New Release Spotlight: Follow the Leader by Mel Sherratt

23199709MS-8B9lAub2IgAEMEQK.jpg large

Today I am VERY happy to join the Blog Tour for Mel Sherratt’s “Follow the Leader” in which DS Allie Shenton returns to solve another case. Mel very kindly wrote me a lovely article all about it. This is followed by my review of the book – Enjoy!


Most people know the story around my novel Taunting the Dead and it hitting the Kindle bestsellers list in 2012. It was also the eighth bestselling KDP ebook of that whole year. I, for one, was staggered – even more so because I’d been trying for years to get a traditional book deal to no avail. So what was it about that book? Was it timing? Was it finally being in the right place at the right time? Was it the pricing strategy I used? Or was it because the book was just that little bit different?


When I set out to write Taunting the Dead, my main character Allie Shenton was going to be a family liaison officer. I’d read an article that had peaked my interest about a FLO falling in love with a murder victim’s wife. I read up more about transference –a phenomenon characterised by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another. But as I wrote more of the story, it became clear that Allie would be served better as a detective sergeant and be investigating more people than just the family.


As well as this, a lot of fictional detectives that I was reading about were either alcoholics, divorcees or going through rough patches, or single, unhinged and angry. Now as writers we all know that we couldn’t write about normal, happy cops because there wouldn’t be any tension in the stories – our main character would be dull. So to fit the story that I had decided on, I wanted someone who was in a good stable marriage that could be tested. I wanted Allie’s ‘flaw’ to be that she was attracted to someone that she shouldn’t be. So in Taunting the Dead she has been happily married to her husband Mark for fifteen years.


I’m sure most people at some time during their life have had an attraction to someone who they shouldn’t. Someone somewhere will turn our heads, our stomach will flip over, our inner Goddess (or God) will go phwoaarrr and we’ll be off with the fairies. Yet how many of us would actually act on that feeling? Maybe if someone was having a hard time with their current partner, or if they felt like they were stuck in a rut, and needed a little excitement, they might go for it. But most of us wouldn’t – we’d get through it. We’d do this by reconnecting with the person we’re unhappy with, or finishing a relationship and moving on.


Looking back, when Taunting the Dead was in the top 3 in the overall UK Kindle store in 2012, it was bouncing around with the novel Before I Go To Sleep. I might be wrong, but it feels to me that S J Watson’s book was the start of the era of the unreliable narrator. Ella, one of the main characters in my standalone psychological thriller, Watching over You, is very much like this too – although she writes in a diary and tells of her past, how much do we think is made up as opposed to how much is reality?


So maybe Taunting the Dead is an unreliable narrator book too, so be it with multiple characters. Steph Ryder certainly isn’t likeable. Most of the characters were lying to each other as well as lying to the police, and they weren’t necessarily pleasant characters either. Plus Allie had a crush on a bad guy so she had her flaw too – depending on whether you agree with affairs or not. That was one of the dilemmas in Taunting the Dead – did she or did she not go too far to get to the truth…


Taunting the Dead has been a standalone book for three years. When I got a publishing deal for it, it was then that I decided to write two more books about Allie. Each book has a standalone crime that is solved but there is a sub-plot that starts in Taunting the Dead, goes through a little into book two, Follow the Leader, and is resolved in Only the Brave, book three, which is out in May. Yet a strange thing happened. By the end of these three books, Allie got under my skin so much that I’m now halfway through the first daft of book four with plans for two more.


In Follow the Leader, we see Allie battling with her demons. She knew she was too emotionally involved in the case of Steph Ryder’s murder, so she has some confidence building to do. She needs to stay on the good side of her husband, her colleagues and her boss, plus she is still struggling with the work/life balance because the man who attacked her sister and left her for dead is still out there. She also has a serial killer to catch…


My Review:

A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a plastic magnet in the shape of an E.
Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing.
As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert.

I adored the first Allie Shenton novel – Taunting the Dead- so I was very happy when Mel Sherratt decided to revisit the character in “Follow the Leader” and what we have is a fast paced, intuitive and realistic police drama featuring a terrific main protagonist.

Follow the Leader is not a whodunnit, it is a whydunnit which often is much more interesting and certainly was so here. Dealing with themes of bullying and peer pressure, Mel Sherratt explores the extremes to which such behaviour can affect a life, creating a character who has been pushed over the edge. As Allie and co try to track a killer, we get to see his processes and thoughts, find out about his background and his motivations – this makes for some exciting reading and gives the whole thing a highly addictive quality.

