Category: Northern Reads

Northern Reads featuring Patricia M. Osborne

I’m pleased to welcome back Patricia M. Osborne to Northern Read again, this time discussing her new release, The Coal Miner’s Son.

Hi Kellie, thank you for inviting me back to ‘Northern Reads’, this time, to talk about The Coal Miner’s Son.  

The Coal Miner’s Son is a riches to rags story and the second book in family saga ‘House of Grace’ trilogy. It opens in 1962 and is set in a two-up and two-down terrace in Wintermore, a fictional coal mining village on the outskirts of Wigan in Lancashire.

            I was born in Liverpool and moved to Bolton in 1962. The experience of growing up in a two-up and two-down terrace with an outside toilet and bathing in a tin bath in front of the fire not only influenced my writing in The Coal Miner’s Son but was fabulous material to use.

After tragedy hits the small coal mining village of Wintermore, nine-year-old miner’s son, George, is sent to Granville Hall to live with his titled grandparents.

Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, George grows up believing his mother sold him. He’s determined to make her pay, but at what cost? Is he strong enough to rebel?

Will George ever learn to forgive?

Step back into the 60s and follow George as he struggles with bereavement, rejection and a kidnapping that changes his life forever. Resistance is George’s only hope.

About Patricia:

Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool but now lives in West Sussex. In 2019 she graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (University of Brighton).

Patricia writes novels, poetry and short fiction, and has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. Her first poetry pamphlet ‘Taxus Baccata’ is to be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in Spring 2020.

Patricia has a successful blog at Patriciamosbornewriter.com where she features other writers and poets. When she isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers and as an online poetry tutor with Writers’ Bureau.

Her debut novel, House of Grace, was published March 2017 and The Coal Miner’s Son, the second book in the ‘House of Grace’ trilogy was released 9th March 2020.

You can find Patricia on social media or the web here:

Facebook:

Twitter:

Instagram:

Website:

Email: patricia.m.osbornewriter@gmail.com

Patricia’s Books:

House of Grace

The Coal Miner’s Son

Contact for signed paperbacks direct  

Northern Reads featuring Clare Flynn

Today on my blog I’m pleased to welcome the lovely Clare Flynn as she discusses her novel Storms Gather Between Us, partially set in Liverpool.

Welcome, Clare! Please tell us all about your book and why you chose Liverpool as a setting.

The book is an indirect sequel to my first novel, A Greater World, which has its opening chapters in the North of England, including Liverpool, but then transfers to Australia. Storms Gather Between Us focuses on one of the secondary characters whose career in the merchant navy brings him to Liverpool – where he becomes involved with other characters who were in the back story of the first book.

It’s a book about loss, domestic violence, the oppressive nature of religious bigotry but most of all about the redeeming power of love. It’s set in the late 1930s up to the outbreak of World War Two. It’s possible that at some time I may return to the characters and write another novel to take them through the war. I always endeavour to make my books work on a stand-alone basis and to complete the story arc – but that doesn’t stop people asking for more though – sometimes quite forcefully!

I was born in Liverpool but left as a child. I came from a large extended family so throughout my childhood we went back frequently for holidays – something I kept doing even through my years at university, often escaping to the Pool for weekends. As someone born in the mid-fifties, my childhood memories were tinged by the relics of the war – there were still empty plots on street corners where bombs had fallen, lots of ruin and decay and smoke-blackened buildings. Yet it felt magical and exciting to me as a child. Some of my favourite memories were taking the ferry across the Mersey to Birkenhead and New Brighton from the Pier Head, shopping in the big department stores especially Lewis’s and going to the seaside at Crosby and Formby. I have been able to draw on these memories in my writing.

Yet Storms Gather Between Us isn’t all pre-war Liverpool – the book also pays brief visits to Naples, Lisbon and Zanzibar – I’ve never been able to resist the lure of romantic locations.

Fascinating! What’s it all about?

Since escaping his family’s notoriety in Australia Will Kidd has spent a decade sailing the seas, never looking back. Content to live the life of a wanderer, everything changes in a single moment when he comes face to face with a ghost from his past on a cloudy beach in Liverpool.

The daughter of an abusive zealot, every step of Hannah Dawson’s life has been laid out for her… until she meets Will by chance and is set on a new path. Their love is forbidden and forces on all sides divide them, but their bond is undeniable. Now, they will have to fight against all the odds to escape the chains of their histories and find their way back to one another.

