I’m delighted to welcome Elizabeth Lamprey, indie author of lively and intriguing whodunits. I asked her a few questions.

Tell us briefly about One Two Buckle My Shoe and Three Four Knock On My Door. 

They are novellas, and whodunits in the Detection Club style, set in Scotland in the kind of retirement village I hope to end up in myself one day. Retirement villages aren’t old age homes – they’re designed for people in late middle age who are down-sizing into an environment that will be age-friendly when they get old.  My invented one is definitely eccentric.

What’s the story behind the stories? Why did you write the books?

My mother moved into a retirement village very reluctantly, after finally realizing she couldn’t cope with a big house any longer then absolutely loved it, she was always delighted and intrigued by her new neighbours. Sadly she took ill and died and I wrote a story where murders occurred in the village and she and  friends did a sort of multiple Miss Marple on them – it was a therapy for me, to fix her in my mind as having fun and lively friends and a bit of a challenge, like a never-ending murder dinner. I’d never written a whodunit before, although I enjoy reading them, and a year or so later the One Two title popped up out of nowhere and the idea for the series was born. I borrowed the basic story from her book, fictionalizing the characters and making them younger. She’s lent her name to the friend character – Vivian – but Vivian only borrows her voice and moments of her history, she isn’t a portrait.

Are they fun to write?

They’re great fun to plot – deciding on a murder and working backwards to set it up so that the reader and the characters can solve it, hopefully in a neck and neck finish. Setting up the clues so they are fairly presented but not screamingly obvious is the trickiest part.

12knockdoorWhich character are you most like and why?

I think I may be most like Katryn, the administrator who joins Grasshopper Lawns in the second book, after the death of the first administrator  – I grew up in South Africa, so I can identify with her, and quite enjoy having her around. She’s a minor role, very direct and pragmatic.

Dogs feature quite prominently in the stories. I’m guessing you’re a dog lover. Please tell us about your current canine companion/s. Dogs totally took over the second book, but they’re normally more wallpaper. There’s a cat coming into the third book – I do love pets, they really make a house a home, especially for anyone living alone. I became a cat person about ten years ago but there were always dogs in my life before. I took on a rescue dog with severe personality issues (she shares most of Maggie’s traits, and more) about six months ago and at first regretted it bitterly but wouldn’t want to be without her now. The cat is still reserving judgement.

Do you have any bizarre writing rituals?

I don’t think so – I had a foible about writing with purple ink and it reached a point where I could only write with purple ink, but finally trained myself to type direct, rather than write the first draft in longhand.  And breaking myself of the habit of smoking while I typed was mind-numbing for a while! I was quite stressed during the adjustment and held a pen between my teeth, sucking furiously when my mind went blank, until one burst and ink went everywhere. Cured.

Did you design your covers yourself? What was your aim in the designs?

I got really lucky with the covers, I might have tried some inexpert photo-shopping but I knew the first one had to be an abandoned shoe – trying photo-shopping that. I finally went onto Elance to find an artist.  Lacey O’Connor is practically psychic and can create more than I even realized I wanted, she’s absolutely brilliant.

34knockdoorWhen did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

Since forever, since before I even knew that daydreams and scribbling endless stories had a name. I thought the dream would only ever be that, a dream, when family problems meant I couldn’t go to university to read English, but reading and writing are two of my greatest pleasures, I just wish I could write as well as the authors I read!

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Don’t rush into self-publishing – I doubt anyone will listen, because I wouldn’t have listened, but in retrospect I threw away a lot of potential word-of-mouth goodwill from family and friends by putting out a sub-standard first book. The story itself hasn’t changed but there were so many glitches in the first edition, and the format was really amateur. A lot were picked up in the second, and I had already completed a complete loop on the learning curve by then! I feel really strongly about it, and am constantly meeting SP authors who simply don’t see errors as a problem, the important thing, they insist pompously, is the story. Putting out sub-standard books is bad for us all and with so very many books on offer your readers won’t get to the story because they will give up on the first page. I’m a copy-editor myself (granted, mainly business / technical stuff) and I thought I could do my own copy-editing. No-one can – your brain auto-adjusts and simply doesn’t see errors on work it knows well.

 And finally, anything else our readers need to know about you?

I have four names – apparently in some traditions a long name means good luck – and also a Twitter name (Elegsabiff) so in a weird way I have several lives. My professional life skips the second name,  I write under the first three (Elizabeth Joanna Lamprey), I am known by my first and last names, and I review and tweet under the elegsabiff name. Maybe one day I’ll settle on one version, but it could be boring. I was quite taken with the idea of publishing as Elegsabiff but KDP isn’t really set up for one name. Maybe that’s why Cher has never self-published?

About the books

One Two Buckle My Shoe

Detectives nearly always work alone, although some don’t mind an admiring sidekick as they deftly and efficiently go about their business. In real life, murder isn’t always straightforward and clues can be much more elusive. In this particular case, just finding out who exactly got murdered was the first challenge.

The residents at Grasshopper Lawns were closely interested, because the murderer could be among them, but hadn’t any intention of interfering in the solving of the case. Piecing together scraps of information was intriguing, though. And they did keep coming across facts that no-one had given to the police… This is the first in the quite light-hearted murder series based in a rather unusual retirement village in Scotland.

