Friday, 4 March 2016

The Telling of The Story...

The Telling of The Story..

Tanners Dell

I'm currently about two-thirds of the way through writing, 'Tanners Dell' - the sequel to 'Father of Lies - and there are three time zones. As I was plotting out the sequence I noticed some reviewers for FOL saying they felt this slowed down the pace and they found it jumpy, so I began to question my technique and eventually came to the conclusion that I'm going to stick with it. Here's why - I like to write 'in the character's head' and therefore project their experience directly into the reader's mind with no middle man. So when it comes to Ruby, who has an identity disorder, my aim is for the reader to know what it feels like for her, and to have a fragmented memory in the exact same way. In addition to that there is a history spanning 50 years to the creepy village of Woodsend, and again this needs to be told in a living way, so it's not flashback or someone else telling the story - it is all designed so the reader lives it large! I could, of course, tell Ruby's history first, but that would actually spoil the main plot. So I have thought about it long and hard and decided that in the long run, the time zone hopping is necessary to bring the story out naturally and at its most direct.

Tanners Dell, as said, has three time zones (two are minor), but there are fewer characters talking to you this time. It will slot together and by the end of the book all - or nearly all  (there are some things which just can't be!) - will be explained. I hope to have it out to beta-readers by early April. In summary - well there are all sorts of writing techniques and I have looked at different ways of telling what is a complex story, but in the end I think this way it works best for most people, and I have made sure to keep the points of view in separate chapters along with a clear indication of what time zone we are in. It is challenging and it will take you off the boil here and there...but, and I am an avid reader myself, I still think you get the full picture in a more natural way. Well I hope you are going to like has certainly scared me half to death creating it!

On a lighter note - Father of Lies is now available to order in any bookshop. And I've got a couple of new posters courtesy of Gary Walker at Look4Books: 



Sunday, 21 February 2016

Vote For Your Favourite Crime Writer!

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE CRIME WRITERS! Our own Catriona King is author of the amazing Craig Crime Series,and just one of the authors readers can vote for in the CWA DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY.

To nominate a writer/ writers just follow click here

Plus, there are book tokens to be won.

Deadline 1st March 2016

Father of Lies by S. E. England

Good to Go!

Father of Lies is now good to go in paperback on Amazon - this is the same cover and interior as is going into bookstores on 1st March. Amazon are still selling 2nd hand ones and older/original versions - these don't have the upgraded format/editing or cover art.
This is the new jacket. I hope you like it. The design work is done by Gina Dickerson of Authors Reach. Gina has a new design company called RoseWolf and it's amazing... all our details and contacts are on our Authors Reach website - we have a lot of books coming out between us over the next few months and some of them will be in Waterstones and major bookstores too...

The sequel to Father of Lies - Tanners Dell - is coming soon and I will post when I have more news and a cover. Sleep tight...


Previously blogged on Sarah's blog here.

3am and Wide Awake - Free!

3am and Wide Awake 

For the next 5 days '3am and Wide Awake' will be free to download on Amazon Kindle. This is a collection of 25 (mostly previously published) tales from the dark side... Have a treat on me!

Amazon UK

From the demonically inspired title story (now the basis of the prologue to supernatural horror, Father of Lies) to the raw sadness of 'Rough Love', or the horror of an online revenge attack that goes tragically wrong...I hope there will be a story or two in here that will grab you and keep you reading...

Previously blogged on Sarah's blog here.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Richard Hardie Interviews Sue Cook


(Previously blogged on Richard's blog here.)

My guest tonight is one of television and radio’s best loved broadcasters

She is also a novelist and film producer, but if that isn’t enough she has played herself in two celebrated television dramas and “appeared” on Alan Partridge, portrayed as a whiskey swilling, cigarette smoking harridan. I assure you she is none of those things.
As well as being an Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, she is a patron of the Rainbow Trust, the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation and the British Wireless Fund for the Blind.
My guest loves every project she’s involved in and enters into everything with total and obvious enthusiasm, though she says that nothing beats the buzz of being on television.

