans slammed each other against the bars. The commentator made the announcement for the fight to stop. We glanced up at him.

Recognizing it was for the fans to stop, we returned to our business. I rushed her, going low for the legs, and slammed her into the barrier. Even though she struck the concrete wall, she was still able to elbow me in the middle of the back.

I yelped in pain. The riot started above us again. A corpse struck the bars. The snarls and growls escalated, catching our attention as they echoed throughout the arena. Kara and I glanced at each other and then at the chaos above. The bars had been bent.

Kara stood near the barrier, trying to focus in on the crowd. Blood poured out from the bars, drenching her from head to toe. She stared at me, wide-eyed, as if she knew the inevitable. My mouth fell open. Fear set deep inside me, and from this point on everything seemed to happen in slow motion.

Kara stood frozen in place. The bars moaned beneath the massive weight, continuing to bend in multiple areas behind the steel barrier. Fearful that the bars were going to split wide open, I took a couple of steps back, ready to run.

The bars exploded throughout the arena. I threw myself to the ground and covered my head. Steel echoed off of concrete walls, rebounding around me. Two of the bars struck me in the legs. They were heavy, but not heavy enough to seriously injure me.

I glanced behind me at Kara, who had fallen to the ground with a male corpse atop her. It had been torn to shreds. I gasped in horror. Blood soaked the dirt surrounding her and the body.

She barely managed to get the man off of her and stand up when several fans jumped into the arena. I pulled myself up, watching them circle Kara. Covered in blood and guts, she gave me the look which I recognized as defeat.

She was defenseless against the lot of them.

I took one step toward them and then halted in terror. She was shredded within seconds. They devoured her, some still feeding off of her while she fell to the ground. More fans followed the others into the pit, coming towards me. Their lips curled back, revealing their elongated fangs.

I backed up, recognizing the difference between their fangs and Wayne’s. At first, I thought they were werewolves too, but their flesh was white and their eyes darker.

Then I made the connection: they were vampires.

I turned and ran straight for the open concrete door behind me, my heart pounding in my chest. I never ran so fast in my life.

Wayne stood just on the inside of the gate and yelled at me to hurry. There was no sign of Alex. My guess was that he had booked it, for he was mortal like me. He needed time advantage.

Something grazed my back. I screamed. The tiny hairs on my neck stood up. I was no match for these creatures. They were closing in on me. Wayne lurched forward and pulled me to safety behind the wall, gate and door.

Some of the vampires got stuck in the small room that barricaded the corridor from the main arena. This didn’t stop them, though. They tore through the door, blowing it apart. Pieces of it flew in all directions, striking us and the walls. We ran down the corridor.

Vampires shrieked behind us, followed by unhinged metal and something heavy rebounding against the wall. Wayne and I had already passed the commentator and were coming up fast behind Alex.

The commentator screamed. I presumed the heavy object had been the door to his small office. Blood sprayed the wall next to me.

Wayne let go of me and pressed me onward, before transforming into his alternate form.

Two of the vampires jumped him while he was still in mid-transformation. He slammed them into the walls.

I screamed. He received several bites before he fully transformed. His massive body took up most of the corridor, blocking us from all of the vampires except one. I ran through the door to our right, after Alex. The one vampire who was now amongst us jumped Alex just on the other side of the door.

Alex swung the door shut and fought back. He was thrown to the ground, the vampire atop him. I jumped on the vampire’s back, wrapping my arm around its neck. The door broke into pieces around us. Wayne stormed in, still in wolf form, and bared his teeth. The creature threw me off of its back. I struck the wall behind me, my head rebounding off of it. The vampire glared at me. I thought for sure I was dead.

Wayne ran full stride at the vampire. His claws echoed off the concrete floor and drove him into a wall. Alex jumped to his feet, threw open another door, and pushed me into the dark room. Screams and other noises which I associated with being mauled escalated in the room behind us.

As we ran into the room, Alex flipped on the light switch. Wayne mutated into his human form and ran into the room after us. He slammed the door shut, separating us from the vampires.

During the course of searching for her son, she slowly begins to recollect her prior existence before her imprisonment, pushing her deeper within the fighting circuit.

Bad Elements series: Crystal Dragon, Blood for Blood & The Hybrid Unleashed – FAQ’s

Main characters:

Crystal Bouchard AKA “The Dragon” is an amnesiac victim, a martial artist, a prisoner in an immortal world. She is a fighter and a survivor, a lover and a killer. Crystal is a determined mother on a mission to find and protect her family. She is stubborn, headstrong, intelligent, and beautiful. Crystal has unwitting sarcasm to aid and jeopardize her situation no matter what position she’s been put in.

Robert Bouchard is a law enforcement officer with secrets of his own. He is driven to find his mother who has been missing for several years. He’s a young, married man with a “special” wife and three half-bred werewolf children.

Tristan Ayers is a “unique” individual with extraordinary talents and abilities. He’s a special agent investigating unethical practices within the vampire and werewolf communities. One of his current missions is a role as protector. He is rugged looking with handsome features and has multi-faceted characteristics.

Jace Templeton is a strong, powerful and rogue vampire with unethical practices and habits. He is always looking for a new project and relies on his associates for mundane tasks. He is very intelligent, cunning and forceful. He is very passionate about his new venture.

Setting – time period and locations:

The book spans approximately a five-year timeframe from mid-2007 to about 2012. Some of the locations include the forests of Payson, Flagstaff, Munds Park and Prescott, Arizona. Some of the small towns and bars are located in Payson and Flagstaff, Arizona.

Lynn’s links:

Lynn’s teaser for Ghostly Rites 2019:

Well, that was a very fascinating interview and scary teaser. Thank you Lynn for coming over to chat.

I’m really enjoying interviewing my fellow Ghostly Writers.

Do check out my previous posts:

There may be one or two more… we shall see if anymore Ghostly Writers come to chat!

Bye for now, ghostly peeps.

Social Media Links
Authors Website:
Collaborative Blog:
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook


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Interview: Mara Reitsma #GhostlyWriters #PlaistedPublishingHouse

Welcome to the next Ghostly Writer, Mara Reitsma, who is here to chat to me today…

1. Why did you decide to write?
I have a rather, overactive imagination. Yes, that is what we shall call it LOL.
My mind is constantly on the go and writing is my way of clearing my head.
Sometimes, the stories or ideas get so intense I can’t concentrate on anything else, so I write them all down and hash out the in betweens. It was all fun and games until I met Mark McQuillen and between his Valkyrie and my Devil’s Daughters, the games expanded. It’s still fun, and we’ve managed to create eighteen full-length novels, most of which are in various stages of writing, editing, and cover revisions; and all of them taking place inside the same Tri-Verse (As in, there were too many stories for just one Universe, so we made three.) Some people write to become rich and famous, some because they need a hobby, and then there are those like me, who absolutely need to write, or we’ll go mad!
2. What do your family and friends think of your writing life?
Just where exactly do you think this crazy comes from? Did you know that the cows you see in the fields as you drive by, are actually T-Rexs wearing cow hats so they can lure people in for a light snack? Neither did I, until I asked my Dad to stop the car one morning so I could go see them. Or perhaps you heard about the Run-Away-Train that sped through my home city in the wee hours of the morning. A train that people could only ever feel and hear, but never see… Boom Boom lived in the mountains behind our old summer cabin and when he got angry, he would pound the side of the mountain with his mighty fists and make rocks roll down into the valley below. And all that, was just from my father.

