Interview: Kellie Doherty

Today we well welcome Kellie Doherty, Alaska-based author of Curling Vines & Crimson Trades. Welcome to the blog, Kellie! What made you decide to rock up today?

Kellie Doherty, with wonderful orange and red hair!

Thank you for having me for this interview! Today, I’m celebrating my new release, adult fantasy Curling Vines & Crimson Trades. The novel centers on a rare goods trader named Orenda. Her wife gets kidnapped and Orenda has to do these nearly impossible tasks and trades just to get her wife back. Then the unthinkable happens, her best friend Jax tries to kill her. She has a task list too and her final one is to kill Orenda. In a race against the coming dawns and battling at every turn, Orenda has to try to save them all before the sun rises on her wife’s final day. Curling Vines came out on November 30, 2020, from Desert Palm Press, and I’ve been shouting about the new release pretty hard since then. However, I really love interviews, so I’m also here for fun!

What started you writing?

Fanfiction! I loved watching Digimon and Pokemon when I was younger and I wanted to be in their worlds longer, to have more adventures with the characters I loved so much. I turned to writing fanfiction to fulfil that need, and it really sparked my writing career. Fanfiction holds such a dear place in my heart that I still write it to this day! It’s fluffy and fun. Something I can dip into when I need a break from my original stories for a little while. After I felt comfortable in the already created worlds of others and crafting original characters to play in those worlds, I branched into original fiction and created worlds all my own. That was a thrilling transition. Do you know how equally time-consuming and awesome worldbuilding can be? It’s intense! I also started writing stories because I didn’t see many queer female characters in science fiction and fantasy so I wanted to add my own positive representation of my LGBTQIA community into the genres I adored. That’s why all of my main characters are queer ladies!

What’s your writing space like?

I write at home curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and my cats purring beside me. Sometimes they push my computer out of the way so they can sit on my lap and snooze while I awkwardly hold my computer against my knees to write. I let them, of course, because I’m a pushover when my cats are involved. Technically I can write almost anywhere—airports, coffee shops, libraries—but I’m most comfortable at home. I also scribble notes on characters, plotpoints, and worldbuilding during breaks at work and in the middle of the night. (Though in the middle of the night my handwriting is nearly unintelligible.)

What do you like to read in your non-writing time?

Science fiction and fantasy! I am a huge geek for dragons and magic, spaceships and tech. The escape it gives me is honestly priceless. I like high adventure stories with big (and small) stakes, but I also enjoy character-driven stories as well. It just depends on my mood at the time. 

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Mm, my first pick would be Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon since it’s such an epic story with so many varied characters and points of view. It’s also a thick book, which means it would take me a while to read if I got stranded there. Second I’d bring Becky Chambers’ novella To Be Taught, if Fortunate because her prose is beautiful and her characters try to see the good in each situation they’re put in, even when—and especially when—it gets tough. I feel like that kind of story would be super helpful in a desert situation. And finally, I’d probably bring a tropical island food book of some sort so I’d know what’s edible! Knowing me I’d probably snack on a poisonous plant…

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I belong to a local writing organization called the Alaska Writers Guild, and I really appreciate the smaller events they host throughout the year as well as the larger annual writing conference. As you know COVID-19 made the in-person events grind to a halt, but the Alaska Writers Guild swung to virtual pretty smoothly. I also have a weekly writing group that meets over Skype! It’s lovely to have a two-hour chunk of time where we can critique our work together, and I honestly believe we’ve all become better writers because of it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Oh boy, I lead a rather busy life outside of my writing career. I have my own freelance editing business—Edit. Revise. Perfect.—that keeps my editing eye sharp! I have a lot of different clients and some ongoing contract work too, with both fiction and nonfiction work. I feel really fortunate to have one foot in the business side of publishing like that, even while I have a full time job in a different field. I have two fabulous black cats—Raven and Cinder—who like to dash around at midnight, pounce on hair ties, and curl up on me while I’m writing. As for exercising, I do get at least 7,000 steps per day and I do Zumba every now and then, but I miss swimming. I used to do water aerobics, pre-COVID, and it was just so much fun! Hopefully once the virus settle down a bit, I’ll be able to get back into the water again. Hmmm, what else. Well, I probably watch too much YouTube—Critical Role is an obsession of mine—and I play video games like Minecraft and Zelda. I’ve also been playing the same Dungeons & Dragons campaign with a group of friends for nearly four years, which is pretty fabulous.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Like I said earlier, I’m celebrating the release of my new adult fantasy novel, Curling Vines & Crimson Trades! I got the idea for this five-book fantasy series when I was a teenager, but I didn’t feel comfortable writing it until a few years ago. The idea—having four main characters each with their own standalone books with their own stories and challenges, triumphs and failures, only to bring them all together in the final fifth book—seemed too big for me. And it was back then. It might still be too much for me now, honestly, but I wanted to challenge myself and I knew that if I didn’t start it soon, it would haunt me for the rest of my writing career. And I also wanted to pivot into writing fantasy since I’m such a huge nerd for it. Anyway, for Curling Vines, the story is focused on Orenda Silverstone and for her story, I really wanted to do a deep dive into what a person would do to save their loved one and discover how someone who believes they’re broken moves past that feeling. Curling Vines took me about six months to write but then I submitted it to my writing group to critique so the second draft took a little bit longer to hash out. For the enjoyment factor, I loved writing the interactions between the characters, especially Orenda and Lyra. They clash so often! It was fun for me. For the hate factor…hmmm, that one’s a bit harder to pin down. I don’t really hate anything about writing. One thing I can get lost in is the research aspect. For example, for this story, one of the characters Jax fights with a staff and since I had never written about staff fighting before I had to research. And I say, “had to” loosely there; I actually liked researching staff fights! The problem? I remember one night I literally spent my whole writing time—like three hours—researching…I didn’t write a single word. Research is important, don’t get me wrong, but I need a timer or something so I don’t deep dive like that again and forget to actually write the story!

Curling Vine & Crimson Trades

Book cover: Curing Vines and Crimson Trades by Kellie Doherty

Rare goods trader, Orenda Silverstone leads a happy life with her wife and friends. She’s an Elu—a race whose crafting is centered on protection—but her power is broken. Now, her sword is her strength. When her wife gets kidnapped and Orenda has to use her trading skills to complete some nearly impossible tasks to get her back, a good sword arm won’t be enough. Orenda’s time is rapidly coming to a close. She needs help. But she’s been forced into silence. Two sun goddess worshippers, twins Lan and Lyra, decide to join Orenda’s quest in order to guard one of the rarer items to its destination. Orenda’s not sure she can turn her back on either one, but with no other options, she competes against the sunrises to complete her tasks before her wife is killed.  Then, the unthinkable happens. Orenda’s best friend, Jax, tries to kill her. Between racing against the coming dawns and battles at every turn, Orenda’s list now seems insurmountable. No longer certain of who is friend or foe, she must come up with a plan to save them all before the sun rises on her wife’s final day.

Meet Kellie!

Kellie Doherty is a queer science fiction and fantasy author who lives in Eagle River, Alaska. When she noticed that there wasn’t much positive queer representation in the science fiction and fantasy realms, she decided to create her own! Kellie’s work has been published in Image OutWrite 2019, Astral Waters Review, Life (as it) Happens, and Impact, among others. She’s currently working on a five-book adult fantasy series. The first book Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties (Desert Palm Press, March 2019) won a 2019 Rainbow Award. The second book Curling Vines & Crimson Trades launched on November 30, 2020, and an excerpt from Curling Vines won first place in an Alaska Writers Guild Fiction contest in 2020. 

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Interview: Ofelia Grand talks about 24 Dates

Ofelia has popped in to talk about her recent release, 24 Dates, and I’m so happy to have her here! Welcome, Ofelia!

24 Dates, Ofelia Grand

Thank you for letting me visit again, Ally!

A few days ago, 24 Dates, a contemporary Christmas M/M romance story, was released, and I thought I’d drop by to tell you a little about it. Victor and Jian have been a couple for some time now, but things didn’t turn out the way they’d planned.

A couple of years ago, they bought a house together, and by now they should be well into their HEA, but Victor hardly sees Jian awake anymore. He’s leaving for work early in the morning and falls asleep in front of the TV almost every evening.

Victor has more or less given up and is preparing for a lonely, depressing Christmas, but Jian has a plan. In 24 dates, he will win his man back—there is no other option. The first date is on December 1st and then he has one date planned every day up till the 24th.

Now, what qualifies as a date? The opinions about it might (and will) differ, but there will be lots of food, chilly outdoor activities, some craft dates, and jigsaws. Yes, a jigsaw puzzle.

Do you have any special Christmas (or other holiday) traditions in your family? When I grew up, the family (Mum) always got a jigsaw from some mysterious giver (Mum). It was somewhere between 3000 and 5000 pieces, and the days following Christmas, the dining table was occupied. She dug out desk lamps she kept hidden away during the rest of the year, and there were bowls of toffee and homemade knäck (hard toffee with chopped almonds). She’d sit up half the night, fitting pieces together.

So, no Christmas without a jigsaw, and one of Jian’s dates is to solve a 1000 pieces jigsaw in one day—a date and a challenge all in one!

Do you like jigsaws? I’ve created one for you here! (Ally: I LOVE Ofelia’s jigsaws, they’re so cool!) I feel like I should apologise. I solved it, but it took me 17 minutes and 27 seconds… and I created it and therefore knew the motif. I usually make one for my newsletter subscribers, but this was a little trickier than I normally do them. Can you beat 17 minutes and 27 seconds? I bet you can LOL

Excerpt:

  • Tags: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Christmas, Established couple, interracial
  • Length: 38.000 words
  • Release date: December 2nd, 2020
  • Buy links : Publisher Buylink

Victor winked at him. He hoped it was a craft thing, but they’d done the candles, done the paint-by-numbers, so what else was there? He had to give Jian credit for creativity. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to come up with twenty-four dates without doing repeats.

Walking into the dining room—as Jian liked to call it—there was a jigsaw box on the table. “Jigsaw?”

“Yup, it’s a challenge. Can we finish it in one day?”

Victor stared at the box. “It’s a thousand pieces.” Was he insane?

“Yes, I read online that a thousand pieces puzzle takes somewhere between three and ten hours to solve.”

Victor pursed his lips. “As I recall, it took weeks when I was a kid.”

Jian frowned. “No, we’re finishing this today, because tomorrow we can’t have a puzzle on the table.”

“We can’t?”

“No. Where will we put all the food? Plus, some pieces could get lost if they’re lying around here tomorrow.” The look Jian gave him made him think there was more behind the statement than he let on.

“Okay. Roll up your sleeves, we’re having ourselves a puzzling day.”

Jian shook his head, but pulled out a chair and sat.

The motif was of a bookshelf filled with books and at least fifteen cats—more, since more and more became visible the longer Victor looked at it. “This is cute.”

“Yeah, I figured… you like cats, right?”

Victor glanced at him. “Sure.”

“No, not sure. I mean, you’re not allergic or anything?”

“To a picture of a cat? No.”

Jian grimaced. “You like dogs better.”

“It’s a puzzle, Jian. It looks like fun. And yeah, in real life, I like dogs better, but cats are adorable.”

“And dogs need walking.”

Victor laughed. “Sure.”

“A cat you can let out. You can install a cat flap, and it’ll mind its own business.”

Victor stared at him. “Are you thinking about getting a cat?” He would love a cat. Sure, he’d always deemed himself more of a dog person, but they couldn’t take care of a dog properly with how they were working. And now they had no idea how Jian would be working. Cats were adorable.

“No, I’m not.”

Victor shrugged. “Too bad. A cat would be fun. And remember last year when the mouse got in? I bet it wouldn’t happen if we had a cat.” He ripped open the plastic bag with the puzzle pieces and poured them out onto the table.

“This is a lot of pieces, Jian.” Victor frowned at the pile.

“A thousand would be my guess.”

“Idiot. Okay, let’s do the frame first.”

“What? No, I want to do the cats.”

Blurb:

When Victor Hill bought a house with his boyfriend, Jian Kouri it was a dream come true. But now, two years later, instead of living their happily ever after, they hardly see the other awake.

With Jian out the door before Victor gets up in the morning, and asleep on the couch nearly as soon as he walks in the door, the life Victor imagined couldn’t be further from reality. They don’t talk; they don’t touch, and Victor fears he and Jian have already drifted too far apart.

The holiday season is a time for hope, but when Victor comes home to find Jian with a plan to woo him for Christmas, is it too little, too late? The dates are great, and there are filled with Christmas fun to get Victor in the right spirit for the holiday, but are they enough for the two of them to fall in love again? Or is there just too much in their relationship that needs fixing?

About Ofelia Gränd:

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.

Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.

When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.

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Curzon & Harkstead are visiting!

Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead write as a team and they have two new books out for your delectation and delight. Eleanor is here today to answer intrusive questions and talk about their books! Welcome, Eleanor!

Your starter for one: Why are you doing this interview?

Eleanor Harkstead: I’m here today because we (writing team Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead) have not one but two new books out. The Captain and the Baker, our summery romcom set in Cornwall, and our Halloween novella How to Make the Perfect Man.

What started you writing?

The first story I wrote that wasn’t something I was told to write at school was about a skeleton who lived in a wardrobe, and his friends a witch and a vampire. I must’ve been about six!

Fast forward several years and I’d kept writing. My first published title was Poison Panic, a non-fiction book about Victorian poisoners. Catherine writes historical non-fiction for the same publisher, so that’s how we came to meet. We discovered a shared love of tea, chaps and fine tailoring, and that we have a similar sense of humour, and off we went! We’ve been writing together now for over three years.

Where do you write?

I tend to write at my desk at home, but if I’m out and about I write on my phone. I’ve written at the hairdresser’s waiting for the dye to take! Catherine and I write together online, which means we can be as mobile as we need to. Once we were both in different hotels, two hundred miles apart, finishing one novel and embarking on the next.

What do you like to read?

Over the past few months, I’ve been enjoying Vaseem Khan’s Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels. They’ve got such a compelling sense of place, and he’s really good at creating a cast of very different characters to inhabit the world of his stories. And the mysteries keep me reading. Like most people, I haven’t travelled very far over the last few months, so I’ve enjoyed my vicarious travels to Khan’s Mumbai by book!

It might sound odd, but in some ways, his writing reminds me of the stories Catherine and I write – even down to the way he writes his animal characters with the same vividness as he does his humans.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

Catherine and I are our own support group!

I’m in the Romantic Novelists’ Association too. I started to go to lunches with members of my local chapter several years ago. I was writing a romance, then was commissioned to write the book about poisoners, yet I was still welcomed by the group, which shows how lovely and enthusiastic RNA members are about writing. It was a proud moment when I went back to writing romance and was able to join!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like gardens and I enjoy visiting old towns and cities. My only visits in the past few months have been to Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and to Warwick! Warwick was great as my partner and I went to Lord Leycester’s Hospital, which dates back to the 1300s. We went to Hill Close Gardens, which was really lovely – there were even summer houses there which are listed buildings.

But then I expect you can appreciate the lure of historical places!

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

The Captain and the Baker came about when I visited Catherine and we were watching cookery programmes on the telly. Catherine already had in mind the idea of a mild-mannered baker, who would turn into gentle Cornishman Locryn. Watching a sweary chef losing his rag on the telly created the idea for his foil – Jake, who’s so very different to Locryn. And as everyone knows, opposites attract…

Writing the food scenes was great fun, even down to the giant wedding cake shaped like a boat. And I enjoyed penning Jake’s creative use of profanities! Creating the village of Porthavel was wonderful, showing readers the harbour, the village’s buildings, and the people who live there. Sometimes elements of novels you’re writing can feel so real, that once or twice I found myself wondering why I couldn’t find Porthavel on Google Maps!

To be honest, the thing I hate is when a story comes to an end, but it’s never long before we’re writing something else!

Read on to find out more about The Captain and the Baker and How to Make the Perfect Man!

The Captain and the Baker – out now

Buy the Captain & the Baker : Out in Ebook, KU, paperback

How to Make the Perfect Man came from a prompt for writing a Halloween story. I liked the idea of writing a “mad scientist” character after spending time among the real test-tubes of my Victorian non-fiction, and doing it in a light-hearted way. I had fun imagining what Aubrey’s laboratory would look like, and how a twenty-first century Frankenstein would create his man. I enjoyed writing my tweedy, geeky scientist opposite Catherine’s swish alchemist, Trismegistus (Tris for short), in his shimmering suits, and teasing out the mutual attraction that the old friends have. And peopling the Halloween ball they go to with all manner of vampires, werewolves and ghouls was really fun too.

When a hot-tempered TV chef and a mild-mannered baker meet on the rugged Cornish coast, they’ve got the perfect ingredients for a red-hot snack.

Sweary and stressed celebrity chef Jake Brantham is the captain of several floating restaurants. When he’s sent to the idyllic village of Porthavel to turn a pirate ship into the next gastronomic sensation, it’s the last place on earth he wants to be.

Locryn Trevorrow is the bakery king of Cornwall. From the humble pasty to a wedding cake fit for a mermaid queen, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the art of baking. He lives in a cosy world of gingham and ganache, but at night he goes home to his smugglers’ cottage alone.

When he’s adopted by a lost kitten, Jake soon discovers that there’s more to Portavel than cream teas, lobster pots, and the annoyingly fastidious Locryn. As the village prepares for the wedding of its favourite young couple, Jake and Locryn find themselves as unlikely matchmakers for two locals who’d given up on love.

Torn between the call of Hollywood and the kisses of Locryn, will Jake choose a mansion in Beverly Hills or a cottage on the Cornish coast?

How to Make the Perfect Man – published 27 October, just in time for Halloween!

How to Make the Perfect Man : Ebook

Love isn’t science. It’s alchemy.

Needing a date for the hottest Hallowe’en party in town, scientist Aubrey Waldegrave sets to work creating his perfect man. Unfortunately, the Adonis who emerges from his laboratory is a free spirit who has no time for Aubrey’s brogues and tweeds.

Alchemist Trismegistus Nimlet can turn anything into gold, but when his apocathery’s alligator starts talking back and his werewolf allergy leaves him sneezing, it looks like Halloween might be a washout. Worse still, is Tris really about to lose the chap he secretly loves to a manmade surfer dude who’s more flash than Frankenstein?

With werewolves leaving fur in the ornamental fountains and a banshee making enough noise to wake the dead, Aubrey’s Halloween is going from bad to worse. All he wanted was to make his perfect man, but what if he was right there all along?

Find Catherine & Eleanor

interview: Charlie Cochrane

Today the lovely Charlie Cochrane is here to talk about her Cambridge Fellows, Jony and Orlando, her Lindenshaw mysteries and all sorts of other things, too!

So, Charlie, why are you ACTUALLY doing this interview? Apart from satisfying my nosiness!

Just for fun, of course, and because you’re someone I enjoy chatting to. Endearingly dotty, just like I am.

Having said that, I’m presently working on the next Cambridge Fellows mystery, so I thought it might be nice to give my sets of sleuths a bit of a mention. There’s Jonty and Orlando (the aforementioned Cambridge Fellows) whose romantic mystery adventures take place in the early 20th century. Despite the fact their first adventure came out in 2008, they always have new readers discovering them. If one of them drops me a message about that, it always makes my day!

Then I have the Lindenshaw series, which is contemporary and a sort of Midsomer Murders/gay romance crossover. Last, but not least, there’s my 1950s actor laddies who play Holmes and Watson both onscreen and off.

What started you writing?

I’ve always made up stories, either to amuse myself or my daughters. It seemed natural, once I had a bit of time to write, to start cutting my teeth on a wider audience. (Lordy, you sound like a vampire, Charlie.) Like many authors I know, I started by dabbling in fanfiction, which was a safe place in which to learn and hone the craft of writing.

I was specifically inspired to write the Cambridge Fellows stories by my love of Golden Age mysteries and the fact that there really needed to be some of them with gay characters. I couldn’t find any—well, no overt ones—so I had to create my own.

Where do you write?

Primarily in our study. While I can scribble things in a notepad almost anywhere, if it’s ‘proper’ drafting or editing, then I have to be either at the desk on the PC or working on my laptop in the dining room. When we were in lockdown I had to sometimes make do with my third option, which is at the breakfast bar in the kitchen, although that usually means covering over whatever jigsaw we have going! (Mad, crazy rock and roll life of the author…)

What do you like to read?

Loads of stuff. From WE Johns’ Biggles books, to non-fiction about the soldiers of World War One, through Golden Age mysteries, a smidge of gay historical romances and – when I can get hold of them – old ‘Victor Book for Boys’ annuals. I have binge read phases, where I work through everything I can get my hands on from a particular author. Patrick O’Brian and Jerome K Jerome are two examples of authors with whom I’ve gone on a reading bender.

I actually began reading before I started school by borrowing my big brother’s comics – The Victor, The Hornet, Superman and Batman DC comics. They were so full of action, with strongly drawn characters and plot lines. So much better than girls’ comics of the time. It’s no wonder I find it natural to write about men…

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Mary Renault The Charioteer (original version). I reread this book every year and try to imagine what happened next to the three main characters, ending up with many variations on happy and not so happy endings. It’s a little gem of a story: Renault can say more in one word than many authors can in a page.

Michael Innes Death at the President’s Lodging. Again, a book I reread every year, it being a beautifully constructed mystery with several incredibly slashy scenes. There’s also something rather spooky about the book. It was written in the 1930’s, set in a fictional Oxbridge university, geographically half-way between Oxford and Cambridge. It’s location? Bletchley. Which is weird, given what would be happening there a handful of years later.

A book of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Plenty of food for slashy thought there and I guess I’d have plenty of time to study them on that island.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

Yes I do and how does that work for me? It seems to involve a lot of raising of my volunteering arm! I’m a member of:

Romantic Novelists Association: which is mainly online at present but in normal times involves yer actual meetings. I’m the local chapter rep and have also been helping to assess pitches for their new online learning sessions.

Mystery People: this organisation was crucial in my involvement with The Deadly Dames and getting us started with the various gigs we’ve done at libraries, literary festivals and conferences. As you say, writing is a solo job and these days is mainly online, so getting out and doing these events, meeting other authors and readers, is a lifeline to normality.

International Thriller Writers: like the other groups, that’s involved a mixture of meetups and online activities. I regularly conduct interviews for their Magazine The Big Thrill with authors who have upcoming releases—through that I was introduced to the amazing Vaseem Khan Baby Ganesha books.

Oh, and I’m also on the organising committee for UK Meet…

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like watching sport (on telly or, in normal times, live). I especially enjoy rugby but cricket and golf are pretty cool, too. I like the theatre, concerts, walking and playing indoor bowls—and if there’s a bingo night at hubby’s golf club, I’m in like Flynn. I’m also an active member of my local church. (Like I said, wild lifestyle.)

In terms of new things, during lockdown I’ve learned a lot about applying for grants, for example from the National Lottery, although that’s with my charity board hat on. I appear to have lots of hats…

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

My most recent release was the fifth Lindenshaw Mystery, A Carriage of Misjustice. The first book in the series began life as a script idea for Midsomer Murders and—long story short—metamorphosed into a cosy English mystery with a gay couple (cop and teacher) at its heart.

In a similar way, elements from A Carriage of Misjustice started off as an abortive romance story, based around a player suffering a life-changing injury at a rugby training session. It didn’t work, so I cannibalised the setting, with a murder happening on the same evening the injury occurred. While the romance was a non-starter, the murder plot flew along. It also involved me doing the best ever bit of research, contacting a company to find out what the item they manufactured was made of and whether you could kill someone with it.

A Carriage of Misjustice

Murder doesn’t care if you’re a newlywed.

Detective Chief Inspector Robin Bright and Deputy Headteacher Adam Matthews have just tied the knot, and all they want to do is sink into blissful domesticity. Unfortunately, there’s no chance of that when a chilling murder at a rugby ground takes Robin miles away to help his old boss solve it.

The mystery seems impossible to crack. Everyone with a motive has an alibi, and those without alibis don’t have a motive. Robin’s determined that this won’t be the case he’s unable to unravel. Not when he’s got his old boss to impress and a new team to lick into shape.

Back at home, Adam joins a fundraising choir to keep himself occupied. Surely a case that’s so far away won’t draw him in this time? Fate has other ideas, though, and danger turns up—quite literally—on his doorstep. He’ll need Campbell the Newfoundland for both company and protection this time around. 

Find Charlie!

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interview: Lillian Francis

A big welcome to Lillian today, who has come to talk about the re-release of her fantastic story New Lease of Life!

1. Why are you doing this interview?

I have finally got my arse in gear and re-released my old DSP title, New Lease of Life. For those who are wondering it’s more or less the same, just in UK English and with a newly added epilogue. Of course if you already have the book from before I’ll be releasing the epilogue as a freebie chapter on Prolific Works, so no need to rush out and buy a new copy.

2. What started you writing?

I’d been writing on and off since my teens, and loved English at school (lit and language), but I never really finished anything that wasn’t connected to school work. I drifted away from it for a while, but then I watched Torchwood, discovered livejournal and a previously unknown group of people writing fanfic and the rest, as they say, is history. Two years of (mostly AU) fanfic and I was encouraged to write my own stuff by a published author/fanficcer. So that’s what I did.

3. Where do you write?

Mostly at the dining room table if I’m using the laptop. But if I’m writing old style I love being in a park or the garden.

4. What do you like to read?

I grew up on Enid Blyton, Tintin, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Willard Price.

Progressed to golden age mysteries, noir, and historical mysteries in my 20s and 30s, and I still enjoy picking those up today.

These days it’s mostly gay romance, but that covers a mass of sub genres. So I can still get my cosy mysteries or thrillers or noir private eyes, just with a gay relationship at its heart.

8.  Tell me a little bit about your most recent release?

New Lease of Life was originally published in 2015 by Dreamspinner Press. Due to their troubles I got the rights back last year. The idea I attribute to chap I would see on my drive into work every day. He had one of those hospital metal crutches but it never seemed to help him, in fact he always looked so uncomfortable. And I wondered what he his story was, and what his life had been like before whatever had happened that left him in his current predicament, and Pip was born.

I think it took about three months to write and I found the vintage fashion stuff really interesting. A lot of Pip’s clothing choices are things I would chose to wear if I had a different body shape and a lot more money!

What did I hate? Fighting DSP to keep every bloody English expression. It was exhausting.

New Lease of Life

Cover art by Paul Richmond

There’s a fine line between independence and isolation.

Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalised not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humour too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.

Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again.

With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul. 

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About Lillian

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, their Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hobnobs and they can lose themself for weeks. Romance was never their reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including themself, to discover a romance was exactly what they’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery they always assumed they’d write.

Lillian Francis. Author of gay romance. Happy Endings guaranteed. Eventually.

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