Three Four Knock On My Door

A dead body in the laundry sparks off the next murder mystery at Grasshopper Lawns. Once again Edge and her friends help the police with this investigation but there’s more to deal with. Throw in a badly behaved dog, a tall, shadowy figure and Death with his scythe and events get quite complicated!

chriscarrolliParanormal novels come in many shapes and forms. At one time they seemed to all be about vampires who found it hard to keep their clothes on, but the genre is maturing and diversifying now. There is still the chick lit/erotica escapist end of it, and always will be, but there is a deeper, darker, thought-provoking side too. It’s in this range of the spectrum that you’ll find Chris Carrolli’s books.

Chris has written two outstanding paranormal novels in his Paranormal Invesigator series. I reviewed the first of these, Pipeline, on this site a couple of months ago. I loved it. And The Listener is every bit of good. I’ll share my review of it in a moment, but first we need to hear from Chris. I talked to him about his writing.

Tell us briefly about Pipeline and The Listener.

Pipeline is the story of Tracy Kimball, a young nurse who survived a car accident that killed her fiancée. Now, she’s plagued by a series of paranormal incidents concerning him. She seeks out a team of paranormal investigators, who discover some surprising things about the nature of his ghostly contact. The story deals with a non-fictional paranormal phenomenon known to ghost hunters as “The Pipeline effect.” It is the term used for ghostly communication through means of technology.

The Listener begins where Pipeline ended. It doesn’t continue the story of Tracy Kimball, but the investigators, who have now taken center stage. An incident in Pipeline occurs that leads to the events in The Listener. In this book, I explore a form of telepathy known as clairaudience, or listening and speaking with the dead, as well as remote hearing.


What’s the story behind the stories? Why did you write the books?

Well, after a few strange occurrences in my own life and being fascinated with the “Pipeline effect,” the idea of Pipeline formed in my head. As I started writing it, I assumed it would be a short story, but after introducing my investigators, I realized I had a short novel on my hands. The Listener started off as what happened next, and I decided to write about another paranormal aspect that I was fascinated with, clairaudience.


pipelineWhat do you enjoy most about writing about the paranormal? Do you ever scare yourself?

There are unlimited aspects of paranormal to write about. It’s not hard to see why it’s a new and upcoming genre since so many of those aspects have rarely been written about or pondered before. What was once Taboo is now being written about freely, and I’m glad to be a part of that.

Yes, I have scared myself already writing the third book in the series, which makes me excited about it.


Which of the characters you’ve created are you most like?

Actually, I’ve given each of my characters some trait that belongs to me, whether it’s a candy bar addiction or having seen a ghost. So, they all have some aspect of me that I’ve incorporated. I doubt I could pick one.


Did you design your covers yourself? What was your aim in the designs?

No, not exactly. We as authors are encouraged to choose a photo that best represents our story and to mention any ideas that we have. I’ve been fortunate enough to find two pictures that really hit home. I mention things like colors or certain small details. But, the end result of my covers is the brilliant work of Melange Books’ Cover Artist, Caroline Andrus. She has an amazing history of excellent covers.


When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I was a teenager. I knew after reading my idols, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Sidney Sheldon and many others.


What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Always remember to market your work. Look for publishers, agents, magazines, etc, that are requesting the genre or idea that you’ve written about. Don’t think there aren’t any; there are. And if you can’t find them in the Writer’s Handbook, you can find them on the internet.


listenerWhat books are you reading at the moment?

Right now, I’m reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I’d read it some years ago, but it’s such a great work of true crime by Capote that I decided to pick it up again, especially after learning that it is the most rated book on Goodreads.


What books are you writing?

I’m wrapping up the third book in the Paranormal Investigator, titled, The Third Eye of Leah Leeds. In this book, paranormal investigator, Leah Leeds, returns to Cedar Manor to confront the memories that continue to haunt her many years later. It looks like a 2013 release, but I’m not sure what month yet.


How do you keep sane as an indie author?

I just stay writing as much as possible. There is more work involved as an Indie author because you alone are promoting your book. So, there is a great deal of extra time involved, but it’s all for the better.


Do you have any writing rituals?

I try not to keep rituals by the hour, since anything can happen. But, I write in the day, and then I write at night also.


And finally, anything else our readers need to know about you?

My readers are always free to share with me their personal paranormal experiences whether though facebook or my email that’s listed in the book. I am always interested in hearing about those experiences. It doesn’t mean I’ll use them, but hearing them helps me to know what people can and cannot relate to, what they think is real, and what they think is over the top.

My review

Here’s what I thought of The Listener.

The Listener by Chris Carrolli is the second in his Paranormal Investigator Series, following on from Pipeline. Sidney Pratt, a member of the investigating team, is found unconscious and taken to hospital. While he undergoes surgery he enters the realm of ‘white light’ and he travels into his subconscious and his past, revisiting some of his long dead relatives. He hears the voice of boy that had been buried within his memories. He needs to remember what he was told as this is the key to the team’s next mystery.  There is a kidnapping to solve and the menacing Roman to deal with, but he turns out to have a strong tie to the team which is going to complicate matters as they battle with the case.