About the Author:

Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. She is the author of ten historical novels and a collection of short stories. Her books often deal with characters who are displaced – forced out of their comfortable lives and familiar surroundings. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature.

Born in Liverpool she is the eldest of five children. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels, London and Sydney, she ran her own consulting business for 15 years and now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea.

When not writing and reading, Clare loves to paint with watercolours and grabs any available opportunity to travel – sometimes under the guise of research.

Clare’s latest novel, The Pearl of Penang, was published in late 2019.

Where can we buy your books and follow you on social media?

Website http://www.clareflynn.co.uk

Twitter – https://twitter.com/clarefly

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorclareflynn

Amazon Author Page  http://www.amazon.com/Clare-Flynn/e/B008O4T2LC/

Instagram – https://instagram.com/clarefly 

Thanks so much for joining me, Clare! Always a pleasure!

Northern Reads featuring Paula Martin

On a very special Valentine’s Day edition of Northern Reads,  we have romance writer Paula Martin joining us to discuss her novel Changing the Future.

Welcome, Paula. Tell us about Changing the Future, and what inspired you to set it in the Lake District?

Changing the Future is set on the edge of the English Lake District in North West England, mainly in a (fictitious) higher education college near the town of Kenton. Readers who know the area will recognize the town as it has a flourishing Arts Centre which I’ve featured a couple of times in the story. My heroine lives in a village near the college; in this case, I ‘moved’ one village that I know well to a different location!

I set the story in the Lake District because, being a ‘Northerner’, I’m very familiar with this area. I had a caravan there for many years which I visited as often as I could – and even climbed few of the fells (when I was younger!). It’s always easier to write about a place you know, and I hope I’ve been able to give readers a flavour of the Lakeland area as well as a glimpse of its beautiful mountains and lakes.

It also provides a contrast to the dramatic scene in the latter part of the story when the hero is caught up in a volcanic eruption in Iceland!

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Lisa Marshall is stunned when celebrated volcanologist Paul Hamilton comes back into her life at the college where she now teaches. Despite their acrimonious break-up several years earlier, they soon realise the magnetic attraction between them is stronger than ever. However, the past is still part of the present, not least when Paul discovers Lisa has a young son. They can’t change the past, but will it take a volcanic eruption to help them change the future?

To purchase your copy, visit this page to find your favorite bookseller:

www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Martin_Paula

About Me:

Paula Martin (1)

I’ve lived in North West England all my life. Born and brought up in Preston in Lancashire, I now live near Manchester.

I had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while I brought up a young family and also pursued my career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. I returned to writing fiction after retiring from teaching, and since then I’ve had 11 novels published in the last eight years. My original publisher closed just over two years ago, but my current publisher, Tirgearr Publishing, has re-published six of my backlist and also two new novels.

To find Paula on the web and social media, visit here:

Website: paulamartinromances.webs.com/

Tirgearr Publishing Author Page (which has buy links to Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo and Nook: www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Martin_Paula

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.co.uk/Paula-Martin/e/B005BRF9AI

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulamartinromances

Twitter: @PaulaRomances

Sounds like my kind of read, and the Lake District is always so lovely! Thank you for joining Northern Reads for a special Valentine’s Day edition! Come back next week for a new author from the north.

Northern Reads featuring Keith Dixon

On this first Northern Reads edition of February, we welcome crime novelist  Keith Dixon to share his novel The Cobalt Sky set in Cheshire.

Tell us about The Cobalt Sky and how being born in Yorkshire and later living in Cheshire has influenced your writing. 

The Cobalt Sky is set in Wilmslow in Cheshire, a very posh town in a very posh county, south of Liverpool and Manchester. The plot concerns the theft of a valuable watercolour painting from the home of the painter, who then hires PI Sam Dyke to find it. To carry out his investigation, Sam has to delve into the family of the painter and the relationships between them – which is not a straightforward job. Sam begins to realise that the past—as so often in crime novels—is having a huge influence on the present.

I was born in Yorkshire but moved south to Coventry when I was 3 months old. As a young man I went to college and then stayed in Cheshire, eventually working in and around the North West – Stoke-on-Trent, Chester, Stafford, and later Manchester and Wilmslow. I lived in the area for over thirty years before moving to France, where I now live. The impetus behind my Sam Dyke series was to explore what it would be like to be a private investigator in the leafy suburbs of Cheshire. My PI is from working-class stock in Yorkshire but finds himself dealing with the rich and wealthy people of Cheshire as his clients and victims. I also wanted to use the style and tropes of the classic private eye novels, being heavily influenced by Hammett, Chandler, Robert Crais and Ross Macdonald. Sam Dyke is even named in honour of Hammett’s Sam Spade (and my mother’s maiden name!).

