Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk chats to Crime writer Rebecca Bradley about bucket list destinations and her journey to becoming an author…

img_2223Good morning Rebecca and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo, thanks so much for having on the blog today. I’m a retired police detective turned crime writer who would love for cake to be a required food group.

How did your writing journey begin?

I was a late starter to writing. Although I often thought about writing a novel, I never did anything about it and when I tried, I got as far as writing a few paragraphs and then it was abandoned. As I approached my 40th birthday I thought I had better do something about my dreams. Life felt as though it was ticking away without me. So, I sat down and started typing. I didn’t have a plan, just a starting place and an ending in mind and I went from there. At the time, I was doing an OU degree in Geosciences and had completed all my level one courses. I decided to take a year out to see if I could write a novel, and I have never looked back.

Currently crime seems to be very much in vogue, whether in TV Drama, Films or books. What do you think is the reason for its popularity?

Crime fiction in novel format is the most borrowed book in UK libraries. Fantasy tends to be the highest grossing films, but crime TV dramas do seem to be on a constant production line. I don’t know why it’s so popular. It’s such a dark subject matter we’re reading about and watching, isn’t it? I would imagine part of it is the resolution at the end, having followed the good guy through the story, there’s a resolution where in reality we don’t always get that. But, it can’t be that simple. I think we like the darkness, but from the safety of our armchairs. Knowing it’s not real, but feeling as though we’re getting an insight into the people who do actually investigate this stuff or even an insight into the perpetrators, depending on what it is we’re reading and watching. We can do it vicariously and safely.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

I’m trying the ridiculous feat of trying to write two books at the same time. I’ve written the first draft of a standalone and that is now sitting quietly marinating as I write the first draft of DI Hannah Robbins 3, the third book in my series. To be honest, it’s stressing me out a little at the minute. I had written 23,000 words of it before deciding it was the wrong story, so I ditched it and I’ve had to start from scratch. I haven’t written an outline and only have the inciting incident which contains lots of questions for Hannah and her team to figure out the answers to – and me! Hence the stress. So, it’s in it’s very early stages. The stage where there’s lots of musings happening. Where it’s constantly in my head and options are playing out. I could tell you a little something of it, but at this stage it could change completely or I could even ditch another one! I’m working hard though, so I do hope to have it out by the late summer.

Name the top two destinations on your bucket list.

Now, this is a difficult question. Travel is one of the most prominently listed items on my bucket list. I was lucky enough to go to Washington DC for three weeks last year and loved it. Two other places high up on the list? I think I’d choose, New York and… probably Iceland. There’s so much to see and do in Iceland. So many natural wonders. And as you can see from my previous answer with the geosciences degree, I love that kind of thing. So, yes, New York and Iceland.
Are you sure you only want two…?

And lastly if you could have been a famous historical figure (real or fictional) who would it be and why?

Emmaline Pankhurst – for the obvious reasons. Her advancement of women’s rights, her sheer force of will and belief in what is right along with the energy to mobilise swathes of women to join her.


Made to be Broken

A rising death toll. A city in panic

A young mother is found dead in her home with no obvious cause of death. As DI Hannah Robbins and her team investigate, it soon becomes clear that the woman is the first in a long line of murders by poison.

With the body count climbing, and the city of Nottingham in social meltdown, the team finds themselves in a deadly race against a serial killer determined to prove a point.

And Hannah finds herself targeting an individual with whom she has more in common than she could possibly know.

Amazon link (It will take the user to whichever site they are based in, it is an intuitive link.)


Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective and lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

Rebecca’s Social Media Links

Posted in Writing

It’s Publication Day for The Path Keeper – N J Simmonds’ Debut Novel for Accent Press…


What if every coincidence was a tiny miracle? What if our life was already mapped out before birth? What if someone had the power to change the path we were destined to follow?
Ella hates her new life in London, she misses Spain and she’s struggling to get over her past until she meets Zac. He has always loved her but he isn’t meant to be part of Ella’s story. Not this time. Not ever. Little does she know that his secret is the one thing that will tear them apart and will force her to live in a world that no longer makes sense, a world more dangerous than she could ever imagine.
The first in a thrilling new YA fantasy series, The Path Keeper is a tale of passion and secrets, of first loves and second chances, and the invisible threads that bind us. Can love ever be stronger than fate?


‘One tiny change to your path can create countless forks in the road’

When Ella Fantz finds herself having to get off her bus earlier than planned she is not in the best of moods. However, as she struggles onto the pavement carrying two bags of books destined for the nearest charity shop, she is not expecting assistance from the tall attractive stranger standing there.
When I was offered a pre-publication read of The Path Keeper the only thing I knew about it was its genre: a YA novel. I began reading and quickly found myself glued to this book in the same way I had been back in 2012 when I read George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones. I love fantasy but this had so much more going for it. Ella is nineteen and the latest ‘It’ girl. Currently at Uni in London she is constantly pursued by the tabloids, is feisty, argumentative and uses colourful language. She is also unhappy and alone, brought to London by her mother and stepfather, Richard Fantz the billionaire hotel owner. Her vain, over indulged mother Lily is trying to match make; pushing her into relationships she isn’t interested in. All she wants is Zac and although their situation is doomed she won’t give up. He is torn between love and duty, fully aware of the consequences of his actions but unable to untangle himself from the situation.
This first book of three not only brings Ella and Zac together, it lays down the back story which has led to present day events. It finished on a total knife edge, leaving me desperate for book two. I loved Ella, adored Zac and know after reading The Path Keeper this is going to be a hugely successful series.


author-n-j-simmondsNatali Drake, who writes under the pen name of N J Simmonds, is an accredited member of the Society of Authors. When she’s not busy working on her YA fantasy romance series she is also a freelance writer and brand consultant. She has written articles for various UK newspapers and online publications with two of her essays appearing in The Mother Book published by Selfish Mother. In 2015 she co-founded online magazine The Glass House Girls and is a regular contributor.
Originally from north London, Natali began her career in corporate publishing and marketing before moving to abroad to write and to raise her family. She now divides her time between her two homes in The Netherlands and Spain with her husband and two daughters.
The Path Keeper, published by Accent Press, is her debut novel. Her second book of the series, Son of Secrets, will be available late 2017.


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Amazon link, click here


Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk welcomes Author and BritFic Founder Christina Philippou talking about Writing Influences and Desert Island ‘Must Haves’

cphilippou-2Good morning Christina and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me! I’m Christina, contemporary fiction author of Lost in Static, and all-round busy mum of three.

How did your writing career begin?

I’ve always loved writing, and I had tens of notebooks hidden under my desk at school where I used to pen stories instead of paying attention to lessons…

Who are your favourite authors and have they influenced you in any way?

Tough question! I’ve always been a fan of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – I grew up re-reading them regularly and, although I write contemporary fiction, mystery and clue-planting are traits that I’ve taken from them. I’ve also always been a fan of adventure – Alexandre Dumas being a case in point. And, more recently, I’ve really enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s writing (although I wasn’t the biggest fan of Gone Girl…). But I love discovering new authors and new styles of writing – and I take something away from every book I read (even if it is a tip of what to avoid in my writing).

What draws you to the characters and situations you write about?

Life. I like characters that are raw and face adversity head on. Yes, there is romance and happiness in life, but there rarely is a nicely ties-up ending to any of our real-life stories. Life is messy, and I love it for inspiration.
I also love playing with perspective. My debut novel, Lost in Static, was all about looking at the same events from four sometimes very different points of view. Memories, culture, background, education, friends, and so many other factors affect how someone sees things. I loved playing with that by throwing my characters into situations that could be interpreted very differently. My current work in progress plays with the changes in perception with age.

How do you spend your chill out time?

I wish I had chill out time! I’ve got a job, three young kids, and my writing, so chilling out is rare. But watching/ playing sport or enjoying nature with my children is wonderful.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

It’s a suspense novel about how life experiences change how you look at things… It’s also about isolation, not belonging, and the rise of the right. All in all, a much darker novel than Lost in Static!

And lastly, you are planning to spend a year on a desert island away from civilization. What four ‘must haves’ would you take with you and why?

My immediate family (husband and children), a football (with pump), a first aid kid, and books.

Lost in Static


Sometimes growing up is seeing someone else’s side of the story.

Four stories. One truth. Whom do you believe? 

Callum has a family secret. Yasmine wants to know it. Juliette thinks nobody knows hers. All Ruby wants is to reinvent herself.

They are brought together by circumstance, torn apart by misunderstanding. As new relationships are forged and confidences are broken, each person’s version of events is coloured by their background, beliefs and prejudices. And so the ingredients are in place for a year shaped by lust, betrayal, and violence…

Lost in Static is the gripping debut from author Christina Philippou. Whom will you trust?


Lost in Static is available from, amongst others, Amazon UK, Amazon US, and direct from the publisher, Urbane Publications.

Author Bio

Christina Philippou’s writing career has been a varied one, from populating the short-story notebook that lived under her desk at school to penning reports on corruption and terrorist finance. When not reading or writing, she can be found engaging in sport or undertaking some form of nature appreciation. Christina has three passports to go with her three children, but is not a spy. Lost in Static is her first novel.

Christina is also the founder of the contemporary fiction author initiative, Britfic.

You can connect with Christina on her websiteTwitterFacebookInstagram and Google+.




Posted in Writing

Today I’m chatting to author Sheryl Browne about her new thriller duo After She’s Gone and Sins of the Father, due out at the end of the month…


promorv2Sheryl Browne not only writes great contemporary romances she is also a talented writer of dark compelling thrillers.  After She’s Gone and Sins of the Father are both due out at the end of February and in the run up to publication day, she’s very kindly agreed to spare some time to chat to me about her work.

Morning Sheryl and thank you so much for coming along…


Well, aside from the fact that, according to one reviewer, I apparently have a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath, I think I leaned towards psychological thriller because I see people as not all good or all bad. More opposite sides of the same coin with some crossover in between. Many of my romance novels feature a policeman and, as my leading characters grew, I found myself exploring police procedural and, inevitably, the traits of the protagonist. I suppose it was a natural progression to write thriller, looking at that family unit and placing it under threat (I’m afraid I put my poor detective in some very traumatic situations).


To be honest, preparation is minimal. I don’t have to channel the emotions. They just seem to be there once I have my character. My inspiration for writing is life, people and the whole gamut of emotion that comes with them. How honest should I be? Something I rarely talk about is the loss of a child, my second. I won’t go into detail, suffice to say, I somehow found myself leaning towards offering counselling to people who had suffered similar loss. Within that role, which extended to counselling in other areas, I realised I could relate to people in a way that touched me to the very core. I lived the emotions. I found I wanted to write about people, all people, people just like you and me, gravitating towards family and family dynamics and just how strong a family unit can be. In ‘reading’ people, I seem to see the bad and the good, and I have to write their stories. Fictional stories, of course. I wake up and there’s a fully-formed character in my head who won’t let me go. He, or she, calls to me. They are what they are (good, bad, happy-go-lucky) and I have to follow them. Does that make sense? Possibly not. Perhaps one day it will to me!


Honestly, I’m not sure I can choose. As mentioned, my characters seem to tell the story. I live, eat, sleep and breathe them. There’s usually a bad guy or girl in all of my books. As long as the hero grows and the protagonist gets his comeuppance, then I get the buzz.


I have stories coming out of my ears at the moment. As I seem to be in thriller mode, I’m currently working on a book in that genre, working title: Scream for Me. Watch this space.
Thanks so much for featuring me, Jo.

Keep safe all!


He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?

There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable.
When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.
But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.



What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?

Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget – and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.
But the past is the past – or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruellest way possible.
When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well?

sheryl-browne03-small-fileSheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers.
A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and awarded a Red Ribbon by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.
Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from multi-award winning Choc Lit.


Author Links
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon US | Pinterest
Choc Lit

Trailer Link:
DI Matthew Adams series:

Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk chats to writer Gilli Allan about her writing pathway, celebrity diners and what she’s currently working on…

meGood morning Gilli and welcome.

Hello Jo, thank you so much for inviting me over for a chat on a Tuesday.

Can I begin by asking what you did before you became a novelist?

At that precise moment, I was ironing. Sounds like I’m being facetious, but I’m not … or only a bit.
From an arty family, I was told from my earliest memory that I was good at art. My father worked in advertising as a graphic designer, so all my life I knew that ‘being an artist’ did not necessarily mean beret, palette, and canvas, or starving in a garret. Earning a living as a commercial artist was a perfectly possible and pragmatic proposition. My career was as an illustrator in advertising. In those days – and I’m sure the febrile atmosphere hasn’t changed even if the technology has – advertising was a very high pressure industry. I enjoyed what I did. What I didn’t enjoy was idling the day away, only to be asked at five o’clock to produce a thirty frame storyboard by the next morning!

How did your writing journey begin?

Back to that moment standing in my kitchen doing the ironing…..
I’d worked in a design studio, and then free-lance renting desk space. Eventually, after marrying and having our son, my husband and I moved further out of London. For our son’s first few years I pretty much gave up work. I enjoyed being at home so much that I began to wonder if I could work from home. But even if I’d wanted to continue in the same field, there would be technical difficulties. This was before the internet, remember, and in those days I didn’t drive. It would have involved me travelling into central London on public transport to pick up a job, taking it home to the suburbs to complete and get back, all to a tight deadline and with a toddler in tow! But I didn’t know what else to do.
More than art (and pop music) my only other enthusiasm through my teenage years, had been writing. In truth it was more of a compulsion than a hobby. But the idea that I could aspire to becoming a published novelist was beyond imaginable. I wasn’t clever enough. The only subject I was good at was art. The fact I struggled to achieve the minimum 5 ‘O’ level passes – required to get me to Art College at sixteen, tells its own story.
So there I was, a young mum, doing the ironing – the puzzle of my future paid employment, forever agitating beneath the surface of my thoughts. I was listening to the radio and programme about Mills & Boon came on and with it my light bulb moment! “I’m sure I could do that!” I thought.
Here I need to apologise. I did not read Mills & Boon romances and had a totally clichéd and reductive view of the brand. Forgive me, but in those days I had the insulting idea that the bar to writing a Mills & Boon Romance would be lower. And rightly or wrongly, it was that moment of ignorance mixed with optimism, which gave birth to Gilli Allan the author. *

*NB: A word of warning. I admit that my springboard to writing was the desire to make money. But … writing as a route to riches? It may happen for some people, but they are few and far between. My ambition even just to contribute to the family income, was almost immediately subsumed by my infatuation with the process. And once I’d fallen in love with writing fiction, with creating a world that had not existed until I began committing it to paper, it no longer mattered whether or not it was an occupation that was going to make me rich.
I would still love to earn loads of money from my books; at the very least it would prove that loads of people were buying and reading them! But seriously (wags finger!), you should only write if you love writing

What draws you to the characters and situations you write about?

The out-of-the-blue idea to “write a romance” had arrived without a plot. I recalled my English teacher’s advice (after I’d submitted some ludicrous flight of fancy as an essay) that writing about what you know is always the best policy. Still standing at the ironing board I reviewed my life. What has happened to me that I could use as the basis for a romantic story?
The life event which had had the most impact on me was not an obvious or even appropriate subject for romance. In the early years of my marriage, before having my son, I had gone through two late miscarriages. On each occasion I had felt a strong urge to write about the experience, but had no vehicle in which to do so. Self-expression through blogs and vlogs did not exist. I was not a journalist or an author.
But … I reminded myself, I have just decided to become an author! Surely there must be a way to incorporate the subject into my plot? I finished ironing, folded up the clothes, put them in the airing cupboard, found a pen and a note book, and began. And that book, JUST BEFORE DAWN, the first full length novel I ever completed, was published two and a half years later, not by Mills & Boon, but by a new publisher – Love Stories.
In many ways, my philosophy towards writing is still the same. If a difficult subject presents itself in the development of a plot I won’t duck it. It is an approach which makes me a bit of a left-field choice for a piece going out on Valentine’s Day. I think my stories are profoundly romantic, but I am not a hearts & flowers type author. Nor do I write books characterised by cafés & cup cakes, or pouty lips & muscled chests. I prefer both to read and to write about a world I recognise and can identify with. I choose to explore the more challenging aspects of life and relationships often glossed over or ignored in mainstream romance fiction.
In real life, sex, if and when it occurs, is not always awesome; it can be awkward and embarrassing, and it has consequences. Morality is not necessarily black or white; if only life was that simple! People are not neatly divided into heroes and villains. In my stories I prefer to follow an unconventional path through the complexities of modern relationships, arriving at a satisfying, sometimes unpredictable, but believable resolution.

If money were no object where in the world would your ideal holiday location be and why?

 Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson and Coral Island informed my childhood fantasies. I knew the story of the Bounty mutineers, how they ended up on the Pitcairn islands where they idled their lives away; and I always had my head in my parents’ art books, entranced by Paul Gauguin’s Tahiti paintings. I day-dreamed about the life-style – me in the archetypal grass skirt and necklet (lei?) of flowers; building my own tree house; hunting, gathering and fishing; cooking over an open fire; lolling in a hammock – it all seemed extraordinarily romantic and desirable.
But I’m older and wiser now. I still love the notion of palm fringed beaches, with silver sand and turquoise sea; of living in a house on stilts; of ease and indolence. The idea of swimming in a warm, coral-rimmed lagoon, alongside turtles, is the closest thing to bliss that I can imagine… But, you will have guessed from the kind of books I write that I’m a realist. I don’t want to rough it – to have to build my own shelter, or catch and cook my own food. So perhaps I could have a discreet luxury hotel just out of sight, with food and drink and all the amenities, to fall back on?

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

I am only three quarters of the way through a book, which I’m currently calling Buried Treasure. I began thinking of this as a culture clash story – a kind of Time Team meets Educating Rita. But original intentions are what they are … intentions. Like people, there is usually more going on beneath the surface of a story, than first meets the eye, and its final destination may be a surprise (even to the author!).

Jane, a Conference and Events organiser, and Theo, an academic archaeologist, are very different people. On the face of it, there is nothing to connect them – not even instant physical attraction – and there is no apparent reason, after their first coincidental meeting, for them to come into contact again. But both have pasts which have marked them, and both have mysteries they need to solve, and their lives become intertwined.

You are holding a dinner party. Choose four celebrity guests and give your reasons for inviting them.

I’m sorry but most of my celebs are dead!
First and foremost, just to answer a question that’s always bugged me, I’d invite Richard III. I’ve always been fascinated by this period in history, and apart from the Shakespeare play, have read many books on the subject of who killed the princes in the Tower. After each I have been utterly convinced. He did it. He didn’t do it. He may have done it. I am now terminally confused.
I was thrilled when his body was discovered, and the speculation that his “hump” was just a nasty rumour put out by the Tudors, was finally resolved. What is still unresolved, and if he came to dinner I could ask him is – Did you do it?

Secondly, for no other reason than that he is a celebrity in my own family, my Great x3 Uncle George W Kitchin.
It was only in 2009, after my father died, that I discovered I had this eminent Victorian in my family tree. G W Kitchin was a polymath – a musician, a writer, a cleric, and a friend of Ruskin and Lewis Caroll with whom he attended Christ Church College Oxford. (His daughter Xie was one of Lewis Caroll’s favourite photographic subjects.) He became a professor of History & Classics at Christ Church, and was tutor to the Crown Prince of Denmark.
G W Kitchin was an early feminist. He was on the committee of the Association for the Higher Education of Women, from which Summerville College resulted. He was Dean of Winchester and later Dean of Durham and the first chancellor of Durham University. His bibliography, publications and correspondence fill a page and a half of densely printed A4. It makes me feel tired just reading all the things he did in his life.

Third, for eye candy, I’d invite the first love of my life, George Harrison – my favourite Beatle. This gives away my age, but what the hell. I’d prefer not to have him from the later period of his celebrity, after he’d converted to Hinduism and become a bit mystical and weird. Not sure I could easily relate to that George. Nor do I want him when he was hardly more than a boy. ‘Revolver’ period George, please.

Fourthly, my only living guest. To make me laugh, please may I invite Andy Hamilton? I listen to BBC radio 4 … a lot. Two of my favourite programmes are The News Quiz and I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue. My absolute favourite panellist is Andy Hamilton, and I get very excited if I know he’s going to be on.
But he’s not just a quick witted stand-up comedian, and radio and TV panellist. Andy Hamilton is scriptwriter. He wrote the seminal TV shows Drop the Dead Donkey, and Outnumbered. He wrote the hilarious radio series, Old Harry’s Game, in which he starred as Satan, and Revolting People, about the American war of independence. And he has written or contributed to many many more hilarious comedy shows going back to the 1970s. He is one of the funniest people I can think of.

Sorry again! My husband has pointed out my lack of diversity, both in gender and ethnicity. But it’s taken me such a long time to come up with these four that I can’t go back to square one. OK – May I have Barack Obama and Cleopatra as first reserves, in case the others don’t pitch up?


Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.
She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.
Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village. Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has done some book illustration. Her novels – TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY OR FALL are now published by Accent Press. All three have won a Chill With a Book Award.

Book Purchase Links




Other Links:

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: (@gilliallan)

Posted in Writing

Music and Motors…

Usually the people who come along to chat on my blog have some connection with writing. Today, however, is going to be slightly different.  My guest is Canadian Jovan Vujatovic,  who is not only an accomplished musician but also runs a business providing vehicles for TV shows and movies…

14591693_197637613995279_7949874937299453336_nHi Jovan and welcome.  Can I start by asking you a little about yourself?

My name is Jovan Vujatovic and I was born in Hamilton Ontario. I have two Degrees in Music from Musicians Institute in Hollywood, and Los Angeles Academy of Music in Pasadena CA. I also got a Diploma in Business Management and Graphic Design in California. I have performed with great musicians such as Peter & Gordon of British Invasion fame, and also Spencer Davis. I have recorded 13 albums to date. I have five song writing wins from Cfox Seeds (2002-Superjaded & Hybrid Cartel), (2006-Fully Loaded), Z-95.3 FM Song writing Star, (2005-White Noise), and most recently the Peak Performance Project, (2014-Damn Fools). I’ve lived in LA, Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver throughout my music career.

In 2002 I wrote an album and started a band that won Cfox Seeds with a lead singer named Antonio Cupo who is an accomplished actor known in Canada for his lead role in Bomb Girls, who encouraged me to make money by working as a film extra on sets. That’s where my film career began. I worked on such shows as Davinci’s Inquest and Catwoman. In 2004 I started my company 396moviecars, and by 2006 I landed my first full time job as a car wrangler on a series called Masters of Horror. In 2007 I landed my first position as Picture Car Coordinator for the TV series Flash Gordon. I am now entering my 10th year as a Coordinator.

You’re the drummer with rock band Damn Fools, how did you guys get together?

In 2006 I found myself sitting at the ROXY nightclub to watch a band when a good friend 12745487_10154543049538502_6588971085186682153_nof mine walked in the door. His name is Tommy Mac, from the band Hedley. He came up to me and introduced me to Mike, Andrew, and Chris who Tommy had discovered and produced. At the time the band was called Fully Loaded. Tommy asked me to join the band as the drummer. Since he was involved, I said yes! Here we are 10 years later and now called Damn Fools with a new style of music and added members Mike Turner and Alex Gordon Firing.

As Fully Loaded, we one CFOX Seeds 2006. We went on the have to biggest booking agent in Canada, and possibly North America. His name is Ralph James of the Agency Group. We got great opening spots and tours with such bands as Denko Jones, Econoline Crush, Default, State Of Shock and My Darkest Days. One of the best shows we played as Fully Loaded has to be Fox Fest for 5,000 people opening for Theory of a Deadman, Marianna’s Trench, and Billy Talent. As Damn Fools, we have played some incredible festivals opening for bands such as Matt and Kim, Atlas Genius, MGMT, The Trews to name a few. One of the highlight shows for me was performing at the Imperial in Vancouver with The Washboard Union opening up. The reason it was great was because the styles of music came together so well. During sound check, I suggested that we all get up and do a jam at the end of the night – EPIC! We ended up jamming out Elvis’s That’s all Right Mamma. In 2014, we became part of the top 12 Peak Performance project bands. Amazing experience.

You have a dedicated Facebook Page for your company 396 Movie Cars. How long have you been in business and what service do you provide for prospective clients?

I started my business in 2004. I provide rentals to film. Mainly vehicles such as Police cars and specialty vehicles. I also broker vehicles that belong to people who are interested in registering their vehicle with me. Think of me as an agent for background performers or actors. The vehicles become the stars of the shows at times, and it’s my job to land these vehicles a part. I do so by submitting a “Head Shot” of the vehicle to the producers and Director.


How do you locate vehicles for a movie or TV series?

I use all tools and resources. I need to research classified sites such as Craigslist, Kijiji and Auto Trader at times. But a lot of the time it’s from making calls to contacts that I have built over the years. I also pull from my inventory of vehicles I own, or vehicles that are registered to me.

What is the most famous movie/TV series you’ve been involved in?

I worked on both, but I have to say that the biggest show I’ve ever been a part of hands down is Amazon Prime’s “Man In The High Castle”. This show is a 5.5 Million dollar per episode show. It’s rated only second to Game of Thrones as far as production costs go. Earlier this year we won two Emmy’s.

Have you had a really difficult or strange request from any clients you’ve worked with?

I would say they are all difficult and or strange. Working in film is already abnormal – lol. I did once get a call from New York looking for a Sleigh for a Santa Gag. I only deal with wheels.

What is your favourite vehicle?

Most difficult question to answer. My brain starts spinning with all the cars I would love to own. I am a real huge fan of the 1969 Dodge Charger, and the Plymouth Superbird. But I have to keep it real and go with the car my parents were so nice to get me when I turned 16. My 1970 SS Chevelle with a 396ci Motor. Hence, the 396Moviecars reference.

You must have met many famous people, are there any memorable encounters?

So many great people and yes, memorable encounters for sure. First one that comes to mind is working with Halle Berry, on Catwoman. Not only was she surreal to see in person, but there was a great moment on set were one of the back ground performance started singing Oh Canada, and the entire place erupted in singing the anthem, including Halle. It was epic to say the least. Another personal favourite moment came when I was working as a cast driver on the mini series “Tin Man” starring Zooey Deschanel, Allan Cummins, and Neil McDonough. I got to drive all three. I would say I became very close with Allan and Neil. Neil starred in one of my favourite all time things to watch. It was the 10 part mini series “Band Of Brothers”. That show moved me so much, you could say I was star struck when Neil got into my van. He looked and me and said, “Hi, I’m Neil McDonough” and I replied, “I know who you are (Like a little kid) You’re Buck Compton from Band of Brothers! From then on, we became good friends and I looked after his family while shooting the film.


Oh I almost forgot, my absolute favourite show of all time is the Dukes Of Hazzard. Probably one of the reasons that I like cars and girls.. lol. I always dreamed how awesome it would have been to be on the set of Dukes of Hazard and see the car when they jumped it. Well! In 2005 I got contacted by Smallville looking for a 1969 Dodge Charger to jump on the show, which would star the two original actors from the Dukes, John Schneider and Tom Wopat who played Bo and Luke Duke in the original series. I got to work with them all day doing stunts with the car. We also got to jump the car not once, but twice. It was a total dream come true. It also put me and my company on the map in the film industry.

Many thanks for taking time out to be interviewed Jovan, and good luck with all your future projects.


If anyone is interested in a promo slot for their work on my blog – and you don’t have to be a writer – please contact me by e-mail at


Posted in Writing

A Writer’s Journey joins Guinevere Glasford’s Book Tour with her debut novel THE WORDS IN MY HAND – short listed for the Costa Coffee Book Awards…



For fans of The Miniaturist and Girl With a Pearl Earring, The Words in My Hand is the re-imagined true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th-century Amsterdam, who works for Mr Sergeant the English bookseller. When a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrives – the Monsieur – Mr Sergeant insists everything must be just so. It transpires that the Monsieur is René Descartes.
Helena’s life, like that of so many women in history in history, is scarcely recorded. In The Words in My Hand she is a young woman who yearns for knowledge, who wants to write so badly she makes ink from beetroot and writes in secret on her skin – only to be held back by her position in society as a servant, and as a woman.
Weaving together the story of Descartes’ quest for reason with Helena’s struggle for literacy, their worlds overlap as their feelings deepen; yet remain sharply divided. For all Descartes’ learning, Helena has much to teach him about emotion and love.
When reputation is everything and with so much to lose, some truths must remain hidden. Helena and Descartes face a terrible tragedy and ultimately have to decide if their love is possible at all.

The Words In My Hand: Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016 eBook: Guinevere Glasfurd: Kindle Store


This was a complete departure from my usual choice of read but having read and reviewed for Hodder and Stoughton on previous occasions I knew this was going to be an excellent book.  And it was. The Words in My Hand truly did not disappoint.

From the first page I was drawn into the world of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid working for an English bookseller inn Amsterdam. The arrival of a mystery lodger is set to totally change her life. Told from Helena’s viewpoint, the author skillfully entwines fact with fiction as she tells Helena and philosopher Renee Descartes (the lodger’s) story. The two of them are a most unlikely paring for a love affair.  But then Helena is an unusual young woman, who has a great thirst for knowledge and the written word. Someone who copes with no access to pen and paper by making ink from beetroot juice and writing on her own skin. And as for Descartes, he may be the teacher but he also finds there is much to learn from Helena.

Written with great depth and acute observation, I was immediately immersed in the everyday life of seventeenth century Amsterdam. In fact it almost made me feel I was physically there – as an observer rather than a reader – to witness this bittersweet story.

A wonderful debut novel.

About the Author

guinevere-glasfurdOriginally from the north of England, Guinevere Glasfurd now lives and works in Cambridgeshire. She has a background in historical research and has worked for BBC History Online.

Her short fiction has been published by Mslexia and the Scotsman and she has won awards from Arts Council England and the British Council for her work.

The Words in My Hand, her first novel, is based on the little-known story of Helena Jans, who worked as a Dutch maid and was Descartes’ lover. Although many books have been written about Descartes, about Helena almost nothing is known. What survives is tantalising. Descartes is often thought of as a terrible loner, alone with his thoughts. Helena’s story will make you question that.


Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk goes Down Under to Meet Australian writer Alli Sinclair…

alliGood morning Alli and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hello! I am Australian born and raised but have lived abroad for many years including Argentina, Peru and Canada. I’ve worked as a mountain guide and tour guide, and have climbed some of the world’s highest mountains. I write stories that capture the romance and thrill of exploring new destinations and cultures, as well as taking the reader on a journey of discovery.

You have an amazing amount of expertise – writing for the travel industry, ghost writing biographies, translating and editing as well as having written your Wandering Skies series with Kensington Books. What prompted the move from fact to fiction?

I spent a great deal of my teenage years and early twenties reading biographies written by some of the world’s greatest adventurers. Although based on fact, these books told amazing stories about incredible journeys around the world. When I decided to try my hand at fiction, it made sense for me to incorporate my own love of culture and travel and have my characters undertake their own journeys both in foreign lands and within themselves. For me, travel has always been about learning from others, learning about yourself, and fostering friendships with people from an array of backgrounds and experiences. My stories have a lot of facts in them as they delve into the culture and history of the country the story is set in (Midnight Serenade – Argentina; Under the Spanish Stars – Spain, and Under the Parisian Sky – France) so for me, the leap from fact to fiction never felt like a huge one.

Who are your favourite authors and have they had any influence on your own writing?

I am a huge fan of Monica McInerney, Deanna Raybourn, Belinda Alexandra, and Kate Furnivall. All are experienced authors who write complex, interesting characters and often have a strong cultural and/or historical slant in their stories. I don’t know if they have had a direct influence on my writing but following their successful careers has certainly inspired me!

Have you a special place to write?

I am lucky enough to have an office at home. I’m surrounded by all my favourite travel artefacts that I’ve collected over the years so it’s a place of inspiration (most of the time!).

How do you spend your chill out time?

I have two young kids so my chill time is often spent ferrying them to after school activities! Although my husband and I do love taking the kids to the beach and enjoying some family downtime. And if I get time to myself my favourite chill time is reading, of course!

And lastly, if you were chosen for an ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ type TV programme, which four celebs would you choose to join you and why?

Ooooh! That’s an interesting question! Hmmm …. Taylor Swift because I think she’s a fabulous role model for kids (and I think she would be a cool person to hang out with), Antonio Banderas because … well … he’s Antonio Banderas, what’s not to love about him and that gorgeous accent? I’d also love to have J.K. Rowling as she is such a great inspiration to so many people and has managed to get whole generations reading again (plus my daughter is currently obsessed with the Harry Potter books and so I would be in trouble if I didn’t say J.K.!). And lastly, but by no means least, I would love to be joined by Tom Jones because I think he would be a bit of a joker and would have some pretty hilarious stories to tell about his life.


Alli Sinclair is a multi award-winning author of books that combine travel, mystery, and romance. An adventurer at heart, Alli has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains and immersed herself in an array of exotic destinations, cultures, and languages. Alli’s stories capture the romance and thrill of exploring new destinations and cultures that also take readers on a journey of discovery.

utss-kensingtonAmid the vivid beauty of Granada, a woman entrusted with unraveling a family secret will discover the truth about her heritage–and the alluring promise of love…

When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Charlotte Kavanagh will do whatever she asks of her–even if it means traveling to a country that broke her abuela’s heart. Can an unsigned painting of a flamenco dancer unlock the secrets of her grandmother’s youth in Spain? To find the answers she needs, Charlotte must convince the charismatic and gifted musician, Mateo Vives to introduce her to a secluded gypsy clan.

The enigmatic Mateo speaks the true language of flamenco, a culture Charlotte must learn to appreciate if she wants to understand her grandmother’s past–and the flamenco legend that has moved souls to beauty, and bodies to the heights of passion. As Mateo leads her into the captivating world of the music and the dance, Charlotte embraces her own long-denied creative gift and the possibility of a future rich with joy…









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Posted in Writing

Promotion for Alison Brodie’s Rom Com Brake Failure….


Brake Failure is a romcom with a feisty heroine and a hero in uniform. The story is set in one of the most fascinating periods of America’s history: the months leading up to Y2K “meltdown.”
“Is it too late to tell him you love him when you’re looking down the barrel of his gun?”
Ruby is an English lady who knows the etiquette for every occasion and never loses her temper … until she ends up in Kansas. Far from home, she transforms from Miss Perfectly-Correct to criminally insane as she breaks the bonds of her rigid upbringing. Sheriff Hank Gephart tries to reel her in, but she’s out of control and she ain’t hitting the brakes.

As the clock strikes midnight of the new Millennium, she’s on a freight train with three million dollars and a smoking gun.
What happened to Miss Prim-and-Proper? And why did she shoot Mr Right …?
Note: Alison Brodie wrote this story from first-hand experience. She lived in Kansas during this time and was stunned by the global hysteria, unnerved that the US government was spending $150 billion preparing for Armageddon. As Lionel Shriver says in her novel, We Have to Talk About Kevin: “1999, a year widely mooted beforehand as the end of the world.”

Brake Failure – Chapter One

Shady Acres Retirement Home, Kansas City
11.56 pm. New Year’s Eve, 1999

‘There’s a dead man at the door,’ Mrs Whitaker hissed, leaning over the desk.
Nurse Betty sighed, took a bite of donut, closed the magazine on “How to get Slim for the Millennium” and heaved herself to her feet. ‘Come on, Mrs Whitaker.’ She curved an arm around the old woman’s shoulders and began to guide her along the corridor. ‘Let’s get you back to the lounge. You’re missing all the fun.’
Mrs Whitaker twisted away. ‘Didn’t you hear me? There’s a dead man at the door!’
Nurse Betty stopped, mid-chew. The doors to the lounge were wide open. Garlands festooned the ceiling; coloured balloons drifted over the carpet, paper-cups lay scattered like there’d been a stampede. ‘Where is everybody?’ she demanded.
‘Where do you think?’
Nurse Betty pivoted, turned sharp right and marched into the entrance lobby. Beyond the glass doors, the residents stood in the snow, illuminated under the porch light. The doors slid open and she was outside, cold biting her cheeks, shoes slipping on ice as she descended the ramp. She paused when she saw the snail’s trail of blood in the snow. It came out of the blackness, from the direction of the railroad, and into the light – a red line disappearing into the huddle of residents who were shivering and whispering.
She pushed in to see what they were staring at. A big man in a sheriff’s uniform lay spread-eagled on the ground. The snow around him looked like Strawberry Slurpee. She couldn’t see his face because Mrs Peterson, who was seventy-five and wore leopard-print blouses, was giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. As Nurse Betty pulled her off, she gasped.
Hank! Blood stained his neck, his uniform, his hands. She dropped to her knees and opened his jacket. He’d been shot. Above their heads, the sky exploded in bangs, fizzing and popping. A high, keening whistle screamed low over the rooftop.
The new Millennium.
She struggled to her feet to go call an ambulance. Mrs Peterson was again bending over the body. Nurse Betty had to shout over the noise of the fireworks. ‘Don’t give him mouth-to-mouth!’
‘I’m not!’ Mrs Peterson shouted back. ‘He’s delirious. I’m trying to hear what he’s saying.’
A huge explosion shook the air. Silver starbursts lit up the sky.
In the sudden lull, Mrs Peterson again lowered her head to the sheriff’s mouth and when she looked up her eyes were big.
‘He’s saying: “Don’t do it, Ruby. Don’t do it.”’

London. Sixteen weeks earlier …



author-photoAlison is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side.

A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison the idea for FACE TO FACE which was published by Hodder & Stoughton. “Fun to snuggle up with” –GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Pick of the Paperbacks. FACE TO FACE became a bestseller in the UK, Germany and Holland.
Alison moved to Kansas. She loved the people, the history and the BBQs! And it was here she first had the idea for BRAKE FAILURE.
Alison lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley.
Alison is now an indie author. THE DOUBLE was reviewed in 2016: “Excellent … Proof of her genius in writing fiction” -San Francisco Book Review


BRAKE FAILURE has just been released. Here are some editorial reviews:

“Masterpiece of humor” –Midwest Book Review
“5/5 Empowering … I’d love to see more from this author” –San Francisco Book Review
Goodreads link:
Alison would love to hear from you. Here is her website:

BUY LINKS – Brake Failure

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:





Facebook PAGE:


Posted in Writing

Pre-Publication Interview with N J Simmonds whose debut novel The Path Keeper is due out on 23rd February, 2017…

Although I will be promoting and reviewing The Path Keeper on 23rd Feb,  I’ve managed to grab a pre-publication chat with Natali. Among other things, we’re talking about her life, her writing and, of course, that all important debut novel…

author-n-j-simmondsGood morning Natali and welcome. Can I start by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo. My name is Natali Drake but I write as N J Simmonds. I’m a proud north London girl but I’ve lived all over the world including Australia, Spain and The Netherlands. When I’m not busy being a YA author I’m a freelance writer and brand consultant. I live in Delft, a very arty, cute town in Holland, with my husband and two daughters (6 and 8). Although due to my husband’s work we may be moving on somewhere else in a few years…who knows where. I’m a perpetual wanderer and a creative nomad. I love it!

When did your writing career begin?

Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl. It sounds trite but becoming a published author has been a dream of mine since I first learned to read. Professionally I have been writing since the age of 18 when I began working for various corporate publications and then moved on to marketing and advertising…but it really kicked off in 2014 when I began submitting articles to online magazines and newspapers and became a freelance writer. In 2015 I co-founded an online magazine called ‘The Glass House Girls’ which now has tens of thousands of followers worldwide and really gave me the confidence to complete my novel. By 2016 I had received a three book offer from Accent Press for ‘The Path Keeper’ series and that’s when I knew I was probably a ‘proper’ writer.

Your debut, The Path Keeper, due out on 23rd February, is a YA novel. What was the inspiration behind the story?

Firstly I never set out to write YA (when Accent Press told me that they wanted ‘The Path Keeper’ for their Young Adult division I had to Google what that actually meant). My book centres around the life of a 19 year old girl, but it’s not your usual coming of age romance – so don’t expect another Twilight! The story came to me (and I shall quote my favourite YA author here, John Green) like sleep, slowly at first then all at once. I watched a TV documentary about a girl so fixated on wanting to be loved that she didn’t realise that her ‘boyfriend’ was actually her best friend dressed up, it was crazy and it got me thinking back to my days as a teen. I thought back on what it felt like to be so wrapped up in the drama and intensity of first love, that all-consuming obsession with someone unobtainable, that the person themselves ceases to actually matter. In fact, you only see what you want to see. That was the starting point that I wanted to explore. Then I had to make Zac more than just unobtainable, he had to be extreme and unique – and once I realised just how different he should be (no, he isn’t a zombie or vampire) the story took on a life of its own. Then one day the characters popped into my head fully formed and haven’t left since. I had to write down their story because they were driving me mad!

Is this a stand-alone or are there more books planned in the series?

I always intended for ‘The Path Keeper’ to be a trilogy – why write one first novel when you can write three? I like to challenge myself! The book works fine on its own, but it doesn’t have a neat ending because I always knew what would happen next. My stories are not linear; they flit about through time and from character to character demonstrating the complicated links and threads that bind us and push us through our life journey. The book is multi-layered and doesn’t begin from the very beginning, for that you have to read the second one ‘Son of Secrets’ which is out later in the year. Then the third pushed you forward in time and who knows, perhaps there will be spin offs after the third? At the moment I’m two chapters away from completing the sequel ‘Son of Secrets’ and have already started planning the third. I don’t think Ella and Zac will be leaving my head for a while – they have taken permanent residency in there!


Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your writing?

I’m terrible at answering questions like this because I think ‘do I answer in a way that makes me sound highly intelligent and well read, or do I answer honestly?’ I’ll go for honesty. I don’t tend to have favourite authors as much as I have favourite books. I like a book to shock me, question myself and give me an effortless ride. If I want to be educated or take my time wading through complicated passages I will read non-fiction…but for a good story, I want to be entertained. Terry Pratchett was a genius and made me howl with laughter, as does Ben Elton’s satirical books. Roald Dahl taught me from a young age that words were magic. Stephen King has the ability to use simple words to build terrifying worlds. Isabelle Allende was the first writer to make me sob uncontrollably. And now that I’ve stepped into the realm of YA I am devouring books by John Green, Jennifer Niven, Rainbow Rowell and Nicola Yoon…they cover important themes in a light and real way, much like Judy Blume did during my childhood. But the books that actually stick in my mind and made a huge impact on me are ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver, ‘The Time Travellers Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger and ‘Killing Me Softly’ by Nicci French. The first book made me really think, really THINK, the second mixed fantasy with romance in an effortless way and the third gave me an enigmatic main character and a raw passion that I found really powerful. So the emotions those three bring out of me every time I read them are the emotions I aimed for when writing ‘The Path Keeper’.

What would your advice be to aspiring writers?

I love giving advice, it’s my favourite hobby…here goes.
1. Read. Read EVERYTHING. All genres, old and new, easy and complicated. Immerse yourself in other worlds, look at the way writers use words and punctuation to add drama and ambience, study books – especially the ones that make you feel something. How do they do it? Where does the magic lie?
2. Write. Then write some more. And if you think you can’t write any more…keep writing. Journals, blogs (aspiring writers are so lucky now that they can set up a free WordPress site in an hour and get their words in front of the world so quickly, I never had that growing up), submit articles to websites and magazines, volunteer to guest write for someone else’s publication. It doesn’t matter where you do it…just write. Don’t do it to impress or make money (seriously, leave now if you think writing will make you rich), do it because you can’t go a day without writing. It has to hurt. Does it physically hurt when you go a day or two without writing anything? Yes? Good! You’re on your way…
3. Don’t give up. I got over thirty rejections for my first novel, but I didn’t give up. It wasn’t an option. I wrote my book so others could read it, so it was my duty to keep pushing to get it out there.
4. Grow a thick skin! I penned an article once for The Independent that resulted in three days of Twitter death threats until I shut down my account. I changed the entire ending of ‘The Path Keeper’ because my beta readers thought it was ludicrous. I was told that writing my book was a pipe dream and self-indulgent, that not just anyone would be a writer. At any point I could have got upset, but I didn’t. Today is my launch date, tomorrow I may get my first hideous review…it’s simply part and parcel of what we do. Take it on the chin, accept criticism graciously, learn from the feedback and move on.
5. Keep the day job. If I can write three novels while running a business, emigrating abroad where I knew no one and raising two kids in a foreign country then I’m sure you too can write your first novel in your spare time. Don’t give everything up to write unless you already have a steady income because it won’t make you rich…at least not for quite a few years. I also believe that the more sacrifices you make to find the time to work on your masterpiece the harder you will work to make it a success.

Many thanks for stopping by to talk and good luck for publication day.
Any time…I had fun!


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