Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Interview with Rowena Rede

This week on the blog I'm delighted to feature Rowena Rede, author of Origin Story. The second instalment of the series - Backstory - is out soon. Rowena, welcome!!

Tell me more about your book?
Origin Story is about an elite duo of secret agents who wind up down on their luck and take on an unusual job, thrusting them into the dangerous and previously unknown to them world of the supernatural.

What prompted you to write it?
The idea for Origin Story came after I co-wrote a short story. The character I created, Park Thatcher, was so well received that I decided to write an “Origin Story” for him as well as introduce him into a new environment separate from the world in which he first appears.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?
I’m working on the sequel to Origin Story and hope to have it out in the world by the end of Summer 2021. 

I’m also working on an urban fantasy serial for Kindle Vella titled, Kat’s Calling. It’s about a demon with a moral compass and a reluctant warrior angel teaming up to stop a heinous act.

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I’ve always felt a need to write. Even as a kid. I would write fanfiction for cartoons that I was obsessed with and bands that I loved. I didn’t start professionally until three years ago with a short story that I was invited to co-write. After that I just kept at it. Now I’m in the thick of it and loving it.

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
Origin Story, but it’s definitely on the short side.

Which is your favourite secondary character in your book, and why is it your favourite?
I have three main characters so that’s a hard choice! My audience seems to like the morally grey vampire called Merle.

Where is your ideal writing space?
Somewhere cosy and quiet with lots of cold beverages. I recently turned a very tiny coat closet into a small writing space so I could shut the door and drown out the loud noises that accompany a household full of children and animals.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? (not necessarily writing-related!)
I take a lot of inspiration from this quote, especially when I’m doubting myself or my writing- “You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.” – Dolly Parton

And now for some more random questions... 

What’s your radio tuned to most often?
Soft Pop Hits from the early 2000s or Indie/Folk

You’re stranded on an island. You can choose one of the following three things. Which do you choose and why?
1. Limitless supply of paper and pens.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.
3. An endless supply of loo roll.

Option 1. I’ll keep myself entertained, and I could substitute the paper for loo roll so 2 birds, 1 stone and all that.

You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose?
Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink.

Green. I like darker colors and green is flattering for me haha.

Cats or dogs?

City or country?

Real book or e-book?
I’m a hybrid reader. I enjoy both and if I really love a book I’ll buy a physical copy as well as an e-copy.

Fountain pen or biro?
Biro. I find that the really cheap packets have the best ones. They just glide so smoothly and don’t smudge. I’m prone to messes so they’re just practical for me really. 

Thanks very much for letting me bombard you with questions!

Check out Origin Story now!

And you can keep up to date with all of her news at any or all of the following places:

Website: www.rowenarede.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RowenaRedeAuthor
IG: https://www.instagram.com/rowenarede2019/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RedeRowena
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/rowena-rede
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19325197.Rowena_Rede
Tik Tok https://www.tiktok.com/@rowenarede2019

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Interview with Marie Flynn

This week I'm delighted to introduce Stephanie Flynn, who writes urban fantasy under the name Marie Flynn. Her latest book, Demon Curse is out right now, and I was able to grab an interview with her about it.

Tell me more about your book?

At the heart, it’s about a man from a spiteful home trying his best to impress his family, and in his desperation, he makes a mistake that destroys everything he loves. The rest of the series is him learning from his past mistakes and rectifying them the best he can with very limited resources.

What prompted you to write it?

I had images in my head of a woman bickering with a stray cat, and the cat complaining about being a cat. The story filled in from there, with the woman being the protag. But after editing the blurb over and over, I realized the cat was the most interesting character. So the cat, iKat, became the star.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Plastic free updates

For a while now, I've been trying to reduce the amount of plastic I buy. Sometimes this is easy; sometimes it feels impossible. I will not buy new clothes that have any non-biodegradable fibres in them, and I'm cutting out as much other plastic as I can.

Let me give you my latest updates...