Living and working with northerners—and being one by birth myself—has led me to value their honesty and warmth. The bad guys that Sam comes up against are often interlopers from the South who try to manipulate people for their own purposes, not understanding that they’re going to be found out and punished in the end. Sam Dyke is also a stranger to the posh environment of Cheshire, but as the series progresses, he understands it more and wouldn’t live anywhere else.

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More about  The Cobalt Sky:

Edward Ransome is one of England’s most famous artists – rich, a friend to celebrities and known for his devotion to his craft for almost fifty years.

Then someone steals his favourite painting – the painting that set Ransome on course to fame and fortune but was never sold and rarely seen.

Sam Dyke is hired to find the painting, and the thief, but quickly discovers that the loss of the painting is only one of the many losses suffered by Ransome, and his family.

What’s more, whoever stole the painting is keen to keep it a secret, and committing murder to do so is not out of the question.

Soon Dyke finds he has more than a simple burglary on his hands – it’s a case that spans generations and includes more than one ordinary crime.

The Cobalt Sky is a subtle but exciting exploration of the ways in which families can hurt each other over time … without even trying.

From the two-time winner of the Chanticleer Reviews CLUE Award in the private eye/noir category, for The Bleak and The Innocent Dead.

The Cobalt Sky is available in paperback from Amazon and bookstores world-wide. It’s currently available in Kindle format from an Amazon store near you. Click here: http://authl.it/B07W1GBRBQ

About Keith:

Keith large white border

Keith Dixon was born in Yorkshire and grew up in the Midlands. He’s been writing since he was thirteen years old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. Two-time winner of the Chanticleer Reviews CLUE First in Category award for Private Eye/Noir novel, he’s the author of nine full-length books and one short-story in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, as well as two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing. His new series of Paul Storey Thrillers began in 2016 and there are now three books in the series.

Find Keith on Social Media and around the web:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamDykeInvestigations/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/keithyd6

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theidlewriter/

Blog: http://cwconfidential.blogspot.com/

Website: https://keithdixonnovels.com/

Thanks for sharing, Keith! I personally love Sam Spade, too!

Come back next week for a Valentine’s Day edition of Northern Reads as we head to the Lake District with Paula Martin.

Northern Reads featuring Patricia M. Osborne

It’s time for another edition of Northern Reads! Today on my blog we’re in Bolton as another family saga author, Patricia M. Osborne joins us today.

Hi Kellie, thank you for inviting me over to talk about how living in Bolton as a child has influenced my novel House of Grace.

House of Grace is a riches to rags story and the first book in a family saga trilogy. Book One is split into two parts and runs from 1950 to Christmas Eve in 1969. A bulk of Part I is set in Bolton, Greater Manchester. I chose this setting because, although I was born in Liverpool, when I was seven years old we moved to Bolton, then known as Bolton, Lancashire, rather than Greater Manchester. In Bolton, I lived in a two-up and two-down terrace with my Mum, Dad, two sisters and baby brother. We had no bathroom but bathed in a tin bath by the fire. Poor Mum had to drag it out to the backyard to empty once we’d finished. This memory was great material for a scene in House of Grace.

When I was eleven, we moved to Surrey as my dad had acquired a new job which was to be a fresh start for us all. Our new house had not only an indoor bathroom and toilet but a huge back garden.

My time in Bolton made a great impression on me and it crops up in my writing a lot. House of Grace was no exception.

When my protagonist, Grace Granville, visits Bolton for the first time to stay with her best friend Katy, she visits places that I myself had enjoyed. For instance, Bolton Museum with lion statues outside the town hall. My late sister and I spent numerous hours in the library, museum and aquarium. At the ages of six and seven we would walk from Daubhill into Bolton town centre and spend our day bobbing from the library, museum, to downstairs in the aquarium. We were fascinated by it all so much. The museum was eerie with mummies and old porcelain dolls. Those dolls had a hypnotic effect on me and stayed with me for years. On fine days we loved to play outside the museum around the town hall lions, stroking their manes. My protagonist, Grace is fascinated by the museum and lion statues too.

Bolton Town Hall and the lion sentinels

In 1990, I returned to Bolton with my eldest two children so they could see where I’d lived, went to school and of course visit the museum. I was disappointed to find that so much had been demolished. My home had gone, and the small church school, Emmanuel, had gone too.  Castle Hill in Tonge Moor was still standing but looked tiny, unlike my memory that it was a large school. My children loved the museum just like I had as a child, however I was disappointed because this huge space that I’d remembered seemed to have shrunk.

Emmanuel School and Bamber Street where I lived  

Samuel Crompton’s house was another old haunt of ours. A gang of us, including my two sisters, used to hike up to Hall i’ th’ Wood. The older kids would frighten we younger ones when stepping into Samuel Crompton’s house. They said if we rocked the cradle then the floor would open, we’d be swallowed up and the ghost would get us. At seven that was quite scary.

Samuel Crompton’s House

The Palais was the place where the young people liked to go dancing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t old enough as I was only eleven when we left Bolton but my elder sister used to go on a regular basis. This had an impression on me too as I made sure Katy took Grace to the Astoria Palais de Danse, and this is where she meets the love of her life, coal miner Jack Gilmore.

Palais Helen V James_o

Sketch by Helen A James, 2017

Because I never got to go to the palais, a Facebook memory group came to my aid and told me what the interior was like in 1950, and even how much it would have cost for a cup of coffee. Members of the Bolton Palais Facebook Group who read House of Grace said I had described the Palais just like they remembered it. What I didn’t know just after publishing my novel was the fight the people of Bolton had on their hands to save their beloved dance hall. Alas they lost their battle and this wonderful iconic building was demolished. However, The Palais de Danse lives on in House of Grace.

            ‘…large round building on the corner of Higher Bridge Street.

            I looked up at the sign. ‘Astoria Palais De-Danse.’

            ‘Yes,’ Katy answered, ‘only we Boltonians call it the Palais. Come on, let’s go in.’

Astoria Palais de Danse

Book two, ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’, will make its appearance in March 2020. Part I of this book runs alongside House of Grace but told in the point of view of Grace’s nine-year-old son, George. It opens in 1962 and ends in 1971, so the second part works as a sequel. Following this is ‘The Granville Legacy’, the final book in the trilogy. It begins in 1981 and as it is a work in progress, I’m not sure where it will finish yet. I then have the potential to produce more novels or novellas in the series with different characters’ stories. I am sure that Bolton will pop up in those too.

About House of Grace:

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All sixteen-year-old Grace Granville has ever wanted is to become a successful dress designer. She dreams of owning her own fashion house and spends her spare time sketching outfits. Her father, Lord Granville, sees this as a frivolous activity and arranges suitors for a marriage of his choosing.

Grace is about to leave Greenemere, a boarding school, in Brighton. Blissfully unaware of her father’s plans, she embarks on a new adventure. The quest includes a trip to Bolton’s Palais where she meets coal miner, Jack Gilmore. Grace’s life is never the same again.

Is Grace strong enough to defy Lord Granville’s wishes and find true love? Will she become a successful fashion designer? Where will she turn for help?

House of Grace is the first book in the historical fiction family saga trilogy.

If you like Mr Selfridge and House of Eliott then you’ll love this riches to rags 1950s/60s saga. Delve into House of Grace and follow Grace Granville as she struggles with family conflict, poverty and tragedy.

To buy:

http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace

For signed paperback copies direct: https://patriciamosbornewriter.com/contact/

About Patricia:

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Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool and now lives in West Sussex. In February 2019, Patricia graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (Merit) via the University of Brighton. She is a novelist, poet, and short story writer. When she isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers and tutoring poetry online for the Writers’ Bureau.

Her poetry pamphlet, ‘Taxus Baccata’ was a winner with Hedgehog Poetry Press and will appear during 2020. Patricia has had many poems and short stories published in various literary magazines and anthologies Her debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, set in the 1950s/60s, was released in March 2017.

In 2017 Patricia was Poet in Residence at a local Victorian Park in Crawley and her poetry was exhibited throughout the park. In 2019 her poetry was on display at Crawley Museum.

Patricia has a successful blog at Patriciamosbornewriter.com where she features other writers and poets.

Her hobbies include walking around her local park and lake, swimming, reading, photography, and playing the piano when time permits. All these activities offer inspiration to create new writing.

Find Patricia on Social Media:

Facebook: @triciaosbornewriter

Twitter: @PMOsborneWriter

Instagram: Patriciamosbornewriter

Website: Patriciamosbornewriter.com

Email: patricia.m.osbornewriter@gmail.com

Thanks so much for stopping by, Patricia, and  telling us about all of your memories of growing up in Bolton.  Best of luck with your new release!

Come back next week as we have a new lineup of authors in February for Northern Reads.

Northern Reads featuring Rob Campbell

It’s Friday, and that means another edition of Northern Reads! Today on the blog we welcome Rob Campbell from Manchester with his YA mystery novel Monkey Arkwright.

Welcome, Rob! Please tell us about Monkey Arkwright.

Monkey Arkwright is the first part in my “Wardens of the Black Heart” YA mystery trilogy. The second part – Black Hearts Rising – is also available, and the final part – The Well of Tears – will be published in February 2020.

Monkey Arkwright tells the story of budding teenage writer, Lorna Bryson, who is mourning the recent loss of her father. She has a chance meeting with Monkey Arkwright, the boy who loves to climb, and through Monkey’s adventurous exploits amongst the churches, woodlands and abandoned places in and around their home town, the two teenagers soon become embroiled in a mystery that has serious implications for the town and some of its inhabitants. Across the three books, a tale of dark secrets, hidden messages, sinister organisations and treacherous betrayal unfolds. Whilst it’s billed as a YA novel, the story has sufficient depth such that older readers can immerse themselves in the labyrinthine mystery at the heart of the story. When I see the success of books like the His Dark Materials series and Netflix’s Stranger Things, I know there’s an audience for this kind of intrigue, and I hope that my books will appeal to fans of this type of unusual story.

Monkey Arkwright is set in a fictional town in England, but I’ve been careful not to specify an exact geographical location. So, whilst it’s not necessarily set in the North, it’s written with an imagination that was well and truly cultivated there. There are several scenes in the book that are influenced by the places that I knew whilst growing up. The scenes where Lorna and Monkey spend the last days of summer in the woods are based on my memories of Alkrington Woods, in Middleton, north Manchester. When you are a child, these places seem so vast and make for a world of adventure, but can also be both intriguing and frightening, depending on the time of day or the weather. There’s also a scene where my protagonists get to climb an abandoned school building. This scene is based on my old high school, St Dominic Savio, which shut its doors for good several years after I left. The school building consisted of a wonderful assortment of oddball-shaped wings, with no two adjacent parts seeming to be the same height. I can still remember that some of the braver kids (not me!) would shin up a series of drainpipes, moving from one building to the next until they stood on top of the gymnasium roof, which towered above the playground. There’s definitely some of Monkey’s character in these kids that I remember from my youth. I could see this huge gymnasium wall from my house, which was just a one-minute walk away. It’s sad that the building was demolished to make way for a housing estate – another part of my history gone forever – a sense of loss echoed in the story through Lorna’s memories of her school.

It’s probably also worth mentioning that the scenes at the reservoir are based on real-life settings in the hills above Oldham.

Of course, I wouldn’t be a true Mancunian if I didn’t mention the weather! Manchester is famous for its incessant rain, and the elements are another major influence on my writing. I’m probably in the minority here, but I wouldn’t swap Manchester’s weather for any other climate. We get scorching sun in the summer, a bit of snow in the winter (although not as much these days) and the colours of the trees are glorious to behold come the autumn. If you get bored of the weather around here, then just hang on for a few days because it’ll change before you know it. All these rich colours, biting winds, drizzly rain and foggy mornings act as a wonderful fuel for the imagination, and although I’ve said that my books are not necessarily set here, there’s plenty of the local weather in my writing.

So, between the weather, the memories of places I knew growing up, and the fact that I still call Manchester home, I’d say that my books are Northern at heart. Hopefully, readers will feel all of this rich atmosphere seeping off the pages when they read my books, and maybe it will remind them of their own home town, wherever that may be.

About Monkey Arkwright

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Budding writer Lorna Bryson is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her father when she meets Monkey Arkwright, the boy who loves to climb. The two strike up an immediate rapport, and Monkey challenges her to write about him, claiming that he can show her things that are worth writing about.

True to his word, Lorna is catapulted into Monkey’s world of climbing and other adventures in the churches, woodlands and abandoned places in and around their home town of Culverton Beck.

When the two teenagers find an ancient coin in the woods, claims from potential owners soon flood in, including the mysterious Charles Gooch, who is adamant that the coin is his. But this is only the opening act in a much larger mystery that has its roots in some dark deeds that took place more than a century earlier.

Combining their talents, Lorna and Monkey set about fitting the pieces together in a tale of budding friendship, train-obsessed simpletons, the shadow of Napoleon and falling pianos.

To Purchase Rob Campbell’s books:

About  Rob Campbell

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Rob Campbell was born in the blue half of Manchester.

He studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Manchester Polytechnic, gaining an honours degree, but the fact that he got a U in his Chemistry O-Level helps to keep him grounded.

Having had a belly full of capacitors and banana plugs, on graduation he transferred his skills to software engineering. He still writes code by day, but now he writes novels by night. Listing his pastimes in no particular order, he loves music, reading and holidays, but he is partial to the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.

His favourite authors are David Morrell, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch & Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

He lives in Manchester with his wife and two daughters.

Social media links for Rob Campbell

Website: https://monkeyarkwright.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @monkeyarkwright

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MonkeyArkwright

Thanks so much for joining us, Rob! Lorna sounds like a girl I want to read about!

Come back next week for another edition of Northern Reads featuring Patricia Osborne.

Northern Reads featuring Judith Barrow

It’s Friday, and that means another edition of Northern Reads! I’m chuffed to have fellow historical fiction and saga author Judith Barrow on the blog today with her fantastic Haworth family trilogy, featuring one book set in Lancashire.

Welcome, Judith! Tell us more about the Haworth Family Trilogy. 

The three books are historical family sagas, often described as gritty. Although they are a trilogy set around the same family, each book also stands alone. The first of the trilogy is Pattern of Shadows, set in Lancashire between 1944 and 1945. The story was inspired by Glen Mill, a disused cotton mill in Lancashire, which was the first German POW camp. Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood. My mother was a winder in a similar mill. I would often go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember: the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into a great wooden gate;  the women singing and shouting above the noise, of them whistling for more bobbins; the colours of the cotton and cloth. Above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales. And the sound of the siren, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought of Glen Mill I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery, only vehicles coming and going; the only voices would be those of men, with a language and dialect so different. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. There would be no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And the tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres would be replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.

I changed the name of the prisoner of war camp to Granville, set in the fictional town of Ashford. The protagonist is Mary Howarth, a nurse in a hospital attached to the camp who holds her dysfunctional family together.

And tell us more about the series. Where does it go from there?

Pattern of Shadows: Mary is a nurse at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs.  Life at work is difficult but fulfilling, life at home a constant round of arguments, until Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp turns up. Mary agrees to walk out with him but he becomes a jealous and dangerous boyfriend when one of the POWs, Peter Schormann a doctor, is  allocated to treat the injured and ill prisoners in the hospital, and he and Mary become friends.

Changing Patterns is the sequel to Pattern of Shadows and begins in May 1950 when Britain is struggling with the hardships of rationing and the aftermath of the Second World War. In times of war the relationship between Mary Howarth and Peter Schormann was called fraternization. And fraternization was a dangerous and serious offence. After the war, it is looked on by many as equally unacceptable, especially by Mary’s troubled and fractious family. The war is over, but for Mary Howarth the danger isn’t; she is living in Wales with Peter, a German ex-POW and is a Matron of a small hospital. She believes her job will be jeopardised if they find out about Peter. Her best friend Jean is doing all she can to get Mary to leave Peter and return to Lancashire. Mary is sure this will never happen, but she has no idea of the secret Peter is keeping from her. And then one day, something happens that changes everything….

Blurb for Changing Patterns:

Peter Schormann, an ex-German POW, has left his home country to be with Mary Howarth. Reunited they plan to marry. But there are obstacles in their way: the controversy of Mary and Peter’s relationship, the condemnation of her family and the memory of Frank Shuttleworth, ex-boyfriend of Mary’s. Even worse, Peter holds a dangerous secret that could destroy them. When tragedy strikes, Mary hopes it will unite her family, but it is only when a child disappears that they pull together to save one of their own from a common enemy

Living in the Shadows is the last of the trilogy, and is set in 1969, a time of Mods and Rockers, the Beatles, flower power and free love. Although Mary is still the protagonist, this is the story of the next generation of the Howarth and Schormann families, forced to deal with the consequences of the past actions of their parents. Granville, the prisoner of war camp, is the backdrop of all three books even as it gradually falls into disrepair. In this last book it becomes the centre of an inevitable tragedy

Blurb for Living in the Shadows:

Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire. At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so? There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

That’s right up my alley! Where can we get them them?

Purchase Judith’s books here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

https://www.honno.co.uk/authors/b/judith-barrow/

photo - book signing (1)

About me:

Judith Barrow, originally from Oldham has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years but returns often to Lancashire. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University.

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

Her last book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, is the prequel to the trilogy and is the story of Mary Howarth’s mother, Winifred, and father, Bill. Set between 1910 & 1924 it is a the time of the Suffragettes, WW1, the influenza epidemic and the infamous Black and Tans, sent to Ireland to quell the rebellion and fight for freedom from the UK. It is inevitable that what forms the lives, personalities and characters of Winifred and Bill eventually affects the lives of their children, Tom, Mary, Patrick and Ellen. And so the Pattern trilogy begins.

Judith’s books are published by Honno, a small independent women’s press. Her next book is due to be published in March 2020 and is entitled The Memory.

I have A Hundred Tiny Threads! It’s a fabulous book! Where can we find you on social media and the web?

Social media for Judith:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/judithbarrow77

 Website: https://www.judithbarrow-author.co.uk/

Reviewing Website : https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com/

Thanks so much for stopping by, Judith!

Come back next week as we travel to Manchester with our next author! Thanks so much for reading!

Northern Reads featuring Tracey Scott-Townsend

It’s Friday, which means another edition of Northern Reads! Today we have Tracey Scott-Townsend from East Yorkshire joining us with her poignant novel, Sea Babies. Welcome, Tracey!

What’s your latest book and do you have other work set in the north?

Hi Kellie, my most Northern-set novel to date is Sea Babies, 2019. The story is set between
Edinburgh in the 1980s and The Outer Hebrides in the (more-or-less) present. I have also written other books set in the north of the UK, these include The Last Time We Saw Marion, 2014, Of His Bones, 2017 and The Eliza Doll, 2016, all set between Hull and the East Yorkshire Coast.

Tell us a bit about Sea Babies and why you chose your setting? Has living in the north growing up there influenced your writing?

Talking about Sea Babies, I chose Scotland as the setting, as I’ve had a lifelong affinity for the landscape and people of Scotland. My paternal grandfather, Alexander Wilson, was born in Glasgow, and comes from a line of forefathers also named Alexander Wilson. My dad was always saying things like “Och aye the noo,” and singing I belong tae Glasgow. We visited Scotland when I was a teenager, sought out our family tartan of the Gunn Clan, and I fell in love with the country then, but it was only years after my dad died that I realised how much of Scotland was in the way my dad talked (and sang!).

I also have Scottish roots on my maternal grandfather’s side, but I know less about those. I decided that my character, Lauren Wilson, in Sea Babies, would be born and grow up in Glasgow and I describe a little of her family life as part of a large family living in a tenement house, before she moves to Edinburgh for university.
There she meets Neil MacDonald, a Canadian whose family emigrated from the Scottish Islands during the Clearances in the 1840s, and the turbulent years of their five-year relationship have a massive impact on the rest of Lauren’s life.
I grew up in Lincoln, which is neither here nor there as far as the North and South go, but to anyone lower down the country we were considered “Northerners” and to anyone higher up we were “Southerners.” Thus I found my true identity when I moved to Hull at the age of twenty, and then nobody could deny I was a Northerner. East Yorkshire feels like my spiritual home, and was probably on the path of my ancestors from both sides of my heritage.

Can you give us a taste of Sea Babies?

Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job
as a children’s social worker. When somebody sits opposite her at the cafeteria table, she refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea towards her, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories…
Some people believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Does Lauren have a
retrospective choice about the outcome of a recent terrible accident, or is it the bearer of that much older scar who has the power to decide what happens to her now?
Sea Babies is a potent, emotional psychological drama that explores the harder aspects
of relationships, as well as the idea of choice, responsibility and the refugee in all of us.

Glass of wine and hankies needed then! Where can readers find Sea Babies?

Disclosure: Please note that the links in this post are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase books using my Amazon affiliate link, they compensate me, which helps make this blog possible. Know that I only recommend books that I personally stand behind, or feel could enrich others’ lives.

About Tracey:

Tracey-Scott-Townsend is the author of six novels — the most recent two Sea Babies (May2019) and The Vagabond Mother (January 2020) — all published by Wild Pressed Books and Inspired Quill Publishing. Reviews often describe her novels as poetic or painterly. She is also a poet and a visual artist.
Tracey has a Fine Art MA (University of Lincoln) and a BA Hons Visual Studies (Humberside Polytechnic). She has exhibited paintings throughout the UK (as Tracey Scott). She is co-director of an up-and-coming small independent publisher, Wild Pressed Books, which has a growing roster of authors and poets.
Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children, and spends as much time as possible travelling the UK and Europe in a camper van with her husband and two dogs, writing and editing while on the road.

To find out more about Tracey:

Website: https://traceyscotttownsend.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authortrace
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/authortrace/
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTrace/

Thanks for stopping by, Tracey!

Come back next week for another edition of Northern Reads as we travel over to Lancashire with the lovely Judith Barrow!

Northern Reads featuring Tracey Sinclair

Today, I’m beginning a new series on my blog called Northern Reads that will feature writers from the north of England,  fiction set in and around the northern counties, or perhaps a bit of both. 🙂  As many of you know, my Laurelhurst series is partially set in Lancashire and Manchester. So while you are waiting for the fourth book to come out, I wanted to bring you a selection of work from different genres that bring the Northern Powerhouse to life.

Disclosure: Please note that any links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase books using my Amazon affiliate link, they compensate me, which helps make this blog possible. Know that I only recommend books that I personally stand behind, or feel could enrich others’ lives.

Kicking it off is the lovely Tracey Sinclair with her romantic comedy The Bridesmaid Blues, set in Newcastle.

Tell us a bit about The Bridesmaid Blues and why you chose Newcastle as setting? Did growing up there influence you as a writer?

I was born and raised in Newcastle – though I wasn’t living there when I wrote the book – and when I had an idea for a romcom I wanted to set it in my home city, since most romcoms seem to be set either somewhere glam like London or New York, or cosy like a little village. I absolutely love those kinds of books, but I wanted a setting I could relate to, and I thought it would be fun for Northern readers to see a city they knew and a heroine that was very Northern in her outlook. Plus, it was fun to put lots of little Newcastle references throughout!

I’ve moved around a lot and written books based in different cities where I have lived  – I’ve also written a contemporary fiction book (Doll) that is set in Sheffield and a series of books and stories set in London and Scotland (The Dark Dates paranormal series, the short stories No Love Is This) – but I think a strong Northern streak runs through all of them. They tend to be big on no-nonsense women who speak their mind (a bit, um, like me) and plenty of humour, even if it is sometimes a bit dark.

Give us a taste of The Bridesmaid Blues. What’s it about?

Luce knows she should be thrilled when Jenna asks her to be bridesmaid – after all, they’ve known each other since childhood and Jenna is the best friend any girl could have. But it’s hard to get excited about weddings when you’re terminally single and the best man is the boy who broke your heart: Jamie, the groom’s dashing and irresistible brother. How can she face the man who dumped her when she’s still so hopelessly in love? Then again, maybe this is the perfect opportunity – after all, where better to get back together than at a wedding?

So Luce has six months to figure out how to win back her ex, but she has plenty else on her plate – from an old friend returned to Newcastle with an announcement of her own, to a youthful colleague who may or may not have a crush on her and a mother who is acting very strangely indeed… and that’s all before a mysterious, handsome American walks into her life.

Sometimes being a bridesmaid isn’t all confetti and champagne…

‘A smarter, funnier Bridget Jones’ Diary for the 2010s – great pithy writing and instantly likeable characters’ Cass Green, Sunday Times/USA Today bestselling author of In a Cottage in a Wood

Ooo, now I want it. Where can readers get it?

Fabulous, Tracey! I can’t wait to read it!

About Tracey:

author-image-3 (1)

Tracey Sinclair is a freelance writer and editor who writes for various online and print magazines including The Stage and Exeunt. She is the author of 8 books, including Doll, The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates series. She recently relocated to her home city of Newcastle after many years living in Glasgow, London and Brighton and writes about that experience at https://prodigalgeordie.blog/

Want to connect with Tracey? Visit her on social media, her blog, or her website:

Twitter: @thriftygal  Instagram: traceysinclair23  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarkDates/

Website: https://darkdates.org/

Blog: https://prodigalgeordie.blog/

Thanks, Tracey!  Come back next Friday for a new author on Northern Reads.