All the characters develop further from the first story but if you’re meeting them for the first time, you can quickly get under their skins. You understand why they do what they do. Like Pipeline, this is an extremely exciting and well written book. The plot is intricate and ingenious. There’s tension, mystery and moments of horror. You quickly get drawn into the action and have to keep reading until you reach the unexpected ending. It’s not always a comfortable read as Carrolli doesn’t hesitate to shock us but he’s a master of entertainment and has us under his spell from the first word. Every bit as good as its predecessor, The Listener confirms that this series will be a truly breathtaking one.


Zuto: The Adventures of a Computer VirusZuto: The Adventures of a Computer Virus by Udi Aharoni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Zuto: The Adventures of a Computer Virus” by Udi Aharoni is a fabulous, quirky and imaginative book for youngsters. Tommy’s computer has a virus – Zuto to be precise. But Zuto is a laid back, inoffensive one who rides a motorcycle. He is happy to hang around with his friend, an outdated media program, Super Media 2.0. There is a friendly but dodgy calculator program in Newton and also Silver Shield, a virus fighting program. This extremely likeable but less than promising group join together to fight the worm that has invaded Tommy’s computer and is causing all the trouble. As they do so, kids are introduced to various parts of the computer and they will get an understanding of how they work. For example, firewalls are depicted as curtains of flame that open and close to let safe info through. There are Central Processor Agents who keep everyone organised, much as you’d expect.

Udi Aharoni has a very readable style. He explains things clearly and it never gets complicated. There is plenty of fun in the story but also a very real look at loyalty and unity for the common good. There is a heroic quest going on and the friends work well together. They are a loyal, tight team and that is inspiring. The Zutopedia at the end is a nice touch and explains the technical terms that are used in the book. There are good quality illustrations and all in all, this is a very professionally presented, well-written and well-thought-out book. Both I and my eleven-year-old enjoyed it immensely and learned about the inner workings of computers.

View all my reviews

The whole genre of detective fiction began with a lady author – Anna Katherine Greene – and it’s good to see that it’s safe and even more successful these days in the hands of other women writers such as Marcia Turner. Ill Conceived is the second in the Meredith and Hodge series and is every bit as good as the first book, Misplaced Loyalty. The characters we encountered previously continue to develop and we meet some interesting new ones. Relationships between them don’t always take the course we’d expect. There’s an intricately created and thought out plot with several strands to it.
Patsy Hodge is now working as a private investigator and her first job throws her in at the deep end. How come Stella Young, businesswoman and lesbian, is pregnant? To her certain knowledge she has never slept with a man. Meanwhile, Meredith and his team are investigating the murder of a young man in broad daylight for apparently no reason whatsoever. Why does all the evidence seem to point to a very unlikely suspect? How does the Sensations night club fit into all of this? And even after the self-confessed perpetrator is taken into custody, how come the deaths continue? The various story lines become intertwined meaning Patsy and Meredith are working together again but there are tensions between them, in both their professional and personal lives. Are they being completely honest with each other?
A truly absorbing book with an ending that takes your breath away, and leaves you eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

girl clour lindaThe Girl Who Could Change Colour is the first in a super new series of YA paranormal fiction from exciting author Linda Dent Mitchell. Our heroine is teenager Lizzarda Lexx who is headstrong yet also very vulnerable, having been orphaned young and then sent into a string of homes and foster care. She’s a tough cookie but not as impervious to her own and other people’s feelings as she tries to make out.

She finds herself in the small town of Little-Riddell with the Swallow family in their aptly named house, Swallow’s Rest. Sally Swallow is a wonderful foster-mother, kind, understanding and patient. She already has two foster-children under her wing, Lulu and Nathan, the latter who doesn’t take to Lizzarda and has a few problems of his own.

Little-Riddell is dead boring as far as Lizzarda’s concerned, so when a group of ‘undesirables’ start appearing regularly in the park, they become a focus of her attention. At least they’re exciting. However, Lizzarda soon finds she’s out of her depth but fortunately her strange, new ability comes into play just in time. Linda can change colour to blend into her surroundings. However, this ability also causes problems, not least of which is to make her feel as though she’ll never fit in.

How will she cope with her uniqueness? Will she use it for good or sinister reasons? And what do other people really think of her? This novella, that touches on difficult issues such as fostering and underage drinking, sensitively explores this unusual teenager’s psyche and introduces us to a very complex yet likeable character. I look forward to her future adventures as there’s a lot more to Lizzarda than meets the eye.

Only a very interesting author could come up with such an interesting story, so I had to find out more about Linda. I asked her some questions about this book, her writing and herself.

Linda_MitchellWhat inspired you to write The Girl Who Could Change Colour?

I was inspired to write The Girl Who Could Change Colour because I was interested in how a troubled teenage girl might overcome her problems. As the story unfolds Lizzarda discovers how her ‘amazing powers’ can not only be used to her advantage, but also the advantage of others. The combination of these things, and the events which take place in the subsequent books change the way Lizzarda values herself and other people.

Was it an easy story to write? After all, you deal with some quite tough issues such as foster care and underage drinking.

I don’t think any story is easy to write – not for me anyway. The death of Lizzarda’s  parents, foster care and the underage drinking are issues that she struggles with. In time, her ‘amazing powers’, and the people she grows to trust help her to deal with these issues.

