Author Interviews

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Author Interview – Alison Rattle on her new YA novel The Beloved

Published August 28, 2015 by bibliobeth



Alison grew up in Liverpool, and now lives in a medieval house in Somerset with her three very nearly grown-up children, her husband – a carpenter – an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat. She has co-authored a number of non-fiction titles on subjects as diverse as growing old, mad monarchs, how to boil a flamingo, the history of America and the biography of a nineteenth-century baby killer. She has worked as a fashion designer, a production controller, a painter and decorator, a barmaid, and now owns and runs a vintage tea room in the city of Wells. Alison has also published three YA books about young Victorian women with Hot Key Books – THE QUIETNESS, THE MADNESS and THE BELOVED. Her fourth novel is due out May 2016. Follow Alison at or on Twitter: @alisonrattle

Please click on the book covers to get the link to GoodReads!


See my review for The Quietness HERE!


See my review for The Madness HERE!

Interview with Alison Rattle

I’d like to welcome Alison to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview!

1.) Your latest novel, The Beloved is based on an actual religious sect, The Agapemonites founded in 1846. Can you tell us about the research you had to carry out on this sect for the novel?

I stumbled across the story of The Agapemonites a few years ago when I was doing research for another book. I love quirky pieces of social history, so I stored this one away and had pretty much forgotten about it, until I was thinking of ideas for my next book and found it again in my note file. I actually live not too far away from the village of Spaxton, so the first thing I did was to visit the village. It’s a tiny little place, tucked away in the middle of nowhere with a real feeling of isolation. The buildings of the Abode of Love are still there as is The Lamb pub next door. I could really imagine how much more isolated it must have been in the 1800’s and this gave me a real sense of how such a sect could have survived and flourished away from the public eye. The walls of the pub next door were covered in old newspaper cuttings from the day, so I was able to read about the real scandals and to incorporate them into my story. Newspaper accounts from the period you are writing in are always invaluable, and the tone of the journalism was always so much more colourful than it is today.

2.) The main character, Alice Angel is a naive yet independent young woman which I love and your main female characters in The Quietness and The Madness also seem to have that fiesty streak. Have you ever thought about writing a novel from a male perspective?

I suppose I am naturally drawn to writing female characters because of course I am female myself and can draw upon my own memories of what it was like to be a teenager. Every book I write is a new learning curve and a challenge, so yes, I would like to one day have a go at writing from a male perspective – just to see if I could, if nothing else!

3.) Henry Prince aka The Beloved, is a charming yet despicable young man. Do you think he believed his own hype or always had an ulterior motive?

In real life, Henry Prince was actually a very ugly old man, which makes it even more surprising that he managed to entice so many followers into his cult. He must have had such charisma though, like many people of that type do. He absolutely believed in his own hype. He really did think he was God made flesh. Which I guess was what made him so persuasive.

4.) You touch on some difficult subjects in your novels which make them tense but so exciting to read. Is there any subject you have found difficult to write about/or wouldn’t write about?

I am very much drawn to writing about difficult subjects. I don’t know why. It’s just how I’m made I guess. The darker the better as far as I’m concerned! I don’t think there’s any subject that would be off my radar. I did get very affected when I researched the horrendous practice of baby-farming for my first book, The Quietness. When you’re writing historical fiction, there a distance between you and your subject, which can lessen the impact of a distressing subject, because it seems so far from your own life. But when I delved into the world of baby-farming, I began by researching the life of a baby farmer called Amelia Dyer (I co-wrote her biography – Amelia Dyer – Angel Maker)and followed the lives of some of the children she took into her care and later murdered. I ordered the death certificate of one of these children and reading about how he died, and seeing it in print right in front of me, really hit home and made me cry buckets.

(bibliobeth: “Must order Amelia Dyer biography now!”)

5.) Are you working on anything now and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’ve just finished my fourth book (well, still lots of rewrites and editing to do!) It’s quite different from my first three books. It’s not set in Victorian England for one thing, but in 1961. The main character is called Violet and she was born above her Dad’s fish and chip shop at the exact moment Winston Churchill announced the end of World War 2 on the wireless. It’s a coming of age story and follows Violet as she deals with broken friendships, first love, a missing brother and a series of mysterious murders.