My mother was just as bad. You learned not to ask what was for supper, or you’d
wind up with Giraffe kneecaps and Alligator toes. She used to swear up and down that there was a receipt in the house somewhere and she’d find it and return us all if we misbehaved. Papa always had a story to tell and Nana was, well, Nana was Nana.
‘Why does Nana whistle?’ We would ask, and Papa would reply, ‘She’s lookin for her broom!’ How were we to know that Nana wasn’t really a Witch? Do you see where I’m going with this? I can’t even escape it during the morning coffee chats with the ladies…
‘This man came through my till last night…’ turned into my story Winged Secrets.
‘We let him stay with us for a while and while we were away he held a party, with a Ouija board….’ turned into my story, Forever Touched.
‘The dryer keeps eating the socks, I swear someone is stealing all my socks’ turned into, The Secrets of Dry’r….
In all honesty, they probably think I’m nuts, but hey, I blame them for it all!
3. Tell us a bit about your current writing projects
Currently, there are seven series on the go. I know, it’s a lot, but it’s what I do when I’m not doodling. I just like to create.
*The Valkyrie Series, including Valkyrie: Darkness Awaits, Valkyrie: Darkness Rising, Valkyrie: Song of Darkness and Valkyrie: Rise from the Ashes. These stories were written by Mark McQuillen and revised to add more story line. They are currently in the process of having covers revised.
*A We Are The Devil’s Daughters Trilogy, including Zahara, Madrina and Euphamia. Written and covered by me in the early days, this series is up for revision too, to remove any oops’ in spelling.
*The Devil’s Daughters Crossover, including Legends, Chronicles, Judgments, Distorted Pasts and Illusions of the Present. Coming soon, What Futures Hold… Written by Mark McQuillen and myself, we see Mark’s Valkyries and my Devil’s Daughters set out on a new journey to bring balance to the Verse. These books are scheduled for revision for new covers!!
*The Sins and Secrets Series includes Ezrianna and coming soon will be the second book in the series, Ambrosia. Written by me, it takes a look at the more, sinful side of the Verse and The Black Rose Guild.
*Tales of the Petals Series includes Way of the Warrior, which has been published
and is up on Amazon already. Into the Shadows and Mask of Darkness are both in for editing and formatting. These stories were written in our Black Rose group and are comprised of parts from a few different authors in said group who enjoy writing
* Various Anthologies: I love anthologies and have taken part in many.
Ghostly Rrites 2017, 2018 and 2019, Ghostly Romance 2017, 2018, 2019, A
Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories, Haven: A Special Edition Anthology and more. Right now, I am editing the book trailer for Ghostly Rites 2019. Should be awesome!
*A Quest Called Motherhood (Pen Name- T.C Creare):
I am a mother and mother’s have stories too; mine are just filled with sarcasm and utter chaos, which I am compiling into a hilarious collection for all to read. Why?
Because mother’s everywhere need to know that they are not alone. Crazy happens,
4. Do you have a muse?
Life is my muse. It’s full of love and laughter, sorrow and pain; and there is a story to be told for every moment. We, as authors, have to grasp that moment and make that story our own. We find the rainbows after the storm, the relief after a narrow escape and the wonder in every adventure. We bring life to the characters and love to their stories.
5. What do you think of collaborations? Are you a member of any groups for authors that you would recommend?
From the moment you sit down with an editor or cover designer, you are
collaborating. You are working together to bring your story to life. It is an essential part of publishing and when you have the right people on you side, wondrous things can happen. I tend to do my own thing and don’t really have many groups that I follow religiously, but I can name a few.
Plaisted Publishing House has been one of my go-to places for EVERYTHING.
Knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, it is always a pleasure working
with them. They have a few groups in which I spend my time, including… Indie Publishing News Group and Ghostly Writes Anthology Group on Facebook. If you have a short Ghostly story to share, then you should pop on over. The people are fantastic and the things you learn along the way could help you in ways you never thought possible. It’s all about connecting!
6. Have you any unusual hobbies? Please tell us about them…
Life, is unusual, and I dabble in it all. Doodling, Painting, Crafting, Clay and Pop Bottle Gnome Houses, Cover Design, Interior Book Illustrations, Crocheting…. The list goes on!
7. Do you have a favourite word, phrase or quote?
If you do not want sarcasm, stop doing stupid!
8. Finish this sentence: For me writing is…
Almost everything!
9. Where do you live and with whom if you don’t mind saying…
I live on the west coast of Canada in a city called Abbotsford, with my husband,
three kids and three cats, which I like to call my Ninjas.
10. Do you believe in ghosts? Do you have a favourite supernatural being?
Did I mention above that I grew up in a house that was over eighty years old and the original dwelling for an old orchard? No, okay, so then I probably didn’t mention the laughter from children coming from the unfinished basement, and the fact that only my sister and my Nana could hear them. Maybe that was why she whistled? Or the old faded man and his dog that roamed the property and drove our West Highland Terrier wonky. They are very real and that house was full of them. My favourite supernatural being would have to be the Will-o-the-Wisps.

Covered By The Rose-

Pages of Insanity-
Author Page-

Mara’s teaser:

Well, what a fascinating interview. It’s been great having Mara around.

To read about the previous ghostly writers:

Bye for now, ghostly peeps.

Social Media Links

Authors Website:
Collaborative Blog:
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook



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Author Interview: Wendy Steele #GhostlyWriters #GhostlyRites2019


I’m pleased to welcome Wendy Steele to my blog today. We are both contributing authors in Plaisted Publishing House’s Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019.

So first of all I am curious to know…

  • Why did you decide to write?

I’ve been a lover of words since I could read. During the power cuts in the 1970s, we played word games on scraps of paper by candle light and I’ve loved solving anagrams and crosswords ever since.

After visiting the Tutankhamen exhibition in London when I was ten years old, I came home and wrote a poem, and ever since, I’ve come home from new adventures and committed my thoughts and experiences to paper. 

I write fiction when the stories in my head demand to be committed to paper. If I’ve a story to tell, I feel compelled to write it.


  • What do your family and friends think of your writing life?

My partner is the best! I like to read first draft pieces out loud, and he suffers them, bless him. He’s incredibly supportive, helping me lug boxes around to book fairs and encouraging me to keep writing and publishing. I don’t know what my friends think; you’ll have to ask them!


  • Tell us a bit about your current writing projects

Having written and published the first three books in the Lizzie Martin Wendy Woo Witch Lit Series, I’m writing the next three to complete the series. Book four, The Eloquent Witch is written, awaiting editing, while book five, The Able Witch is more than half way through. I’ve a secret project I’m working on, plus I’m writing short stories, including ghost stories, which is how we met, on the Ghostly Writes group.



  • Do you have a muse?

Not as such, but being outside in nature is where I feel supported and inspired. We have a shelter on the riverbank, recently updated, where I like to sit and write if the weather allows.

  • What do you think of collaborations? Are you a member of any groups for authors that you would recommend?

I’ve never worked on a book with another writer, but I think it would be really exciting. I’ve worked with the fabulous Claire Plaisted on two previous Ghostly Writes anthologies, and recently had the privilege to work with other magical writers on the Witch Lit group, where we produced our Witch Lit Anthology: Words from the Cauldron, with all profits going to Books for Africa.

I love anthologies! I think they’re a brilliant vehicle for showcasing the writing style of authors, allowing the reader a taster of what an author can do, and if they like a writer’s style, they can read more by that author. My story for this year’s anthology ‘Charlotte’s Ghost’ is set in 1850, as I researched this era for a steampunk story for Zimbell House Publishing earlier in the year, and wanted to explore further.


  •  Have you any unusual hobbies? Please tell us about them…

I don’t think I do anything I’d particularly call a hobby. I write, I dance, I renovate my home, I cook, I read, I knit and I’ve recently learned to crochet.


  • Do you have a favourite word, phrase or quote?

I’m running with this one at the moment…’Let the beauty you love be what you do’ –Rumi.


  •  Finish this sentence: For me writing is…

My window on the world, allowing me to share my stories.


  •  Where do you live and with whom if you don’t mind saying…

I live in mid Wales with my partner, my daughter, six cats and a rabbit called Ula.


  •  Do you believe in ghosts? Do you have a favourite supernatural being?

I believe there is something in our being that allows us to interact with other energies operating on a different plane of existence.






Amazon author:


Goodreads author:

All Author:

YouTube: Phoenix and the Dragon

The Witch Lit Podcast – Witches Who Write

Book Gorilla

Wendy’s Teaser for her story – Charlotte’s Ghost in Ghostly Rites 2019:

It’s been lovely having Wendy round. In case yo missed it I interviewed Mary last time:

Bye for now Ghostly peeps. Next up for the Ghostly Writers interview hotspot it’s Mara Reitsma….

See you soon, Ghostly Peeps!


Buy Book:
Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)
Social Media Links
Authors Website:
Collaborative Blog:
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook #ABRSC:

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Author Interview: Mary Woldering #GhostlyWriters #GhostlyRites2019



Welcome to Mary Woldering, a fellow author in Plaisted Publishing House’s Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019 which will be releasing in time for Halloween. I am inviting fellow Ghostly Writers over for a chat on my blog.

I’m pleased to introduce you to Mary…

Interview questions:


  1. Why did you decide to write?
    I just did.  I’ve always written. My big Children of Stoneseries was part of hundreds of chronicles of dreams and reincarnation/past like regression experiments as well as guided lucid dreams into other realms. I novelized it, then went back years later seeking some verification. Oddly enough I found a few bits.
  2. What do your family and friends think of your writing life?
    They know it’s an all-consuming hobby and wish it made money. My son Thomas is active in it as my editor formatter and cover artist.
  3. Tell us a bit about your current writing projects
    I’m revising the second series book up to about the half way point because it’s fine after that. I’m also struggling to get a decent ending to the fifth and final book in the series.
  4. Do you have a muse? On occasion, a spirit guide drops by from time to time to give me a tidbit or two.
  5. What do you think of collaborations? Are you a member of any groups for authors that you would recommend?
    Black Rose and Robinators.
  6. Have you any unusual hobbies? Please tell us about them… Renovating things. I’m working on a house now. I’ve had dozens more but don’t have a calm enough lifestyle. My adventures into the psychic and spiritualism were the strangest.
  7. Do you have a favourite word, phrase or quote? Favorite? Not really. Maybe “Keep smiling, have faith: but let me state up front it’s not about religion, just belief in one’s ability to survive.
  8. Finish this sentence: For me writing is…what I do
  9. Where do you live and with whom if you don’t mind saying… For now Euclid Ohio but anticipating a move to Mentor, Oh in the spring (10 miles away)
  10. Do you believe in ghosts? Do you have a favourite supernatural being?
    From my previous answers I’d say that was obvious. I guess my favorite would be one who became a character in my series and in quite a few short stories. Prince Maatkare Raemkai. I met him shortly after the place where he was trapped for 50 years burned down. See Ghostly Writes2018 “Raemkai’s Stairs” He lurked and taught me and my friends interesting spiritual things and is one of the reasons we ravenously pursued the research back in the 1970’s. I still get contact now, but it’s decidedly less now that the stories are being published. There are quite a few others but he’s been the stand out and most frequent and true to form a comfort when death of someone is near.



Have you started the Journey?



1)Voices in Crystal 2) Going Forth By Day 3)Opener of the Sky 4) Heart of the Lotus 5) Lake of Memory – coming 2019-20




The Mystery of Ancient Egypt RETOLD – in a combo of fantasy, real history, mythology and magic. Like GAME OF THRONES in Ancient Egypt – With ALIENS


Like ancient superheroes, those touched by the Children of Stone wander through the reality of ancient legends, RESHAPING myth and history.

Unforgettable people and their stories of mysticism, magic and never-ending love.


Author Page:




Mary’s teaser for her short story in Ghostly Rites 2019 which is entitled The Changeling Princess….


It’s been lovely to invite Mary over, I will be interviewing Ghostly Rites fellow writer Wendy Steele next.

Bye for now,


Buy Book:
Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)

Social Media Links

Authors Website:
Collaborative Blog:
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook #ABRSC:




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Author Interview: Frank Prem #storytelling #poet

About Frank Prem

Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet for forty years. When not writing or reading his poetry to an audience, he fills his time by working as a psychiatric nurse.

He has been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as ‘spoken word’.

Frank has published two collections of free verse poetry – Small Town Kid (2018) and Devil In The Wind (2019).

He and his wife live in the beautiful township of Beechworth in northeast Victoria (Australia).


Good morning Marje, (at least it’s morning over here in Beechworth, the little town where I live in Australia).

Good morning Frank. So lovely to welcome you to my blog…

  • Your tagline ‘There are stories all around me’ really appeals to me. I agree with this one hundred percent! With so much inspiration everywhere how do you decide what to write about?

I suspect I may end up being a little indirect in my answer to this, Marje.

I decided a long time ago in my writing development that I should adopt a philosophy along the lines of – no single thing, however great or small, should be discarded from acting as the source of a poem. A story.

As a result, I’ve found myself writing about a snail crawling across the inner forest of a head of broccoli from my garden, about the king of the lizards running around in pursuit of life and death matters on my back veranda. The clouds and the sky.

Literally everything I encounter feels as though it has the potential to captivate, and there are days when I can’t switch that sense off. I see these stories everywhere.

One of the reasons I developed such an affinity for the small, I think, comes from my childhood and adolescence, where I was very conscious of coming from a small town, being a small fish, and yet feeling (of course) as though I was in the very centre of the functioning universe.

I decided that small needed to be celebrated, and I started by purposefully incorporating local place names in my poetry. Little locales of only a handful of people, but a name made real by being included in a poem.

Sometimes that seems enough.

The link below will take you to a poem I wrote about a possible World Tour I might undertake if ever I had a poetry ‘hit’. The idea of appearing and performing to sell-out crowds in these little places that sometimes consisted of nothing more than a hall and some scattered farms amused me enormously at the time. I’m a little gobsmacked, now, by the cheekiness of my then self, given that I’ve begun actively seeking out exactly such places as these to host readings and performances. . .

The poem is called ‘World Tour’

  • I’m curious to find out more about you! I know from your blog/blogs that you live with your wife Leanne, in Beechworth north-east Victoria. You are both creative and have collaborated together. That must be so wonderful. Tell me about your collaborations and any plans you have for the future.

It really is wonderful being partner to someone who is a talented and gifted artist and musician in her own right.

The nature of our direct collaborations change as we go along, and new interests and imperatives surface.

In the past we have performed together on stage, created songs together, and put music to poetry to turn poem into song. Leanne has illustrated a poetry collection for me in the past (one of our early attempts to self-publish). That collection – Memoir of a Dog – is no longer in print, but might get another airing in the future.

Leanne has also produced and accompanied some of my poems, transforming them from spoken word into a different realm of work and accomplishment.

I’ll give links to a couple of examples.

One piece – Dog and Mob – that originated as a poem, was transformed into a song, and then given the community music treatment by a choir that Leanne runs in the town. There is a Facebook recording the choir singing it last Spring, here:

The song starts about 20 seconds in.

There are also examples of accompanied, studio quality poems, where we worked on a number of pieces that were mythologically themed available to be listened to. Leanne accompanied, produced and sometimes added voice to these pieces. Poems include not I at all, the day craft, maketh the man, and a long night to sunrise: My personal favorite is maketh the man.

In future, we may well tour together presenting a combined puppetry and poetry show, with accompanying workshops.

  • What excites and intrigues you most?

I find it difficult to resist new writing challenges, particularly involving imagery.

I’ve come to realise that a lot of my writing involves imagery – either creating pictures out of words, or using picture images as the stimulus for creating a poetic journey that a reader can embark on.

On a quite different plane, the creation of collections in published book form is an exhausting exhilaration. I often speak of having had a 40 year apprenticeship learning my craft. One outcome of that is that I have 40 years of manuscripts that demand I do something with them. The collections published to date were first written more than a decade ago, and mostly resemble memoir.

My more recent work, though, has much more of a speculative fiction feel to it – for example, what happens when an astronaut is trapped, alone, on a spaceship that travels at light speed away from earth. How does he live? What keeps him going? Does he go mad? I know the answer, now.

I wake up each morning expecting that I will write something new, that someone far away from where I am, physically, and who I haven’t yet met, will enjoy reading.

I love that need in me and the wonderful feeling of achieving it.

  • I’d love to find out more about your experience as a psychiatric nurse. What attracted you to this particular profession?

I became a psychiatric nurse because it was fated for me, I think, Marje.

Mine was an immigrant family who lobbed in Australia in 1957. Secure work was a priority for the adults, and working for the government was as secure as work could be, in that time.

The Mental Asylum at that time was a government run institution that utilised a core of untrained staff who were able to learn on the job, and over time, almost my entire family obtained jobs there – mother, father, sister, aunty, grandfather.

