I’m sure by now you’re aware that The Granville Legacy is coming soon. Katrina Marie has just finished reading Book 1 in the trilogy, House of Grace, and has written a review over on her website. If you haven’t read House of Grace yet, check out what Katrina has to say. If after reading Katrina’s review you fancy reading House of Grace, pop over to Amazon and download FREE with kindle Unlimited – or £1.99 on Kindle – paperback also available. Signed paperbacks available via my online shop.
It’s a very exciting day for Suzi, and a proud day for me as her friend, as she launches her debut novel The Travelling Philanthropist. The Travelling Philanthropist not only has a beautiful cover but a wonderful, exciting story inside. Without further ado it’s over to Suzi.
My Writing Journey
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books, quickly progressing from Enid Blyton, through Agatha Christie and on to Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca was the book that made me want to write and I began each teenage summer holiday with a new notebook and pen. Then life got in the way – exams, work, boyfriend, marriage, children…
Reading was still my passion but my writing had to wait patiently on the shelf.
While my children were young, I studied with the Open University and, after completing my Bachelor of Arts, went on to do a PGCE at Canterbury Christchurch. Whilst there, I was asked to research a topic that drew together my two teaching subjects, Religious Education and Mathematics (a weird combo I know). I chose to focus on calendars and became fascinated with the shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar resulting in eleven missing days in 1752.
I spent the next twenty-three years teaching, my writing taking a back seat as a holiday pastime. However, my interest in the Gregorian calendar stayed with me and led me to research the Georgian period. One summer I stumbled across the real-life story of Jonas Hanway, alleged trailblazer of the umbrella, and the seeds were sown. This curious philanthropist triggered the inspiration for my fictional character, Janus Gregory, and his work at the Foundling Hospital became the backdrop for my novel, The Travelling Philanthropist.
Finally, after taking early retirement from teaching, I had time for my writing. I studied for my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton (which is where I met my good friend, Tricia).
Daphne du Maurier has always been part of my writing life. Her Cornish novels inspired the location for my YA story, The Changeling, The House on the Strand piqued a life-long interest in time travel, as exemplified in my time slip novel, and Don’t Look Now and The Scapegoat fed my fascination with the uncanny, triggering two of my current works in progress, Three Faced Doll and Prescient Spirit. As you can tell, I have a number of novels in the pipeline, but my loyalty lay with my first born, hence the launch of The Travelling Philanthropist as my debut novel. I hope you enjoy it.
The Travelling Philanthropist – a time-slip novel.
Searching for a lost child… but can she find herself in time?
Would-be journalist Anna Stratton is estranged from her adoptive parents and living with her boyfriend. But something is missing.
Anna’s world fractures when she’s catapulted back in time. Here, in the eighteenth century, she meets philanthropist Janus Gregory and together they embark on a quest for a lost foundling. But Anna soon discovers life in Georgian London is fraught with danger and not everyone has her best interests at heart.
Meanwhile, in the contemporary world, Anna’s parallel existence unravels.
Will Anna locate the child?
Can she find herself in time?
Sliding Doors meets The House on the Strand.
Suzi has provided a teaser for The Travelling Philanthropist below but first, let’s find out a little more about her.
About Suzi Bamblett
Suzi Bamblett lives with her partner, Colin, in Crowborough, East Sussex. A self-confessed chameleon, she is sister, mother, granny, teacher, creative and last but not least, an author. Suzi writes psychological thrillers and suspense stories for adults and young adults. She’s a huge fan of Daphne du Maurier and her Imagined Dialogue with Daphne can be found on the Daphne du Maurier website. Suzi’s writing has been published in literary magazines and anthologies. The Travelling Philanthropist is her debut novel. Her second novel, Pearl Seekers will be released later in 2021.
The young woman stumbles along cobbled streets clutching a precious bundle to her breast. Emerging from the fog, she faces the black iron gates of the convent. Gently she lowers the child into the casket but can’t let go. With a sob, she snatches him back up. Not yet. Bowing her head, she inhales his new-born scent.
Behind her, in the shadows, the man waits.
The woman looks over her shoulder. Is someone watching? Her eyes are drawn back to her child. Still she hesitates. Although the casket is lined with cloth, the wind is biting.
‘’Tis a cold night,’ the man says.
With a cry, she spins round.
‘It is after midnight.’ He sighs. ‘The nuns all a’ bed until morning prayers.’
She stares at him. From tricorn hat to polished shoe buckles, every inch the gentleman.
‘Even if the child should survive the night, he may not be given a place at the Foundling Hospital.’ The man steps closer. ‘The weekly lottery is tomorrow. If a black ball is drawn, they have no choice but to dispose of him. They are reluctant to take a child when they have no details of the mother, especially if he is sickly and weakened by a night out in the cold.’
The woman stands uncertain, her arms wrapped tightly around her child.
‘I can help you,’ the man continues. ‘I know someone who will take good care of him. It is a boy, is it not?’
‘Yes.’ She finds her voice at last. ‘Yes, my son.’
‘He will be well looked after. Trust me.’
What choice does she have? She cannot return to her place of work with the child; they’ll both end up on the streets. A sob escapes her as she thrusts the baby into the arms of the man. ‘Here, take him. God bless you, sir.’ She turns, her footsteps echoing as she disappears into the smog.
With the child under his black cloak, the man strides back to the waiting carriage.
Want to know more? You can purchase The Travelling Philanthropist here.
It gives me great delight to introduce Brian McManus, a fellow Hedgehog Press hoglet, to ‘Patricia’s Pen.’ Brian is here to discuss his writing methodology so without further ado, it’s over to Brian.
My Writing Methodology
Neither I nor my family have any great background in writing although I recently discovered that my great grandfather was a poet who sent his poems home from the American west to where he had emigrated in the late 1800’s.
I dabbled with crime fiction for a short while but my interest in writing poetry stemmed from my involvement in a major negative life event, the Lockerbie Air Disaster with the loss of 270 lives in 1988. My reflections on that led to the publication of my book of poetry, prose and photographs – Blue Daze, Black Knights – the Story of Lockerbie thereafter, now sadly out of print.
There followed a long hiatus in writing again as the writing and publishing of my book was a sometimes painful and cathartic experience. I have always considered that in the dance of life emotion is the music and correspondingly much of my poetry is fuelled by emotion.
I picked up my pen again as the Covid storm broke across the world in early 2020 and settled that I wanted to address what I considered to be the egregious sense of ineptitude from Boris Johnston and his government and give a voice to the many hundreds, indeed thousands of people who had summarily been disenfranchised and suffered grievously, sometimes with their lives. My thoughts and reflections led to the publication of my poetry pamphlet Liar Liar by The Hedgehog Poetry Press in November 2020.
My writing process is a little convoluted but generally speaking the germ of an idea about which I want to write will occur to me, or indeed at times simply present itself to me, and then during the following days and weeks I will worry away at it until it takes the basic shape I am at least content with.
There follow many more weeks when I will edit and re-edit until I consider it’s fit for purpose but often something else will present itself to me and I edit or even rewrite once again. There comes a time when the poem almost speaks to me and says “right, enough, leave me alone now”.
I am constantly reminded of the words of the great poetic strategist Ezra Pound who always advised T.S. Eliot to ‘kill your darlings’, that being if you get to the stage where you consider yourself finished and very satisfied with your work it’s time to consider almost ripping it up and starting again.
I have a further volume of poetry slated for publication by The Hedgehog Poetry Press on 14th April 2021 – “Solastalgia” – where I hope to bring down the poetic veil on probably the most challenging time many of us have lived through.
There will be no hiatus for me this time. My research interests focus primarily on the decline of western civilisation and the prospect of an uninhabitable world due to rising temperatures and rising sea levels, and I already see several issues that I feel a compulsion to address through the medium of poetry.
About Brian McManus
Brian McManus is happily married and lives north of Glasgow with his wonderful wife. They have just celebrated a landmark wedding anniversary.
They have two grown up children of whom they are immensely proud and three lovely grandchildren.
Brian has stepped away from the world of work now but spent most of his days in public service and latterly in a senior leadership role with a major media company.
Most of his days are now spent reading and writing poetry, researching the subject matter to provide him with the material around which he writes.
With only a few hours left of 2020 I thought I’d do a blog to let you know what you have to look forward from me in 2021.
The first has to be that The Granville Legacy, Book 3, in the House of Grace trilogy will be released in March 2021. Watch out for a preorder button on Amazon in the next few days. The story is now out with Beta Readers and only earlier this evening I got great feedback so I hope you’re all going to love it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you haven’t started the trilogy yet you can download a copy here from Amazon for £1.99 and US equivalent, and if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read it for FREE.
In April 2021 a collaborative poetry pamphlet with writer Maureen Cullen, ‘Sherry and Sparkly’ will be published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Watch out for this as all proceeds will go to Cancer Research.
Well I’m sure one thing we’re all in agreement with and that it has been an awful year, one we’ll all be glad to put behind us and with the vaccination we can hopefully forward in 2021. However, on the other hand it has been a wonderful publishing year for me with The Coal Miner’s Son Book 2 in my House of Grace trilogy, published in March 2020. Of course, had I known we were about to be hit by a pandemic, I may have rethought this. I had it all planned to do lots of face to face events. I managed a pre publishing event for a book club at my local book college and that was it.
I was then lucky enough to be one of the winners with The Hedgehog Poetry Press which resulted in publication of my nature poetry collection Taxus Baccata in July 2020.
This followed in December 2020 with The Montefiore Bride where all proceeds have gone to a local homeless shelter Crawley Open House.
A couple of days ago I sent over the first payment of £375, so thank you to each and every one of you who purchased a signed copy or pdf via my website as you contributed to that amount and in turn have helped the homeless. I still have signed copies and pdf versions for anyone who would like one. You can receive a pdf version by email within 24 hours of your order. Go here.
The Granville Legacy is in its last proofing stages and almost ready to go to press for a March 2021 publication. Remember it’s beautiful cover?
Other publications have been light as I haven’t had time to make many submissions, however I have hadpoems included in the following:
My guest today is Darren J Beaney who is another poet published by the awesome The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Congratulations, Darren, on the release of your brand new collection Honey Dew.
Darren has come along today to chat about his writing, including Honey Dew. Without further ado, it’s over to Darren J Beaney.
My Writing Story
Darren J Beaney
I started writing (and reading) poetry in the mid 1990’s. I was having some mental health and substance abuse issues and writing down my thoughts and feelings helped me to slowly sort myself out. Starting the MA in Creative Writing in 2018 really helped me to focus on how to improve my writing – as I shared my words with others for the first time. Having a number of critical friends really helps. As part of the MA, I took a module entitled Poetry, Theory and Practice and the assignment forms the bulk of my debut collection – Honey Dew – published by the Hedgehog Poetry Press (14th December 2020). Copies in print and pdf format can be purchased from my website.
Honey Dew is a collection of 21 love poems with a mix of themes – the story of my early relationship with Jo, my lovely wife, and the ways in which I try to express my feelings toward her. Trying to describe my writing is one of the hardest things I have tried to do, a lot of what I write doesn’t get shared! There are poems I have written that I really like, but when I read them out I just think “what the *&@% was that all about – I obviously took to much acid years ago…” I asked my MA buddy, critical friend and fellow Dragonfly, Barbara to help me describe my writing and this is what she said:
“Poetry that has a unique, sideways perspective and is rich in surreal imagery. It often tries to do something different with language and can sometimes rewrite what is expected of poetry. It can be entertaining.“
I read poetry most days and try to write as often as I can. I am currently trying to find a home for the anthology written for my MA dissertation. It was originally titled What’s Love Got To Do With It, but now after even more editing and the inclusion of more poems it has a new working title – The Machinery Of Human Life.With a bit of luck, a publisher will take a chance on it and maybe Patricia can ask me back to talk about it!
Thank you for sharing your writing story with my readers, Darren, and yes, definitely come back to Patricia’s Pen once The Machinery of Human Life is ready to enter the world.
See below for a taster of Honey Dew with Surfin’ girl, one of the poems included in the collection.
The blue haired girl once surfed through the park, secure in her fashion. Floodlit eyes shining on improbable catwalks, parading her tone. Inflating the hearts of those she invited to climb on her board.
Rinsing aqua to blond, nothing dumb in that, her glow radiated like polished platinum, leaving an iridescent trail so precious that he followed adventurous, trekking. His quest to collect all her smiles.
Then au natural, stunning brunette radiant like her eyes that sparkled brighter with each tide. Rousing, she added to the understanding of many, multiplying knowledge, explained the value of π, leaving memories that cannot be taken away.
Now with a few hairs of grey she leads as a mother. Inspiring! Her love is uncomplicated with no rules and she cares. Her love is like oceans, her affection forever gently lapping against our shores.
In years still to come she may be white like teachers’ chalk. She may change colour again to mask the signs of passing years. But she will never disguise what is inside, she will always ride the waves like the blue haired girl.
Wow. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is going to be a fantastic collection with those wonderful images and sound echoes.
Purchase a signed copy of Honey Dew from Darren’s website here.
Today is the official release date for The Montefiore Bride. The Montefiore Bride is a prize winning short story published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press and the Victorian tale told in prose/poetry is fiction based on facts. It makes a perfect stocking filler or keepsake – best of all is if you purchase a signed copy or a pdf via my website – the proceeds will go to help the homeless at Crawley Open House.
Find out more about The Montefiore Bride – and get a preview read by going here.
Order your copy now safely and securely by PayPal
The Montefiore Bride – Signed copy – UK
A Sussex fictional Tale based on facts
£5.99 plus £1 p&p
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A Sussex fictional tale based on facts £5.99 plus £2 p&p
The Montefiore Bride – Signed copy – Rest of World
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Today I am pleased to invite Karen Mooney, a fellow poet published by the awesome The Hedgehog Poetry Press, over to chat about her conversational pamphlet, Penned In, which is a collaborative project with another Hedgehog Poetry Press poet – the lovely Gaynor also lovingly known as Lady Kane. Without further ado, I’ll pass you over to Karen.
Inspiration for Penned In
Thank you, Patricia, for the opportunity to provide an insight into Penned In which is a joint pamphlet of pandemic poetry with my friend, Gaynor Kane.
I think we’ve all struggled with our emotions during this unique period and have reassessed our priorities. Life has a way of focussing the mind, although it usually comes to us from individual challenges. ‘We’re all in this together’ is widely used, it is the title of one of the poems, but experiences vary significantly depending on personal circumstance.
Like many, I experienced initial fear which was exacerbated when, as Chair of a Patient Group, I sat in on a Zoom meeting with some GPs at the initial stages of this pandemic. It was a rude awakening. I gained a sense of how threatening the virus could be and of the courage shown by the medical profession in how they were adapting to the threat to support and protect their patients. We owe them so much.
Needless to say, sleepless nights ensued together with admiration for those looking out for us and anger at the inequality that many have suffered. I was fortunate to be able to stay at home whilst Gaynor headed to her work each day, but we, along with some other writers, kept in touch, sharing concerns and experiences. Some of those thoughts gradually trickled onto the page and Penned In, which is how we all felt, took shape. It reflects on the everyday issues faced by many: the struggle to write, social media, inequality, learning in lockdown, sleeplessness, the re-emergence of nature, feelings of being controlled, caring for elderly parents, the birth of a baby, nursing and embrace.
It was Gaynor’s idea to submit our efforts to The Hedgehog Poetry Press, and we were both delighted when Editor, Mark Davidson, accepted it. Gaynor’s an old hand at this publishing business with a Stickleback, Memory Forest pamphlet and her full collection, Venus In Pink Marbleunder her belt but this is the first time that my name appears on the cover of a book. In fact, that was the only thing we argued about as I wanted her name to appear first; she’s not referred to as Lady Kane for nothing!
I’m sure you’ll all agree that was a wonderful insight from Karen into Penned In. And what’s more all profits from signed copies ordered here will be donated to Action Cancer, Northern Ireland’s leading local cancer charity. Both of Karen’s and Gaynor’s lives have been touched by cancer, and they are mindful many cancer patients, and their families will have faced additional pressures during this pandemic.
This week’s guest feature goes to, Anne McMaster, a fellow cult member of the awesome The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Anne’s debut full poetry collection will be published by Hedgehog in February 2021. Today Anne has come to chat about her writing so without further ado, it’s over to Anne.
When I realised that the casual notes I ‘d been scribbling for a couple of years were focused on memories of life on my family’s farm, the history of the land and the people who’d worked it, I instinctively knew the shape my first full collection would take. In my late teens, I’d worked on the land as a full-time farmer after my father had his hip shattered; I reared animals, drove tractors, cropped the land and maintained machinery – working to keep our family business going. When studying English Literature at university, I fell headlong for theatre. I lectured in Performing Arts for 22 years while working happily as a professional playwright – writing for the stage and designing interactive theatre projects for schools and businesses while directing and touring productions. By the time I left lecturing in 2016 to write full-time, I had 80 stage productions and over 30 original plays under my belt – and my love affair with poetry was about to begin.
Since then, I’ve had work published in journals and anthologies all over the world. I was very grateful to receive a SIAP (Support for the Individual Artist) Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2018/19 to undertake much of the necessary research for this collection and I recently benefitted from receiving an Individual Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) Award from ACNI in autumn 2020. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for this acknowledgement of my work and for the financial support to continue it – particularly at this challenging time.
Walking Off the Land – my first full collection – will be published by the wonderful The Hedgehog Poetry Press in February 2021. This is the phrase given to a powerfully moving rural tradition which takes place when a farmer (or one of his family) dies. On the day of the funeral, the coffin is taken from the main house and carried by friends and family (in a series of ‘lifts’) to the very edge of the land owned by that family. It’s then placed into the hearse and driven to church for the funeral service. Walking someone ‘off the land’ is a respectful and loving way for friends, neighbours and family to pay respect to the deceased and to the land they dedicated their lives to.
As to the future? I seem to be speeding up. Covid lockdown in a rural area has been a bonus; I’m incredibly lucky to have space and peace in which to write. I’m currently teaching classes online, reading at events in the UK, USA and Canada and I’m about to launch a mentoring programme. I’m collaborating with an astonishingly talented composer as we bring my words and his music together and I’ll soon begin work on two more collections: The Letting Go explores the complex process of bereavement and loss while Gods and the Land takes a rural approach to Greek mythology. I’m profoundly grateful to be so busy.
A very informative blog from Anne McMaster. How exciting about her upcoming projects. Anne will be back to Patricia’s Pen, in February 2021, around the time of her publication Walking off the Land so watch this space in the meantime let’s find out a little more about her.
About Anne McMaster
Anne McMaster lives on an old farm in rural mid-Ulster. After a lengthy career as a lecturer, playwright and theatre director, she now works as a professional voice actor, editor, poet and mentor. Her work has been published extensively in the USA, Canada, the UK and Ireland.