(bibliobeth: “Sounds brilliant – can’t wait!”)

Now for some quick fire questions!

E book or real book?

Got to be real books, I’m afraid. Just love the smell, the feel, and seeing them all, fat with words, lined up in rows on my shelves. Although I did buy my husband a Kindle for Christmas. And he loves it.

Series or stand alone?

Stand alone. I’m too impatient to wait for the next in a series!

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction mostly, although I do love the occasional juicy non-fiction social history, such as The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Definitely bookshops. Especially ones with a coffee shop. Heaven!

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Oh blimey. Dog-earing, I have to admit. My books are always well-thumbed.

Once again, a big thank you to Alison for her efforts in making this interview possible and I’m incredibly excited now for the next book.

The Beloved was published on 5th March 2015 by Hot Key Books and is available from all good retailers NOW. Why not check out her back catalogue too? I highly recommend both The Quietness and The Madness which are both stand-alone novels and can be read in any order you like!


Author Interview – Sarah Hilary on her new crime novel No Other Darkness (Marnie Rome #2)

Published July 7, 2015 by bibliobeth



Sarah Hilary lives in Bath with her daughter, where she writes quirky copy for a well-loved travel publisher. She’s also worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. An award-winning short story writer, Sarah won the Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2012. Her debut novel SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, featuring the tenacious Marnie Rome, was selected by Richard & Judy for their Book Club in Autumn 2014.

Somone else's skin_b_pb.indd

Interview with Sarah Hilary

I’d like to welcome Sarah to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview!

1. How did it feel to have your debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin picked for the Richard and Judy Book Club?

It was pretty amazing! For me, WHSmith is still the place I bought my summer specials and new pencil cases at the end of the holidays. The smell of the place hasn’t changed—reminds me of those Malory Towers books I bought with my pocket money when I was eight. Now my book’s in there and it’s just… Wow.

2. No Other Darkness is your second novel featuring the fabulous DI Marnie Rome. Do you have her entire past history mapped out already or may there still be surprises to come?

With Marnie, it’s all surprises. I write to be surprised, so I’m happy to let Marnie keep her secrets until she’s ready to share. As long as the reader sees a little more of her with each book, I think that’s a good principle—to hold back on the juicy stuff.

3. You touch on some quite difficult subjects in your books including domestic violence and child abduction. Do you find this process quite harrowing or do you manage to switch off in some way?

While I’m writing each book, I’m generally so bound up in the story that I don’t think about switching off. The story’s always in my head during this time and the characters are whispering to me, which is great because that’s what makes the books feel real and immediate. It’s only after I’ve finished a complete manuscript that I feel as if someone’s walloped the back of my head with a wet sandbag.

(bibliobeth: “Ouch!”)

4. Is it true that your books have been picked for a television series? If so, how involved will you be with this process and do you have a clear picture in your head of what your characters should look like?

Yes, the series has been optioned for television which is very exciting. The process is quite collaborative and I’ve met with the scriptwriter, who has some terrific ideas about bringing Marnie and co to the screen. I don’t have a very clear picture in my head while I’m writing, with one or two exceptions—for instance, I always saw Tim Woodward as Marnie’s boss, Welland. And I’d love Jason Watkins to play Douglas Cole from No Other Darkness. For Marnie, I’d want Natasha O’Keeffe, with Bill Milner to play her foster brother, Stephen. So, yes, I have spent some time dream-casting!

5. Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us anything about it?

I’ve just sent book three, TASTES LIKE FEAR, to my editor. It’s a very different kind of case for Marnie and Noah, dark and scary and super-twisty. And I’m about to start book four, which doesn’t have a title yet.

(bibliobeth: “I’m so excited!”)

And now for some quick fire questions!

E-book or real book?

Real book, with real book smell.

Series or stand-alone?

Love both, but an addictive series is my favourite thing.

Fiction or nonfiction?

I read both, love both.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Trawling, always trawling.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Bookmarks, all the way.

(bibliobeth: “My kind of reader!”)


Once again, a big thank you to Sarah and to Elizabeth Masters, Headline PR Manager for their efforts in making this interview possible. I can’t wait for book three!

No Other Darkness was published on April 23rd 2015 by Headline Books and is available from all good book retailers NOW. Sarah Hilary’s debut novel in the series, Someone Else’s Skin is also available and I highly recommend starting with this one.

Author Interview – Alex Bell on her YA horror novel Frozen Charlotte

Published June 5, 2015 by bibliobeth


Alex Bell was born in 1986. She always wanted to be a writer but had several different back-up plans to ensure she didn’t end up in the poor house first. For some years these ranged from dolphin trainer to animal shelter vet but then, at fifteen, she had an epiphany involving John and Robert Kennedy and decided to become a lawyer instead.

To that end she eagerly started a Law Degree only to find it so boring that she was at a very real risk of going completely insane. To mitigate this she started writing again. The second book got her an agent with Carolyn Whitaker of London Independent Books but, unfortunately, not a publisher. The third book, written during her first summer holidays off from university, found a home with Gollancz. The Ninth Circle came out in April 2008 with possibly the most beautiful cover ever created (matched only by her second book, Jasmyn). Please click on the books to get the link to GoodReads!


Not one to learn from past experience, Alex started the Legal Practice Course in London. There she met some great people and had a lot of fun messing about during lessons that were clearly meant to be extremely solemn affairs. Thankfully, she dropped out just before the point where all students must submit to the personality-removing process that is a compulsory part of being an esteemed member of the legal profession.

Since then she has published novels and short stories for both adults and young adults.



After deciding to use her Law degree for good, instead of for evil, she also works as an advisor for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Most of her spare time consists of catering to the whims of her Siamese cat.

Now she happily dwells in an entirely make-believe world of blood, death, madness, murder and mayhem. The doctors have advised that it is best not to disturb her, for she appears to be happy there.

Interview with Alex Bell

I’d like to welcome Alex to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview!

1.) Frozen Charlotte involves some very sinister and persuasive dolls that give a whole new meaning to the term “playtime.” What things/objects scared the wits out of you when you were a teenager?
I’ve always thought there was something creepy about old dolls – and old toys in general. When I was a teenager I was also freaked out by weird old black and white photos of sombre Victorians. And clowns, obviously. Both those things still freak me out.

2.) At the beginning of the story our main character Sophie plays a ouija board with her friend, Jay. Did your research involve having to dabble with one of these yourself?
I messed around a little bit with a ouija board when I was a teenager but it was always during the day and in a public place so it was never too scary. I wouldn’t want to get too serious about a ouija board, though. Real or not, there are quite a few horrible stories about them.

(bibliobeth: “Most definitely! Never EVER play with a ouija board!”)

3.) Sophie goes to stay with her Uncle and cousins in the beautiful Scottish island of Skye. Her cousins aren’t exactly what she expected however. Which one of these characters did you find most fun to write?
That’s a hard one! I found them all fun to write in different ways. If I had to choose I’d probably say Lilias as she’s the one who’s the most outright strange. Cameron and Piper are better at hiding their strangeness.

4.) At the beginning of each chapter there are lines of verse from a ballad called Young Charlotte. How did this inspire you to write the novel?
The ballad had a big part in inspiring the novel. Before I stumbled across it I’d intended for the dolls in the story to be voodoo dolls. But then I found the Frozen Charlotte song and when I researched it and found that there were dolls based on the poem it basically made the rest of the book fall into place. It’s such a typically macabre Victorian song, and I loved being able to use it in the book.

5.) Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’m working on another YA horror novel at the moment. I can’t say much about it yet but watch this space!

(bibliobeth – “Ooh, I will be!”)

And now for some quick fire questions…

E book or real book?

Definitely real book. I don’t own a kindle and can’t imagine ever wanting one. I love the feel of a real book and seeing lots of full book shelves.

Series or stand alone?

Generally I prefer stand alones because I like to read as much variety as possible. There have been some fantastic series I’ve enjoyed too, though.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction. Although non-fiction comes in handy for research.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

I prefer the experience of going into a bookshop but I probably shop online more due to time constraints.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Bookmarking. I like my books to have a well-read, well-loved look but I don’t want them to be unnecessarily tatty. As I do a lot of reading on planes, my bookmark is normally the boarding pass of the place I last travelled to.

Once again, a big thank you to Alex for her efforts in making this interview possible and I’m incredibly excited now for the next book.

Frozen Charlotte was published on 5th January 2015 by Stripes Publishing and is available from all good retailers NOW. Why not check out her back catalogue too? I highly recommend both The Ninth Circle and Jasmyn (adult fiction).

Author Interview – Karen Maitland on her new medieval novel A Raven’s Head

Published March 14, 2015 by bibliobeth


Karen Maitland


Karen Maitland travelled and worked in many parts of the United Kingdom before she began writing in 1996. She lived for many years in the beautiful medieval city of Lincoln, an inspiration for her writing. She is the author of The White Room, Company of Liars, The Owl Killers, The Gallows Curse, The Falcons of Fire and Ice and The Vanishing Witch. She has recently relocated to a life of rural bliss in Devon.

Don’t miss Karen’s regular blog at and visit her website for a treasury of weird and wonderful medieval facts and superstitions.

Interview with Karen Maitland

I’d like to welcome Karen Maitland to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time for this interview.

1.) In The Raven’s Head, the raven is a powerful superstitious symbol that causes many to shrink away with fear. As with all your previous novels, the amount of meticulous research you must have had to do is obvious but what is the most shocking or surprising medieval superstition you have discovered?

When I first discovered this it sounded quite harmless – When they were building a cathedral, church, manor or castle, they would trick some unsuspecting man into standing so that his shadow fell on the ground where they intended to lay the foundation stone. Innocent enough, except that medieval builders believed that person they’d tricked would die within the year, because they had stolen his soul and built it into the foundations to keep the building from collapsing. The victim’s spirit would be forced to guard that spot alone for all eternity. When you think about it, if they really believed that was what they were doing, it was almost worse than murder.

It is also the physical cruelty of some superstitions that I find shocking – To prevent witches or their spells entering the house you had to pull the guts and organs from a living dove and hang them over the door of your house. If you thought someone had cast a spell to make your chickens sick, or your cows’ milk dry up, then you were advised to take chicken from that flock and roast it alive or bury a calf from the herd alive to break the spell.

I suppose compared to the torture, burning and mutilations inflicted on human felons and prisoners of war by medieval kings and bishops, this was no worse. And, sadly, watching the news makes me think we are still often as cruel today.

2.) One of the main characters in the novel is a seventeen year old boy called Vincent, a librarian’s apprentice who plays a large part in the novel’s proceedings. How easy did you find it to get a 13th century young male voice right?

Bizarrely, I always find writing male characters easier than female and I know many male authors who find it easier to write women, perhaps because writing fiction is like acting. You have to become the character and think yourself into the character’s mind. It’s easier to do that when the character is very different from you. If they’re too similar you tend to self-censor your writing and stop yourself revealing certain thoughts or feelings.

I read as many medieval records as I could about the relationships between masters and apprentices in the Middle Ages, and what struck me that medieval adults used to complain about young people turning up late, skiving off and hanging around on street corners getting drunk. Sound familiar? The difference was that medieval masters were allowed to beat their apprentices and if they committed a serious crime they could even be hanged, which means Vincent would have had all those feelings of teenage resentment and rebellion – human nature doesn’t change – but he couldn’t rebel openly at first, not until he had a hold over his master. So I thought he’d confide to the readers exactly what he thought of that crabby old librarian.

3.) The descriptions of certain foods in the novel are so evocative and include things like roasted sheep’s feet, roast lark’s tongue and sea-swine. If you were at a medieval feast, what food would you be curious to try and which would have you running for the hills?

The coffin of lampreys would definitely put me off, knowing that it was made by drowning lampreys in their own blood, before baking. Medieval nobility loved strong flavours and birds such as cormorants were very popular on wealthy tables. But having once been a cottage in Scandinavia where a dead cormorant was being burned as candle, and remembering its nauseating oily-fish smell, I think I’ll give that cormorants a miss too.

And I don’t think I could manage to keep down slices of brawn made from pig’s fat and brains, dipped in extremely sugary batter, deep fried, then tossed in more sugar. And we worry about the fat in modern diets!

But many of their sauces had a more interesting flavour combination. One version of Sauce Madame, generally used for birds such as goose, included parsley, hyssop, savoury quinces, roasting pears, roasted grapes, wild garlic and onions, all seethed in wine, seasoned with salt and vinegar and thickened with egg yolks.

And Rosee sounds beautiful. It was a pudding made from the petals of sweet-smelling white roses, pine nuts, dates, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, almond milk and thick cream, cooked till it was like whipped cream, then served cold, decorated with fresh flowers.

(bibliobeth: “Mmm, sounds yummy!”)

4.) I loved the ending of this novel and felt it really left things open for a potential return of the characters. Would you ever consider writing a sequel for any of your books?

‘The Raven’s Head’ is the first book I’ve written for which I would like to write a sequel. Several of the characters are quite young at the end of the novel, and as an author and, by training, a psycholinguist, I am curious to find out what effect the traumatic events they’ve battled through will have on them. What kind of adults will it turn them in to? They each have potential they never had at the beginning of the story, but will it turn out to be for good or evil. For at least one of them, I think the future they might shape for themselves could be darker than the past they have lived through. But I don’t as yet know which of them that will prove to be.

5.) Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes, I’m writing a brand new medieval thriller set in the 14th century. But it is too soon to talk about it, as I am still getting to know the characters and discovering where the plot is leading. Talking about a novel before it has been properly fired and hardened can destroy it. It’s like trying to pick up a spider’s web in your hand.

But I can tell you is it is set in on the coast in a real medieval village near Exmoor, a village which has a strange history. So, this time I am researching superstitions and folklore to do with the sea and also Exmoor ponies. I’ve learned that they weren’t called ponies until the 17th Century and were known locally as widgebeasts. Isn’t that a great name for those shaggy little animals?

(bibliobeth: “Absolutely! Ooh, very intrigued now.”)

And now for some quick-fire questions…

E book or real book?

Real book. Never read an e-book. Don’t exist in my world which is the Middle Ages.

Series or stand-alone?

Stand-alone. Except for Harry Potter, and Susan Cooper’s – ‘The Dark is Rising’.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Both. I always have one of each in my bag.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Bookshop addict. I never shop online.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Bookmark with old envelopes or bus tickets, but never with kippers.

Once again, a big thank you to Karen for her efforts in making this interview possible and I’m incredibly excited now for the next book.

The Raven’s Head was published on 12th March 2015 and is available from all good retailers NOW.

Author Interview – Allan Boroughs, author of Ironheart and Bloodstone

Published February 28, 2015 by bibliobeth

Alan B

 Photo of Alan Boroughs, with permission from the author


Allan Boroughs is a writer and a traveller with a passion for big adventure stories “in which a lot of stuff happens”. His first novel, Ironheart, was inspired by his travels in Siberia and tells the story of a young girl who goes in search of her missing father and makes friends with a military android.
As well as journeying to Siberia Allan’s travels have taken him to Mongolia, China and, most recently to the Antarctic. For his next book, he is planning a trip to the jungles of Venezuela.
His adventures have included swimming beneath the Antarctic circle, crashing a dog sledge into a tree, eating fresh scorpions and a very unfortunate incident involving a Siberian toilet. But, he says, the absolute best thing about travelling is the chance to meet people and hear their own stories.
When he is not travelling or writing he enjoys reading, practising martial arts and eating cake. He lives in London with his wife, two children and a snake called Elvis.

Interview with Allan Boroughs

I’d like to welcome Allan Boroughs to bibliobeth today and thank him for giving up his time to do this interview.

1.) Ironheart is an action-packed adventure story right from the very beginning. Did you always know what was going to happen plot wise or did some of it come to you while you were writing?
·         I think failing to plan for an action adventure novel leads to disappointing results – I find you really do need a sense of how things will develop – what’s connected and how the story will wrap up.  I am a detailed planner by nature – spreadsheets, notes, drawings, photos and scrapbooks help me know exactly how the plot will unfold before I start writing.  At least that’s the plan – inevitably when you do actually start writing some part of a story will develop in ways you didn’t expect (strangely those are often the best bits).. 
2.) At the beginning of the novel we see a future and quite depressing London struggling to hold back the floods. Is climate change a particular concern for you?
·         Of course – as I think it is for most people who think about what sort of future their children might have.  However it wasn’t the primary reason for the scenario in the book.  Ironheart is something of a wild west story with sci-fi elements thrown in – in order to make that work I needed something to have happened to unbalance the order of things. 
3.) This novel is inspired by your travels in Siberia. Are any of the characters based (or loosely based!) on people that you met there?
·         Yes and no – I really did meet a shaman in Siberia although it was not the two hundred year old tent dwelling woman in the book – this guy carried an iPhone and wore a shell suit.  There are snippets of other people in all the characters but I’m not sure I have the courage to base a character wholly on one person – what if they read the book?
4.) You have created a strong and very likeable female protagonist in India Bentley and some fantastic villains in Clench and Lucifer Stone. Have you any favourite heroes/villains from literature?
·         I’m glad you like them – I have a great fondness for a good villain as this is the most essential ingredient in any good story.  From literature I love Gollum, Lord Voldemort and, for sheer perversity, Mrs Coulter from Northern Lights.  My absolute all time favourite villain(s) are the Dickensian assassins Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar from ‘Neverwhere’ – absolute genius.
·         Heroes can often look a bit anaemic next to a strong villain so I like a hero that has a bit of bite to them – my favourite heroine of the moment (and a big inspiration for India) is Mattie Ross from True Grit by Charles Portis.
5.) Can you tell us a little bit about what comes next for India and her crew?
·         Lots – as we speak the sequel, Bloodstone has just been released which takes India and her friends (plus some new ones) to Antarctica in search of the lost city of Atlantis – there are more than a few surprises including sea monsters, tunnel drilling machines and a rocket pack.
·         I am currently planning a third book in the series which I can’t say too much about except that my research includes a trip to the jungles of Venezuela, a visit to a particle accelerator and a lot of reading about dinosaurs.
Now for some quick fire questions!
E book or real book?  – Real book (unless a suitcase is involved)
Series or stand-alone? Stand alone (with potential for expansion into a nine volume boxed set if I like it)
Fiction or non-fiction? Fiction, fiction, fiction every time (except for ‘The Right Stuff’ by Tom Wolfe which the best real life adventure story ever)
Online shopping or bookshop trawling? I love bookshops but if you’re after something really rare my experience is you’re most likely to find it on line.  But really, I buy far too many books.
Bookmarking or dog-earing? *sigh* dog-earing – you got me.  bibliobeth – *Aw, Alan you were doing so well… :-)*
And now… a preview of the second book in the series, Bloodstone published on the 1st January 2015.
What’s it all about?:

‘What is a myth but a truth retold many times over? Atlantis is real!’

Apprenticed to notorious tech-hunter Verity Brown, India Bentley has spent the last year travelling the globe, finding and selling long-lost technology and doing her best to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, trouble has a habit of finding her.

Accused of an assassination attempt and thrown in jail, India is rescued by scientist-adventurer Professor Moon: a man obsessed with finding the Bloodstone; key to a source of unlimited energy hidden in the lost city of Atlantis. Now Moon wants India and Verity to join his quest.

Pursued by gangsters, lumbered with a stowaway and haunted by the ghosts of her past, India must risk everything to uncover Atlantis’s secrets. But the truth comes at a price.

India must make the ultimate choice. The fate of humanity is in her hands. 

A brand new thrilling adventure-quest in Allan Boroughs’ Legend of Ironheart series and available NOW.

And for those of you who haven’t read Ironheart yet, I’m pleased to announce an opportunity to win a copy, published by Macmillan Children’s Books. Enter by clicking below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks again to Allan Boroughs for making this interview possible and to find out more about Allan visit his website at or follow him on Twitter @allanboroughs.


Blog Tour -That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler with Q+A Session

Published June 23, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Can you ever know what those closest to you are really capable of?

A son returns to the small town where he grew up, where his mother still lives and where a terrible event in his childhood changed the lives of almost every person living there. As the story unfolds through the eyes of the son, the mother and finally, the father, the reader experiences the taut build up to one day’s tragic unravelling, and the shock waves that echoed through a once happy family and close-knit community. Will they ever be able to exorcise the damage of that day or do some wounds run too deep?

Please check out my review in my previous post HERE

DRD blog tour button new

Tom Vowler – A Biography

Tom Vowler is a novelist and short story writer living in south west England. His debut collection, The Method, won the Scott Prize in 2010, and his novel What Lies Within received critical acclaim. He is co-editor of the literary journal Short Fiction and an associate lecturer in creative writing at Plymouth University, where he’s completing a PhD looking at the role of the editor in fiction. That Dark Remembered Day is his second novel. More at


Photo of Tom Vowler, used with permission from the author

Q+A Session with Tom Vowler

I’d like to welcome Tom Vowler to my blog today for a Q+A Session on his latest novel, That Dark Remembered Day. So, here we go!

When did you first realise you wanted to become a writer and do you have a special writing place?

I’m a late-comer, writing a happy accident when a lengthy illness felled me, the opportunity presented by the need to not go insane. I’d worked as a journalist, which gave me a feel for language, its rhythms, the importance of precision. And then, like many writers, I imagine, I read something and thought: I could do that and probably do it better. I like a desk at a window with a view, though I’m told a blank wall is preferable.

That Dark Remembered Day is told in three voices, which for you was the most difficult to write and why?

I suppose Richard’s voice was the hardest to capture as I share very little with him: he’s a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, slowly unhinging from the real world. He’s angry, confused, frightened, alienated, obsessed – wait a minute!
Imagination and research can only take you so far; you have to take a risk or two, somehow breathe life into a character, make them come off the page. You draw off what you can, mine your own dark realms to do this. In many ways he is the engine room of the book, driving everybody’s behaviour even in his absence.

There is quite a lot of military detail in the novel, did this come from meticulous research or personal knowledge/experience?

I have no such experience, no, so a lot of research, a lot of interviews. It was important for me to reveal aspects of what the Falklands War was like for Argentine soldiers too, as well as for those returning to the UK. Richard is a reluctant soldier, an outsider who struggles with military life, so I spent some time talking to people who shared this disquiet. As for his attendant madness, two years alone in a room writing will do the trick.

What was your favourite scene to write in this novel?

I don’t know about favourite; some are certainly harder than others. Some flow and skip into life, others have to be pulled like teeth. The big reveal towards the end of the novel was both thrilling and uncomfortable to compose. I wanted the reader to know more or less what was coming but be powerless to stop it.

What’s next for you writing wise?

I’ve a PhD to finish and editing a literary journal keeps me busy, so for now I’m back to short stories, which were kind of a first love. They are extraordinarily difficult to pull off well and many attempts wither and die. But every now and then, when the alchemy gods are with you, something magical and rare emerges.

And now time for some Quick-Fire Questions…

E book or real book?

I’m firmly old school still.

Series or stand-alone?

Hardly ever read series, unless you count Banville’s loose trilogy.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Almost always the former, though I’m more drawn to CNF these days, especially MacFarlane.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Online for everything except books. Bookshops only please.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Just can’t bring myself to bend a page these days. I have a lot of bookmarks.


A big thanks to Tom Vowler for his time in answering these questions, he is an author I will definitely be looking out for in the future and his first book What Lies Within has already made it onto my TBR pile! Thanks also to Book Bridgr and the lovely people at Headline, especially Caitlin Raynor, for sending me the book and making the interview possible.

That Dark Remembered Day, published by Headline Books is available now in paperback and e-book from all good retailers.