Hair conditioner:

In my last update in May, I was about to try a solid hair conditioner and promised to report back to you all.

Well, I can tell you that it's not bad! It leaves a bit of a waxy feel when it's wet (though this goes when it dries) and adds thickness (something my hair really doesn't need, but I'm happy to put up with). There's plenty of shine and it smells fresh and clean. I would recommend it.

I'm using the Gruum nourishing shampoo and the shine enhancing conditioner (though I may try out others and see what the difference is). I've used other shampoo bars in the past and they've left my hair feeling like straw, so I'm delighted to have found this range which is actually working!


This is still largely a failure, though I saw in a supermarket that Colgate have brought out a wooden toothbrush, so change appears to be afoot! My two main issues are that the wooden toothbrush head is too big (research done/product tested on men rather than both sexes?) and this makes it hard to get to my back teeth. The toothpaste tablets... I seem to need to use two to feel as if they're actually cleaning my teeth, which does make the whole system a lot more pricey. I will persevere. If anyone has any recommendations, hit me up!

Still winning with...

Toilet paper! (and tissues and kitchen roll)

We get ours from Who Gives a Crap. If you use that link, you can get £5 off your first order. We use them not just because the paper is great, but because 50% of their profits go to charities that help build toilets and improve sanitation around the world.


We tend to buy from Friendly Soap, because their soaps are competitively priced and smell wonderful. They also partner with charities working on hygiene, and tree/hedge restoration projects.


This has had to work hard over the last few days! It's a deodorant not an antiperspirant, so there's still some sweat, but I don't stink! I use Cosy Cottage's solid deodorant in a tin. There are two fragrances and I have both of them. I think I prefer the geranium and lavender version, but the other (sandalwood and tea tree) is also very lovely. There's still free delivery on all orders and if you sign up for their newsletter you can get 10% off. In the hot weather, I keep mine in the fridge, otherwise it can be too soft, bordering on liquid!

What other plastic-free wins would people recommend?

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Slow progress...

I'm hypermobile. As in many of my joints bend the wrong way. When I was a kid, this was fun and I used to revel in being able to gross people out with it.

Fast forward a few decades and I have major issues as a result of unstable joints. In order to maintain even a modicum of stability, I have muscle issues around many joints (shoulders, hips, knees, ankles). In my hands, it hasn't been possible to maintain joint stability and so I now have very bad arthritis in my thumb joints.

How does this link to progress (or lack of it)? Well, although typing is unaffected by my thumbs screaming at me, holding a pen is. And we all know how much I need to write by hand when I'm planning/writing a book.

Currently, I can manage about 1 side of A4 before my right thumb is too sore for me to hold a pen/pencil. Luckily, I can write left-handed 😃 (and indeed wrote exclusively left-handed during my PhD due to my right wrist having a prolonged unstable/painful few years).

The problem is, although I can write left-handed, I can't write left-handed as fast as I can (on pain-free days) write right-handed. And I'm still needing to plan both Realm #5 and Shiny New Thing. Which means a lot of writing. What would normally be taking me about an hour to write, is currently taking me a morning.

"So, just type then, if typing is unaffected."

Hm. I wish my brain worked like that, but it never seems to work to type my planning notes (though I am trying to do that more, to save my thumb).

Ah well. I'll keep on plodding on.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Updates on all the books...

My brain has been having the opposite of Writer's Block recently. SO MANY BOOK IDEAS! And yet, only one brain and a busy life. I know that I've been talking about a variety of ideas over the past few months, so what stage is everything at?

Book #10

This is the time-travel romance that I was writing at the end of 2020 (and for some of 2021). It's currently on the back-burner, partly because there are some major plot issues that I need to resolve but mostly because a new book set in The Realm was screaming at me.

Realm book #5

This follows on immediately from "Invasion". I'm currently ~30% into the first draft. I know the plot; it's largely finding the time to write it that's the issue. It's hard to tell you any more about it without giving away spoilers for "Invasion".

Two more books set in The Realm

Again, hard to tell you much about these without ruining "Invasion" and Realm #5. At the moment I have good plot notes for #6; less so for #7. I might wrap up The Guardians of The Realm series with book #5. It's more likely I will finish on book #6. These are on hold, though I am adding notes to their outlines as and when they come to me.

Shiny New Thing

In my "Notes and Ideas book" I have this, dated 14th May this year:

No concrete ideas. Warrior, body inked with tattooed symbols/runes. Has magic. On a journey. Wears leather armour also bearing the same symbols, but it's actually the tattoos that protect him/give him his magic.

Most of the rest of the plot came to me while I was on holiday. See this blog post for a bit more on that. I now have pretty good plot notes for this (though not 100%) and some of it written (those scenes that I could see as clear as day). I've been trying to work on it in an afternoon, and Realm #5 in a morning, but it's ended up more one day on one book, another day on another.

Essentially, I know the main character (and some aspects of others). He is being taken across country as a prisoner. He is magical, though his powers have been curtailed. A war that had been over for a generation is now brewing again, and I know his role in it. The setting is solid; some of the characters are sorted and perhaps ~75% of the plot is in my head (and I'm trying to get it down on paper, too). I suspect this will end up a new series. 😊

Random Other Book #1

I have good ideas about this, though I haven't actually started a new notebook yet (it starts getting really serious when I do). It involves Scottish mythology, a missing relative, and magical beings. This was what I'd been stewing over two years ago!

Random Other Book #2

Again, I can see some bits of this quite clearly, though the full plot eludes me for the moment. It involves an ancient artefact that isn't what the archaeologists think it is. I know more than that about what happens, but I'm keeping it to myself for now!

Random Other Book #3

This may actually get folded into Random Other Book #1 as it's still a bit woolly. There are links to the elements, a trapped spirit, and a woman who is key to the trapped spirit. Beyond that... Yeah. Woolly.

Given that it takes me at least 6 months to write a first draft of a book, I can see I'm going to be busy for some time! My current focus is to get Realm #5 and Shiny New Thing to first draft stage. The rest will just have to wait.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

First 5* book of the year...

I haven't been posting many reviews over the last however long, because a lot of books I've read have been a bit 'meh' and I don't like leaving bad reviews; I'd rather share things I've loved.

The first book I've genuinely felt like awarding 5* to is Justin Lee Anderson's novel The Lost War. In fact, I loved the book so much, I approached Justin and asked if I could interview him and he agreed - see last week's post!

The Lost War
The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn.
With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees.
In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King's Envoy.
Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission.
As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom?

To be honest, I wouldn't normally have read this kind of book, but I'd entered the SPFBO6 competition last year (see the review I got here for Aegyir Rises as part of the competition), and Justin's book was the overall winner, so I wanted to see what it was like.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Author Interview with Justin Lee Anderson

I am absolutely delighted to be interviewing Justin Lee Anderson on the blog this week. Justin has just been awarded the SPFBO prize for 2020-2021, for his book The Lost War. If you've not yet checked it out, do so. It's fabulous! Having read it and loved it, I contacted Justin and asked if I could interview him, and to my delight, he said yes!

First of all, congratulations on winning SPFBO6! You must be delighted. The winning book, The Lost War, is the first in your Eidyn series. Tell me more about it?
Thank you! I like the description of Lost War as a ‘twisted fantasy road trip’. It’s essentially a mystery set in a traditional fantasy world, with murder, conspiracy and monsters. I suppose it’s a bit like what would happen if Stieg Larsson played D&D. Fantasy and mystery are my two favourite genres so I sort of mashed them together.

What prompted you to write it?
Three things: I wanted to write a book about RPG characters that friends and I had played for years; I wanted to write a story set in a world based on Edinburgh’s history and mythology; and I wanted to write a political allegory. It was when I realised they were all one book that it came together.