Tonight I’m proud to say that Sue Cook is with us.

Sue, firstly many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. We’ve exchanged the occasional comment on Facebook and I know you’ve read some of my previous interviews, but tonight I want to talk about the Sue Cook few of us may know. Nervous?

Of course I am! Seriously, I’d much rather be asking the questions than answering them!

Sue, can you tell me how you got into writing and what your first work was about (published, or not!)?

I’ve wanted to write novels since primary school days, mainly because writing stories came fairly easily to me and it was one of the few subjects I received praise for. So it was always accepted, by me at any rate, that I would be a writer when I grew up. Later, in my teens, I changed this to wanting to be a newspaper columnist. One of those opinionated ones like Katherine Whitehorn – whom I still admire enormously.

Your career covers virtually all aspects of the media from radio to television and from books to film. Is there any one that you find more fulfilling than the others?

They all have different pros and cons but if I really had to choose, it would be radio. Live radio, not recorded. I love live broadcasting. And I love interviewing people about their lives... finding out about their joys and woes and how they handle them. I love putting them at their ease, getting them to trust me so that we can have a natural conversation as if there weren’t several million people listening. I must admit I miss the buzz and adrenaline of that now. 

Cinema seems to be a major part of your working life now. Tracker with Ray Winstone was your first project. How did that come about?

The author of Tracker died tragically young due to cancer, leaving behind a wife and three young daughters. His best friend, David Burns, made it his mission to get the film onto our screens. He approached my husband, Ian Sharp, and asked him to direct it. Ian and I had already collaborated in writing the first draft of a screenplay adaptation of my first novel, so we both knew that the screenwriting was something that suited me and I that I enjoyed, so I did the necessary first edit before submitting the script to the UK Film Council. They liked it but we all felt the story and character of the Maori figure, Kereama, needed to be fleshed out a lot more.  Ian and I went to New Zealand where the story was set, and we spent several weeks researching the Maori history and culture and worked out a back story for Kereama him, which we then wrote into the main script.

Your husband Ian directed Tracker. How easy was that and do you intend collaborating on further projects? 

It was huge fun collaborating. Especially in a landscape as gorgeous as New Zealand.
One of the nicest aspects of broadcasting is the fact that everyone works as a team, and it’s the same in the movie business. Ian and I work really well together. He’s terrific at visualising the overall picture, and tells me the way he sees each particular scene playing out, and then I’ll go away and write it. I bring it back to show him and we modify it a bit more. We do this scene by scene, moving on to the next one when we think we’ve got it right. We are working together now on two projects – one for TV and another for the big screen.

You’re currently adapting one of your books On Dangerous Ground for the cinema. How involved will you be and will you adapt your other bookForce of Nature?

On Dangerous GroundI have written a first draft of On Dangerous Ground, and it was optioned for a while by a Hollywood production company who had the wonderful Helen Hunt lined up to star as Pru. Unsurprisingly, Hollywood likes to use its own writers to adapt novels for the screen. I was quite happy with that though. It was exciting enough for someone just to want to make a movie out of my book. But in the end they couldn’t settle on a writer everyone could agree on so I’ve got the rights back now. It’s now back down to me to polish up my original script and start looking for funding and producers over here. Any takers???
I might adapt Force of Nature when I get the chance. I think it could work well as a TV mini series. 

I’ve just listened to your interview with the wonderful author Katie Fforde and I know from what you both said that you’re very keen to help aspiring writers. Is that what inspired The Write Lines radio series, Sue?

Katie is such an inspiration. She is not only a terrific and prolific writer, but she finds time to be warm and supportive to other aspiring writers. It was because I realised how many would-be writers are hungry for practical support and advice that I got BBC Oxford interested in running a series of programmes on Sunday nights. The publishing business is changing so rapidly now with the Internet. Publishing your own books no longer carries the stigma it used to. Many reputable authors are now going it alone. But we writers still need to listen to the experiences of other people in the business on what to write, how to write it, what sells and what doesn’t, how to get your characters right... even how to get the perfect cover design -  not to mention how to get attention for your work once you’ve published it. With more and more books being published every year, getting those sales figures isn’t easy. My mission is to get all the best movers and shakers in the publishing industry coming on The Write Lines to share their knowledge and experience. So far I’ve been amazed how generous these busy people are with their time and their expertise.

