Meet the Author: The Deadly Truth by Valerie Keogh

Today we travel to Wiltshire, UK to chat with Valerie Keogh about how being a nurse, the Trans Siberian railway, Cape Town, a donkey, anchovies, Star Trek, ice cream in Lynmouth, and pizza in Giudecca come together as part of Valerie’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m from Dublin but live in Wiltshire, UK, about 10 miles from Bath. I qualified as a nurse and worked as one until 2018 when I gave it up to write full time. I also, in my time, worked as a sales representative for a medical company. Plus I went to university as a mature student and obtained a BA in English and an MA in American Literature. I come from a family of 9, I’m the one below the middle child. I don’t have children but I’m slave to a fat cat called Fatty Arbuckle. I love to travel – many years ago, before I married, I took 3months off and travelled around the world, taking the Trans Siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing as the first step, then on to Australia, Fiji, Hawaii and to the US where I hired a car. I loved every minute. My current favourite places are Venice, India and Cape Town.

In which genre do you write?

I write crime and psychological thrillers. I’d like to write science fiction – some day.

How many published books do you have?

I currently have 15 books for sale on Amazon – five of which are independently published. Two are with Bookouture and the remainder with Bloodhound Books to whom I’m currently under contract.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I always wanted to be a writer but it wasn’t until I saw the headlights of 50 shining in my eyes that I realised if I didn’t stop dreaming about it and actually write that it would stay a dream. So I wrote a full length book, and when it was finished, I started the next. And I haven’t stopped writing since.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

The writing community – it’s an amazingly supportive, kind and generous community of people who all want to do one thing – write. I have made some really good friends some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to have met, and some of whom I may never meet but we are still good friends. Since writing, by its very nature, is a solitary occupation, having a network of like-minded people is invaluable.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1. I’m an absolute coward – something I discovered the first time when on a mule ride in the Grand Canyon – I hung on to the poor mule’s mane and didn’t look left or right. Embarrassingly, on the mule in front of me was a very young girl who had no problems at all. I saw nothing of the scenery, just the back of the mules neck. I went on a huge roller coaster in Hong Kong many years ago because my husband Robert wanted to go – I screamed the whole way around despite never opening my eyes.

2. I absolutely love Star Trek – the original series, Generations and Voyager.

3. I’m a nightmare to invite for dinner – having been at a number of embarrassing meals where I couldn’t eat anything, I now forewarn the cook! And just in case anyone is going to invite me – I don’t eat melon, cucumber, green beans, sweetcorn, anchovies, olives, pickles, coriander, cheddar cheese, oysters or offal.

Star Trek fan, here! I love The Next Generation. I can’t wait for the next season of Picard! – Camilla

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I watched an old favourite last night – Separate Tables- with the amazing David Niven and Deborah Kerr. A black and white movie – it has a host of other stars including Burt Lancaster and Rita Hayworth but it is David Niven’s part that is stunning – a part for which he won an Oscar. It’s a slowly paced movie that depends on subtle facial expressions, and impeccably delivered lines.

This looks interesting! I’m adding it to my watch list. – Camilla 

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Yes, I think they do – I am a great believer in Fate. Late 2017 I was fired from a nursing job, and was subject to an investigation by the nursing board – the case against me was dropped and I was cleared of any wrong doing but it was a very traumatic experience. During this time I decided, once again, to submit one of my books to a publisher. A few months later I signed my first publishing contract and several months later I gave up nursing for good.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

Dear Fatty Arbuckle – why do you run up the road when I know you want to come in, forcing me to come after you and pick you up and carry you back? And why do you always wait until I am curled up on the sofa before demanding to be let out? And finally, why do you like a brand of cat food one week, and turn your nose up at it the next?

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Lynmouth in Devon is my current favourite place to visit and we go for a week every year. It has amazing walks along rivers, through woodland, on hilltops – some flat, some incredibly steep where I swear I’m never going again – till the next time. Wonderful ice cream, lovely restaurants. Blissful.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

When we go to Venice we stay on the little island of Giudecca – there’s a restaurant there and you can sit looking across the Grand Canal to St Marks. This is where I would go – in August, around 8pm, so it’s still warm but the lights are starting to come on, and I’d sit there, drink red wine, eat a pizza, and probably think about the next book I’m going to write.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a psychological thriller which will be published by Bloodhound Books in Feb 2021.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

My most recent book is also a psychological thriller – it came out in September. The Deadly Truth tells the story of Melanie, who is trying to make up for something in her past by living the best life she can. But she finds that her past is catching up with her.