Offset against that, Allie Shenton herself is given a lot more depth, we get a much deeper insight into her personality and background. She has issues – these were given a voice in “Taunting the Dead” but now we have a chance to really dig a lot deeper and find out more about her – she doesnt always make great choices as we discovered in Book One but the reasoning and emotional resonance behind how she is is terrifically well drawn here.

Mel Sherratt has a brilliantly readable writing style, a very definite ability to create characters you care about and give them true psychological depth, whilst at the same time constructing an intelligent and well imagined situation to put them in – constructively speaking this is excellent and will keep you turning those pages to find out what will happen.

I loved this and I am so happy that Allie will be back again – definitely comes highly recommended from me.

Find out more here:

Follow Mel on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Follow the Tour: Visit here tomorrow A J Waines:


Also Available: Read First


Happy Reading Folks!







New Release Spotlight: Beyond the Rage Michael J Malone.


Publication Date: Available Now from Saraband.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Even though he s a successful criminal, Glasgow villain Kenny O’Neill is angry. Not only has his high-class prostitute girlfriend just been attacked, but his father is reaching out to him from the past despite abandoning Kenny as a child after his mother s suicide. Kenny is now on a dual mission to hunt down his girl’s attacker and find out the truth about his father… but instead he unravels disturbing family secrets and finds that revenge is not always sweet.

An immensely readable thriller from Michael J Malone here, both exciting and often very funny, a bit of a dark heart and some terrific characters.

Kenny O’Neill is a bad guy. Except actually he’s very likeable. Plus you don’t really want to get him mad. I loved him and for me this was what made the novel, I was rooting for him all the way as he tries to track down the culprit who attacked his girlfriend, at the same time unravelling family secrets.

This is delightfully crafted, keeping you hooked into the story – the sense of place is fantastic, Mr Malone brings the underworld and darker side of Glasgow magnificently to life, giving the characters a beautifully visual backdrop to work against. This is modern noir at its best, an intelligent thriller with great depth of storytelling still with a lovely flow to it that makes the reading of it a pure joy.

There are some twists and turns along the way, an often brutal and terribly authentic story – the characters and the world they inhabit pop, it will often have you on the edge of your seat and the next moment laughing out loud.

Exciting, believable and hard hitting, yet with a heart and soul that will appeal to thriller and crime readers as well as anyone who can appreciate a well constructed yarn, this comes highly recommended from me.

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Also Available:


Blood Tears (The McBain Series Book 1)A Taste for Malice (The McBain Series Book 2)


Happy Reading Folks!

The Little Old Lady who Struck Lucky Again – Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg


Publication Date: Available Now from Pan Macmillan.

Source: Publisher Review Copy.

The little old lady is back! This time, Martha Andersson and her friends – the League of Pensioners – have left behind their dreary care home in Stockholm and are enjoying the bright lights of Las Vegas.
This is their opportunity for a new lease of life and they plan to make the most of it. But before long, they are up to their old tricks and with ingenious tactics, a pair of false teeth and a wheelchair each, they plot to outwit the security system at one of the casinos.

So we last met the little old lady, also known as Martha Anderson, when she was breaking all the rules and forming the league of pensioners. That was a terrifically fun and hilarious read and luckily this one was the same.

This time all our friends are in Las Vegas – where they are soon caught up in a hugely hilarious amount of criminal activity.

This was such a great uplifting read –   if you can imagine the Ocean Eleven gang all in their 70’s and 80’s planning all sorts of shenanigans, you’ve probably got this one down pat. Beautifully hilarious at times, with a really good heart to it, I loved Martha even more in this one than the last, her character really grew for me. I think possibly I enjoyed the first one a LITTLE more simply because it was such a new idea, rampaging pensioners refusing to sit in a corner and knit – but still, it is a rip rollicking adventure and I am definitely planning to become a master criminal when I hit 65. I mean why not?

One group of lively pensioners versus a criminal gang made for all sorts of laugh out loud moments, the great writing and storytelling of the first novel is very much still right there, there are some side stories and little bits and bobs that REALLY brightened my day at times and overall you won’t find much better if you are looking for a funny, heartwarming read. From someone who spends most of their reading time with serial killers and psychotic women, this was a breath of fresh air and a little bit of a wonderful reading holiday. So glad there is going to be a third book!