What advice you could give a new writer?

Hmm.... that changes every week. I think the best advice is to tell a good story. Don’t get too hung up on the editing and sentence construction. Leave that for the second draft. Once you’re happy with the story  – its beginning, middle and end – and written it out, then you can start the polishing process. Oh – and I always write a biography of each of my characters –  where they went to school, what their parents were like, what always got them into trouble, what heartbreaks they’ve had in their lives, what their ambitions are, where they buy their clothes... some of these things might never come out in the book you write, but they will inform the way your characters behave and speak. Works wonders for writing the dialogue.

Your autobiography would be absolutely fascinating. When will you be writing it, Sue?

It’s hard to think of one’s own life as fascinating! I think I will have a go at writing it one day though, before Alzheimers sets in!! But I’m not sure whether I’ll ever want it published. The trouble with writing one’s own story is that it involves so many other people. Sometimes there are certain aspects of their lives they’d rather not have publicised. A dilemma there. I’ll have to write it and see how it comes out.

Do you have a set routine as a writer and a special place where you work?

I try to be at my desk most mornings, other commitments permitting, by 9.30 having had an energising swim in our indoor pool and then tea and toast for breakfast – or Ian makes us porridge in the winter. I’ve got a writing den in my garden so that I can tell myself I’m off to work. If I stayed in the house with the phone and the radio and my husband to chat to, not to mention endless excuses to procrastinate, I’d never get anything written. I set myself a target of a thousand words a day. I don’t always manage that, but it’s something to aim for.

What project are you’re working on right now?

I’m busy right this moment on planning exciting events for the Chipping Norton Literary Festival which starts on April 19th. I was asked to be a patron this year and it’s been so exciting selecting authors to come and speak. I’m particularly looking forward to interviewing Tracy Chevalier on stage at the town’s theatre. I mentioned that I’m collaborating with Ian on a TV project, which is in its early stages at the moment. But principally I’m working on my third novel. It’s quite a complex subject and I’m meeting lots of individuals who have experienced the particular situation I’m writing about and recording my conversations. It’s giving me fantastic insights and also helping me develop some unexpected twists and turns in my plot. Nuff said for now.

What is the most important piece of advice you could give a budding writer? 

As I said above really. And get yourself on Twitter and get to know other writers. They are all so supportive. Writing can be a lonely business. It’s nice to have some writing buddies.

One last question, Sue. If you could achieve one important goal within the next 5 years, what would it be?

Finish this third novel! And if I really dare hope... to have finished the fourth one too!

Sue, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. My thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with us on my blog.

It’s a pleasure! Thank you Richard for talking to me.

Sue has an excellent web site at:
and her wonderful radio spot to help would-be writers is at 

Sue’s book On Dangerous Ground is available on Amazon at

Richard Hardie Interviews Bernard Cornwell


Previously blogged on Richard Hardie's blog here.

My interview tonight is with one of the world’s bestselling authors and a personal hero of mine. His Sharpe series, based on the Napoleonic Wars, became a tremendous success when transferred to television and his ability to combine wonderful fictional narrative with well-researched historical events makes each of his books a delight to read. His main characters whether Sharpe, Uhtred, Arthur Pendragon or Starbuck are all legends, or well on the way to becoming so, and after well over thirty books he continues to enthral his readers.

It’s a great pleasure tonight for me to talk to Bernard Cornwell.

Bernard, your books cover a wide range of time periods from prehistory with Stonehenge to the Sharpe series set in the 19th century. Is there a new century you would still like to explore?

There is, and I’m hoping to explore it this winter – a new series set in the late 16th and early 17th Centuries.

The late Tudor and Jacobean period? I'm presuming we're talking about England. Going back to your start as an author, the story has it that you got your first novel published by thrusting it in the hands of a publisher while watching a parade. A great way of evading the famous Slush Pile if it’s true! Is that what happened?

That’s not quite what happened. I was at a party watching New York’s Thanksgiving Day parade when a laconic English voice said ‘they do this sort of thing frightfully well’. He was a literary agent and I persuaded him (with difficulty) to read the novel I’d just finished, and for which I was having difficulty finding a publisher. Within a week I had a seven-book contract. He’s still my agent thirty something years later!

The Sharpe books were your first published novels. What made you choose the Napoleonic Wars as your debut on the writing stage?

You write what you want to read!  I was (still am)  a huge fan of the Hornblower series and it struck me as odd that so many writers were dealing with the naval side of the Napoleonic wars and none was writing about the land campaigns. It seemed to me to be a gap on the shelf!

I know you must have been asked a thousand times about Sharpe, but two quick questions. Asides from the time when Sharpe is in Portugal most of the series has been filmed for TV, but are there any plans to film Sharpe’s Devil?

I hope not, it’s not a book I’m fond of! 

The other question on Sharpe, of course, is will he feature in any future books?

Probably. I don’t know when, but I’ve kept back one splendid battle for a novel and one day I’ll get round to writing it!

It’s a great shame, but there can never be any further Arthurian Warlord books, for obvious reasons. The series has a special place for me and I find something new in its magic every time I reread it, but do you have a favourite Cornwell book, or series?

The Arthur trilogy is my favourite!  They were fantastically exciting to write, which is why I like them so much. But I have a lot of other favourites – I like Gallow’s Thief and The Fort, and for some reason Sharpe’s Siege.  But my favourite Sharpe book?  Trafalgar.

All of your books are historically very accurate from the point of view of geography and main events. How much time do you spend researching each novel, certainly at the beginning of each series?

It’s really an impossible question to answer, sorry! Research is a lifetime activity. I became fascinated by the Napoleonic period when I was a teenager and began to read widely back then, similarly I became incredibly interested in the Anglo-Saxons when I was at university, so between that period and actually writing Uhtred is a gap of what? Thirty, forty years?  And I was reading about the Saxons all that time, and all that reading is fed into the research. 

At the moment you bring out at least one book a year, you also act of course and you travel a lot. Do you have a strict annual routine you try to keep to?
I write between October and April!  And generally I refuse any invitation to travel in that period. From June to August I’m caught up in the Monomoy Theatre in Chatham on Cape Cod where, for my sins, I’m a member of the company. That leaves May, September and October! Not a bad life!

Very few internationally successful authors are as open as you on social networks, especially Facebook. Few also take the time to reply on their websites to fans’ queries and comments. Is keeping in touch with your fan base important to you?

I should imagine it’s important to any author!  You get a lot of ideas from readers!

You now live on Cape Cod, one of the most beautiful parts of the world and I love going whale-watching in Provincetown. Did you and Judy move there to write, or move there because you could because of your writing?

Because we could, because it’s a beautiful part of the world, because the sailing is good here! We actually split our time between Cape Cod (summer) and Charleston, South Carolina (winter). We own a house in the historic district of Charleston which is, of course, sensationally beautiful, and it’s in Charleston that I do most of the writing.

As part Canadian, born and brought up in the UK and living in America, do you now consider the United States as your “home” country?

I’ve lived in the US for half my life!  Yes, I consider it home, because it is, but I still think of myself as English and, of course, retain a huge loyalty and affection for Britain. But I married into the US, and there’s not much you can do when you fall in love except go with the flow, and as we seem to be very happily married and because Judy has family here, it’s just more convenient to live here. And I like it! Who wouldn’t like living in Cape Cod and Charleston?

You’ve done more than most writers could ever aspire to, but do you have one ambition you would still like to achieve?

To write a better book?  For a long time my ambition was to sail the Atlantic in a small boat, but I did that with two friends a few years ago. I’d like to play Prospero some time, and who knows? It might happen . . . .

Richard Hardie Interviews Carol Drinkwater

Previously blogged on Richard Hardie's blog here.

My guest today is an actress and writer and now an olive farmer in one of the most beautiful parts of France where she and her husband almost single-handed rebuilt and ran a farm, making it a success and the source of much heartache and joy. She has also written nearly twenty books, several on the trials and tribulations of olive growing. She also acts in her spare time!

I first saw her on TV when she played Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small and I can tell you that she hasn’t changed one bit. It must be all that olive oil!

As you must have guessed by now, my guest is the wonderful Carol Drinkwater.


Carol, An olive farm? From a vet’s wife to the life of a farmer…. Was that knowledgably courageous, or blind wishful thinking? How did it start?

It began in Australia where I was in Sydney filming a mini-series for children. There I met the French executive producer of the show who asked me to marry him on our first date! I did not accept, of course but we began to spend time together in Europe, and when he was visiting Cannes for the TV festival I accompanied him. I had been looking for a house by the sea for over a decade and while he was working, I went searching. That was how we found the ruin that has been transformed into the Olive Farm.

Most people remember you as being James Herriot’s wife in the wonderful TV series, but I know you are also a prolific writer. When did you start putting pen to paper and what inspired you to write?

I have written since I was a girl but it was Michel, the man who became my husband and fellow olive farmer, who encouraged me to give it a professional go.

Do you prefer writing about fact, or fiction?

Fact and fiction; whether for adolescents and adult is irrelevant. It is whether I am passionate about the subject that counts.

Are you disciplined as a writer and do you have a set routine and preferred place to write?

When I’m involved in it, I am very disciplined but getting myself to begin a book, or project takes some rod iron back-beating sometimes.
I work from my den at the Olive Farm or if I am travelling then, wherever I am...

Did b
eing an actress, used to working with fictional characters help or hamper your writing?

All experience in telling stories, playing roles always helps.

Do you write for a specific audience, or on subjects that inspire you?

As I said, I write on subjects that inspire me. I find the subject then draws in its own audience.

The Olive series is wonderful to read and has all the best of Gerald Durrell and Peter Mayle’s Year in Provence. Will there be more in the series?

I hope there will be another. I am waiting for my publishers to agree!

Do you still get a thrill out of acting?

Of course!

What are your current projects, both in acting and in writing?

I have so much on the go at present. We are currently completing five luscious, super high definition documentaries based on two of my Olive books: The Olive Route and The Olive Tree. These two recount my travels round the Mediterranean in quest of stories and adventures related to the olive tree and its history and cultivation. I will go to America and Ireland to promote these.
I am writing another adolescent book in the My Story series for Scholastic and I have an adult novel in early stages.
The Olive RouteThe Olive Tree

What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Work hard!

Did you ever meet James Herriot and do you keep in touch with the All Creatures Great and Small team?

Yes, I met him – Alf Wight – on many occasions. We four see each other from time to time but we are all very involved in our present lives.

Do you have a favourite anecdote about your time as a vet’s wife?

Many, though they’d be a bit long to tell here. Many incidents made us giggle . Peter played tricks on Robert Hardy sometimes, as though they were brothers. He jumped out of a wardrobe as Superman and RH nearly jumped out of his skin. Chris as James smashed up a car when he was saying goodbye to Helen/Carl, by driving it into a barn.

If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play your part?

No idea. I used to joke and say Whitney Houston but…, It seems an unlikely possibility to me unless the Olive Farm was made into a feature film and then I would have rather liked it to have been Kate Winslett, but she is probably a bit too famous now!

One last question. What is one thing would you like to achieve during the next 5 years?

ONE thing?! There is a long list… I would LOVE to find a wonderful acting role that would challenge me for TV or film. I miss acting as much as I am always excited by my own writing projects

Carol, it’s been a pleasure talking to you and thank you so much for your time, as well as for agreeing to meet my blog community.
You can read all about Carol’s books on her excellent website at