Did you design the cover yourself?

The book cover was a collaborative creation. I’m from an art background. I trained in textile design and worked in a design studio for thirteen years. I also taught art and design in schools having gained a BA, MA and a PhD. I work with a digital designer called Jacqueline Abromeit. I send her my ideas for the covers, she interprets them, sends them back, then we finalise the details. This is the fourth book cover she’s done for me and she gets it right every time!

Which character from the book are you most like? Lizzarda? Mrs Swallow? Hopefully not one of the Hoodies!?

I’m probably most like Lizzarda in that I have her independent streak. I looked similar to her when I was younger (but I didn’t have body piercings and multi-coloured hair. I’m from a different generation and those things weren’t as accepted as they are now).  That’s where the similarity ends because (fortunately) I came from a happy loving family and didn’t leave home until I was twenty five.

Who’s your favorite character and why?

As well as Lizzarda, I’m quite fond of Lulu Lang. She’s so bubbly, happy and friendly. Unlike Lizzarda she’s grateful for her new home at Swallows’ Rest – and for the care her new foster parents are giving her.

What are you working on now? Will it be out soon?

I’m working on a few things: The second book in the Lizzarda trilogy, and the third book in my Oribliss castle series for 9-12 year olds. I’m working towards these two books being published this year. As I’m a very creative person, I have lots of notebooks on the go and other titles ‘in progress’.

Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I read all sorts of things. As well as children’s books I read lots adult books. I love mystery, suspense, fantasy, paranormal and murder mysteries. I also like ‘tongue in cheek’ humour. I love my new Kindle Fire! I think it’s a brilliant invention. It’s opened up a new world for readers and writers and I download lots of sample chapters to see what books are like. I generally have a few books on the go, then dependent on my mood I can switch from one to the other. I love to give new authors a try. I recently saw an ad in a national newspaper, a book for teens called Fugitive by Louise Miles, so I downloaded a sample, decided I liked it and bought it.

When did you first realise you wanted to be an author?

I never decided that I wanted to be an author. It sort of ‘came upon me’. My art and design background and my educational studies led me to it. I used to get lots of inspiration for my painting and drawing from literary themes, and then a few years ago I suddenly started writing. My biography is on my website www.ldmitchell.com which gives more details about myself and my books.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors, adults or children?

If I was to give advice to self published authors it would be similar to that given to me by my PhD supervisors: KEEP GOING. A true professional never gives up. Don’t cut corners! You need a good book cover, a good story, and a punchy website – and the work MUST be professionally edited and proof-read. Use social networking sites, respond to emails and interview requests, advertise in your local area. You need to be visible – if you’re not no one will know your work exists. The hardest part is marketing your work independently, this is one of the disadvantages of self-publishing. I’d also keep trying to get a mainstream publisher, but if you’re lucky someone might find you.

OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are the three favorite things in your wardrobe?

zebraNow that’s a hard one! My wardrobe is overloaded (so is my jewellery box) as I’m a bit of a hoarder. So I’ll say what my favourites are at the moment: The first is my all-in-one that I wear in the evenings. It’s a zebra with a hood and pink ears (no – it doesn’t have a tail) You may smile, but with all this extremely cold weather, and living in a two-hundred-year-old cottage with fluctuating heating, it’s a garment that I look forward to wearing. The second are a pair of black leather shoes that a bought from Dune. There’s something very witchy about them. They’re very plain, with a tiny heel, laces, and a little pointed toe. I’m struggling on my third…but I do like my green tourmaline and diamond ring…

What food can’t you resist?

Easy – a cool glass of wine at the end of the day. White or rose are my favourites. I also like chocolate. I’m veggie so I like fresh fruit, salads, pasta and rice dishes.

Describe your perfect day out

This is another one that’s easy for me to answer. I love a day out by myself – no Kindle – no telephones. I like market towns and cultural cities. I enjoy wandering round streets, window shopping and going for lunch. My daughter lives in Leeds so I love to meet up with her. We always have a restaurant booked in advance – and because I don’t drive on those days I can have a glass of wine…or two!



I’ve been fortunate enought to be able to pin down a very busy man – semi-retired horror film producer Kensington Gore – to ask  him about his recently published and very entertaining diary that I was honoured to edit for him.

Tell us briefly about One Year Closer to Death.

It’s my diary… Too brief?
Sorry young lady, I always have problems with briefs. It’s my diary in which I set out to show in words my comeback into the movie world. The story of my creation and production of my last great Horror feature.
Sadly, like all things in life, it didn’t turn out quite as simple as that.

Why did you feel the need to publish your diary?

In the first place it was to publicise my last great horror film “Werewolves of London,” I knew 2012 was going to be an amazing year. What with the Queen’s jubilee that summer long sports day thing, London felt like the centre of the universe.
Hasn’t felt like that since the swinging sixties, back then I was too busy swinging and off me head to remember a bloody thing so I thought this time get it down Kenny old boy. Keep it for prosperity- I mean posterity!

Was it easy to write? Do you feel you’ve given away too much about your private life – or not enough?
Well, as with most diaries it was just taken one day at a time.