It was wonderful to learn more about you and Fatty Arbuckle, and a pleasure to have you on MTA, Valerie. Sending you hugs, and wishing you all the best! – Camilla


Someone from her past wants to destroy her future…

When Melanie Scott is promoted to junior partner, she thinks she has put her past behind her and while out celebrating her promotion, she meets the handsome and charming Oliver Field.

Melanie has her doubts and is haunted by her mother’s critical voice, which reminds her that she’s messed up before. But when Oliver invites her for dinner, she buries her feeling and accepts his invitation.

She deserves the chance of happiness, doesn’t she?

However, the past she thought she left behind resurfaces when she receives an email containing a name; Anne Edwards. A name she thought she’d left behind.

When the emails escalate, she knows she has to find out who is behind them, but at what cost?

Melanie is about to learn that the past will now shape her future forever…

Where to buy:

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Book Shelf: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

You read correctly. I have never read this book. I don’t typically read sci-fi. However, Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing was mentioned by another author. I read that one, in which Bradbury comments about Fahrenheit 451. That gave me the nudge I needed to add it to my read list.

I am so happy I did. This is a wonderfully well written, great book. I enjoyed every minute of following the characters, throughout to the end of the story. I’ve also got both the original and new version of the movie on hold at the library. Might as well watch the movies now (I’ve since watched the 1966 version of the movie, and will be watching the 2018 version soon). Fabulous story, fabulous writing, fabulous book!

US Amazon:


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Book Shelf: Goldie – a lotus grows in the mud by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden

Goldie – a lotus grows in the mud by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden 

I bought this book many moons ago and it’s been packed for the last 3 years. Finally got to read it when unpacking. It was wonderful learning more bout Goldie Hawn’s childhood, throughout her early adult life to the books publication in 2005. A book about family, friendship, love, and dedication. I would like for the content to have gone a bit deeper. Yet, still enjoyed it.

US Amazon:

I interviewed Wendy Holden on MTA in August 2019. Go here to read the interview …

Meet the Author: One Hundred Miracles by Wendy Holden


To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

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Meet the Author: First Second Coming by Jeff Pollak

Today we travel to La Crescenta, California to chat with Jeff Pollak about how New Jersey’s Palisades, a career as a trial lawyer, a profitable high school investment, a great sense of humor, Santa Fe, Gaby Moreno, and song titles as chapter titles come together as part of Jeff’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was raised in an apartment building in Riverdale, where the view out the window encompassed the Henry Hudson Bridge spanning the Bronx and Manhattan, and the East River below it. Beyond the bridge I could see the Hudson River and the sheer walls of New Jersey’s Palisades. It was a priceless view that my child’s eye considered entirely routine.

Although I lost my father when I was three and my mother at age sixteen, overall my childhood was a happy one. I lived briefly with an uncle before leaving for college in Buffalo and, afterward, law school in Los Angeles. Once admitted to the California Bar, I embarked on a 35 year career as a trial lawyer.

My lovely wife, Carol, and I raised a wonderful son, Tyler. He currently works for Microsoft and lives in Seattle. At the moment Carol and I live in La Crescenta, California (a suburb of L.A.). We plan to move to San Diego before the next “fire season” starts.

What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

One of the high school classes I took while living with my uncle was in economics. The term paper called for the class to invest an imaginary $1,000 in the stock market, track the investment for the full six month term, and write a paper on how we fared. We were completely free to buy and sell as we wished, since imaginary money was the currency in use.

As the project got underway I mentioned it to my uncle, who offered to provide $1,000 in real moolah. I invested it in a few different companies, one being Comsat – short for communication satellites, which were just getting off the ground at the time. Over the six month period I netted $30,000 and received an A+ grade. (My uncle got his thousand bucks back, by the way.) I used the rest of the money to pay my own way through my first two years of college.

Which of your personality traits have been most useful, and why?

One useful trait is the ability to stay calm under stress. That’s handy during trials. My nickname within my law firm was Zen Master, or ZM. The other trait is a great sense of humor.

In court I’d use both traits. An example: In the jury selection phase of the case, trial lawyers look for jurors who are biased and therefore unable to serve, among other things. The first time I address the jury during this process, I’d introduce myself this way: “Hi, my name is Jeff Pollak. I represent ‘X.’ I have a question that goes to your biases. Please raise your hand if you are biased against lawyers who are bald or slightly overweight.” That question never failed to elicit laughter throughout the courtroom, even from the judge and opposing counsel. Usually the jury would be on my side from that point to the trial’s end.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country, and why?

Most Americans asked this question would probably say Hawaii, but I’ll pick Santa Fe, New Mexico. The state as a whole has unique culture, harmoniously mixing the influences of the native American Indian tribes, the Spanish settlers and the eventually dominant frontiersmen. While Albuquerque, Taos and Las Cruces have their charms, Santa Fe is the crown jewel of the state, and its capital city. Renowned worldwide for its artistic community, Santa Fe offers incredible cuisine, numerous museums, Pueblo-style architecture, a traditional plaza that dates back to the early 1600’s, and so much more.

I first visited Santa Fe during a break in law school to visit a college friend who lived in Albuquerque at the time. I was immediately enchanted, and have remained that way through every visit since. Regardless of the time of the year of my visits, I know I’m in a special place.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

The main thing I do is write some more. One novel I’m working on is the sequel to First Second Coming. Earth’s Peril is the working title. The second book, called The Recycling Center, is a spin-off to First Second Coming. Otherwise, I play golf every week, weather permitting. I also watch baseball and hockey games, read books and hike daily.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

First Second Coming, my debut novel, is a supernatural romantic suspense novel that mixes three genres – fantasy, romance and suspense. As I write this, the book has a rating of 4.8 stars (out of 5), and a 4.56 rating on Goodreads, so I’ll provide a couple of review excerpts from book bloggers and Amazon customers to give you an idea of the plot:

Nathalie the Biblioholic: “When the new God comes to Earth to issue his edict, He makes use of Ram [Forrester] and Brendali [Santamaria] and their local talk show. What does He want? For starters, He gives the world 60 days to end religious violence. . . . Amidst kidnappings, murder attempts, the mystery surrounding a terror group, and a ton of drama, Ram and Brendali find the time to fall in love. The author depicts their love as something organic and beautiful. They find joy even in the middle of utter chaos. . . .”

K. Pilai, purchaser: “I found it to be a really engaging read based on an extraordinary premise, a fantastic supernatural suspense with a great romance. The idea that the old god retires and a new one steps in is thought provoking, and the way that the humans of earth handle the situation is very well thought out. I highly recommend it!”

Samantha Turley, Blogger: “Wow, what a book. It will make you think and suck you in. The story itself was well done and kept me hanging on the entire book. This was heightened by descriptions that were distinct and a plot that was well paced. The cherry on the top was that the characters were charismatic and drew the reader in. Solid plot, fabulous writing.”

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

When my son graduated from college in 2015, he had a well-paying job waiting for him and didn’t need mom and dad’s support. I had to decide how much longer I wanted to do trial work and what I’d do in retirement. After some reflection, I decided to try my hand at writing fiction. I’d always been an avid reader, and trial law is writing intensive, so this seemed sensible.

I set out to write as an avocation – a way to bide my time when not at the golf course. I didn’t expect to write anything that would be published someday. However, people urged me to publish First Second Coming because of its unique plot. I resisted at first, but eventually gave in.

Where did the idea for your book come from?

9/11 inspired First Second Coming. My law firm did annual conferences each May for clients in the New York/New Jersey area. The World Trade Center’s conference center at the top of the building was where we did them. I had clients in the building, some of whom didn’t survive. While I watched the WTC collapse from the safety of my home, a random thought came to mind: Earth needs a new god – a planetary turnaround specialist.

That idle thought returned in 2015, once I decided to write fiction. It had grown into a rudimentary plot, two main characters with names and full histories and three possible endings. All this spewed out in one sitting in front of a blank white computer screen.

In which genre do you write?

I call First Second Coming a supernatural romantic suspense novel, and as far as I know I’m the only one writing in this genre. Of the three genres it comprises, romance was a surprise. Brendali, my female main character, began talking to me roughly midway through the first draft. She’d narrate what was happening in the book, one chapter after another – often waking me at 4:00 a.m. to start the day. Her version of events often varied from mine but I gave her free reign, subject to my editing pen. She and Ram, my male main character, were mutually attracted. That increased the prominence of the romance aspect of the story.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know about by reading your biography?

In one word: music. I’m a big fan of many genres. Music gets me closer to my characters. When I’m writing a chapter that Ram’s narrating, I listen to his favorite musicians, notably Eric Clapton. Listening to any Clapton-related song gets me on a clear channel into Ram’s head. Although Brendali and I have a very strong connection at all times, I play Latin rock and pop when drafting the chapters written in Brendali’s point of view. She’s a very strong-willed character who sometimes tells me which specific songs she wants to hear. She brought one Latina singer who is a spectacular talent to my attention – Gaby Moreno. Her renditions of Quizas, Quizas, Quizas, or La Malagueña, as well as many of her own tunes, are jaw dropping.

I also use song titles as chapter titles, to give the reader a little hint about what’s in the chapter he or she is about to read.

What are you currently reading?

One of my favorite authors is David Mitchell. Fellow top-rank author Ursula K. LeGuin once described his writing as “relentlessly brilliant.” That’s true. I was introduced to him through his best book to date, The Bone Clocks, and proceeded to Cloud Atlas (made into a terrible movie) and his newest, Utopia Avenue. I’m now reading his 2010 novel, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, called The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. It’s fascinating.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

I’ve been making the rounds on radio and podcasts to promote First Second Coming. To prepare for these interviews, I listen to a smattering of the station’s archived interviews to get a sense of the interviewer’s style and the kinds of questions he or she asks. From that I prepare a sheet with mock answers to the questions that get repeated across the interviews I’ve heard. That’s about it – I know my book, my background, etc. I’m nimble enough to answer any other question thrown at me on the fly.

It was a pleasure having you on MTA and wonderful to learn more about you, Jeff. Wishing you all the best, with much success with your books! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

In 2027 our New Testament God retires after two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. His replacement, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether homo-sapiens should be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy’s planetary operation standards.

The new God introduces himself to mankind by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaria, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his turnaround plan. Those attending must eliminate religious violence forever, without heavenly help, before the conference ends. Failure means humanity’s extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must Ram and Bren attend by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a group of religious fanatics determined to kill them for promoting a false god. When conflicts within the conference intensify, Ram and Bren must do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and assure mankind’s survival.

Where to find the book:

Universal book link:






Angus & Robertson (Australia):

Vivlio (France):

Connect with Jeff:

Facebook: JeffPollak, author
Twitter: @JSPollak


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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Latest News: Contact Form is Now Open

The time has arrived to re-open the Contact form for authors! The form will only be open long enough for about 20 authors to apply. This could happen within an hour or up to one week. At that time, the Contact form will close once again. This is to avoid having a back log of wonderful authors who wish to be interviewed.

**Update on Monday, October 19, 2020 – Contact form is once again closed. Be sure to subscribe to the site so you receive notification when it re-opens. It is always posted on the blog FIRST, before any social media.**

If you have been interviewed on MTA in the past, please wait at least 1 year (and with a new book published), before reapplying to be interviewed. However, if it’s been longer than 6 months since your interview, you can complete the contact form for a “Friday with Friends” feature. Make sure to note that in the comments of the contact form.

In addition, I interview book bloggers once or twice per month. If you are a book blogger, and wish to be spotlighted, please complete the Book Blogger contact form.

Go here – Contact Form

Don’t miss out – Come on over!

Thank you for your continued support of these authors and the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by the authors and me. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

Friday with Friends: I Could Never Be A Writer – Holly Bell

10 Breadcrumbs to Sunken Madley

How does a writer get from illiteracy to writing a cozy paranormal mystery series set in the quaint English village of Sunken Madley?

1. The Trail Begins Here

We are all born illiterate. So before I could read, I was read to, mostly by my brother, some years older than I and the best of siblings. He must have shared his love of the written word with me from my infancy, because I can’t remember a time before he did just that. He would mark the words with his finger as he read. The letters were mystical symbols to me that somehow had the power to grant expression of the story to the one who had the skill. The book I loved the most and asked for again and again was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis, first of the Narnia books.

This fired my imagination like no other story. Treasure Island, fairy tales, Robinson Crusoe and the rest, were all set in the past or in a far off land or make-believe. But the Pevensie children existed in both the reality of the present and a fantastical world of magic. Away from the novel, in my mind, I was off on expeditions through the wardrobe that were all my own. I began reinterpreting the stories, changing and what-if-ing the plot. The characters became part of my imaginary world.

2. A Reader

I started school at four. While at what was styled ‘Infants School, I learned to begin deciphering the magic runes. Not that I learned at school. In fact, during the 11 or so years of compulsory education, I recall acquiring only one fact: the difference between U-shaped and V-shaped valleys, which information has, naturally, stood me in good stead.

One day, our terrifying form teacher began reading to us, his hapless class. As he was refraining from bellowing, hurling objects or striking students, we naturally regarded this as a good thing and listened quietly and attentively. The book was a slow starter, but it had a new word in it, a new species and I was enchanted.

(Hobbit House in New Zealand)

JRR Tolkien had entered my life, for good, with The Hobbit. Rather than wait for the laborious read-aloud when my preceptor felt like delivering it to us, I acquired a copy, and the slow start gathered speed. I learned to read the runes on his map and came to know Bilbo’s route by heart. For the length of the story, I took up residence in The Shire and journeyed through perilous lands to the book’s glorious ending.

3. I Discover Treasure

At home, one thing there was a-plenty: books. Among some battered paperbacks, I found the mystery genre: Agatha Christie, with the title that was to become Ten Little Indians or And Then There Were None. The ingenious plot assembles a party of strangers onto a remote English island, where one after another is found murdered. I was fascinated and soon was seeking the shelves at home, the library and the bookshop for more and more Christie. I feasted, and over the years repeatedly returned to the table for the banquet. What I did not know was that I had met the writer who would one day be hailed as the queen, the godmother, of a new genre: cozy mystery.

(Agatha Christie)

4. Golden Heyer

I began a new school where, at the age of 11, the girl I sat next to gave me a priceless gift. She introduced me to works of the historical novelist Georgette Heyer. A romance writer? You may say with surprise. Yes, because here was a new rich seam of literary delight with Jane Austen-style wit. Book after book in her canon filled my shelves, my mind and heart. I even discovered mysteries among her Regency tales in Cousin Kate and The Toll Gate.

5. Alastair

About this time, my brother showed me one of the action thrillers of Alastair MacClean. Spellbound, I began reading book after book. However, it was the eerie Puppet on a Chain that became my favourite to such an extent that I studied the Netherlands and began learning Dutch.

6. The Return of the King

It was time. The moment had come to unite me with what was to become my all-time favourite book: The Lord of the Rings. Of course, thanks to my brother. We read it at the same time, working our way through the three volumes, picking up a book when the other was busy. For the days it took us to read from first volume cover to third volume close, we talked and thought of little else. JRR Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth was more real to me than reality.

(Lord of the Rings – The One Ring)

7. Medieval Mystery

I can’t recall exactly who told me about them, but it was definitely a good fairy in human guise: The Cadfael novels, set in the twelfth century and beginning with A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters. The writing impressed me in particular because Peters has her monk sleuth solve crimes with only the aid of such technology that was available at the time. On the library shelf next to Ellis was a book by Elizabeth Peters that accidentally checked out one day. A whole new series, this time of archaeological whodunits was now at my fingertips.

8. Sir Terry

(Terry Pratchett)

Knowing I liked science fiction and mysteries, one day, my brother asked me if I’d heard of the Discworld. No. The what? It sounded rather weird at first, but this was my brother recommending it after all. And so, I read The Light Fantastic. I wanted more mystery and shenanigans in the peculiar flat earth of Sir Terry Pratchett’s imaginings. (Photo by Luigi Novi) Eventually, I had read the back catalogue and longed for the moment when the next novel was released.

The book above all that books that captured my heart was the third in the ‘Witches’ series. Witches Abroad is a road movie of a tale as Granny Weatherwax makes her way through foreign fairytale-gone-wrong parts. These of the Witches series were the stories that were to have an influence on my own yet-to-be-created magical world.