Find out more here:

Purchase Information:


Happy Reading Folks!


Liz Currently Loves – The Sham by Ellen Allen


Publication Date: Available Now from BookBaby.

Source: Author Review Copy.

Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as “The Sham”, with her boyfriend, Jack, but he’s very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He’s also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months’ ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily’s classmates washed up in the local floods.

The Sham was a book that surprised me. I expected one thing, got quite another, it was a terrifically eclectic and weirdly wonderful read exploring some haunting themes at its heart.

Emily meets Jack, a strange enigmatic character and falls for him. So much so that she glosses over his odd proclivities and rather weird ways and is willing to go a long way to protect him from the suspicions of the town. Meanwhile her own family is causing her grief, old signs are appearing all over “The Sham” and girls are disappearing..

Admittedly I was very nearly put off this one by a very violent bullying scene right at the start of it – however this was simply the jumping off point  for a really clever tale that is not all that it immediately appears to be and this scene is integral to that and important. Ellen Allen keeps the suspense going throughout – Just who is Jack and where did he come from, what is happening with the disappearances, all enthralling and engaging stuff.

Added to that we have a hint of family drama, some very well drawn characters some of whom are immensely unlikeable but still very authentic. I loved Emily, she is ruled by her heart rather than by her head a lot of the time, but its still very practically minded. There are some humerous moments to offset the dark side of the story, some of which made me laugh a lot…the jam for example, ha.

Clever writing, a weird and wonderful feel to it and a story that will take you in often astonishing directions, I thought it was terrific. It will get into your head and stay there!

Find out more here:

Follow Ellen on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Happy Reading Folks!

Spotlight on The Curvy Girls Club….

So today see’s the release of “The Curvy Girls Club” by Michele Gorman. It sounds brilliant so I was pleased to be able to spotlight this today for you all and give you some further information…


index UK COVER


The Curvy Girls Club US coverU.S. COVER

About the Book:

A hilarious heart-warming read about normal women with normal problems.
Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Bridesmaids.

Can the curvy girls have their cake and eat it?

Meet best friends Pixie, Ellie, Katie and Jane. Fed up with always struggling to lose weight, they start a social club where size doesn’t matter. Soon it’s the most popular place to be – having fun instead of counting carbs. And the girls suddenly find their lives changing in ways they never imagined.

But outside the club, things aren’t as rosy, as they struggle with the ups and downs of everyday life.

In this funny, heart-warming read about normal women learning to love themselves, the curvy girls soon realise that no matter what life throws at them, together, anything is possible . . .


Watch the video’s!

“You are not fat”:



Michele Gorman is the USA TODAY bestselling author of eight romantic comedies. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 16 years. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word “portion”.

You can find out more about Michele by following her on twitter, Facebook and by reading her blog or website. Do chat with her online – she’s always looking for an excuse to procrastinate!

Follow the Author on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Happy Reading Folks!

Gone by Rebecca Muddiman – Blog Tour.

23074898B67m_ZhIQAExeZA.jpg largeacm46s1dhfbzmf21ru14

So as part of the Blog tour for the terrific crime novel “Gone”, in the spirit of my “Why We Write” occasional drop in features, Rebecca Muddiman kindly wrote a guest article all about her writing process.


My Writing Process

I’m constantly searching for the perfect writing process and routine. I have a copy of Daily Rituals by Mason Currey next to my bed which outlines the habits of other writers and I do wonder about copying some of the greats in order to get the work done. Unfortunately, many of them include drinking large amounts of alcohol, often in the day, which I’m terrible at; or taking naps, which I’m also bad at, unless I’ve been drinking but then that’s your whole day gone. So, instead, I’ll just stick to what I know.

Most of my writing starts with a vague idea – maybe something I’ve read or seen on the news. Watching TV and films or listening to music sparks a lot of ideas too but often these ideas don’t fit with the kind of crime novels I write. Warning to my editor: I’ve just re-watched Twin Peaks so things could get a little weird in the next book.

Some ideas never get past the swirling around in my brain phase but those that do end up being scribbled on various scraps of paper until those bits of paper start to look like they could become an actual story.

With my first novel, Stolen, the plot came first and the characters were built around it. Even DI Gardner was just a bit part in the initial draft but over time became the star. And because he kept growing and his back story kept developing, when it came to writing Gone, the plot became informed by his character.