I thought a lot about what I put in and in the end I thought bugger it, best to lay myself bare. Warts and all so to speak. There’s too many bland, banal, so-called celebrities these days I decided to give people a an insight into a real character, I’m a horror leg end don’t you know?

kenpumpkinDid your wife Marge help in the writing and editing process?
Marge was a brick. In fact I often wanted to throw her through the window!

No, seriously that woman inspires me every day of my life. It is for her I bother standing up erect.
She did give a little help with editing but she’s American you see and kept wanting us to have sex in the “parking lot” or an “elevator”, the sex I didn’t mind I just didn’t want to confuse the reader with the terminology.
In the end I got a very good professional editor, her name escapes me at the moment but you look a lot like her…

How has your film production experience helped with your writing?

It always helps me, every day and every way, working to deadlines, knowing you have to fine tune right up to publishing. Realising things that happen out of your hands that sometimes are pure magic and you have to, as I like to say, just slip them in.

Did you design the cover yourself?
That’s me on the cover – but it was designed by my grandson Graeme Parker. He’s a whizz with all that computer jiggery pokery. He touched me up and took years off me.

kendeadfunnyWhat are you working on now? Will it be out soon?

I’ve got more fingers in more pies than a whole host of fat chefs.
My biggest project is now I have some finances I’ll be starting to shoot my feature “Werewolves of London” it’s a great script that shows London in a totally new light.
My agent Sol also wants me to do a novel of the film, says he wants to tap in the YA market, whatever that means? Think he means YMCA but I’ll not dance to the beat of that dance.
I’m working on a new diary for 2013 and this time it will be more about the film making process. I’d like to make it the must have handbook for young horror film makers. I’m keeping my rants to a minimum.
Working on a joke book about the battle of the sexes with my good young female writer friend, Leesa Wallace, she’s very talented you know you should interview her.
I also have three of my “Twisted Tales” collection of short stories coming soon. They are all Love stories with a dark twisted edge. I did mean to have them published for Valentines until I took unwell; but I’m a lover any time of the year and fighting fit and ready to spread the love and Gore.

Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

Sadly I don’t get much chance to read for pleasure at the moment. I use a lot of audio books – at the moment in my Sony Walkman I have “The Rotters Club” by Jonathan Coe. A book set in the Seventies, good book but a horrible decade that sadly I remember all too much.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author as well as a film director?

I’ve always written all my life. My mother said I was born with a pen in my hand; that surprised the midwife, I can tell you.

As a director it was always a different challenge taking another’s words and sharing the vision and making their words come alive on the screen. Now maybe in my old age I just have time for my own vision, I have my own stories to tell with my very own unique touch of Gore.

kenbetWhat one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Normally the only advice I give to actors is don’t take advice. But I have to say as a self-published author it might feel like it’s you doing everything and the world and his dog is against you but it doesn’t have to be like that: get a good support team around you. My wife Marge is often giving me a hand, granted usually to my face and slapping me and telling me to behave myself.

Oh, and if you are taking self-publishing seriously get a good editor you can work with. I was lucky I got the best.

OK, enough of the serious stuff. Do you ever write naked?

It’s the only way I ever write, true it gets me a few funny looks when I’m writing on the train.

Has the dog ever eaten your manuscript or the cat or pig sat on the delete button on your computer and destroyed a work-in-progress?

My pet dog Fang eats anything and everything but luckily never ate my work. My pet pig, Bacon Sandwich, once tried to eat my memory stick. He thought it was a boiled sweet which I normally feed him as he sits beside me in my office.
Marge says like-minded company flock together.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

It’s hard to say. I worked in the House of Commons as a reporter and when even younger I worked down the sewers. It was a pretty bad dealing with the shit and the bloody turds on a daily basis but working in the sewers was pretty bad too.

What are your three favourite bloke’s gadgets and why?

It might surprise you, my dear, I’m not much of a gadget man. I’m old school. Mind you I’d be lost without my smart phone but at times it’s so smart it just makes me feel incredibly dumb. The TV remote control is the greatest invention known to man but it causes more fights than anything else in our house. I’m always wrestling with the grandkids over it, desperate to watch In the Night Garden. In the end they give in and let me watch.

And finally, anything else our readers need to know about you?
I can breathe through my ears, Marge says that comes in handy. My favourite whiskey is Glenfiddich but you’ve all missed my birthday it was on Valentine’s Day. I’m seventy-eight you know?
You can get to know more about me in my website
Also on a writing front I’m doing quite a bit of work for charity. Normally I don’t like to talk about it but they are two very worthy causes.

Firstly for Comic Relief – I’m doing A joke-a-thon on the night of Friday the 15th of March you can follow me on the night on @kensington_gore
I hope to raise at least £500 towards that but would love to raise a lot more. I like to try and do my bit, as Marge can verify.

If people would be kind enough to sponsor me on the Comic Relief site my grandson has set up. https://t.co/xSomkrOY

We also plan to put all the jokes I write and that people send to me on the night into a joke book with all profits going to Comic Relief.

portiaI’m also working on a collection of various up and coming authors to make a charity collection called “Kensington Gore’s Twisted Tails” shorts with a twist in the tale about animals somehow. All profits hoping to go to the RSPCA. Hoping to get ten or twelve writers involved, kind of pay it forward, help them out and help animals out charity and animals too.
Any writers wanting to get involved in this or any future projects feel free to contact me via e-mail [email protected]

Here are the links to all my books so far:
Kensington Gore’s Diary – Another Year Closer to Death – viewBook.at/B00AG0BBFM
Kensington Gore’s Twisted Tales Volume 1 – Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater – viewBook.at/B009XLKUS4
Kensington Gore’s Twisted Tales Volume 2 – Bet Your Life – viewBook.at/B00A2ZMARY
Kensington Gore’s Dead Funny Joke Book – viewBook.at/B00B9243K6

torn apartTorn Apart is a roaring-paced, action-packed thriller right from the very first page – a page which sets the scene of a dark and cruel underworld where human life is valued less than a ride in a car.
This sophisticated story centers on Detective Emily Thompson who has become the serial killer’s pinup. The whole Naperville police department is turned inside out as a brutal gang of drug smugglers crashes like a hurricane through their area. Events are stirred up further by a Naperville officer doing the wrong thing for the right reasons as he desperately strives to save his young daughter from a cruel and fatal disease. His actions set in chain events which threaten the lives of the officers and their young families as a tweeny is abducted for a paedophile ring and the ensuing chaos allows a serial killer to close in on Detective Thompson.
This story is not for the faint of heart as the gritty details observed by Gerick in his years as an Illinois reporter are used for the bedrock of his characters, characters who like the real world are both flawed and trying to do the right thing – as they see it. The attention to detail is superb, transporting you right into the thick of the shootouts accompanied by the tinkle of spent casings.
The storyline is by turns both thrilling and disturbing, reflecting the real issues that trouble urban America and the thin blue line trying to hold back the tide, making it impossible to put this book down before the adrenalin-pumping finale.

Buy the book here:

mexizonaDiego, a Nicaraguan teenager, is determined to get into the United States to get a job so he can send money back to his mother to buy drugs for her TB. He has everything organized and arrives with Maria, his pretend wife, at the border, but she has a panic attack. At the last moment Diego has to escape back to the Mexican side of the border, his plans in ruins. He resorts to paying two coyotes to smuggle him into the US. But things go horribly wrong. Two vigilante teenagers shoot at them and Maria is hit. Water hasn’t been left at the prearranged drop-point so the coyotes flee leaving Diego and the others to their own devices. Most give themselves up to save their lives but Diego won’t give up on his dream.

Once in the US he finds work and makes friends, and bumps into Hannah. Hannah is the Sheriff’s daughter. He’s facing re-election and with his policy of sending all illegal immigrants back home, has been popular in Arizona. However, he faces tough opposition this time. So he brings his pretty daughter in to help his ailing campaign. Hannah has been well trained and begins by trotting out her father’s lines, until meeting Diego changes all that. Life becomes very complicated and very dangerous for Hannah and Diego from there on.

Mexizona is an incredibly impressive debut novel. Author Alan Larson tackles two thorny political issues – illegal immigration and political corruption – and even throws in a good dose of teenage hormones too. The result is a gritty, modern almost-Romeo-and-Juliet story with plenty of political commentary on the way.

Alan Larson’s characters are all believable and fascinating, even the unlikeable ones. His eye for detail is unfailingly keen and he creates authentic, atmospheric settings. His dialogue is punchy and to the point. The whole adventure moves swiftly, gaining momentum as it moves towards its unexpected ending.

This is very thoughtful novel for young adults, but it will appeal to older readers too. With the younger audience in mind, Alan Larson has written the book with the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid scales in mind which help ensure this book is suitable for that readership. That’s just another indication of the conscientiousness with which the author has tackled this creative, moving, powerful project.

It’s a must read and this is certainly an author to look out for. The book is well presented with striking cover artwork.

Here at Books Are Cool we were so impressed with Mexizona that we interviewed Alan to ask him about why he wrote the book, the hazards of being an author and what his future writing plans are.

Author-photo-aalWhat’s the story behind your book? How did you become interested in the book’s main subjects, which, would you agree, are illegal immigration and racial/political intolerance?

Yes, those are the main themes, especially intolerance. I lived in the State of Arizona for about ten years and there are some horrific things happening there. Laws and policies of the United States cause the deaths of hundreds of people per year in American deserts and thousands more south of the border. These policies desperately need to be changed.

Who are the characters based on?

Most of the characters are like what it says on the mushroom bottle – pieces and stems.  Little bits from different people.  For example, like Diego, my sister can discern every ingredient in a dish from a single bite.

Who’s your favorite character?

I don’t have one favorite character in this book.  However, some of the minor characters were the most fun to write – Marge and Britt for example.  It was hard not to go over the top with them and some readers have told me I pushed too far with the Associate Principal.

How much impact does your childhood or other personal experiences have on your writing?

My childhood had a huge impact on this book.  My opinion is that a lot of bigotry is learned in the home; my parents were the pinnacle of tolerance, acceptance, and caring.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

As a vehicle for fostering better understanding, I wanted to show an impartial view of both sides of the illegal immigration issue, but I’m afraid the book ended up skewed to my personal viewpoint.

What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?

First of all, I’ve seen both sides of the border wall in Nogales, Juarez, Mexicali, and Tijuana.  I have been with migrant workers in lettuce fields north and south of the border.  Been hiking in the Sonoran Desert.  Read lots of news articles, especially in the Phoenix NEW TIMES weekly magazine.  Watched nearly two dozen documentaries.  And talked to lots of people:  current local politicians (including a county sheriff), candidates for statewide offices and U.S. Senate, illegal aliens, and Americans who hire illegal aliens.  (I tried to use actual jobs and actual wages for the migrants.)  Most statistics are from government sources.  The data about the for-profit prison agenda came from attending a lecture by Dr. Christina Gomez at the Chicago Public Library.

What was the hardest part of writing Mexizona?

The romance story.  I didn’t think I could pull that off, and if fact, if it hadn’t been for several of my extremely-talented writer friends, that part of the story would be much worse.

What did you enjoy most about writing Mexizona?

I love reading books with unexpected plot twists, so trying to pull that off was the most fun.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and self vs. conventional publishing?

I started off as an accountant and have a MBA, so I tend to look at it from a business perspective.  The conversion to eBooks is inevitable.  Look at complete transformation of the music industry and expect something similar.  As far as publishing, the ease and low cost of self-publishing an eBook allows authors to sidestep the conventional publishing gatekeepers. At the end of the day, readers have always decided what they want to read. Now readers have more to choose from.  Of course, that can be both a good and a bad thing.

What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

I don’t know, but I sure hope people keep reading books.

What authors do you like to read?

For thrillers, I’ve been hooked on Daniel Silva ever since I read THE MARCHING SEASON over a decade ago.  I luckily happened to take the same week-long University of Iowa summer writing class as Audrey Niffenegger when she was writing THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE.  I got to read the first draft of that entire manuscript two years before it was published. Of course, it was wonderful and I truly expected it to win the Pulitzer Prize.  I must also mention – Nell Harper Lee – To Kill A Mockingbird (my all-time favorite), and I loved Suzanne Collins – THE HUNGER GAMES (read it five times).

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Sure.  I’ve been writing forever and never sold or published anything until now when I self-published – MEXIZONA.  I may still not sell anything.  You can’t count on writing to feed you and you have to be willing to accept a lot of rejection.

What are you writing now?

As soon as I can get back at it, I’ll be revising the first book in my Gypsy trilogy, THE LAST GYPSY PRINCESS, for hopefully a late spring or early summer ePublication.  (My friend, author Karen Duvall, has dubbed it – “The Gypsy version of THE GODFATHER.”  I wish.)

Any last thoughts for our readers?

Yes.  I want to warn your readers that my future suspense/thrillers will not have any big political agendas or themes.  My future thrillers are just for fun…at least for now.


TinytowncoverThe modern Science-Fiction market can easily be classified as a saturated affair, with most innovation considered tapped and very few openings readily available. To squeeze in, something distinct and uncontaminated by the stale waft of ideas is necessary, and not only by virtue of its title, Tinytown by Derby Gallagher has slipped its way into the Sci-Fi stage. Despite the giants that dwell there, this plucky book has more than earned its place.
With its uncompromisingly dry and dark sense of humour, a fast pacing and a cast of colourful characters, the book spins a fascinating and yet scientifically credible story. Starting in the year 2051 in an overcrowded Great Britain populated by 110 million denizens, the failure to pay a “size fee” results in the shrinkage of the unfortunate to a mere 20% of their original size and their placement in the titular Tinytown, where the shrinkees are viewed at best to be second-class citizens, despite the implementation of these dubious population-control measures by the government. And so enters the long-suffering Tom Flack, flat-out broke from paying the alimony resulting from a messy and legally one-sided divorce to a drug-fuelled and thoroughly unpleasant high-maintenance wife. Despite being reduced to a hero the size of an Action Man, Tom shows himself to be a man of action and campaigns for the rights of the shrinkees in Tinytown, all the while weathering larger-than-life opposition from aforementioned ex-wife and her nauseating brother Lloyd, with just a little help from the marginally prickly yet definitely compassionate Holly.
The book itself is a delight to read; the writing style pulls no punches be it certain characters candidly discussing their drug habits to an adrenaline-spiked car chase, all the while the omnipresent yet omnipotent dryly dark humour drawing for than a few well-deserved smirks from the reader.
All in all, Tinytown is larger than life and most worthy of a place on any e-reader!

Books Are Cool interviewed Darby about Tinytown in particular and writing in general.

darbygallagher1. Tell us briefly about Tinytown.
It’s set in England in 2051, where technology allows humans to be shrunk. People are miniaturised if they cannot pay a size fee. The country’s rulers think this is great – it allows them to divide the country so the rich can live in full-sized splendour while the poor are hidden away. People who have always had a diminished social stature now have a diminished physical stature. Of course, it’s a grossly unfair system but has been established and is accepted by the population as just the way things are. Tom Flack gets shrunk and discovers what happens to small people. He fights back, and his struggle brings him into conflict with his ex-wife, Vanessa, her vile brother Lloyd, and Lloyd’s boss – Moffat P Perculie. Size insurance in 2051 has similarities to private health insurance in 2013 – if you have a good job or a lot of money in the bank, you don’t have to worry about it. But the people at the bottom miss out. David Cameron’s Tories would definitely sign up to Tinytown technology given the chance. Take the vote away from the people you shrink and you’re left with a permanent majority of the electorate. It’s gerrymandering – together with social cleansing – through science.