Meanwhile, I became curious about actual witches, I read about witchcraft, and later met two ghostbusters. I heard about experiences with the supernatural. I concluded witchcraft was rather a lot of work.

9. Racing Riddles

I suspect that all avid readers are also avid inspectors of other people’s bookshelves, searching for new and wondrous literary treasures. And thus, with Nerve, I think, I discovered a new pleasure. Dick Francis’ murder mysteries are set in the world of horse racing. This was not a sphere of which I had no experience. However, it was his ability to write in first person of such a diverse variety of characters that struck me. I marvelled at how Francis handled romance and intimacy with such deftness, and the cleverness of his plots.

10. The Unhappy Medium and the Happy Outcome

And then … I began to write …. non-fiction, marketing. I wrote more and more of that until I had somehow convinced myself that I was a strictly non-fiction author incapable of penning fiction. A friend kept telling me I could do it, but it was unimaginable. And then … two novels came into my experience that were to change my life.

I met the now bestselling author of The Unhappy Medium, TJ Brown. We made contact as fellow writers and quickly established a rapport. Interested in what he had penned, I read his first and, at the time, only novel. I was captivated. It had all of the components I enjoyed the most. I was bowled over by the ingenious juxtaposition of suspense and hilarity, either holding my breath or giggling helplessly.

That was the first novel. But the second was the clincher: The Unhappy Medium II: Tom Fool. Tim was writing the next in the series and, as I’d done copious amounts of editing, he asked me to top edit it for him. It was the ride of a lifetime. I went through the edits with him on the phone, frequently suffused with laughter, fascinated by the devices he was using to tell his story. I noticed the emotional terrain, and what worked and what needed tweaking. What a learning experience it was!

Tim’s judgment was: if you can do this, you can write your own novel. I was still not a believer. Then one day, on a couple of pages of a large stretch book, in a pub, Tim revealed to me the secret of plotting a novel. He made it look so easy that I believed it was.

Then came The Call. One afternoon, in November 2017. Tim had been told by a fellow author of a new genre. As soon as he heard the news, he was convinced that I could write for it: cozy mystery, and an even better fit: cozy paranormal mystery.

Soon Tim helped to plot out my first novel in the genre: Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth. I wrote the first draft in three weeks. Tim mentored me through the editing process, created the cover and the logo, and helped me conjure a map of the village. Before I knew it, it was published. Even before then, book 2 was forming in my imagination, that spawned book 3, and later 4, then the most recent, book 5, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths.

Amanda Cadabra’s homicidal witch-clan goes over a Cornish cliff when she is three. This creates what, many years later, becomes the cold case that is the story arc running thought the series. That arc comes to its finale and climax in this, the book I have just written: Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths.

And so the trail has led me home. I love, I adore, creating cozy paranormal mysteries. Nevertheless, since I’ve started writing fiction, reading anything that’s not for research has rather gone by the board. One day I’ll get back to it, but for now, I have a new trail to follow. I can’t wait to see where it takes me … and my readers.

The moral of the story? ‘I could never be a writer,’ you say? The book you’re reading today could be part of your trail of breadcrumbs to the novel that, right now, you’re convinced you could never write. Never say never.

Thank you again, Camilla.

It was wonderful to have you on Friday with Friends, Holly! I very much enjoyed following the trail of bread crumbs to Sunken Madley.

I had the same reaction the first time I read Agatha Christie. I was hooked. I read every single book she had written (may be missing one or two of the rare books), and ended with reading her autobiography.

Deeply grateful to you for this inspiring post. Wishing you all the best, always! – Camilla

To see Holly’s interview previously posted, go here:

Meet the Author: Amanda Cadabra by Holly Bell


Holly Bell is a cat and chocolate lover who lives in London and began publishing novels less than two years ago. After writing reams of non-fiction over the years, a fellow author convinced her she could write fiction. Photography and videography are also things Holly does and has done professionally and for pleasure.

Rainbows, butterflies and honeybees seem magically to show up whenever she’s outside. Holly firmly believes that we are all born storytellers and anyone can write a book, however small.

Connect with Holly:



Twitter @holly_b_author

Pinterest: hollybell2760

Instagram: @ hollybellac


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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Book Shelf: Mother Teresa by DEMI

**Throwback to 2015** – From the time Thomas and Lillian were born I read to them nightly before going to bed; leading to some time in 2017 when we all decided to discontinue doing so. Their tastes in what interested each of them had solidified by this point. We all continue to be heavy readers, reading daily.

Mother Teresa by DEMI

We love all the books we’ve read that are written and illustrated by DEMI. This was the perfect book to end our day with last night. A woman who listened to what was in her heart.

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Meet the Author: Cucina Tipica – An Italian Adventure by Andrew Cotto

Today we travel to Brooklyn, New York to chat with Andrew Cotto about how living in the hills south of Florence, being a Professor of English, The New York Times, martinis, Ernest Hemingway, Italian food and wine, being a rockstar, and having a sense of empathy come together as part of Andrew’s current and and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live and write in Brooklyn, New York. The city is my physical home as well as a source of much inspiration.

 In which genre do you write?

My genres vary – including coming-of-age, noir, and upmarket/commercial – which is probably not the best strategy for building an audience, but I tell the stories that come to me in the style in which they arrive.

How many published books do you have?

As of now, I have three published novels with two more under contract to be released in the next six months.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

My latest, Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure, came to me a dozen years after living in the hills south of Florence when writing my first novel. I don’t know why it took so long, though I suspect it had to do with just having enough command of the territory (which I acquired after many subsequent visits).

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I’m a Professor of English, and I also write articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. The majority of my contributions are with The New York Times.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I don’t know about coffee or tea, but I’d like to have martinis and then a long, wine-soaked meal with Hemingway. I’m not sure what I’d ask him, but I imagine we’d get along well.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I’m fairly surprised by the breadth of my interests. I’ve covered a lot of territory, in both fiction and journalism, and I like that.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

I love the satisfaction that comes from telling a story well and the impact this can have on other people. It is among the best feelings in the world when someone says that they have been touched or honored by what I wrote.

 List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I’m a really good cook and am an expert in Italian food and wine.
I’m lots of fun at parties.
I’d choose being a rockstar over a writer in a second.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I’m not sure, but if I did, I’d say that my itinerant childhood is why I’m a writer since it provided me so many personal challenges and exposure to so many different types of people/environments. It provided me with plenty of time to use my imagination, required me to be resourceful and resilient, and fostered a sense of empathy.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I set this up with the previous answer…Empathy! Being able to relate on a profound level to the experiences of others is what allows for effective storytelling.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Another one that’s been alluded to…Italy is my favorite place to visit by far. I don’t want to go anywhere else. You want to go to Disney World or Hawaii? Fine. Knock yourself out. I’m going to Italy. I’ve channeled this love into my latest novel and its forthcoming sequel, as well as many of my articles, and I am certain I will go to my grave loving Italy like no other place on earth. I even hope to literally go to my grave there after I retire to Italy at some point or just move there regardless of age. It’s the lifestyle that’s so accessible in Italy: great food, wine, cultural experiences all among the most physically beautiful natural terrain on earth.

What are you currently working on?

I’m just putting the finishing touches on the Cucina Tipica sequel, which will take place mostly in Rome (the original is mostly Tuscany-based) and will be published in March of 2021. I’m also helping to provide some marketing help for a novel due this December, Black Irish Blues, which is a noir and a sequel to my second novel, Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery. I’m really excited about both projects.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure is the story of a disheartened American who arrives in Italy on holiday and decides he never wants to leave. What follows is a food-filled, wine-soaked travel adventure about one man’s quest for an antiquated existence in the modern world.

It was great to have you on MTA, Andrew. I read the digital version of The New York Times, so I will keep an eye out for your articles. Cucina Tipica sounds like a wonderful book. I’m adding it to my list! Wishing you all the best in future books and travels! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through any other bookseller.

Connect with Andrew:


Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Book Shelf: Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, PH.D.

Too Much and Never Enough – How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, PH.D.

A must read, revealing book. Served as confirmation for what I have observed, and deduced, on my own, and what I intuitively felt from the energy that exudes from this man. So far, she’s been the only family member willing to come forward and tell the truth about this dysfunctional family and man.

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)