The next part of the process is often the most fun and the most frustrating as I try to piece everything together. I do this by writing down each plot point or scene on a little bit of paper and then spread them all over the floor. This way I can see more clearly where things are missing and also how best to structure the book. I shuffle the pieces around until I’m happy and then write up a vague chapter by chapter outline. I use this to guide me once I start writing but often I’ll go off on tangents anyway.

My writing day sort of depends on where I’m at in the process – planning, writing the first draft or editing. Writing the first draft is usually the most rewarding, mostly because I can watch the word count rise and it feels like I’m getting somewhere. Editing often feels like treading water.

I try to be at my desk by about 8am and work until it’s dog walking time. After lunch I get back to it and work some more until I’m either hungry again or my brain seizes up. I always work from home, rarely venturing out to write somewhere new. Our house is nicknamed Murder Cottage as both me and my boyfriend both write crime novels. We thought about getting a plaque but wondered whether the postman would stop coming. Anyway, it’s really nice to work from home because you never know when you’re going to need a stiff drink or a nap.

About the book:


250,000 people go missing in the UK every year. 91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours. 99% of cases are solved within a year. And 1% stay gone. 11 years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body has been found in woods near Blyth. DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, and is determined to make up for it now. But when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that nothing is as simple as it seems.

My Review:

An extremely clever and addictive mystery story to be found here, another great crime novel and it kept me on my toes throughout. I have been lucky lately to find a lot of new crime novels, one of my favourite genres – this is a top notch addition to my must read authors list.

Some brilliantly drawn characters lead us along – the most fascinating of which is one Lucas Yates, someone who has a past with missing teen Emma Thorley – now presumed dead – and who was not that fond of her. Then we have DI Michael Gardner, a man haunted by his past when it comes to his present colleague relationships, with the sense that he did not do the search for Emma justice at the time of her disappearance. These two very different but equally compelling characters made this book for me – I was eager to find out the outcome for both.

The mystery element is beautifully imagined and very well constructed – as the story ebbs and flows there are some great twists and turns and Rebecca Muddiman has a great turn of phrase and descriptive prose that keeps you deep into the story throughout.

Overall then highly recommended for Crime Fiction fans, an excellent addition to my list of author favourites.

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:


Happy Reading Folks!

Otherworld: Virtual Tour.

9781402292538-PRSkylar Dorset 1-PR

The Otherworld series – a set of books I have on my reading list, look fabulous and today I’m pleased to share some information with you all about the books as part of the Otherworld Virtual Tour.


SKYLAR DORSET grew up in Rhode Island (where she still lives), graduated from Boston College and Harvard Law School, and has lived in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C. But she actually spends most of her time living with the characters in her head. She hopes that doesn’t make her sound too crazy.


THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?

When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.


This is not your average trip to Fairyland…

Selkie Stewart has just saved her quasi-boyfriend, Ben, from a fairy prison run by the Seelie Court. If they weren’t the two most-wanted individuals in the Otherworld before, they definitely are now. Along with Ben and the rest of their ragtag group of allies-Selkie’s ogre aunts; a wizard named Will; Ben’s cousin Safford; and Kelsey, Selkie’s best friend-Selkie is ready to embrace her destiny and bring the Court down. Until she hears the rest of her prophecy: Benedict le Fay will betray you, and then he will die.


Prequel to the exciting summer debut of The Girl Who Never Was. Before the enchantment breaks, Selkie thinks she’s just an average teenage girl…

It’s the beginning of summer vacation, and everyone at Selkie Stewart’s Boston high school is excited. Except for Selkie, who sees herself standing at the edge of an abyss of Nothing To Do. Selkie doesn’t want to spend her summer scouring the kitchen for gnomes with her crazy aunts or mooning over the enigmatic boy on Boston Common. So instead Selkie goes in search of a job. What she finds is a new best friend, a cute boy who might be more than he seems, and even more question about her mother and her past – and a sense that Selkie’s adventures are just beginning.




Set after Skylar Dorset’s debut The Girl Who Never Was and before the thrilling conclusion to her Otherworld duology, The Boy With the Hidden Name, this novella is told from the perspective of Merrow, the Fay of the Summer Equinox.