I swore they’d never get me!

I started psychiatric nursing when I was twenty, already with a young family. I enquired for a job as a cleaner, and was offered a place as a Student Nurse.

Fortunately, I turned out to be better at the job than some and no worse than most, so the work suited me well enough and I ended having a highly varied career in the public mental health services of Victoria.

I am still employed as a psychiatric nurse on a part time basis. You just can’t beat government work!

  • What is your opinion on the millennials? The youth of today seem to be suffering from so many mental health issues. What do you think is the source of their predilection to suffer in this way?

I admit to feeling a little isolated away from the millennial generation, if I’m being honest with myself. The nature of the social world we live in has changed so very dramatically, and in such a short period of time that I sometimes feel I have no valid reference points, and am in danger of becoming someone who can only relate to the ‘good old days’ of my own youth.

With regard to mental health issues, my work is in the public system, and so it is almost always associated with application of the current Mental Health Act and the application of treatment against the individual’s consent. Increasingly this is because of illicit drug use triggering a psychotic (or related) reaction. This is at the extreme end of mental illness, and not necessarily typical.

It can be dangerous and frightening for all concerned and I no longer work in acute units because I have largely lost my capacity for empathy for a clientele that repeatedly and knowingly places itself and myself in the way of harm.

Without empathy, I can’t perform my work in the way I know I should. It Is not work that an ageing old fart such as myself can keep pace with any longer, I’m afraid.

  • In certain circumstances do you believe that poetry can express more than prose can? Please explain your thoughts with examples from your poetic work to date.

This is a question that plays directly to my biases. Naturally I think poetry can express more, much more. However, I’m not sure that it often does so.

I have only started to contemplate prose and what I expect of it since beginning my own journey toward publishing my own work. Some of the things I see are difficult for me to assess well. For instance, contemporary prose seems to come – to be directed toward – groups of three or more, a little like Macbeth’s witches.

There is a generation of writers that is learning that the way to produce new work is to plot and plan in terms of prequels and sequels and spin-offs. This is all driven by marketing strategy in this modern age, of course, though for most I suspect there is no living to be made from the effort.

In addition, contemporary prose seems driven to fit within badged genre categories – the badge being the genre-characteristic cover, which has to identify all crucial aspects for a readership that is presumably not willing to test the contents unless correctly directed.

So, while prose can express much, and I like nothing better than a good book in my hands and some thoughtful stimulation, it is rare for me to encounter it without deliberate research or divine intervention of a random nature.

With regard to poetry, of course I believe it can express more. It is the medium of ‘show, don’t tell’. The medium of complete journeys packaged up in readings that require no more than a minute or a minute and a half to take the reader away, and to return.

In my own case, a collection of 8,000 – 9,000 words will contain as many as 50 such journeys, and tell a complete overarching story on the way.

Having said that, though, I am actually pessimistic about the state of published contemporary poetry. I am thinking here particularly of poetry published in literary journals that are, presumably, the benchmark for contemporary standards.

I feel that the art and gift of storytelling through poetry has been largely lost or relinquished in favour of the complexity of poetics and explorations of shape and form, rather than delivery of comprehension and greater understanding to a reader.

By way of an example, from my own work, of the breadth that can be encompassed by a poem I’ve recollected a poem written back in 2015 and looking at a number of different facets, different ways of considering a single concept – in this case Time. I think Time is a massive and complex concept to get my head around, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t try, and it doesn’t mean that my reader won’t be able to grasp it (and likely add examples of his/her own to take the ideas further).

Complexity doesn’t need to be inaccessible, and poetry is a wonderful medium to achieve that accessibility. Here is the poem ‘six ways to measure time . . .’ :

  • I’m looking forward to your new release The New Asylum – a memoir of psychiatry. Is this a combination of research/your own experiences as a psychiatric nurse? Due to the sensitive nature of this collection what are the steps that you take to ensure this is presented in a sensitive way?

I’m getting quite excited about this collection graduating to book form. I think it is an important reflection and a kind of expose of public psychiatry, as experienced by myself in various guises, but also reflecting the perspective of clients of the service and their carers.

I have done virtually no particular research for the collection. The collection is my lived experience, drawing of course on knowledge acquired as a child, a student, a nurse, a manager and always as a human being operating within strange and strained parameters.

Most of the poems in this collection are sensitive in their nature. Highly confronting, in many cases, as well, with electro-shock therapy, seclusion and involuntary treatment, suicide and despair all featuring in different places.

These are difficult subjects, but they are increasingly a feature of daily life that none of us can avoid. Mental illness was once a secret thing, a taboo and a stigmatised shame to be kept locked away and out of sight. That is no longer possible, in my opinion, because extremes of mental illness are now residing in the back bedroom of our homes, over the neighbours fence, or on the street where the deals are being done, and in all of our hospital emergency departments.

Children can no longer complete their primary education without having acquired a better working knowledge of illicit substances in the district than their parents can ever hope to have.

I hope what comes through in the poetry collection is a sense of compassion and empathy for participants in the system – clients, carers and staff, but either way, it’s time for these things to be part of our everyday conversation.

  • What attracts you to the free verse form of poetry?

My, possibly too often repeated, personal mantra is this: Rhyme should be invisible. Free verse should be sung.

What I mean by that, is that the use of rhyme, when done well, is a subtle and nuanced thing. There should be no rhyme-clang at the end of every other line. I apologise to all rhymers for this comment, and I’m not meaning to suggest that rhyme isn’t just as valid now as it has always been, but in my own case, I largely stopped writing rhymed poetry when I realised just how hard it is to execute well.

I recall working on one poem for fully a day and a half to try to get right. Twelve hours and more, for a single poem. That is not like me and not acceptable to me. I persisted with the poem because I had a special purpose in mind, but I really haven’t bothered since, apart from occasional lapses that sneak up on me.

The poem, by the way, was titled ‘The Hat That Won The Cup’ and is here:

I like free verse as a form because I believe that there is music in our spoken language, and it is my job to find the music in whatever I write. I can’t do that if I’m fettered by the requirements of a rhyme scheme.

In coming weeks I’ll be leading a community education course (for the first time) over a six week period, in which I hope to explore exactly this – the music in speech – as a theme. I’m very much looking forward to it (though with some trepidation).

  • It’s clear that you write from your experiences in a poetic memoir form. For Devil in The Wind (which I enjoyed enormously,) an account of the horrendous Black Saturday bush fires, how much research did you do? And how many people did you interview? From this particular collection do you have a favourite poem that you would like to share?

I’m delighted you enjoyed Devil In The Wind, which I think of as another quite ‘difficult’ collection, given what it deals with.

Again, in terms of actual research, I did very little, and it was largely confined to ensuring that I had place names and particular fires (there were hundreds burning at the same time) correctly identified.

The poems in that collection were written as the fires were happening. As I experienced an event, I wrote it. As I heard a particular story reported on the news, I wrote it. As the Commission of Enquiry conducted its work, I wrote the stories.

I think some of the urgency and anxiety and despair we all experienced at the time might have been captured in the poems because they were written at the time the events were happening.

When I’m reading to an audience, I think my ‘go to’ poem from Devil In The Wind is a piece called ‘strength of a truckie’. This is one of four poems from the collection that I was able to have video recorded and uploaded on my very own YouTube channel (which is something I never expected to have happen in my lifetime!).

The link to this particular poem is here:

I hope to do some videos for The New Asylum before it is released, as well.

  • From your body of work which book are you most proud of and why?

The very first book that I self-published was called ‘The Book of Evenings’. It is currently out of print, though I think a re-publication is in order at some point. That is the book that I think I am most proud of. Not only was I ‘on fire’ as an emerging writer, but it represented something intangible for myself and my identity – belonging to a class of poets, of authors. Validation of my own secret self, now revealed.

It so happens, I have a couple of poems from that collection in audio-recorded form, here:

There are a number of recorded poems on this page and readers are welcome to listen to any and all of them, but the titles from The Book of Evenings are: carmen and cisco, learning to twirl, and tuesday night at emile’s.

Frank Prem Contacts and Social Media

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Facebook page:


Twitter: Frank PremAmazon:


Small Town Kid blurb

Small Town Kid is a poetry anthology that illuminates the experience of regional life as a child, in an insular town during the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, remote from the more worldly places where life really happens, in a time before the internet and the online existence of social media.

It is a time when a small town boy can walk a mile to school and back every day, and hunt rabbits with his dog in the hours of freedom before sundown. He can hoard crackers for bonfire night and blow up the deputy school master’s mailbox in an act of joyous rebellion.

It is a time when a small town teenager will ride fourteen miles on a bicycle for his first experience of girls, and of love. A time when migrating from a foreign country to a small town means his family will always feel that they are strangers, while visitors to the town are treated like an invading host.

It is also the remembrance of tragedy for inexperienced friends driving on narrow country roads.

This collection of poems and stories shares the type of childhood that has mostly disappeared in contemporary times. Come and revisit it here, in the pages of a Small Town Kid.

Devil In The Wind blurb

Devil In The Wind is an account of catastrophic fire and its immediate aftermath.

In this 21st century, the whole world seems to be on fire. America burns. Europe burns. Greece is reeling after its own tragedy of fire.

And Australia burns, as it has always done, but now so much more fiercely.

In February 2009, wildfires burnt through entire communities, taking 173 lives and injuring hundreds, while destroying thousands of houses and other buildings. Up to 400 fires destroyed 450,000 hectares of forest, native fauna and habitat, livestock and farmland.

In the aftermath of the fires, the voices of people who had lived through the experience — victims, rescuers, and observers — were spoken and were heard.

Devil In The Wind is Frank Prem’s poetic anthology of the personal, and very human, accounts of those who themselves experienced and survived Black Saturday. Poetry writing that interacts directly with readers emotions.

The New Asylum (draft) blurb

The New Asylum is the third volume in a series of free-verse poetry anthologies and personal memoirs from Australian author Frank Prem (Small Town Kid, Devil In The Wind).

This collection is an exposé of life in the public psychiatric system, spanning five decades and describing sometimes graphically, sometimes ironically, often poignantly, and always honestly, a search for meaning in extraordinary and often incomprehensible circumstances.

The journey begins with childhood experiences of watching immigrant parents earn their living in the Mayday Hills Mental Asylum… progresses through the oddities and antics of psychiatric nurse training in the 1970s… on to the high-pressure coalface of managing regional centres facing an inundation of modern urban challenges… and finally, settles into the generally calmer waters of a small town residential facility.

Join Frank Prem on his New Asylum journey, and discover what it means to become that particular ‘mental health creature’ that is a psychiatric nurse.


I think you will agree that this is a fascinating interview with Frank.

Do comment below, we would love you to join the discussion.


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#ABRSC – MJ Interviews Author Darlene Foster – Children’s Adventure Series: Amanda Travels

A huge welcome to Darlene Foster who is over at my blog home today for a Q and A about her children’s adventure series: Amanda Travels.

Some of you might know that I like to interview using my nickname MJ…

MJ: I’d love to find out more about your amazing travel series featuring a twelve year old girl. Who is Amanda Ross and where does she like to travel to? What mysteries does she uncover/solve? What adventures does she have?

Darlene: Amanda Ross is an average girl living in Alberta, Canada and she is bored. On her twelfth birthday she makes a wish for travel and adventure before blowing out all her candles. The next day tickets to visit her aunt and uncle in the United Arab Emirates arrive in the mail. She has an amazing adventure in the UAE that includes a mysterious perfume flask, a beautiful princess, a loyal camel and a chase across a dangerous desert. You can read about her adventures in Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask

Amanda now has the travel bug and when her friend Leah invites her to come to Spain on a holiday with her, she jumps at the chance. She visits Madrid, explores a mountain town with houses hanging on the edge of cliffs, stays overnight in an old, spooky monastery, takes part in a tomato fight and discovers the amazing sights of Barcelona. A young girl, looking amazingly like a girl in a famous painting, shows up wherever Amanda and Leah happen to be. Can Amanda keep this sweet young girl, and her beloved pony, safe from the clutches of an evil horse thief without bringing harm to herself and Leah? This adventure is in Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Amanda travels to England to spend spring break with Leah where she has to get used to funny accents and cars driving on the opposite side of the road. The girls visit the Isle of Wight where they meet Charlie, a kind old bookseller, and his cat Rupert. They discover a vintage book is missing from a set, meet a couple of dubious teenagers and a suspicious woman. Amanda explores Hampton Court, Harrods, The Tower of London and Windsor Castle while trying to find out what happened to the missing novel and why Charlie is acting so strange. Find out more in Amanda in England-The Missing Novel.

Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta when she visits from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, tour a ranch, go on a cattle drive, visit a Buffalo Jump, spend time at a Dinosaur Museum and explore the Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s very important, until everyone appears to want it. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and risking their lives? Spend time with Amanda in Alberta as she attempts to decipher the writing on the stone in Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone.

On a river cruise down the Danube, Amanda is given a valuable violin to look after by a homeless musician. She is fascinated by the medieval castles, green valleys and charming villages of Germany, Austria and Hungary, learns about European history and enjoys the sounds of music along the way. But, she is not sure who she can trust and if the violin can be kept safe for the poor prodigy in Amanda on the Danube-The Sounds of Music.

MJ:  How many books have you written? I’m sure my readers would be fascinated to find out more…

Darlene: I have written six books in the Amanda Travels series and one Spanish/English book called, Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio. The most recent Amanda Travels adventure takes place in New Mexico where Amanda is on a school trip. One of her classmates claims she sees ghosts but Amanda has trouble believing her, until strange things start to happen. The beautiful but haunting landscape, an ancient pueblo and a haunted hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past in Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind.

MJ: Is Amanda a little like you, when you were her age?

Darlene: There is always a little bit of you in your characters. But, Amanda is more like the girl I would have liked to have been when I was twelve. Unlike Amanda, I didn’t start to travel until I was twenty-eight years old. Perhaps I should have made a wish before I blew out my candles.

MJ: Where do you currently live? What is it about your home/s that you love?

Darlene: I have a house in Spain, on the Costa Blanca, where I spend most of my time. I love the never ending sunshine and the relaxed life style. I have plenty of time to create my stories and am close enough to other parts of Europe that I can explore. I will always be a proud Canadian though.

MJ: I am a keen traveller and you are too! Is there a favourite holiday/travel destination that you like to visit frequently? Or do you prefer to discover new places?

Darlene: I so often fall in love with a place and say I must return but I always want to check out new places too so seldom do. We once made a stop at Malta on a cruise and decided we needed to see more of it. A year later we spent a week there. I think Amanda may visit Malta too.

MJ: It sounds like you’ve had a very interesting background: growing up on a ranch in Southern Alberta. That sounds fascinating! Tell me more…

Darlene: It was an incredible place to grow up but I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I was often bored and lonely and couldn’t wait to grow up and move to the city. The plus side was that I had lots of time to make up stories in my head and plenty of time to read, when my chores were done.

MJ:  What are your accomplishments that you are most proud of:

a. With regard to writing.
Darlene: I am proud of the fact that I have published seven books in eight years.
b. A non-writing one!
Darlene: I am proud of raising two amazing kids, one an accomplished potter and another who is not only a great dad and grandfather but a talented musician. Creativity in one way or another seems to run in the family. Of course, I encouraged it.

MJ:  I believe you do speaking engagements and the like. What are your tips for public speaking?

Darlene: Be natural and be prepared. Know who your audience is and involve them. Be energetic and enthusiastic about your subject matter. Once you make a connection with the audience, the rest flows naturally.

MJ:  What is the best part of being an author? And what is the worst?

Darlene: The best part of being an author is having a reader tell me how much they enjoyed my book. That is the icing on the cake for me! The worst is sitting in front of the computer plugging away alone. I am an extrovert and am energized by being around people, so the solitary part of writing is hard for me. But if I don’t do it, I won’t have readers telling me they enjoyed my book!

MJ: What are your favourite things to do, besides writing?

Darlene: Walking my dog, eating chocolate, reading, chatting with friends and family, exploring new places.

MJ: Have you found any resources/websites that you would like to share that are particularly helpful to authors?

Darlene: A friend gave me a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and it is the best resource ever. There are others in the series which I have since purchased as well. Their website Writers Helping Writers has great writing tips too.

MJ: Are you a plotter or pantser?

Darlene: I am a paid up member of the panster club and have the badge to prove it. I have tried to be a plotter many times and have failed miserably.

MJ:  What kind of food do you like?

Darlene: You mean besides chocolate? I am a vegetarian and love most vegetables, if done right. I especially enjoy Asian food as I love how the vegetables are prepared. So Thai, Indian, Chinese and Japanese food are high on my list. I also prefer my food to be spicy and not boring. Please don’t serve me plain steamed vegetables.

MJ: What advice would you give new authors such as myself?

Darlene: To persevere and believe in yourself. Writing is hard work but it is so worth it when you hold that finished book in your hands. Never give up!!

MJ:  If you were to lose one of your senses which one would you feel the loss of most and why?

Darlene: I think I would have to say the sense of sight. There is so much to see in this amazing world we live in and I am thankful I have seen a lot. But there is still much more I would love to see.

MJ; Finish this sentence. A travelling onion…

found itself part of a pasta sauce in Italy and said “Sono contenta”

Darlene: Thanks so much for having me as a guest, Marjorie.

MJ: It’s been my pleasure Darlene.

Reading through your responses to my questions I have to say we have a fair amount in common: a love of travel, chocolate, (who doesn’t like chocolate – I have met one person who didn’t but that is a long story,) reading, writing,  spicy food, and a paid up membership of the pantser club!

Thank you for taking my travelling onion to Italy. He needed a slice of the action on a holiday abroad! Lol…

Darlene’s social media links:

Website: Darlene Foster
Amazon Author Page
WordPress Blog

What fun. If you’d like to visit my blog for a Author Spotlight/Guest post, do get in touch. MJ would love it if you do!



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M J Mallon _ YA Author


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Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)

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#Read about Guest #Author Judy Martin

A very interesting interview on The Story Reading Ape about our very own Judy Martin, (blogging as the delightfully witty and engaging Edwina’s Episodes,) who has recently released a poetry book – Rhymes of The Times. Do share and spread the word.

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Co-Authoring Questions: Amber Wake Gabriel Falling

Amber Wake


The autumn of 1705 brings Royal Navy Captain Gabriel Wallace to face off against an enemy within the ranks of the Admiralty itself that threatens his career, his reputation, his family, and something even more far-reaching in its plot.

Court-martialed and with Admiral Chambers, the mastermind fearfully known as the Chambers of Hell, out for his destruction, Wallace finds he has allies willing to face the might of the mightiest power on earth, with some allies in the most unlikely of places. The crew of his former command, the Majesty’s Venture, mutinies from the Royal Navy. With capture by his enemies close behind, Wallace agrees to become captain once again.

With a ship at his command, Captain Gabriel Wallace sets out to fulfill his mission, the completeness of which only he knows.

Now a pirate by situation, Wallace sets out for the Colonies and the Caribbean. Will his crew remain loyal as they leave the rule of the Royal Navy behind? Will his lifelong friend, Miles Jacobs, follow Wallace blindly without knowing the whole story? Finally, will the young Lieutenant Maddox Carbonale stay under the command of Wallace or have plans to lead instead?

With these questions in his thoughts, Gabriel Wallace wages war on Chambers and goes after the largest haul in the history of the Spanish Main. Whom does Wallace meet along the way? To whom are his loyalties to: vengeance or something more powerful?

If you love tales of adventure, of the sea, of the struggles of men, and nods to history, this is your book. Read Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling and you’ll have a new appreciation for all of The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales.


Isn’t that cover just beautiful, it certainly makes me excited to read the book, here are the links to buy a copy.


As you will know I’ve been a fan of Ronovan’s Haiku challenges for some time now… that’s how I got to know the guy. In fact Ronovan kind of introduced me to the whole haiku landscape, and for that I am indebted. I doubt that I would ever had written haiku if it wasn’t for his weekly challenge.  So with that in mind I thought it would be a lovely idea to do a shout out for his new book, and some questions for him to answer..

Amber Wake sounds a fascinating historical adventure doesn’t it but how did it all come about? I was very interested to discover more about the authorial partnership between Ronovan and P.S. Bartlett, particularly as I would perhaps one day like to write a joint novel with my daughter who also writes. So my questions below focussed on the pros and cons of co-authorship.


I am curious about how you and P.S. Bartlett got together to write Amber Wake Gabriel Falling.


I believe we met through Twitter to begin with, and she offered a copy of her book, The Blue Diamond: The Razor’s Edge. I read it, liked it a lot, and did a review. I followed that up with an interview and we became friends, started exchanging emails a lot about writing and ideas. That led to the ideas of prequels to her book and for me the writing of Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling.

The benefits of co-authoring with a more experienced author.


I’ve been writing books for at least 15 years now. I’ve never chosen to self-publish before and only submitted a few of my books to agents. In the area of the pirate genre, it did help with her knowledge of various aspects of the genre, and she had worked with the editor previously. I keep looking at my work and improving in my writing, and with each look at my novels, I have fresh eyes and new ideas. Maybe someday I’ll actually bite the bullet and put one out. I’ll never think one is good enough.


The positive aspects of co-authoring and the difficulties you may have experienced.


To the positive I would say playing ideas off each other, ideas you might not have otherwise. Also having certain expertise in areas. Being a Historian and writer, I loved doing the research to create the characters, do the character development down to little details people might not realize are important, and then write the story. Then PS Bartlett used fresh eyes to tighten things here and there, add her own ideas and some aspects of her voice in places. We wanted the story in a male voice, since it is from a man’s point of view, but we also needed her voice to show through at times to link the book to her other The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales books, even though Ivory Shepard, The Razor, doesn’t appear in the book.


For difficulties, you have two authors that may have differing ideas at times. Neither idea is wrong, just different. It’s hard to see something you become so attached to be changed even in the slightest. However, going into a co-authoring project, you know it will happen. It’s kind of like having your children taught differently than you have raised them to believe. The best thing to do is tough it out and wait for the reviews. We’ve been fortunate to have great reviews so far. I’m sure someone will come along with a negative one, every book has one of those. As a reviewer myself, I know reviews are just opinions. I’ll take it and move on, but consider what each reviewer says.


Do you have very different writing styles, or are you quite similar in your approach?

I think we both have similar styles. We have points we want to cover, but we let the characters and the story determine what happens in between. I know sometimes I write a character I’ll end up not liking, although I meant for him to be a nice guy.


How did your writing styles effect the outcome of the final manuscript?


Our styles compliment each other. The only differences in styles that might have made things interesting would be some thoughts to certain intentions of characters. With there being other books written that occur after this one, certain things need to happen that weren’t in the original manuscript I wrote. Again, as I’ve mentioned before, that’s going to happen in any co-authoring project.


Would you recommend this approach to writing and why?


Our approach was for me to write the original manuscript, free rein. After the original manuscript it then went to PS Bartlett. I think if all involved agree to what is what then it’s a fine approach.
If you had the opportunity again would you go it alone or co-author?


I’m currently writing solo with several projects going at the same time. I would co-author again if the project and co-author are right. There are people I would like to work with.

Do check out Ronovan’s blog and his other links for loads more information, and of course a smashing blog to follow. Support this worthy fellow he really works hard for the blogging community.


Bye for now,



Marje @ Kyrosmagica x



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My Interview with Ian Probert author of Johnny Nothing

Guardian pic Johnny Nothing


I’m delighted to Welcome Ian Probert to Kyrosmagica for a lively Q & A session. Lovely photo Ian. Very casual. That floor is spotless.  So, first things first let’s start off with the preliminaries, the getting to know you questions, before I start to tease you into revealing more.

Where do you live now?  If you could live anywhere in the world where would that one place be?
I live in Islington and I couldn’t think of anywhere better to live. I’m a bit like Douglas Adams. He was an Islingtonophile. I interviewed him at his house once but ended up spending the afternoon listening to Randy Newman. It was enough to put me off Randy Newman for life. We spoke a lot about John Lennon. He had a bootleg of Real Love, which the ‘threatles’ eventually made into a pretty terrible single. It was a bog shock when he died. But then when isn’t it?

Have you always known that you wanted to write? When did you start writing? Did  you have a Eureka moment or did you just come to it gradually?
I’m going to sound big-headed but at school I was only good at two things: Art and English. As a kid I filled exercise books up with terrible stories about vampires. However, as a working class kid growing up in Bristol writing was what other people did. As such I had a succession of dead end jobs until one day I found a typewriter and sent something off to a magazine. I was lucky that the first thing I ever wrote was published. These days I’m more used to rejection.

What inspired you to write? Favourite authors maybe, and/or some other more mysterious source of inspiration/influences?
My first professional job was writing letters to fellow students’ banks at art college. I was paid in beer and discovered that I was really good at it. Inspiration? Well I can give you a list of people that I like: Brett Easton Ellis, Paul Auster, H E Todd to name a few off the top of my head. But they weren’t the inspiration. The inspiration was LIFE. Like most people I occasionally have something to say. I find that I can communicate better through the written word. I’m crap at talking. I splutter and sound like an idiot. My wife is great at this. She tears me to pieces in an argument.

Kyrosmagica – Me too, I communicate better through the written word too. Speaking is much, much harder.

If you could summarise your love of writing in one sentence what would that sentence be?

I’d paraphrase Joseph Turner. ‘Writing is a rummy business.’

What kind of special qualities do you think a writer possesses? Apart from a touch of madness!
A writer or a GOOD writer? There’s a big difference. We all have differing opinions of course, but to me a real writer should be able to hit the ground running. To engage the reader from the first sentence and, more importantly, to make the reader forget that they are actually reading. To me it’s never been about the number of words you know, or where you place the commas. It’s how you present your ideas. It’s ideas that make a writer, not words.

Do you follow any particular routine of writing? Are you a structured writer? Or do you just throw caution to the wind?
I’m completely unstructured. I work when I feel like it at any time of the day or night until I start to bore myself. If I’m bored so will the reader be. That’s not to say that I don’t admire people such as Nick Hornby and Zadie Smith who, I believe, rent offices and treat writing like a 9-5 job. It’s horses for courses.

Kyrosmagica – I’m unstructured too. So identify 100% on that one.

Would you consider yourself an introvert, extrovert, a people person or an animal lover? Sorry, for the silly question but I reckon a lot of writers are animal lovers, and well there seems to be two writing camps, shy writers and more outgoing ones, and those who are just plain obsessed with their dogs and cats. Or a family man perhaps? Just trying to get a handle on you as a person.

Who is Ian Probert?

I’m old enough to recognise and to have come to terms with the fact that I’m completely weird. My wife sees it too. So do other people who know me. I seem to spend most of my life trying to put up a normal front that people will find acceptable. I’m certainly not alone in this. I’m a curious combination of  incredible egotist and whimpering insecure baby. A compliment can make me a friend for life, a criticism can make me reach for the switchblade. Years ago a journo at the Big Issue gave one of my books a bad review. I actually waited outside their offices intent on taking it up with him personally. Thankfully he
didn’t appear. Do I like animals? Not really. I don’t understand them. I can see that as a species we have a deep rooted, fundamental urge to enjoy a symbiotic relationship with other creatures; but me, I’d rather have a Playstation. You don’t have to feed it. It doesn’t need walking. It doesn’t cover your clothes in  hair. And you don’t have to organise people to look after it when you take a holiday. You can’t play video games on a pet either.

Kyrosmagica – I admire your bravery. All those pet lovers out there will be incensed. Yes, incensed!

What made you write Johnny Nothing? Was the book born out of a sense of boredom, or dissatisfaction with life?

Well it’s been pretty well documented elsewhere that I was very ill for about 15 years and I wasn’t able to write. I was close to death. When I finally got better I had a creative burst of energy and wanted to write something for my ten-year-old daughter, who didn’t have much of an idea that I used to write for a living. It ended up – I hope – being for kids and adults. I think it’s actually a fairly political book. Although naturally there are lots of fart jokes.

Kyrosmagica – So sorry to hear about your illness Ian. Glad you got through it. Must have been dreadful, fifteen years. You deserved one heck load of a creative burst of energy after suffering that long.  Oh and what a combination! Politics and Wind. Sounds about right!

How important do you think a title is? How did you choose the title of Johnny Rotten and your other books?
A title is very important. Which is why I didn’t call the book ‘Johnny Rotten’. Had I done that I may well have attracted an audience of ageing punk rockers, which wouldn’t have been such a bad thing. However, I wanted to attract kids. So I called the book ‘Johnny Nothing.’

See what I mean? I’m too sarcastic for words. Make one simple typo and I jump on you.

Kyrosmagica – Oops sorry, Ian, I deserved that! It’s my generation. Johnny tends to equal rotten in my sub-conscious. I must have been listening to punk rock when I typed up the questions.


Since I’ve proven myself to be an incompetent punk rocker I may as well try to redeem myself with a couple of excellent quotes:

John Lydon: “You should never, ever be understood completely. That’s like the kiss of death, isn’t it? It’s a full stop. I don’t ever think you should put full stops on thoughts. They change.”   

Freddie Mercury: “Is Billy Idol just doing a bad Elvis pout, or was he born that way?”

Back to my Questions! Who are your greatest supporters and your most difficult critics?
My wife is unbelievable. She has complete and utter faith in me. Which is something that I certainly don’t have. If it wasn’t for her I would probably stop writing and become a waiter or something. Most difficult critic? All of them. I can’t think of a writer who can take any criticism. Most writer refuse to read reviews because they find it too hurtful. I can have hundred good reviews but the bad one is the only one I will remember.

Kyrosmagica – It must be tough. I am always very aware of this when I’m reviewing, I try to be honest, and fair. People forget how much time and effort authors invest in their writing. Writers bare a little bit of their souls on public display.

I think the choice of illustrations in a book can make or break a book, do you agree? There is a darkness to the illustrations which makes the book visually startling and different. How did you find the illustrator for Johnny Nothing?

Well keep it under your hat but I did them myself. I didn’t put this in the book because I didn’t want it to detract from the writing. If you read my book Rope Burns ( (Buy it now kids!)) you can hear all about my doomed attempt to become a famous  artist.

Kyrosmagica – This is the moment when I confess that I want to kill you, a writer and an artist, how talented can one person be! UGH! Take a look at the artwork from Johnny Nothing and cry!

Johnny  Nothing

Jonny Nothing photo

Uncle Marley

Uncle Marley




Reporter J Nothing




God Johnny Nothing




Jonny - red photo


Tramp J Nothing




I’m over that outburst now.  BACK TO MY Q AND A!

I believe you have self-published and also traditionally published. What are the pitfalls of both methods, and what method of publishing would you recommend to debut authors?
Oh blimey. I’m still trying to get my head around this myself. I don’t know. In traditional publishing you might get an advance and some help with the marketing but not much else. They get you in the papers but take 80% of your earnings. Most traditional publishers still expect you to do the bulk of the marketing. In indie publishing you get no advance but a bigger slice of the pie. Obviously you have to do all the marketing yourself, which is really hard. Did I say INCREDIBLY, UNBELIEVABLY difficult? Newspapers won’t review your books and you struggle to get on the radio or telly. I don’t think that either method is satisfactory but I do enjoy the independence of indie publishing. I do, however, miss interacting with other human beings.

If you could choose one quote to inspire others to write what would it be?
‘Marley was dead to begin with…’ If you can begin a book better than that you’re going places.

Kyrosmagica – Ha Ha! Scrooge, Humbug!

What are you working on now?
Something called ‘Dan’s Dead’ in which the hero dies on the very first page. It’s going to be a pretty short book!

Kyrosmagica – Sounds intense, but intense is good.

Now here’s to a wonderful excerpt of Johnny Nothing. CHEERS! ENJOY!!!!




Bill had a shaven head and was wearing a blue tracksuit. He was almost seven feet tall and built like an outdoor toilet made of brick. Bill didn’t realise  this but he was a distant descendent of Neanderthal Man. He had only one eyebrow – one long bushy eyebrow that reached right across his forehead. He looked like  what you might get if you force fed a member of Oasis with a half-tonne black plastic sackful of steroids. And if you were brave enough to be present when he took off his tracksuit you would discover that his back was so covered in hair that he was able part it with a comb. If Bill had had more of an interest in fashion, he might even have considered giving it a curly perm and perhaps a few extensions.  On his right arm, Bill had a tattoo which simply read ‘Bill’. This was in case  he woke up one morning and forgot who he was. This was actually less unlikely than you might imagine because standing next to him was his twin brother. His name was Ben and he was identical to Bill in every way except that the tattoo on  his arm read ‘Bin’ (the tattooist was either South African or not a very good speller). He was wearing a red tracksuit.  Bill gave Mr. and Mrs. MacKenzie the tiniest of smiles and managed to grunt ‘hello’. Ben gave the couple exactly the same tiniest of smiles and also managed  to grunt ‘hello’.
The two men were standing protectively close to Johnny. They were so large that in the confines of Johnny’s bedroom they looked like giants, which they were.  They were so enormous that each of them had their own postcode. They were so gigantic that they had their passport photos taken by satellite. They were so humungous that you could spend all day thinking up rubbishy jokes about how big  they were and never adequately describe just how indescribably, earth-shatteringly ENORMOUS they were. By no stretch of the imagination could you call them small (unless, of course, you were a lot bigger than them). The pair of Goliaths were having to stoop slightly so as to avoid head-butting the ceiling, which actually even looked a little scared itself. They were a terrifying sight. Even scarier than a school trip to a Weight-Watcher’s nudist
There was a long, pregnant silence in the room like this:

Bill BEn J Nothing
Bill and Ben

This eventually gave birth to an even longer post-natal silence, which, in the interest of preserving the rain forests or the battery on your Kindle, I shan’t demonstrate.
The four grown-ups eyed each other nervously. Bill and Ben looked at the Mackenzies like they were looking at insects that could be squashed into pulpy insect juice any time they so desired. The Mackenzies looked at Bill and Ben like they were looking at two giant skinhead Neanderthal bully boys who had just appeared from nowhere in their recently and unexpectedly decorated council flat.  Johnny looked a little scared. Finally Billy Mackenzie managed to get his mouth working a little and spluttered: ‘Who are you?’ And then: ‘What do you want?’  There was another long silence – let’s call it a pause – while Bill and Ben looked at each other as if trying to decide who was going to answer. Finally  Bill spoke: ‘You the boy’s parents?’ he demanded in a voice that sounded like an angry rhino with horn-ache. Although if he was clever enough he would have realised that this was a rhetorical question.  There was yet another long silence (you’ll be relieved to hear that this is the last silence you’re going to get in this chapter) before Billy Mackenzie mumbled  ‘Yes’.
‘We’re Johnny’s bodyguards,’ continued Bill. ‘We’re here to make sure that everything’s hunky dory.’
‘Hunky dory?’ Mrs. Mackenzie suddenly found her voice. ‘What do you mean ‘hunky dory”?’
Now Ben spoke: ‘What my brother means to say,’ he explained. ‘Is that we’ve been – how shall I say – contracted – to make sure that this young feller’s affairs are in order.’
‘Get out of my house!’ interrupted Mrs. Mackenzie, suddenly feeling a little braver, although she had no idea why.
Bill and Ben looked at each again for a moment. They did this almost as much as your mum looks in the mirror. Or you dad looks at websites that he shouldn’t be looking at. ‘First of all,’ said Bill, ‘This isn’t a house – it’s a flat.’
‘And second of all,’ said his brother. ‘We ain’t going nowhere. And neither are you.’
‘Johnny who are these men?’ Mrs. MacKenzie asked her son, ignoring the two giants.
‘I’m sorry mum but…’ Johnny started to speak but Bill cut in like a pair of  scissors that chops sentences into bits.
‘…What the young feller means to say is that the fun’s over.’
‘The fun’s over?’ repeated Felicity MacKenzie numbly.
‘That’s right,’ continued Ben. ‘You’ve had a right old time. You’ve been spending his money like it’s your own. You’ve been ripping the poor young feller off. And we’re here to put a stop to it. From now on things are gonna be  different.’
‘I’ve had enough of this,’ said Mrs. MacKenzie. ‘Nobody speaks to me like this in my house…’
‘Flat,’ corrected Ben.
‘Nobody speaks to me like this in my flat. Billy, call the police!’
As usual Billy MacKenzie did as he was told. He reached into his pocket for his mobile phone. Before he had the chance to even turn it on the gigantic frame of  Bill was towering over him.
‘That an iPhone?’ asked Ben.
‘Erm… Yes,’ said Billy, who could only watch as the huge man took it from him  and with one hand crushed it into a chunk of buckled metal and shattered touch  screen.
‘I think it’s broken,’ said Ben. ‘You ought to take it back to the Apple store.  Tell ‘em that you’re not getting a decent signal.’
‘Right!’ cried Mrs. MacKenzie. ‘We’re leaving! You’ll be very sorry you did that. I’ll fetch the police myself!’
Now the giant frame of Bill was standing in front of her. He was holding  something in his hand that looked a little like a child’s toy space gun.
‘Know what this is?’ he asked. Although once again he wasn’t clever enough to recognise that this was a rhetorical question.
Mrs. Mackenzie regarded the object for a moment. Then she shook her head.
Whatever it was she guessed that it was not intended to provide pleasure, happiness or fulfilment. Anything that has a trigger and a barrel and goes  ‘bang!’ seldom does.
‘Come on Billy!’ she said. ‘We’re leaving!’
Bill stood in front of her blocking the doorway. ‘Not so fast,’ he said, not so slowly. ‘It’s called a Taser. See this little trigger at the front? If I press this it’ll give you a small electric shock. It won’t hurt you…Well not too much  anyway.’
Bill raised the object and gently touched Mrs. MacKenzie on the arm. There was a  loudish bang and a flash of blue neon light and Mrs. MacKenzie collapsed  groaning to the floor. She was conscious but wasn’t able to move her arms and  legs  ‘Oh my gawd!’ said Billy Mackenzie bravely charging out of the room in terror.
He got as far as the stairs before there was a second flash. He, too, crumpled  to the floor. Bill dragged him back into the bedroom by the scruff of his neck.
Johnny Nothing got to his feet and stood over his two parents. He looked  anxious. ‘Are they… Are they… OK?’ he gasped.
‘Don’t you worry yourself,’ smiled Ben. ‘Give em a few minutes and they’ll be right as rain.’
‘But they’ll think twice before they try to run off again,’ said his brother.


Ian Probert has been scribbling down words ever since he learned to spell the  phrase: ‘Once upon a time…’. He is the author of Internet Spy, Rope Burns and a bunch of other titles. Internet Spy was a bestseller in the US and made into a  TV film. Rope Burns is a book about why books shouldn’t be written about boxing.  Ian has also written things for a shed load of newspapers and magazines. When Ian was a student he used to write lots of letters to the bank manager.

“Great new kids book alert! My two are in hysterics reading Johnny Nothing by  Ian Probert (and I am too).” Jane Bruton, Editor of Grazia

“Oh, Wow! Dark, sordid, grotesque and hilarious are only a few words I can  conjure up to describe this hilarious book.” Lizzie Baldwin, mylittlebookblog

Johnny Nothing is best-selling author Ian Probert’s first ever children book – although adults are enjoying it too. The story of the poorest boy in the world  and the nastiest mother in the universe, the book is earning rave reviews. Children and grown-ups are all laughing at this incredibly funny kids book

Take a look for yourself:


To celebrate the paperback launch of Johnny Nothing we are offering a free Kindle copy of the book to the first 100 people who Tweet the following message:

@truth42 I’m reading Johnny Nothing by Ian Probert. #YA
#Kindle #kidsbooks

The first ten readers who answer the following question will also receive a  signed print of one of the book’s illustrations.

Q: What is the tattoo on Ben’s arm?

Send your answers to




Book promo




Twitter @truth42

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