2. What’s the story behind the story? Why did you write the book?
I felt I had something to say about the world and the kind of self-serving people I’ve met at various times in my life. I also had wanted to write a novel for a long time and often imagined possible futures. I like inventing situations, systems and objects that don’t yet exist. I enjoy not having too many restrictions – like the laws of physics, for example – so I can let my imagination have free rein.
3. Are you a tall or small guy?
I’m 5ft 10in in real life. But when it comes to the big and small people in Tinytown, I definitely see myself on the side of the small.
4. Was it an easy story to write?
I had a rough idea what I wanted to happen in the book but getting from A to B, then C then D, took a lot of hacking at the shrubbery. Certain bits came easy and were a joy to write, but mostly it was tough. Like trying to assemble a car from a pile of parts when all you’ve ever done in the past is drive one.

5. Which character are you most like?
I think I’m like Tom Flack, the hero, but my wife says that I’m somewhat like Lloyd Vincent, Tinytown’s bloated villain. She’s kidding – at least I hope she is.

6. Which of your inventions in the book do you think is most likely to have become reality by 2051? Butt chips maybe?
Yes, butt chips definitely. I would guess something like that will come into use in the next few years. People are always losing their bank and ID cards or having them stolen. Having all that info embedded on a chip inside your body would mean you would not have to worry about losing things. It would also make it easier for authorities to keep track of people.

7. Did you design the cover yourself?
Yes, on a laptop using a mixture of PowerPoint and Gimp – with the help of my 14-year-old son.

8. What are you working on now? Will it be out soon?
I have a few situations and characters rattling around in my head. One idea involves the evil owner/editor of a mighty London newspaper. But I have just fragments really – not enough to form a story.

9. Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?I’m reading two novels right now. The Understudy by David Nicholls seems really funny from what I’ve read so far. I can’t wait to get back to it. I’ve not read any Nicholls before. He’s most famous for One Day, which was a mega-seller and was made into a film. I’m also reading Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland. I’ve read a lot of Coupland before and never been disappointed. He’s such a good writer.
10. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
At the age of 7 or 8. But it took me 30 odd years to actually start writing a book.   

11. What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Have your own voice. But writing is easy compared with getting people to read it. That is tough.

12. OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favorite bloke’s gadgets and why?
A Segway, a Zorb ball and a hoverboard (from Back to the Future 2). I’m a bit of a thrill-seeker, and did several skydives when younger.

 13. Where would you rather eat – at a Happy Eater or a Little Chef?
Neither. Both were synonymous with synthetic, plasticised, bland food and I prefer a greasy spoon where the food is real and made to order.

 14. Please describe your perfect day away from writing.
At Old Trafford watching Manchester United, or Twickenham watching a rugby international.

 15. And finally, anything else our readers need to know about you?
In real life I’m a subeditor (copy editor) on the Guardian newspaper in London, am married and am father to two teenage boys.
You can buy Tinytown here:

gabriela widowAbout the book: Through the intimate bond of a companion and benefactor, Gabriela reconciles the painful experiences of her youth as she is reshaped by the Widow, La Viuda. Together, day after day, night after night, La Viuda immerses Gabriela in lists, boxes, places, times, objects, photos, and stories, captivating and life-changing stories. It seems Gabriela is not just hired to cook and clean; she has been chosen to curate La Viuda’s mementos while taking care of the old woman’s failing health. “As you grow thick, I grow thin,” says the widow, portending the secret of immortality that will overtake both women.

Jack says of his novel: Gabriela and the Widow is a very personal novel not at all based on personal experience. It is a novel about two women, one dying—The Widow; the other—Gabriela, is blossoming. It is an archetypal Mother-Daughter novel working the idea that culture passes through women. It is built on the notion that our memory is fallible and that our stories have to be written down for them to be meaningful. It is a novel about the transformative power of love and respect. It is also a novel built on the idea that women share deep and universal secrets regardless of which culture they live in.

My comments: I found the book to be a gripping read. Gabriela is an amazingly resilient and resourceful character who has a miserable time as an adolescent after she loses her family. She doesn’t want much from life really – just a pair of Nike trainers and to keep busy, but even simple ideals are hard to find in a corrupt, oppressive world. It’s not an easy book to read at times in terms of the harsh content, but it’s one you can’t put down. You get so drawn to Gabriela with her freshness and uncomplicated approach to things. Jack Remick has a gift with character creation. He portrays everyone sharply, even minor characters that we only meet in passing. We know exactly what makes them tick and whether we like them or not within a sentence or two. There is plenty of action, an intriguing plot and a lot of enjoyment to be drawn from this novel.

jack remickAbout the Author: Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer and novelist. In 2012, Coffeetown Press published the first two volumes of Jack’s California Quartet series, The Deification and Valley Boy. The final two volumes will be released in 2013: The Book of Changes and Trio of Lost Souls. Blood, A Novel was published by Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, in 2011.

You can find Jack online at http://jackremick.com
Blog: http://bobandjackswritingblog.com

Twitter: @jackremick

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jack.remick

Publisher Website: http://CoffeetownPress.com

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours, which this post is a part of, visit http://worldofinknetwork.com

Buy the book here: