Interview for My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister (novel) @RossendaleRadio 19th January 2022

Samantha Henthorn and Lindsay McKinnon give an interview on Rossendale Radio about ‘My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister’.

It was a cold and frosty evening when Lindsay McKinnon and I ventured north to Rossendale for an interview at the fabulous radio station Rossendale Radio (104.7 FM ). Fortunately for us, we were chauffeured to the studio by a handsome and charming man – that’s why I married him, Mr Henthorn has a good sense of direction.

Lindsay McKinnon (voice-over actor) and Samantha Henthorn (author)

We were invited to talk about my psychological fiction ‘My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister’ with Marie Baistow who hosts a weekly show called ‘Mental Health Matters‘. The novel explores the emotional well being of the protagonist, Epiphany (Pippa for short), a forty-year-old woman who has held an unhelpful belief system for the past twenty years. She has suffered in silence with depression and has made little progress with her life. As the novel unfolds, readers learn how a strange visit by her half-sister’s half-sister, Sadie, changed her life.

Rossendale Radio presenter Marie Baistow works as an Occupational Therapist for the NHS and at the start of the pandemic began presenting the weekly show which offers a much needed voice for anyone in the Rossendale Valley who is thinking of improving their mental and emotional well being.

My novel My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister opens with Pippa’s memory of a school swim class when she was around seven years old. There she meets Sadie, her half-sister’s half-sister. Sadie is confident, care free, and immediately becomes Pippa’s hero.

This girl never seems bothered that she can’t swim. I think she is a year older than me and from a different school. Different, except we all get banded together. The different ones, the ones who can’t swim.

Lindsay treated us to a reading of this prologue, it will make you cry and laugh at the same time because it is the moment that epitomises Pippa’s belief system – she wants to be someone else.

Unfortunately, a playback of last night’s interview is not available currently. The audiobook of My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister is due to be released this spring.

We spoke about the use of language in the novel. As a former RMN, I was able to confidently use phrases associated with mental illness in a favourable way for the protagonist. I feel that this discourse is useful to promote understanding and makes Pippa relatable.

We spoke about the novel’s ending – the twist (Pippa is an unreliable narrator so this plot thread is essential). I won’t give away the ending here, only to say that your half-sister’s half-sister could be you. Sadie is everything Pippa wants to be so is able to persuade Pippa that her mother and sister are witches.

Lindsay gave another reading of Pippa’s experience as an inpatient of an acute psychiatric unit, she trusted in one health professional (a psychologist called Dr Schofield) who helped her to come to terms with her heavy drinking and completed a recovery – sort of. The final chapter of My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister is bitter sweet because although Pippa is well enough to live a happy and safe life with her boyfriend, Ben, she continues to lack insight into her magical thinking. OR DOES SHE? I intentionally created an open ended narrative – what she believes about her mother and sister could be true. They could be witches, and as this would feed into Pippa’s ruminations about being left out of the family circle it puts her at risk of possible relapse.

If you are interested in My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister click HERE

If you are interested in joining my mailing list to find out the moment the audiobook is released click HERE

If you are interested in Rossendale Radio click HERE

Lindsay McKinnon I believe is available for voice-over work (provided she is not narrating one of my books 🙂 ) Lindsay’s website is HERE

Happy reading everyone, and positive vibes for your emotional well being, Samantha

My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister #PublicationDay #IARTG

Happy Tuesday!

Today is publication day for my new novel, My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister.

Here’s what you need to know.

1 My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister is available to buy from Amazon HERE (E-Book, paperback and hardcover).

2 The audiobook is in production with the multi-talented actor Lindsay McKinnon (seen below).

3 This is the best book I have ever written.

4. It is a first-person account from an unreliable narrator.

5. The title could refer to two people or the same person.

Photo credit https://www.facebook.com/jdmoses.uk Lindsay McKinnon and Samantha Henthorn

It started with a memory.

When I was a child (about four or five), I remember visiting two ‘aunties’ who lived in a marvellous house with a big bay window on a road that my dad had called ‘Millionaire’s Row’. These two women were extremely glamourous, with mauve and grey-toned clothes and knee-high boots. I don’t remember their names. ANYWAY, years later I asked my mum who these two women were; she had no idea. Maybe I dreamt them, or maybe they were Jacquetta and Heather – two of the main characters in My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister.

     ‘Epiphany! Epiphany!’ Mummy shouts from downstairs. I hear her key turn halfway, and she’s muttering to herself, inviting all kinds to unlock the door to my flat. 

     ‘Epiphany, what’s wrong with your front door?’ Mummy shouts.

     Yes. Epiphany is my name – Pippa for short, strictly Pippa for short. I don’t mind Pip but definitely not Epiphany. When Mummy was pregnant with my older sister, she intended to name her Hazel. Right up to the last minute, Hazel. Then a midwife told her that Hazel is a witch’s name, and this put her off. So, Mummy chose the name Heather. It suits her because my sister’s eyes shine hazel when she’s excited.

In the above words, you have met Epiphany (Pippa for short) and her mother, Jacquetta. I hope you have picked up that Jacquetta is a demonstrative busy body, letting herself in at her daughter’s front door. ‘Inviting all kinds to unlock the door’ and changing her mind about the name ‘Hazel’ because of something the midwife said.

Read Jacquetta, and think Geraldine McEwan in Mapp and Lucia circa 1985 – but include paranormal persecutions.

Au Reservoir, Lucia | Christopher Fowler

Has Jacquetta changed her mind about witchcraft? – I do love a conflicted character.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

Pippa’s sister Heather is a confident and content green goddess. Think Courtney Love in the biographical drama Beat (insert an English accent).

BeatPoster.png

No doubt Heather would have been filled in about my holiday at home. And if John can stop watching the news for once, the cat will be out of the bag about Ben and me separating.

     Today was meant to be a good day, but now I can see Heather walking across my imagined moat.

     I miss Sadie.

     ‘Sweetie, are you alright?’ Heather has let herself in via the door (the same one that Mummy has trouble opening).

     ‘In here,’ I answer Heather without answering her.

     ‘I’d love a cup of tea if you’re making one.’

     I wasn’t, but I am in the kitchen, mainly to look out of the window onto the road below. I usually have to stay here a while until I have spotted a second magpie.

     ‘So, how are you?’ I ask Heather. I never quite know what to talk about with my sister.

     ‘No! How are you? I never did like that freeloader, and I’m glad he’s dumped you.’

     ‘Thanks?’ I answer Heather with a question.

     ‘I’m not glad for you, obviously. Breaking up is hard to do, Pippa. It happens to the best of us, even me.’ Heather helps herself to two mugs from my cupboard and gazes longingly at the kettle. It seems Mummy’s bitter coffee has not quenched her thirst.

I hope that the above exchange illustrates Pippa’s strained relationship with her sister Heather.

Pippa has not seen Sadie since school swim class. Sadie visits unexpectedly and turns Pippa’s life upside-down.

You must be tempted to meet Sadie. I spent a year waiting to write her story, and when I did, she took over my life as much as she did my protagonist, Pippa’s.

We learn very little about Sadie’s existence. She doesn’t seem to have a job, relationship or home. What she does have is Pippa’s attention and she takes her round the mulberry bush many times, on many mornings throughout the novel. Sadie takes no prisoners, yet she is fun and supportive.

Sadie is everything Pippa wants to be.

Pippa’s boyfriend telephones her at work, letting her know that her sister has called round. Pippa finds this strange because Heather is always visiting – why would Ben contact her at work to tell her something that happens regularly? When Pippa arrives home, Ben is on his way out and Pippa sees someone sitting in her front room that is not her sister.

‘Were you expecting the Pocahontas of Pendle?’ Sadie grins.

     ‘What! You can’t say that!’ she meant Heather, who lives in Pendle and does look a bit like she’s descended from America’s past.

     ‘Why not? Look.’ Sadie performs a centre parting in her lengthy black hair and two plaits appear (in record time). ‘Heather and I have our dad’s genes. You know as well as I do that Oswald’s great-great, however-many-grandads was one of the Salford Sioux, so if I was teased at school about it, then it’s fine for me to say it about Heather.’

I had to make Sadie the opposite of Pippa, this is why her father (not the same person as Pippa’s father) is descended from the Salford Sioux (I’ve added a handy link for you to check out). I worked in Salford for twenty years as a nurse. I learnt that Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show visited Britain at the request of Queen Victoria and they arrived via The Manchester Ship Canal. This was in the winter of 1888 and some of the Salford Sioux stayed in the area (making their home on the banks of the River Irwell). Imagine yourself a Salford woman in Victorian times – descendants of this fabulous story live in the area today, and as my community boss once said to me ‘they say that if you think you’re descended from the Salford Sioux – you probably are.’ I think it was then that I decided I would weave this thread into something I wrote.

Pippa’s family tree.

Sadie is not all good…

I’m not telling you any more than that. You’ll have to read it.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, Samantha.

PS I also wrote The Curmudgeon Avenue Series;

On How I Wrote My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister

Inspiration attacked Samantha Henthorn from several different angles when she wrote her new novel, ‘My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister.

Inspiration attacked me from several different angles when I wrote my new novel, ‘My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister’.

A while ago, everywhere I looked there was a book title that included the word ‘sister’. The Stepsister by Jenny O’Brien, My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Dead Sis by Jane Holland, and The Herb Sisters by Marina Johnson to name just four; sisters were everywhere in literature (I blame the Brontes).

Even though I knew that by the time I had written my ‘sister book’ publishing trends would have progressed, but I couldn’t get ‘sister’ out of my head.

Siblings never go out of fashion.

One of my favourite books (and my own sister’s teasing stick) was My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards (illustrated by Shirley Hughes).

(Image from Amazon)

‘Sisters’ are not the only trope that has been swirling around my writing for years. I’ve been obsessed with witches since I was little. If you’ve read my blog before you will have seen how I was named after the protagonist from 1960s sitcom Bewitched, you will have seen how I read books such as Witchdust by Mary Welfare and The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy and met and was baptised a witch at age 6 on a family day out to Pendle.

(Or was I?)

Photo by A Koolshooter on Pexels.com

Pippa, the protagonist of My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister is not a witch, she is a forty-year-old woman trying to make sense of her life. When Sadie visits (her sister’s half-sister), Pippa starts to think that her mother and sister Heather are witches. All the evidence is there; Heather is a green goddess and Jacquetta (Pippa’s mother) is obsessed with the patron saint of keys. You would have to read on to find out the details – I want readers to either believe in Pippa’s breakdown or that her family are actually a nest of vipers.

If you’ve ever read or seen Fight Club or read Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih you’ll be well versed with books that leave you not knowing what to believe. Plus, we have all lived through some uncertain times recently, so I think mind-bending is on its way in literature.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

There is a debate going on (I’ve heard it in pubs, I’ve read it in reviews and I’ve tormented my own thoughts) about lockdown in literature. If you saw the Channel 4 drama Help earlier this year then you’ll know that this kind of pandemic narrative must be highlighted in any genre it can be. I am of the opinion that literature has a job; if stories are about people then people should be about stories. We are all wondering if the pandemic has taught us anything, and we should be reading books to help process the volume of information, emotions, bereavement, culture shocks and psychic storm-trooping we’ve all been through.

I’m not saying My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister is the answer to any and all pandemic woes; what I am saying is it HAD to be set at the end of the lockdown… it just had to be. Pippa needed to have an epiphany.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

When writing My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister, I had to come up with an occupation for Pippa. I had also been reading and rereading Good Morning Midnight by Jean Rhys (for my creative writing degree). I really wanted to include an intertextual reference, and before I knew it, Rhys’s Mr Blank became Pippa’s Mr Bland; and Pippa became an accountant ‘doing sums’ (Sadie’s words).

Actually, my darling daughter is an accountant. We text each other every day and have our own little ‘text speak’ language. A while ago, I started asking her if she had ‘done any really hard sums’ at work… obviously I was teasing (that’s just our sense of humour) but it stuck. I asked my daughter, and she didn’t mind if that Pippa also ‘does sums’ at work (creative licence applied – I know that accountancy is a complicated occupation).

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I used to be a psychiatric nurse until it was made impossible for me to continue working (my RMN career ended after I was diagnosed with MS). Reading and writing saved my mental health when faced with the vast culture shock of retiring at 39. That was almost eight years ago, and I’ve come a long way since. The older I get, the easier it becomes to face up to the serious side of life (especially when you write). It all fitted into place, and the protagonist of My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister started to shape into a character who could inspire hope (or at least seek help).

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Because Pippa loves reading, I had to make literature part of the narrative. I achieved this with plenty of intertextual references, starting with the nursery rhyme ‘Here we go Round the Mulberry Bush’ (said to be written by female inmates of HMP Wakefield in the 19th century), and fitting because Pippa is stuck going round in circles with her female relatives.

Pippa compares herself to two of Hardy’s protagonists, the forsaken Tess Durbeyfield and the confident heroine Bathsheba Everdene. In the story, this reflected Pippa’s journey.

During writing, I was concerned about overdoing the references to other texts, then I remembered reading and loving the modern classic ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ by Jeanette Winterson. There is almost an intertextual reference on every page, and Jeanette Winterson is a genius.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (Paperback)

By this stage of writing My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister, Pippa had taken over and told me what to write (see my other posts about my writing being powered by witchcraft).

If I really dig deep, this book started with a memory. When I was a child (about four or five), I remember going to visit two ‘aunties’ who lived in a marvellous house with a big bay window on a road that my dad had called ‘Millionaire’s Row’. These two women were extremely glamourous, with mauve and grey-toned clothes and knee-high boots. I don’t remember their names. ANYWAY, years later I asked my mum who these two women were; she had no idea. Maybe I dreamt them, or maybe they were Jacquetta and Heather – two of the main characters in My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister.

Pippa has a secret, will you believe what she has to say?

I do have an older sister, and no the book is DEFINATELY NOT about her. However, this is why I chose the hyphenated way of writing half-sister for the title – there are actually five ways to write the title My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister:

My half-sister’s half-sister My Half Sister’s Half Sister
My Half-sister’s Half-sister My half sister’s half sister
My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister

(thank you https://www.alisonproofreader.com/)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I recently had a conversation with my sister-in-law about enjoying books with a quirky and different plot (like mine) so I dedicated the book to her.

Deeper inspirations flow through My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister that I can’t reveal because that would be a spoiler!

Thank you for reading my blog today, My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister is available to pre-order from Amazon now (release date 30/11/21). See my Facebook Author page for #BlackFridayDeals. Audiobook in production.

Happy reading, Samantha 🙂

PS I also wrote these:

An Evening with Joanne Harris (my visit to Todmorden Book Festival on the 25th of September) @TodBookFest @Joannechocolat

Last Saturday, I had the PLEASURE of meeting one of my favourite authors, Joanne Harris.

Actually, I should re-word that… The Hippodrome Theatre in Todmorden was full to the brim, and I was just one eager reader getting her next favourite book signed at the end.

A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris. Live photo above of my copy, signed by Joanne Harris. It is the very best time ‘Samantha’ (my name) has been written ever.

Enough about me and my Christmas present that wants to be read immediately.

Joanne Harris gave a brilliant, interesting and inspiring author talk. Also, she’s hilarious!

I wouldn’t want to misquote her, but I would like tell you a few bits from what I remember.

Joanne Harris started by telling us a bit about her latest book, A Narrow Door. This is the third book from her ‘St Oswald’ books. Joanne explained they can all be enjoyed as standalone novels, but have the same setting and threads of backstory.

Joanne Harris spoke about her experience of working at The Leeds Grammar School (which at the time was an all boys school). It was really interesting to hear about how male pupils responded differently to male and female teachers. As did the male headmaster – particularly with regards to the uniform policy. Joanne told a hilarious anecdote about a red skirt. I remember the 90s very well, I did my nurse training and worked my first job as a staff nurse during this decade. I remember misogyny in the workplace… what a great setting for a set of novels!

This is from the blurb for A Narrow Door on Amazon:

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

Joanne Harris

From Joanne Harris’s Amazon page.

Joanne Harris spoke about her writing and writing during lockdown. Her 1999 novel Chocolat was written in just four months – and she was a full time teacher at the time. Awesome. She was able to achieve this because her mother would babysit her daughter and she had ‘plenty of thinking time during her drive to and from work’. Joanne Harris shared that she was sad to leave teaching.

(My daughter was two years old in 1999 – what was I doing? Not writing a book).

More recently, during lockdown, Joanne Harris had a productive time writing (there was a discussion here about the pandemic and writer’s block). As a novelist, she was already used to working from home. Joanne spoke about writing her non-fiction writing reference book which I must buy immediately; ‘Ten Things About Writing’ (Published last year). And the June 2021 release ‘Honeycomb‘ a fairy tale collaboration. Joanne explained that snippets of ideas she had tweeted inspired this book.

Then it was questions from the audience time

Apologies, the last time I blogged about a famous writer, it was about the exhibition dedicated to comedian Victoria Wood‘s life, I’m just winging this post but trust me, I’m a huge Joanne Harris fan.

I went to Todmorden Book Festival with my husband (who thought the talk was about actual chocolate) my friend Carla (we have been friends since our nursing days) and my friend and voice over colleague Lindsay McKinnon (first person to grab the microphone- and I was most grateful).

Lindsay asked Joanne Harris how she copes with writing about difficult subjects. Joanne’s main advice was to write a bit of another project and then come back to the original piece.

She* also spoke about deadlines and the reason she was able to demand of her publisher that she would write whatever genre she wanted to in her own timescale (this is the mis-quote bit, I can’t remember how this wisdom was actually worded which is why I started this paragraph with *she).

This all came from Joanne Harris’s early days as an author. Her first published book The Evil Seed was about vampires. She then wrote a historical fiction Sleep, Pale Sister which her original publisher had wanted another vampire novel from her. (If you click on the bold writing above, this will take you to Joanne Harris’s website). These events led to Joanne writing Chocolat which she described as another book that publishers didn’t know what to do with. READERS WANTED IT THOUGH.

At this point during the author talk, my mouth was dry and I was a nervous as a quiet child in a school assembly. My husband gave me a look which I read as ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ (he didn’t really think he was at a talk about Mars bars – I was joking, he’s quite brainy really). Lindsay passed me the microphone (after it was Covid-safe wiped by Todmorden Book Festival) and I asked…

First of all, I asked the rest of the audience if it was ‘my turn’ I wanted to know if I’d pushed in. I then told Joanne that I had just finished book three of the Chocolat Series ‘Peaches for Monsieur le Cure‘ (I don’t know why I was rambling). I just wanted to get to the point that Joanne Harris’s characters are very vivid… Eventually I was able to stop tripping over my own tongue and ask if Joanne ‘sees’ (I meant visualise) her characters when she is writing them. AND if so, did the film version of Chocolat meet with her expectations?

Joanne Harris gave a great answer, she told us that whilst writing Chocolat she actually imagined Juliette Binoche when she was writing Vianne!

Joanne explained that writers don’t usually get to know about film adaptations until later but in the case of Chocolat, she was approached.

Joanne told the film folk about her thoughts for Juliette Binoche/Vianne Rocher, but was told ‘they want Whoopi Goldberg’ (apologies, I can’t remember any director or producer names Joanne Harris may or may not have mentioned because I was recovering from a panic attack). However, Whoopi Goldberg was not available (too busy filming Rat Race, I just checked on Wikipedia). Another actor’s name was mentioned but eventually Chocolat ‘s Vianne Rocher was played by Juliette Binoche – just as Joanne Harris had visualised when she was writing Chocolat (that’s during the 4 months she spent writing Chocolat – the whole audience gasped here)… I gasped because I was thinking wow! I bet Joanne Harris didn’t realise how strong her manifestation powers were… (also, what a great answer – Alison Steadman, Joanna Lumley and Courtney Love have been on my mind A LOT recently #writing life).

I wish I had longer to chat with Joanne Harris, because I wanted to explain I wasn’t trying to divert her attention away from her writing with my question about the film because the book is better than the film.

I’ve underlined the above to make sure I have got my point across. The book Chocolat is better than the film. There, I’ve said it again.

I know what you’re thinking… Johnny Depp was in that film. Joanne Harris told us that at the time, Johnny Depp was not on her radar (I can’t remember exactly how she worded it but it was one up from ‘didn’t have a clue who he was’). I am absolutely fine with that, Joanne Harris was busy writing fabulous books for us all to read; she didn’t have time to be knowing who Johnny Depp was!

Isn’t is wonderful that the small town of Todmorden has a book festival! ~click on this bold writing and follow the link to their website – I think you might be able to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future events (apologies for not writing this post earlier, I’ve been weary).

I would encourage attendance at book fairs/author talks because seeing a full theatre of likeminded readers is good for the soul (reading is usually a solitary hobby). PLUS authors are lovely people and it is wonderful to hear how they magically produce their magnificent books.

Happy reading, Samantha 🙂

PS

My latest novel is now available to pre-order from Amazon. My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister will be released on the 30th of November 2021. I plan to blog about how I wrote this novel in my next post.

When Curmudgeon Avenue Appeared at Glaston-Bury (one day event for charity in Lancashire).

I am so proud of my home town, Bury in North West England. Especially on August bank holiday when the town is taken over for a charity event called Glaston-Bury.

Taking their name from the bigger festival in the south, Glaston-Bury fills the streets of Bury with heavy metal, cover bands, poets, and this year a book reading of Curmudgeon Avenue (I wrote that) by my talented voice over friend and colleague Lindsay McKinnon.

No description available.

Those who know me know that I have MS and can’t stand up for long. And to be honest, I’ve been unwell ever since the event and that’s why it has taken me seventeen days to write this blog post. #MSsucks and fatigue is doing my head right in!

Anyway, back to the event. The reason we were welcomed to appear at this mostly music festival is because part of book four of the Curmudgeon Avenue Series is set at the Glaston-Bury festival!

Above is a sneak peak of a new cover – I’m always messing about. I just need to make the final decision about if Harold’s spectacles should be wonky.

Gil Von Black nearly broke Facebook when it was realised he would not be appearing on stage with his magic fingers this year. Gil Tweeted a photograph of Patchouli and himself with the caption #AugustBankHolidaychillin’. As soon as this was noticed on Facebook, there were many comments on the Glaston-Bury page. ‘Please can someone tell me which stage and what time is Gil Von Black on?’ several people asked. All with the same answer from the festival organisers: ‘He’s not performing this year’.

     Ahh, the life of the actual real-life session musician rock star; he will attend the festival along with the crowd (including Wantha, Toonan and their respective men). After Wantha had attended to her Instagram duties (doling out advice about what to wear at a local charity festival), she found her lip liner and was ready to go. Zandra and Gordon Bennett prepared themselves for their first Bury day out since arriving at Curmudgeon Avenue.

Our stage (actually the poet’s stage) was upstairs in a very cool record and coffee shop called Wax and Beans

It was actually tricky to prepare for the event. I am NOT a performer, fortunately, Lindsay is. Lindsay McKinnon has loads of acting experience and is the most talented person I have in my phone (or have met in real life). If you are reading this, and are looking for a narrator for your audiobook I would recommend Lindsay. Click HERE for her website.

It was difficult to choose passages from a book I started writing seven years ago. Especially as my head is full of my current work in progress. I suppose all authors go through this (laughing face emoji). I am yet to attend a (traditionally published) author talk since lockdown ended in the UK. I’ve been to loads in my time and they are usually full of an eager audience wanted to know the question that no one can answer; how can I get published?

Fortunately, Todmorden Book Festival has come to my rescue. I have tickets to see one of my favourite authors, Joanne Harris. I have so many questions for her but I know I will be too shy to ask any of them.

JoanneHarris Chocolat.jpg

Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I was just trying to explain that I intend to attend more author talks and do more of my own.

I just need to get better first (I usually have a good management of my illness but I’m just weary at the moment – or as my window cleaner puts it ‘you look fr****d today’)

Speaking of tangents, one way that I look after myself is physiotherapy. When I was first diagnosed with MS I started doing yoga. Here’s the tangent, one of my oldest and dearest friends Carla (we met during nurse training, that’s how long we’ve known one another) gave me the tip off about the Todmorden Book Festival. Carla is now an excellent yoga teacher; she has just the right voice for it. If you are in or around Todmorden, you should definitely attend her yoga class click HERE for her link.

WELL I have gone round in circles today haven’t I? You could say I’ve gone round the mulberry bush – which would segue into a hint about my work in progress. I’ve decided not to reveal the title until the manuscript has been polished(I cannot wait to start sharing this book I am really enjoying writing it).

Have a great weekend, Samantha 🙂

PS I wrote these:

Book Review Lie of the Tiger by John Martin (it is part of a promotion, and it’s about cats)

Lie of the Tiger by John Martin

More about Lie of the Tiger by John Martin

Paddy – if that is indeed his real name – has taken the reins of the Windy Mountain Tasmanian Tiger Museum, only to discover the previous manager left the building in a coffin.

Then he finds out that the devious owners don’t actually want him to succeed anyway.

The old men’s dogged determination isn’t good news for a third octogenarian who has the only legal dog in town, but stuff him.

Oodles and Wish-Wash have good reason not to like The Mayor anyway and if he won’t help, they are prepared to break the law.

This is a funny, sometimes touching story with a quirky character around almost every corner.

Lie of the Tiger is book 1 of the Windy Mountain series. Each book has its own story.

But if you enjoy this one, Blokes on a Plane (book 2), Whitey and the Six Dwarfs (book 3), Blokes in Donegal (book 4), and Blokes in the House (book 5, inspired by the events of 2020), await with many of the same endearing characters.

Lie of the Tiger is free as part of this PROMOTION until 31 August

I read Lie of the Tiger last week and it really made me smile. And! I had never heard of a Tasmanian tiger.

Here’s my review:

Lie of the Tiger is a quirky satire about a Tasmanian tiger museum. The book is educational (I had never heard of this extinct cat) and funny. Yes, it is because John Martin has a funny way with words. Character names are playfully chosen Wish-Wash and Oodles, and later Sergeant Stretch (especially when someone stretches out their arms to catch him). The plot is engaging. To keep his job, Paddy must succeed in reopening the museum, but this means proving that these stripy wildcats are still alive and well near Windy Mountain. Recommended for cat lovers, big cat conspiracy enthusiasts and readers with a sense of humour.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/freeandfun/3295975751

Apologies, I did promise to write a blog post about an interesting conversation I had with my sister-in-law. This will be about books, reading and why we choose to read certain books. I haven’t written the post yet because I’ve been really suffering with fatigue. I’ve got MS, it’s just something I have to put up with.

At least I can still read. And write! Another reason I am worn out at the moment is I am writing my next book. This is about a woman trying to find her way in life after lockdown. Although I am enjoying writing it, I am drained!

Have some free books on me, have a great weekend, Samantha 🙂

A New Cover For ‘1962: A Nostalgic Tale of 1960s Lancashire’ (the relaunch!)

I had a great time writing ‘1962: A Nostalgic Tale of 1960s Lancashire’  which I published in 2017. I had an even better time revisiting the book and have relaunched it this week with a new cover. Later, there will also be a collection of four short stories I wrote at the time, all set in 1962.  😊 My dad provided inspiration for this novel. He was a cycling enthusiast, entered races (and won), and he was in his late 20s in 1962 – so the characters were not based on him, or his life story. He just gave me the idea. In 2012, we were watching a programme that marked 50 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Dad turned to me and said ‘You know, people were petrified that we would all be blown up, but I just wanted to get a good time in the time trial race I had entered on Sunday.’ This conversation sparked something in me, and the book was born!  Dad helped me with a bit of research, including asking everyone he knew if they remembered how they felt about the looming threat of nuclear war in 1962 – as a person living in the north of England. Interestingly, Mum said she hardly remembered anything about it! 

I have been lucky enough to join a book promotion called ‘Soulful Reads’ which runs from June 19 to July 19. Well worth a nosy, I’ve had a preview of the titles – some will definitely end up on my reading list. 

Click this link : https://books.bookfunnel.com/soulfulreads/t6p3xc0jiz to check out the Soulful Reads promotion.

I will be releasing the prequel to 1962: A Nostalgic Tale of 1960s Lancashire later this year.

The Queen’s Speech (and other shorts from 1962) is a collection of four short stories I wrote in 2017 when I was researching the novel. I think this prequel will get readers in the mood for reading about 1962.

Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

Unfortunately, there are no MINI’s in the short story collection, just one in the novel.

Happy reading everyone, have a great weekend, Samantha 🙂

Book Review Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer by Christine Betts #IARTG

This great book is part of a multi-genre promotion about books set in France! https://books.bookfunnel.com/fromfrancewithlove/1un9lt0lk6

I read loads… loads and loads of books everyone is using that word ‘voracious’ these days (huge appetite lol!) I do love reading, and apart from a few of the set books chosen by the Open University, I usually only read what I enjoy.

Anyway… this week I found a book that was right up my street!

Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer by Christine Betts

The blurb from the book’s Amazon page :

After a stunt lands heiress and comedian Alia Henry in lock-up, she finds herself under house-arrest in a crumbling mansion owned by Whitehall International, a company she discovers controls much of her ‘free-range’ life. Detoxing and device-free, she must write her contracted novel or face dire consequences.

But she is not alone on the once-magnificent estate. Phillip, Whitehall’s unquestioning aide-de-camp, intrigues and infuriates her in equal measure and wandering the house at night, she meets Braith, eccentric writer-in-residence and mixer of marvellous cocktails.

Each day she struggles to write but at night, under the light of an increasingly implausible full moon, Alia delights in exotic drinks and dazzling conversation with the mysterious Braith.

Not usually one for asking questions, she wonders is Braith a ghost…?

Or is she?

Funny, smart, and full of heart, Alia Henry discovers what happens when you look up from your screen long enough to see the people in front of you.

Actually, when I started reading this book I wondered if it reminded me of anything else I had read. I think that’s why I liked it so much, it is a good fiction that did not fit into any pigeonhole. Women’s fiction, I reckon. It did remind me in a funny sort of way about a new series I started watching this week – The Flight Attendant starring Kaley Cuoco. Because both of these fictions have a female protagonist who can see ghosts (if that’s what they are!)

The Flight Attendant Poster

Here is my little five star review:

5.0 out of 5 stars You will be rooting for Alia

Don’t you love France? Alia (short for Thalia – brilliant) is a talented young heiress with a bright future ahead of her… although… things have not always been great; she lost her parents and dealt with this bereavement by drinking.

Oh… and when we meet her, Alia is in a bit of a pickle, getting arrested for a naked stunt in London.

Fortunately (although it feels unfortunate to Alia at first), she ends up on house arrest in a gorgeous Paris chateau with NO MOBILE PHONE (imagine!), and forced to write the children’s novel she is contracted to. At night, the building is different and Alia starts seeing things that others don’t, staircases that others can’t climb, and then she meets Braith, a poet, novelist and charmer.

A brilliant read for those who like a mystical narrative, literature and backing a character who needs a shove in the right direction!

Photo by Czapp u00c1rpu00e1d on Pexels.com

Happy reading everyone! PS, don’t forget to click the link for all the books set in France 🙂 Samantha xx

https://books.bookfunnel.com/fromfrancewithlove/1un9lt0lk6

Happy Christmas Everyone – I’ve Published Another Book :)

Curmudgeon Avenue #6

A Curmudgeonly Christmas (Curmudgeon Avenue #6) is the final instalment of the Curmudgeon Avenue series and will be published on the 27th of December. Available to pre order from today!

Curmudgeon Avenue has been going on for quite some time. Some would say for longer than is reasonably necessary. 

Feeling proper emosh! I have finished writing the Curmudgeon Avenue series with a Christmas special. 

Gordon Bennett is obsessed with the size of potholes on the street, Wantha and Ricky may or may not seal the romantic deal. Christmas is coming, and Francesca is getting fat. Patchouli’s past comes back to haunt her – will Gil Von Black be able to cope? 

Oh – and the ghosts are immune from any and all pandemic restrictions. 

A Curmudgeonly Christmas is intended to provide a bit of light relief during the week between Christmas and New Year. You know the one, that week we are all fed up with eating, drinking and each other!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The book started with Harold Edith and Edna, and the story of how they ended up living together. The series evolved into a social satire about a group of neighbours and their intertwined lives. Gossip, romance, dramas and laughs follow all written with British English spelling and grammar and narrated with a voice typical of how folk say ‘stuff’ in the Northwest of England.

All lighthearted, all easy reads, all a bit of fun.

Audiobooks narrated by the hilarious and talented Lindsay McKinnon.

Pre order A Curmudgeonly Christmas here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08QSJPQYT

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, happy reading, Samantha xx

Marriage: The Final Frontier

A convention of comedy-drama is that the narrative ends with a marriage. See Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Love’s Labour’s LostA Midsummer Night’s DreamTwelfth NightMuch Ado About Nothing and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

And more recently, last Christmas’s Gavin and Stacey Christmas special on the BBC ended with an unanswered proposal.

What will Smithy say? - PressReader

Ha! I bet you thought this post was going to be about Mr Henthorn and me; well, just for fun, here is a photo from our wedding day captured at the moment I realised he had forgotten to organise the ‘signing the register’ music:

Blimey, I don’t look happy do I? I can’t remember what music was supposed to be played, but we signed that certificate in complete silence and it’s been fab ever since.

Being me, is like living in a sitcom, and so it has been a natural process to write the Curmudgeon Avenue series about a house that detests its unlikeable owners.

I am just coming to the end of writing the final instalment of Curmudgeon Avenue ‘A Curmudgeonly Christmas’ which I am hoping to release the week between Christmas and New Year. 2020. (Don’t you agree that the week between Christmas and New Year is a time for curmudgeons to unite?)

Cover reveal:

I am hoping to put this on pre-order soon, but until the week between Christmas and New Year, here is an excerpt:

Chapter 6: He Learnt From The Best, He Learnt From Wantha.

Tuesday morning came around as so often they do in Whitefield. September had robbed the residents of Curmudgeon Avenue of an Indian summer, and thoughts were starting to turn to Halloween, bonfire night, (and dare I say Christmas).

     Wantha Rose was on the warpath yet again. But like a glamorous soap opera actor, she skulked around the street until somebody paid attention to her, keeping her anger just under boiling point.

    ‘Toonan!’ Wantha shouted through her sister’s letterbox. She rang the doorbell. And after a short wait, the door swung open to reveal Small Paul wearing pyjamas and carrying a bottle of anti-bacterial spray and a dishcloth.

     ‘Hiya, Wantha. Toonan’s at work, sorry.’ Small Paul started spraying and wiping the letterbox and doorbell button that Wantha had just touched (which looked a bit rude, to be honest. He should have waited).

     ‘Oh, FFS!’ Wantha was gutted that her sister was not at home. She watched Small Paul polishing his door furniture. Seemingly, he was in the mood for talking (again).

     ‘I’m not sure what time she’ll be home, but if you need anything, Sis,’ (he got that off Toonan). ‘Then, I would love to chat.’

     Wantha glanced towards the front of Genevieve’s delicatessen-cum-cafe, where her husband, Ricky Ricketts was at work. And even though Ricky could not see her from that angle, Wantha made a showy and sassy attempt to enter Toonan and Small Paul’s house.

I know it’s really short, but it was super hard to find a bit I could share, because there is a massive secret about to be revealed on Curmudgeon Avenue.

If you missed it, the book that precedes ‘A Curmudgeonly Christmas’ is free and available via a BookFunnel promotion here:

https://books.bookfunnel.com/funny-fall-reads/yvz8jzuoi9

The next instalment of Curmudgeon Avenue

Happy reading, Samantha xxhttps://www.amazon.com/~/e/B01M4LPH9U