Merrow could tell is was going to be a good school year because Jupiter was moving into her constellation. Merrow read the stars…well, sometimes she got a feeling anyway. The stars were always dancing – they were difficult to understand. And then there was Trow. He was a new boy at school and Merrow got a feeling… Which is weird because she’s never minded being on her own before. (She wasn’t exactly popular.) But there was something about Trow. And a prophecy and fate and danger and love – if only the stars would hold still.

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:


Black Rose by Kris Thompson – Blog Tour.



Kris Thompson is a veteran of the US Navy and single mother of three. When she’s not knitting scarves, chasing her children around or baking, you’ll find her enjoying a good book or writing down notes for her own upcoming stories. Writing has been a passion for Kris for many years, and seeing those stories printed on paper is a dream come true.

Black Rose

Lillian Locke had the perfect life in Boulder, Colorado. She had the boyfriend of her dreams, a wonderful family, awesome friends, and a spot on the track team at a great college. There wasn’t anything life could throw at her that she couldn’t get through . . . until he found her.

Lillian never could have imagined being abducted and chained up in the dark. Worse yet, being just one of many girls kidnapped and held captive by a madman. All she can do now is hope that she survives the brutality of their captor long enough to find a way to free herself and her new captive friends.

When Richard Haines’ girlfriend goes missing, he makes it his personal mission to find the woman he loves and bring her home to the safety of their loved ones. Seeking the help of friends and family, Richard abandons everything except for his pursuit of Lillian. But when someone else close to Richard goes missing, and the bodies of the abducted girls start showing up in the hills outside Boulder, the only thing he can do is hope that he finds her before it is too late.


I read this in pretty much one sitting, so well did it flow and for the most part I thought it was a terrific psychological suspense novel, with a realistic twist generally speaking and it definitely packs one heck of an emotional punch.

The most resonant part of the novel for me came with the relationship between Richard and Lillian – the author has done a terrific job of telling us a love story, creating a couple I believed in and then hitting them with the worst case scenario and making me avidly turn pages as Richard desperately searches for Lillian whilst she desperately struggles to survive.

It was cleverly written jumping between Richard and Lillian and telling what they were going through and here was where it was the most authentic.

There were some downsides which were purely subjective – I couldnt quite get my head around how the girls behaved occasionally whilst in captivity.Sometimes that did not ring quite true for how traumatised I would imagine they would be under the circumstances although of course no-one who has not been through such a thing could have any actual idea. Discussing the relative benefits of one good looking star over another for example, not long after you have been brutalised, just took me out of the moment.

Overall however this was a great read, not for the faint hearted, but a very addictive and often emotive story – another plus was the story came to a proper and satisfying conclusion showing aftermath as well as event which added to the overall ambience of the tale being told.

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Happy Reading Folks!

Halloween with Sebastian Gregory…

The Asylum for Fairy Tale CreaturesThe Boy in the CemeteryThe Gruesome Adventures of Alice in Undeadland

Fancy some creepy Halloween reads? Here is a taster of Sebastian Gregory….

Blood Red Riding Hood

The woods held no fear for the girl. She followed her grandma’s advice and her boots held to the path hidden amongst the moss and shed leaves. Thick and ancient trees, old and wise, smiled with knotted faces that only the girl could see. Beams of bright yellow split through the dense overhead canopy and created a dark green rainbow. Her way was clearly lit through The Dark-Dark Forest. And the girl loved this place; it was so mysterious, so gloomy but so full of life. Birds perched heavy on the branches and screamed into the air; insects danced strange fandangos to the sound. Creatures of all shapes and colours trembled in the undergrowth. They crawled from rotting bark, playing amongst carpets of compost. “The dank is good for the lungs,” Grandma told her. “Breathe it in, girl.” The scent of wet greenery filled her senses, making her nostrils sting and eyes water. It was sweet sweat of the forest. She felt so at home here, the other children of the village thought her strange and sneered when they saw her go by. She did not mind; she only needed the forest and her grandma.

Ever since her father had succumbed to a wasting infection the previous year, her mother’s wits were lost to everlasting grief; the girl had found refuge in solitude. Her own thoughts and company were more than enough for her, those and the frequent trips to the house in the woods to visit Grandma. The girl losing her father and her grandma a son gave strength to the other. So it became traditional that the girl would bring a basket full of treats once every seven days. Mainly berries and fruits picked from the forest, sometimes scones freshly baked. In return the grandma taught the girl things, secret things she could not and would not share with anyone, especially her fretful and evermore absent-minded mother. For instance, she would never tell her mother how she had been shown to extract poison from black pond toads. She could never tell how, by chewing certain types of red moss, she could see the fairies and fey that inhabited the world in secret. Her grandma taught such things as a distraction from losing a parent; she comforted her granddaughter as the girl’s mother was less and less herself.

The girl had become the adult at the age of thirteen. She kept her mother safe and warm by selling fruits and vegetables at market, chopping kindle, and sewing—anything to get by. When the girl had rare free time, she spent it by her father’s graveside. Sitting in the weeds next to the wooden cross, she would tell him of the day’s events. How winter was coming and there was a harvest that needed to be stored or how the rain was turning the world to mud. Sometimes the crueller children would hide in the wooden garden and laugh and throw coal at the girl talking to the dead.

“It is nowt but jealousy,” Grandma commented as the girl cried in a rocking chair.

Grandma was rummaging in her old oak chest.

“Of what?” questioned the girl with a sigh between sobs.

“Of this.” Grandma grinned through the biggest set of gums ever seen. All the better to smile with.

With a swish Grandma produced a beautiful garment of golden brown fox fur. The girl took it, instantly feeling better and stroking the fur against her cheek.

“It’s a riding cloak,” Grandma explained. “I swapped with a right posh bugger gentleman.”

“For what?” the girl asked, distracted by the gift.. She stood and tied the cloak around her; it had a hood, which she pulled over her hair.

“For secret things, never you mind.”

“It has a hood! It has a hood!” The girl was jumping and squealing.

“The better to keep you warm.” The grandma laughed. She might have been old and her bones more bent than not, but the girl and grandma danced together and everything was good.

On this day the girl arrived at Grandma’s house. A small cottage made of coloured river stone, with a thatched roof that had been turned into root from the trees, which according to Grandma kept the house from prying nobodies. Two windows that flanked the green door reminded the girl of a surprised face. There was no fence for there was no garden, just the woods, which were becoming full of twilight as the sun had hid itself. The girl as always went to knock, but the door creaked open. It seemed to be the only sound in the world for the forest suddenly became hushed as if in anticipation. The girl stepped in. It was dark inside and from the pantry was the sound of a pot on the boil; the smell of rabbit broth filled the air, she recognised the smell of the tender meat bubbling away.. Although it was dark, the girl knew the house well: the brickwork with tree roots creeping in and gripping tight. The creaking wooden floors where furniture made from forest twigs sat. As she stepped further in, a millipede scurried over her boot and into a crack in the floor.

“Grandma?” the girl called meekly as she set the basket down and dropped her hood.

“I’m here, dear. I could hear you from all the way in the trees.”

The voice was guttural as if from a throat that needed clearing yet at the same time full of whimsy. This would explain why the house was left cold and dark. Grandma must be ill and resting. The girl made her way through to the back room where Grandma’s bed was located.

To ease her nerves she joked, “My, my, Grandma, what big ears you have.”

“All the better to hear you with, my dear,” came the reply.

Her nerves rattled and the hairs on the back of her neck swayed like dried grass in a breeze. Slowly—oh, so slowly—through shadow the girl peered around the door frame. There amongst knitted quilts and cushions lay Grandma. Her shape shifted as the girl stepped to the end of the bed. There was a crunch; the girl looked down to see a broken ornament under her boot. She went to question the discovery but her attention was grasped by a trick of the shadow. The face staring back at the girl was wrong. The pieces were there, the grey bun of hair, the loose skin and wrinkles, yet somehow the outside of Grandma was slipping. Through the drooping eye sockets deep yellow orbs gripped the girl.

“My, Grandma—” she shuddered “—what big eyes you have.”

“All the better to see you with,” Grandma growled through a mouth that was no longer just gums, but instead two neat rows of white sliced teeth that even in the dark shined like razor-sharp pearls.

The girl recoiled taking a step backwards as Grandma rose to the ceiling; or rather the beast did, freeing itself from the suit of skin with a wet slurp. It stood on hind legs, lifting a huge girth of a body and arms that ended in claws. From toe to head that broke the ceiling, covered in a dark, dark black coarse pelt.

“All the better to eat you with.” Its breath reeked of rotten meat and spittle.

The girl ran; she was through the doorway just before fur and death splintered the wood. She fell forward, franticly crawling in the dark as the strength left her legs. Behind her the beast casually padded on the floor. The creature’s lungs pumped hot breath and a constant growl.

The girl found herself in the pantry, crawling over something wet and soft. She could see from what little light broke through holes in the roof that before her lay Grandma. She had been peeled. Gasping so as not to scream, the girl pulled herself up on to the stove, where a still-boiling pot of steaming stew sat. atop.. It was hot and heavy as the girl gripped the handle in both hands, spilling the contents of meat and vegetable and scalding herself. She kept the pain inside just as a low rumbling rippled her hair. She turned, swinging her arms, spraying the boiling pot in the direction of the growl… Outside the peace of the forest erupted with a howl and the nested birds took flight.

The morning mists swirled from the nearby foliage and gently covered the village. The crows called from nests in thatches. A farmer led a cow to market while a bell swung from its fatty neck. Some of the older women took buckets to the well in the centre of the village where all of the mudded lanes met. The children arrived before chores, to run in the swirl and chase loose chickens. A gang of four children were tormenting a small brood. One particular strong-willed fowl broke away, as did a small boy determined to whack the squawking thing with a stick. It ran on idiot legs to the outskirts, quickly followed by the boy swinging away. Just as the boy was about to brain the poor creature, he stopped in his tracks. The stick fell into the mud and his eyes and mouth were opened as wide as they had ever done. There she was, a figure slowly wandering from the mist, injured in body and spirit. She passed the boy without noticing his existence. The boy could not take his eyes off the bloodied girl. The girl’s mother, who resembled something between a woman and a ghost, came from her cottage as if drawn by an invisible force and found herself facing her daughter. A whispering crowd had formed and she parted the group with their worried glances. The girl fell to her knees, exhausted; her riding cloak was wrapped around her, matted with blood.

“Mother,” the girl said, pleading with a barely audible cry.

“What did you do?” the mother screamed with a sudden outburst—screaming and pointing a shaking finger at the girl’s riding hood, now a dirty crimson.

“What did you do?”

Later, after time had passed and the story became myth, the village children would dance in a circle and sing a rhyme.

“Poor Blood Red Riding Hood has gone and turned insane,

Poor Blood Red Riding Hood has lost something in her brain,

Poor Blood Red Riding Hood, her grandma skinned and gone,

Poor Blood Red Riding Hood, to the asylum.”


From THE ASYLUM OF FAIRY TALE CREATURES, free for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

Sebastian’s latest book THE BOY IN THE CEMETERY is only £0.99 for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

THE GRUESOME ADVENTURES OF ALICE IN UNDEADLAND is also £0.99 for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

Look out for A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY, coming in December.


Dark Tides Blog Tour – With Chris Ewan

indexdark tides blogchris_ewan (1)

Today, as part of the blog tour for Dark Tides, I’m pleased to welcome author Chris Ewan to the blog, talking about writing from a female perspective.

Over to Mr Ewan….


Writing From a Female Perspective


Write what you know. It’s popular advice. And like a lot of popular advice, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

What do I know – and I mean really know – that I’m in a position to feel absolutely confident writing about? I used to be a lawyer, which you might think would come in handy for a crime writer, except I wasn’t a criminal lawyer, and there’s not much call for novels about film law or pensions administration. I can drive a car as well as the next person, but I’ve never been in a high speed chase or attempted to tail someone without being spotted. I’ve got angry from time to time, even rageful on occasion, but I’ve never lashed out at anyone, let alone killed somebody. I’m average. I’m ordinary. Most writers are. But I don’t want to write about the average or the ordinary, and you don’t want to read about it, so I make stuff up.

I’ve written about burglars. I’ve written about assassins and hostage negotiators; about spies and police officers; about motorbike riders, plumbers, paraplegics, magicians and showgirls. I’ve never been any of those things. Never even tried out on a Vegas stage. And of course that doesn’t matter, because like you, I have this nifty special power known as imagination. I can put myself in other people’s shoes, just like we all do from time to time, and I can imagine what it would be like to be on the run from rogue British Intelligence agents, or searching for the answers to the unsolved murder of a loved one.

This fiction business is strange. You go along quite happily, inventing whole other worlds, completely made-up characters, and then suddenly you do something that seems to draw a little more attention to the act itself.

Like, for instance, writing as a male author from the perspective of a female character.

In Dark Tides, my new book, pretty much all of the novel is narrated in first person perspective by the character of Claire Cooper. (The only alternative material is some second person narration from the perspective of a killer). And that shouldn’t, I don’t think, be any more noteworthy than narrating a book by a male character, or by an alien, or a dragon.

And yet it is.

It is, for one thing, because it’s something people tend to notice or remark on. A couple of early reviews of Dark Tides have already made reference to this, in fact.

But it’s also something I was conscious of myself when I began work on the book. Early on, I knew the only way to get to the guts of the story I wanted to tell was to narrate Dark Tides from Claire’s perspective because she was at the heart of everything for me. And truthfully, that made me nervous. Hell, I’m always nervous when I begin a new book, but this was a subject my anxiety could latch right on to.

Why? A couple of reasons, I think.

First, how could I find Claire’s voice – which is always the hardest step for me – when I had no idea what it could feel like to be a teenage girl or a young woman, to have my mother go missing, to grow up alone with my dad, to be isolated from other girls my own age, to work as a female police officer among male colleagues?

And two, I felt like I was painting a target on myself if I handled the narration insensitively in some way, if I made a crass error, or if Claire didn’t come across as authentic or credible. It stands to reason that the hazards of these potential errors should apply to every character an author writes about, though somehow they seem, or perhaps just feel, amplified when a male author writes from a female point of view.

As an aside, I think it’s also true, though I don’t know why, that it’s much less remarked on when female writers narrate novels from the perspective of male characters. Perhaps they just do a better job.

In any case, the point is that in writing Dark Tides, it became something I was very conscious of.

So what did I do differently? Not a great deal. I guess my confidence got dented a few more times than it ordinarily might. I think perhaps I provided fewer physical descriptions of Claire or her body than I’ve done in the past when I’ve written from the perspective of male characters. Other than that, I did what I always do. I tried to empathise with the character I’d created, to understand the emotions Claire was experiencing at a given moment, to get a solid grip on her motivations. And then I ran with it.

Did I do a good job? That’s impossible for me to say. But one thing I can tell you is that I think Claire is the most complex, most rounded character I’ve ever created. I miss writing about her and from her perspective. And I very much hope you might enjoy making her acquaintance.


DARK TIDES by Chris Ewan is out now, £14.99 (Faber & Faber)

My Review:


When Claire Cooper was eight years old her mother mysteriously vanished during Hop-tu-naa, the Manx Halloween. At fourteen, Claire is still struggling to come to terms with her disappearance when she’s befriended by a group of five teenagers who mark every Hop-tu-naa by performing dares. But Claire’s arrival begins to alter the group’s dynamic until one year a prank goes terribly wrong, changing all their futures and tearing the friends apart.

I’ve been a fan of Mr Ewan’s thrillers since Safe House – particularly because he always brings something different to the table with each new novel so you know you are in for a treat (or a trick?) every time, you are just not sure what kind of treat it might be..

In the case of “Dark Tides” the treat was this – one of my favourite types of story (past events invading current happenings) done with this authors particular style, using some terrifically drawn characters facing some terrifying circumstances, all wrapped up in an often scary package – perfect Halloween reading.

Pretty perfectly constructed, we go between past and present to paint a picture of the things that have shaped Claire Cooper – losing her Mother at a young age, growing up fairly insular and isolated but finally finding some really good friends. Sometimes however, friendship can be harmful and this group of eclectic and impulsive characters may not be the best thing for Claire. As events spiral out of control and she faces down a killer, it is compelling stuff and you will be hooked.

I VERY much enjoyed finding out more about the Manx version of Halloween, with all its similarites yet with a deep and imaginative mythology that lent itself brilliantly to the tale being told, giving a perfect backdrop to the often creepy and haunting events. Each of the characters has a heart and a voice all their own, Claire is especially likeable even as she does some rather idiotic things. There are not TOO many male authors who can pull off such an authentic female voice but Chris Ewan is one of them, she is someone you will want to follow along with and will root for all the way.

The mystery element is also intelligently done – ok, so the author did not manage to “trick” me but there were some fascinating insights into a heart full of darkness and an exellent flow to the proceedings, one of those books that keeps you up in the night and leaves you bleary eyed the next morning. I loved it – my favourite so far without a doubt and most definitely Highly Recommended.


Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

Order information: