Meet the Author: The Day the Pirates Went Mad by Trevor Atkins

Today we travel to the west coast of Canada to chat with Trevor Atkins about how writing on the floor, electric swing, Treasure Island, sea shanties, Captain Charles Johnson, cannonballs, The Matrix, living on Mars, and a giraffe wearing a bowler hat come together as part of Trevor’s writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Of course! I live on the west coast of Canada with my family and I’ve been working with words for much of my life, but have only recently pursued historical fiction. Even writing with the aim to publish has only come about recently. I was first motivated to show my daughter that nowadays there are easily available platforms through which you can share your creative ideas with the world. That’s how we ended up writing our three-act play, “The King and Queen’s Banquet”.

My latest book, “The Day the Pirates Went Mad”, is a historical fiction adventure set at the turn of the 18th century, and is the first in a series for middle-grade readers.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, something we wouldn’t know from reading your biography?

Does this count as a quirk? I actually do most of my writing and revision on the floor, with papers spread out all around me. I’m typically only at my desk when I’m typing up new additions or updates. Or when I’m researching. If I wrote at my desk too, I’d never be out of my chair!

Do you listen to music while you write, or do you like it quiet?

Yes – I very often have music playing. Usually something lo-fi or ambient when writing, or electric swing for the energy when revising. While writing “The Day the Pirates Went Mad” a lot of sea shanties were also playing on repeat, especially “The Derelict” by Abney Park – it’s a great musical rendition of Y.E Allison’s poem. “Yo ho! And a bottle of rum!”

How did you get the idea to write “The Day the Pirates Went Mad”?

The spark was an idea for a short story I decided I would write for my daughter. One about a girl overcoming a cursed pirate treasure, inspired by the greedy in-fighting and backstabbing represented in R.L. Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” and Y.E. Allison’s poem “Derelict” – all that for a bit of gold and silver. This tale would take us on our own adventure during the Golden Age of Piracy, and simultaneously let us talk about what life was really like back then versus how it’s been popularized in pirate fiction.

Then the short story developed into a novel! But knowing we had done it before kept the fire burning to do it again on this larger scale. And, after almost five years, “The Day the Pirates Went Mad” was published last spring. I was (and still am!) very happy to share it. I hope it helps make learning fun for some young readers.

On that note: For those that might want to take it a bit further than just reading – perhaps in a classroom or in a homeschooling family – we’ve written a Teacher’s Guide and made it available through the website at, along with our behind-the-scenes and research-related blog posts.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Off the top of my head, I’d pick Captain Charles Johnson, the author of “A General History of the Pyrates”. Really, it would be interesting to talk to anyone from the past to understand better what their life was like. Especially those more normal things that don’t make it into the history books you read at school. Details of much of our everyday past aren’t always easily found. With Charles Johnson, this is doubly true as Charles Johnson is a pen name and it isn’t clear who he really was. It would be fun to find out the truth of that, why the pen name, and also to talk about how factual his recountings of those now famous pirates actually are.

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve received?

There’s a bit of dialogue from a opening scene in “The Matrix” where Trinity has fallen and is telling herself, willing herself, to get up and get moving again. “Get up, Trinity. Just get up… Get Up!” I recall this when I need to mentally kick myself in the pants to get on with whatever next step I’m supposed to be taking in my writing. Mind over inertia.

What writing advice would you give to your younger self?

Write more stories, sooner. Shorter ones too, so more would be complete – more I could look back on as finished work. Since we can only move forward, I can only tell this to my current self. We’ll see if I listen!

But to anyone, including myself, I would say: don’t delay. Work towards your creative goals now. As much as you can at a time. Writing, drawing, composing, whatever it may be. Practice and get better – from now. How could you regret that?

If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would you choose and what would you do?

Any one of the crew from the New Adventure would be interesting. Even being a passenger would be good too! I’d be glad to see and experience first hand all the scenes I’ve been visualizing. However, I’d like to avoid yellow fever, cannonballs, or any other things of that sort.

If Mars or another planet was livable, would you accept a one way ticket there?

This could be a real option for many people in the next few decades – very exciting stuff! I’d be tempted by the idea of the adventure. But it would be very hard for me to trade in all Earth’s natural beauty and our modern comforts for a permanent pioneering life on a harsh new world. Still, I would be an avid reader of the news following any such colony, and all the R&D related to making it possible.

A giraffe knocks on your door and is wearing a bowler hat. What do they say and why are they there?

Not a question I was expecting at all! What immediately popped into my mind was “The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me”, a fun read by Roald Dahl. So I guess I would expect the giraffe to ask me about washing our windows, and I would say yes – they need it!

What are you currently working on?

I’m very excited to be outlining book two of Emma Sharpe’s Adventures. The base concept is feeling good, and my next step is to explore the specific story beats. At the same time, we’ll be expanding the Teacher’s Guide with some relevant STEM activities, and will also be continuing to add to our behind-the-scenes & research-related posts. I’ll be sharing updates as things progress via our mailing list and on my Facebook page. So please, feel free to follow along!

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA, and to learn more about you, your writing practice, and what’s next! Wishing you all the best, Trevor. – Camilla

Where can we buy “The Day the Pirates Went Mad”?

An excellent question! “The Day the Pirates Went Mad” is available internationally via Amazon:


The Teacher’s Guide is free to download from

Book Blurb

In 1701, seeking adventure and fortune, Emma Sharpe runs away from the orphanage she was sent to after her parents landed in debtors’ prison. She stows away aboard the New Adventure and finds a home and a new family in the comradery of the crew, but she wonders what her special skill is; why did the captain allow her to stay?

Now she is on her way to the West Indies, the setting of so many of the stories she has heard about exploration and pirates. After being blown off course to a deserted island, the crew recovers a cursed pirate treasure. As tempers fray and arguments become more frequent, Emma starts to believe there might really be a curse on the gold they took. With the help of cabin boy Jack Randall, Emma dares to confront the growing threat of violence amongst the close-knit crew. Will they save everyone in time? Can they save themselves?


“THE DAY THE PIRATES WENT MAD” is an entertaining ‘cozy’ historical fiction set at the turn of the 18th century and the Golden Age of Piracy is just around the corner. Follow the adventures of eleven-year-old Emma Sharpe as she learns to sail the sea, bonds with her shipmates, and then must save them all from a cursed pirate treasure before it’s too late!

While exploring a theme of greed/wealth vs. family/friends, “The Day the Pirates Went Mad” also conveys a ‘boatload’ of learning about the life and times of those sailing the seas 300 years ago – but without dwelling on the grittier realities (that’s the ‘cozy’ part). Entertainingly educational!

Although intended for ages 10-12, older readers can also enjoy this story and it’s suitable for sharing with younger readers when supported by an adult. (You know your kids’ reading-levels best!)

About the Author

Trevor Atkins lives with his family on the west coast of Canada and has been working with words for much of his life, but has only recently pursued historical fiction for younger readers. A storyteller and role player of detailed characters, Trevor loves to weave together many intertwining threads when writing. His bane is the perfecting effort of revision – there is always more that can be tweaked and improved. But then comes the day when enough is enough and the story must be set free for others to see!

Connect with Trevor:

Website, Teaching Resources & Behind-the-Scenes:

Now Available

Author’s Facebook Page:

“Look Inside” on Amazon:

* paperback:

* ebook:

Silverpath Publishing:


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Friday with Friends: A Writer Practices ‘Method Acting’ by Joyce Yarrow


I’ve often wondered why so many of us are obsessed by our unique spirals of DNA, to the point of spending endless hours searching through immigration and naturalization documents on

When I mailed my spit-in-a-tube to be analyzed, I told myself this venture was purely an exercise in “method-writing.” In the same way Marlon Brando inhabited Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar Named Desire, I would “become” Alienor Crespo, the protagonist of my latest novel, Zahara and the Lost Books of Light. Alienor goes to great lengths to research her family tree. As her creator I felt obligated to do the same.

On the evening my results arrived in my Inbox, I clicked the link with no premonition of what was in store.

I was not surprised by all the Eastern European yellow and green, with a small dash of blue for the Baltic’s and the UK. I was philosophical about finding 6 great aunts and uncles on my mother’s side who I had no idea existed. My detachment, however, turned to deep curiosity when I investigated my dad’s side of the tree and started the hunt for the orphanage where he’d told me he’d been raised. If I’d taken a selfie at that moment, more than a hint of fanatical purpose would have shone in my eyes. I didn’t leave my dinner to burn on the stove but I would have if given half the chance.

The next day, over morning coffee, I got on the phone with the nun in New Jersey who maintained the archives of what was once the Nazareth Trade School. While we spoke I was looking at an online record of ‘students’ in residence, my nine year old father’s name written in surprisingly neat cursive, ten lines down from the top of the page.

(Image from

“He was with us until he was seventeen, except for some time in an orthopedic hospital,” the Sister told me.

That made sense. My dad used to say that being in the hospital after he came down with polio was the best year of his childhood. The Children’s Ward was where he learned to play chess and was introduced to Shakespeare’s plays. We didn’t have many books in our house but without fail Dad read his copy of Hamlet once a year. Now that I’m older, I can appreciate the significance this held for him.

Grandma Anna had been unable to support three children on her own during the Great Depression. She had placed my father at the orphanage/trade school when he was nine years old. She failed to visit him for eight long years and when she came to pick him up she was using a different last name than his, recently married, and ready to reunite her family.

No wonder Dad was a quintessential outsider who, when he met my mother, told her that his own mother was dead. Not true and after I was born there was a family reunion of sorts. But I was never close with my grandmother. The trauma endured by my father had marked him for life and as a child I was not the more forgiving person I’ve become.

So there he was, or at least the ghost of him, behind the walls of the orphanage in the photograph. For the first time I tried to see the world through his eyes. Somehow this allowed me to love him in spite of his deserting me the way his own mother deserted him. Maybe that’s why, when I wrote Alienor Crespo’s story, I decided to give her the gift of seeing through her ancestor’s eyes. In the end she too finds meaning in the painful discoveries she makes while recreating her family tree.

Follow this link to read Joyce’s previous interview …

Meet the Author: Zahara by Joyce Yarrow


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Meet the Author: The Healer’s Betrayal by Helen Pryke

Today we travel to the north of Italy to chat with Helen Pryke about how a rescue cat, an early love of reading, a mum’s encouragement, private writing space, bad allergies, the flute, working in the garden, CS Lewis, and caves in Tuscany come together as part of Helen’s current and present life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Helen, and I’m a British author who’s been living in the north of Italy since 1990. I write historical fiction set in Italy, suspense set in the south of England, where I grew up, and I also write children’s books under the pen name Julia E. Clements. I live with my husband, two sons, and our gorgeous rescue cat, Pan.

How many published books do you have?

Quite a few! There are four books in my Healer saga (I’m currently writing the fifth). I’ve also published two suspense novels, a standalone women’s fiction, two short stories, and three children’s books. I’ve also published a few of my books in Italian. All this since 2016!

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

I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was little, and used to write stories inspired by the books I read. My first story was published in the school magazine when I was 10, I still have the cutting! My mum always encouraged me to write, and often said I’d be published one day. My only regret is that she didn’t live to see it, she died when I was 18 from breast cancer.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

For the first time ever, I have my own study to shut myself away in and write! Pan usually supervises, curled up on a stool next to me, and I love having that space to myself. I need total quiet for writing, which isn’t possible when everyone’s home!

What are you currently reading?

I get through books very quickly, which is lucky as I have hundreds on my Kindle! My current book is Shadow Pursuit, a thriller by Alistair Birch, but that will probably change tomorrow!

What is your favorite season and why?

Autumn, although this year it’s been unusually warm and we’ve been inundated with insects, especially stink bugs! I hate the summer, as it’s very hot and humid here in Italy, and I get bad allergies in spring, and I don’t like being too cold either. I’m British, so I’m never happy with the weather!

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

In my Healer series, every book I write gives me the idea for the next one! While writing The Healer’s Awakening, one of the characters mentions an ancestor who was tried as a witch. It only took a few words to spark the idea for The Healer’s Betrayal, which takes place in Tuscany in the 1600s and tells us the ancestor’s story. It ended up being the longest book I’ve written so far!

Can you play a musical instrument? 

I can play the flute, and used to play the violin when I was younger. I’d love to be able to play the piano, but never had the chance.

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

Reading, or working in the garden. After living in an apartment for 8 years, we’ve now moved to a detached house with a decent-sized garden, so there’s plenty of work to do!

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

I’d love to meet CS Lewis, so we could chat about the Narnia books. I loved reading them when I was little, I still have my battered copies, and I’d love to know more about his inspiration for them, how he dreamed up the characters, and all the different stories.

What is your favorite time of day and why?

Six o’clock in the morning! It’s my quiet time, to sit down with a cappuccino and some biscuits, and do some reading, while everyone else is sleeping.

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

The amazing people I’ve met, some of whom have become close friends. Both authors and readers can be so supportive and lovely, and they keep you going when things are difficult.

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve experienced to help create a scene?

After I wrote The Healer’s Secret, my husband, youngest son, and I spent 4 days in Tuscany where it’s set so that I could make everything more authentic. One of the scenes takes place in some caves, so we took a guided tour to experience it for ourselves. It was wonderful for adding authenticity – the moment when they turned the lights out and left us in total darkness was spooky! And I found some steps leading down to who knows where, which sparked my imagination and helped me create a particular moment in the story!

I’m currently working on book 5 in the Healer series, which doesn’t yet have a title. It follows on directly from book 4, and features Morgana’s daughter, Gemma. She has to leave Italy to escape the witch hunts, and ends up… well, you’ll have to wait and find out!

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Healer’s Betrayal is book 4 in my Healer series. Each book tells the story of one of the healers in the Innocenti family, and this one is about Morgana Innocenti. It’s set in the 1600s, a time of superstition, when people believed in witches and witchcraft, and women were persecuted and burned at the stake. It’s available to preorder from every online retailer, and will be published on the 2nd December. I do recommend reading the whole series, as every book is connected and little details pop up that you’ll recognise as the series progresses!

It was wonderful learning more about your books and writing’s life, Helen! I’ve added The Healer’s Secret to my reading list! Wishing you much success with all you do! – Camilla

The Healer’s Betrayal:

In an era of superstition and fear, it’s dangerous to be a woman—and even more so to be a healer . . .

Morgana Innocenti was born on the cusp of the 1600s, on the cursed ground inside the Grove. Deaf since the age of eight from a childhood illness, and able to see shadows where no shadow should be, she has learned to face any difficulty with strength and determination.

But a three-hundred-year-old vow of revenge, and a terrible secret revealed on her grandmother’s deathbed, throw Morgana’s life into turmoil, and nothing will ever be the same again. To protect her family’s name, she must marry a man she hardly knows, and trust that she has made the right choice.

While she settles into her new life, rumours arrive from England of witch hunters who leave a trail of death and devastation behind them as they cross the country. When her daughter is born with the mark of the devil, Morgana lives in constant fear that they will come to Italy.

She has no idea that she is about to suffer the ultimate betrayal. Before, she had to marry to save her family’s name. What will she sacrifice to save her daughter?

Connect with Helen:


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Meet the Author: The Lazare Family Saga by Elizabeth Bell

Today we travel to Northern Virginia, USA to chat with Elizabeth Bell about how George Mason University, elementary school vocabulary words, two hundred library books, talismans, wrought iron, sensory deprivation, a turtle, and The Princess Bride come together as part of Elizabeth’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Elizabeth Bell, and I live in Northern Virginia, USA. I grew up in Colorado. I came to Virginia to pursue my Master’s degree in Creative Writing at George Mason University. After graduation, I realized I’d have to return my two hundred library books. Instead, I cleverly found a job in the university library, where I work to this day.

In which genre do you write?

Historical fiction, specifically family saga with strong romantic elements.

How many published books do you have?

Necessary Sins, Lost Saints, Native Stranger, and Sweet Medicine, the four books of The Lazare Family Saga.

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

Around the second grade. My teacher would give us students a list of ten vocabulary words to learn each week. To show we understood their meaning, we had to write a sentence that used each of the words correctly. No matter how disparate the words were, I always used those ten sentences to tell a little story.

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

I have talismans to get me “in the zone” when I’m writing. I’ll burn an appropriately scented candle, such as gardenia for a scene set in a Charleston garden or Yankee Candle’s Storm Watch for a scene set on the Great Plains of the American West. I’ll also wear a necklace based on the wrought iron of Charleston.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

A turtle. I’ve always been an introvert, and I may be the world’s slowest writer. I spent twenty-eight years researching, writing, and revising the four books of The Lazare Family Saga. But I got there in the end!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I’d prefer a sensory deprivation chamber! I need as few distractions as possible to concentrate on my fictional world. I write in a U shape: an L-shaped desk plus a table alongside me so I can have research materials spread open all around me. I’m also surrounded by bookshelves. In my ideal writing space, those shelves would be lovely, grained dark hardwood instead of plywood and I’d own all the books instead of borrowing them from library.

What are you currently reading?

I’m rereading Be Free or Die, Cate Lineberry’s excellent biography of Robert Smalls, after reading Rebecca Dwight Bruff’s novel about him.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

The Princess Bride. I have practically the whole screenplay memorized. It’s brilliant—funny but also heartfelt, exciting, romantic, and and wise.

What is your favorite time of day and why?

The wee hours of the morning, when the rest of the house has gone to bed. That’s my best writing time, when my characters really come alive and tell me their stories.

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

Lowcountry South Carolina near Charleston. It’s one of the two main settings of my historical saga. I grew up in the other setting: the Great Plains of the American West along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. I’ve visited the Lowcountry a few times and fell in love with it. I haven’t been able to live there in real life, but I do vicariously through my characters. I love the flora and fauna of the Lowcountry, the birds and even the reptiles. I love the gardens and the architecture, so well suited to the semitropical climate. I love how present the history of Charleston is, how well it’s been preserved. That history is often contentious and tragic, because it’s about the legacy of slavery and the persistence of racism, but it’s also about resilience. That complexity is what makes the history dynamic and compelling and essential.

What are you currently working on?

With the help of my cover designer, I’m creating hardcover versions of my four books. I thought the paperbacks were beautiful, but I love my first hardcover proof even more: beauty and durability! My cover artist is James T. Egan of Bookfly Design, and he is so talented.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is Sweet Medicine, the fourth and final installment in my historical fiction series The Lazare Family Saga—but please start with Book One, Necessary Sins. The series is a continuous narrative.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, and learning more about you and your background. Love the bit about the library books, and that now you work in the university library! Wishing you all the best, with much success! – Camilla


The sweeping Lazare Family Saga transports readers from the West Indies to the Wild West, from Charleston, Paris, and Rome into the depths of the human heart. Passion, prejudice, secrets, and a mother’s desperate choice in the chaos of revolution echo through five generations as the multiracial Lazare family struggles to understand where they belong. A French baroness, a Catholic priest, a daring physician, an unconventional Southern belle, an enslaved maid, and a blond Cheyenne Indian find love in dangerous places in this epic spanning 1789-1873.

Kathleen Grissom, bestselling author of The Kitchen House, called the first book, Necessary Sins, “a feast of a novel by an extraordinary new voice. Haunting, meticulously researched, and exquisitely told through characters so human you’d swear they have beating hearts.” Lost Saints and Native Stranger were both Editors’ Choices in the Historical Novels Review, and the Historical Novel Society proclaimed: “Necessary Sins is a rare breed of book, invoking family epics of the past such as The Thorn Birds… [Elizabeth Bell] renders a vivid world that truly feels like stepping back in time.”

Where to find the books:

The four ebooks are available exclusively from Amazon, and they’re free to borrow through Kindle Unlimited. The paperbacks are available through your favorite online bookstore.

Connect with Elizabeth:


An Epic Three Decades in the Making…


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Meet the Author: Falcon’s Shadow by Marthese Fenech

Today we travel to the Toronto area, by way of the Maltese Islands, to chat with Marthese Fenech about how a rabbit, being a teacher, climbing things, practicing yoga, chasing landscapes, magic, a Siberian husky, teddy bears, kickboxing, the Great Siege of 1565, tongue-twisters, and Point Break come together as part of Marthese’s adventurous life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in a town north of Toronto with my husband, Brad, and our Siberian husky. I’m the youngest of five, with a 12 to 16 year gap between my siblings and me. I teach high school English, Social Science, and Special Education.

I’m an avid traveler and adventure-seeker. Brad and I spend a lot of time outdoors and tackle challenging hikes all over the world. When I’m not climbing things or throwing myself out of things, I enjoy practicing yoga and paddle-boarding.

Languages fascinate me. I spoke Maltese before English and studied French in school. I’d love to learn conversational Spanish beyond asking where the bathroom is.

Photography is another of my hobbies. I especially love chasing landscapes, seascapes, and sunsets. I’ve recently taken up skateboarding so I can improve my surfing. I consider myself a lively, fun, energetic risk-taker. I also hope I’m as funny as I think I am.

In which genre do you write?

I write historical fiction. Sixteenth-century Malta and Turkey serve as the settings of my novels.

My parents are Maltese, and frequent visits to the island from the time I was very young piqued my interest in its opulent history. Life under the rule of the Knights of St John fascinated me most. The Maltese islands lend themselves very well to literary descriptions—gifted with four compass points of natural beauty, the smell of the sea constant no matter how far inland one might venture, ancient temples that predate the pyramids of Egypt.

In high school, history was my favourite subject. I loved to learn about daily life in the Middle Ages, communication and the importance of scribes and town-criers, the development and enforcement of laws, the cause and outcome of battles, the roles of different institutions, the use (and misuse) of medicine, the creation (and banning) of art and literature, and most of all, the perspectives of the people, their motivations, their resilience.

Despite the passage of time, people want and need many of the same things today as they did in the past. Beyond necessities for survival, people crave human connection, acceptance, recreation, fellowship, justice, knowledge, a sharing of ideas, progress.

This realization gave me the confidence to tackle historical fiction—I didn’t have to create characters I could never relate to simply because they lived five hundred years ago. And while living in the sixteenth century undoubtedly presented its own set of challenges and struggles, the human condition remains the same. The story needs to revolve around the characters and their experiences—the setting becomes virtually incidental.

How many published books do you have?

Eight Pointed Cross, originally published in 2011, and Falcon’s Shadow, published in 2020, are the first two novels in my Siege of Malta trilogy. The third instalment is scheduled for a May 2022 release to coincide with the anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta, the event on which the novel is based.

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

Creating images with words always seemed to be a kind of magic. From a very young age, I found joy in storytelling, something as reflexive as breathing.

I remember rattling off fairy-tales to my teddy bears, which I would arrange around my room as an audience.

My second-grade teacher often gave me “lines” to copy as punishment for being too talkative in class. I’d grow bored and write a story instead—usually about a little girl who upset her teacher and was so very sorry. It often won me back into the teacher’s good graces—though not always.

I was incredibly lucky to have older siblings that read to me, introducing me to authors like Tolkien and Dahl and Adams. I loved the wonder and poetry within their prose. My dad also told me stories he’d make up, usually involving his own take on Hansel and Gretel. My mom surprised me with a book from the Babysitters Club series when I was little, and I was instantly hooked. She’d buy me a new one every few weeks until I finished the entire series. I have no doubt all that reading cultivated my love of the craft.

CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia had the greatest influence on me as a budding writer. Taking my cue from him, I wrote stories cast entirely with talking animals. Even now, in my Siege of Malta series, I tend to treat our four-legged friends more delicately than humans. While I no longer write about talking animals, my Siberian husky has a cameo in Falcon’s Shadow as Louie, a stray wolf-dog who saves the life of one of my protagonists.

In the summer of 1994, I watched the movie Speed ten or eleven times between daily visits to Canada’s Wonderland. A crush on Keanu Reeves inspired me to write a thriller set in the very theme park my friend and I frequented—my first attempt at a composition involving people. Mostly, I wanted to prove to myself that I could start and finish a novel. It took me two years writing part-time while attending high school and working at Red Lobster, but I managed to complete it.

Soon after that, the film Braveheart drew me more insistently to the historical genre, a love further reinforced by Gladiator, which coincidentally, is filmed in Malta and features several of my friends as extras.

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

Sometimes, an idea will come to me, but I don’t jot it down, confident I will remember it. Then, of course, I forget. So, I will pace in a big square as long as it takes until I remember the thing I should have written down.

When I’m trying to describe a facial expression, I make the expression and hold it as I write down everything my face is doing. My brow is sure to end up permanently furrowed.

I find reading aloud a very helpful practice when editing, and when I read aloud, I put on accents to entertain myself.

I like writing to music, but the songs can’t have lyrics because they distract me. Epic scores guide my scenes, stir up intricate, emotional passages. The right soundtrack helps me to pace battle scenes and take the quieter scenes slow. As I wrote Falcon’s Shadow, my workspace swirled with evocative arrangements from Game of Thrones, Inception, Braveheart, the Grey, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

I bite my nails when I’m working on a new scene or editing an existing scene.

What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to try?

I consider myself a thrill-seeker. A former kickboxing instructor, I surf, snowboard, scuba-dive, rock-climb, skydive, zip-line, and throw axes. I’ve also done the EdgeWalk at the CN Tower in Toronto, the Via Ferrata in Ollantaytambo, Peru, and hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand.

There are several outdoor activities I’d yet love to try. Sand-boarding in the desert looks wild. I took a beginner kite-surfing lesson but would like to take it up more frequently. I’m also keen to try potholing (the subterranean version of tree-top trekking). I recently discovered “high-diving,” which involves throwing oneself down a giant waterslide before diving into a high-altitude lake. Looks kind of awesome. And my husband and I plan to do the trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal when Covid restrictions lift and it is safe to travel.

I find physical exertion gives me perspective and opens up my mind to so many creative possibilities.

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

In July 2000, I travelled to Malta for a pre-college vacation. I intended to spend my days at the beach, my nights bar-hopping, and every second sharing laughs with good friends. I checked off every box, every day.

But this trip became so much more when my friend suggested we go to the capital city Valletta to check out the Malta Experience, a film that showcases the island’s incredible seven-thousand-year history.

The moment the Great Siege of 1565 played out on the screen, everything changed. Suddenly, the battle I’d heard so much about came to life for me as never before. The siege tested the resilience and fortitude of this little island and its people in ways I could hardly comprehend. It’s an underdog story for the ages.

The idea to write a novel based on this epic battle took root.

It just ended up taking three novels instead of one—the story is simply too big to fit in one book.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

Point Break.

I mean, come on—surfing bank robbers??

Point Break always brings back waves of wonderful memories, from writing an essay about director Kathryn Bigelow for a film studies class in high school to vacationing in Malta and hanging out at a beach bar which happened to be playing Point Break on a mounted TV set.

This movie inspired me to learn to surf. And to sky-dive. And to rob banks (which I have yet to do). I had the opportunity to surf for the first time in Tarifa, Spain (epic fail), then my husband gifted me with a week at a surf school in Costa Rica, followed by another session in New Zealand. I cannot put into words how much I love it and how badly I wish I lived near the ocean so I could continue improving daily, rather than yearly.

Point Break turns 30 this year, and its energy transcends. It is timeless—stories that capture the human spirit always are. I’m certain this movie contributed to my love for adventure, my need to challenge myself physically, to try new things—even the things I’m afraid to try.

Especially the things I’m afraid to try.

Although I never became the pro-surfer of my imagination, I did follow my literary dreams of becoming a bestselling author of historical fiction—my equivalent of big wave riding.

Also, as a wink at Point Break, I threw the line “Vaya con Dios” into my forthcoming third novel.

Can you play a musical instrument? If not, which instrument would you like to be able to play?

Musicality runs in my family. My dad is an accomplished organist and pianist. My brother Dave plays the trumpet, my brother Steve the guitar.

When I was eight, Dave bought me an acoustic guitar and signed me up for lessons. I loved it and progressed well, but my interest fizzled, and I gave up—something I regret to this day.

Years later, I saved enough money to buy a Fender Stratocaster electric bass and taught myself to play because I wanted to start a rock band. A huge Def Leppard fan, I’d watch recordings of their concerts and try to mimic the bassist’s riffs. I could strum a mean “Hysteria.” I also learned to imitate the basslines of songs by Guns N Roses and Skid Row.

In high school music class, I chose the alto saxophone. I loved wailing on that thing. I drove my parents to the brink by practising “Auld Lang Syne” nonstop in my not-soundproof bedroom.

Giving up on these instruments remains a sore spot. The creation and performance of music is so beautiful, the same kind of magic that exists in storytelling—because really, music is storytelling with sound. Perhaps I will take up an instrument again.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

Battles feature prominently in my novels. As such, I thought it important to feel a fraction of what my characters may have felt while defending Malta during a mid-summer siege.

One August day, I took the bus to the seaside village of Birgu, one of my main settings, and spent an afternoon on the wall of Castile—essentially, a stone oven. For three hours, I stood on that battlement and wrote detailed notes describing everything I felt, like the way the sweat would bead and run down my face or arm, pool in the dimple of my knee. I ignored every impulse to find shade or drink water. Though effective, it was hugely reckless and idiotic, and I was rewarded with heatstroke and a day spent in bed, shivering, sweating, cramping, and convinced I contracted the plague.

I also spent time in Istanbul, a living museum, every street corner a testament to the city’s vivid past. Lively exchanges with locals inspired a cast of Turkish characters, including a very kind and helpful shopkeeper, an equally unpleasant staffer at my hostel, and five or six kittens that worked together to steal a cooked chicken—yes, that scene made it into Falcon’s Shadow.

In my first novel, Eight Pointed Cross, I introduce Katrina, a female protagonist who wants to learn archery. For Kat, finding someone willing to teach a girl the bow in sixteenth-century Malta would prove a challenge. For me, the challenge began once she found that person. I’d need to describe her struggling through lessons and finally mastering the skills. Skills I did not possess. As I developed her character, I knew I had to learn archery.

And so, I signed up for a two-day workshop, which I thought was a beginner archery lesson. It ended up being an intensive, archery certification course. The other students knew not only each other but all the technical terms. They frequented archery ranges and competed around the country. I hadn’t so much as picked up a bow since gym class ten years earlier. Despite my mistake, I stayed—might as well learn a few things in case of a zombie apocalypse.

Learning to teach archery proved to be an unexpected gift. Katrina’s instructor would have to demonstrate the proper technique. In Falcon’s Shadow, Kat becomes the teacher. Although it was important for me to learn how to do the thing, it was as important for me to learn to teach it so I could write believably from an archery instructor’s point of view. I could now write with the confidence that comes from experience. Amazingly, I passed the final exam and am technically a certified archery instructor. In the years since my certification, I’ve taken archery lessons—but certainly never taught any.

Many styles of weapons were used throughout the siege. I took up axe-throwing and went to a gun range, where I shot a variety of guns and felt the incredible kickback—something I needed to experience because muskets and arquebuses were the matchlocks of choice at the time in which my novels are set.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking, and what do you do to prepare yourself?

In July 2020, I hosted a virtual book launch via Facebook Live since Covid cancelled my in-person event. Up to that point, I had always been a nervous wreck before appearing on camera.

And so, I needed to get amped before I hit “Go Live.”

My pre-game hype song-list includes:

“All I do is Win” – DJ Khalid featuring Ludacris, Rick Ross, T-Pain and Snoop Dogg

“Live like Legends” – Ruelle

“Revolution” – Ruelle

On the day of a speaking engagement or live reading, I occupy my mind to keep it from playing out disaster scenarios. I practice tongue-twisters and work on dropping my breath (belly-breathing). I fold a bunch of laundry and empty the dishwasher and water the garden. I go a few rounds on the punching bag, go for a jog, or hit the speed-rope. I take the dog for a long walk and recite my script to him. I roll out my yoga mat for a session. Anything to calm my frazzled nerves.

Was there anything surprising about that period of history you learned about which made it into the book?

I find period pieces tend to romanticize history. We think of a knight in shining armour as noble and flawless. But reality objects to that image. Were the knights brave? Absolutely. Were they flawed? Beyond doubt. To be accepted into the Order of the Knight of St. John, one had to prove noble ancestry in all four lines. Knighthood was something for which these young men were pre-destined. The system did not operate based on merit. Someone who embodies the qualities you expect a knight to have wouldn’t be worthy if their lineage did not measure up.

As a woman, I was also very proud to learn that during the Great Siege of 1565, women played a pivotal role in Malta’s defence. They stood on the battlements alongside the men, shooting flaming arrows, gathering cannonballs, and repairing walls. Again, period pieces often portray damsels in distress that need to be rescued. These women didn’t need any rescuing.

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

Three questions I would ask my Siberian husky:

1. What is your favourite memory? (Surely the time he got loose and chased seven cows around a farm for fifteen minutes as my brother Steve chased after him)

2. Do you know how deeply you are loved?

3. Why do you take one kibble at a time out of your bowl, eat it outside, then return for another?

What are you currently working on?

I have a few things on the go at the moment. The third novel in my Siege of Malta trilogy is in the editing phase. I have yet to write the epilogue—this has proved challenging as I don’t feel emotionally ready to complete a project that’s been twenty years in the making.

Set for publication in 2022, the third book will feature the culmination of all battles—symbolic and literal—with the Great Siege of 1565.

The novel begins on the eve of one of the bloodiest battles in history. The elite Ottoman army departs Istanbul, the seat of Sunni Islam, with a force 50,000 strong, a great host heading for Malta intent on crushing the Knights of St John once and for all.

In the final book of the trilogy, characters will face hopeless odds and endure terrible losses amid hurtling cannonballs and exploding mines, poisoned wells and crumbling ramparts. But there will be the forging of unlikely allies also, the creation of unexpected bonds. And most of all, there will be the triumph of the human spirit.

Seeing my novels come to life on the screen is my biggest dream. For years, I have wished someone—a director, a producer, an actor—would approach me about adapting my books. It suddenly dawned on me that I am capable. I wrote the novels, after all. Six weeks ago, I enrolled in a screenwriting course and have started to adapt my novels into a script for a series. I’m currently working on the pilot episode that I hope to pitch to streaming services, HBO, and the History Channel. Stay tuned.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Falcon’s Shadow, published in 2020, is the second novel in my Siege of Malta trilogy.

When legendary Ottoman seaman Dragut Raїs attacked the Maltese islands in 1551, his army left Gozo a smoking ruin emptied of its entire population. Among the five thousand carried into slavery is Augustine Montesa, father of Domenicus and Katrina.

Wounded and broken, Domenicus vows to find his father, even if it means abandoning Angelica, his betrothed. Armed with only a topaz to serve as ransom, he sets out on a journey that sees him forcibly recruited from the streets of Europe and thrown into the frontline. On Malta, Katrina struggles to find work after the Grand Master has her publicly flogged for speaking out against him. When at last, she stumbles upon a promising position, all is not as it seems. Her job forces her to confront a terrible truth—one that may prove disastrous for Robert, the man she loves.

Hundreds of leagues to the east in Istanbul, Demir, son of a wealthy Turkish bey, works hard to become an imperial Ottoman horseman, despite having to endure the cruelty of his father and half-brother. Life takes an unexpected turn the moment Demir encounters a young woman, stolen from Malta, brought into the household as another of his father’s servants.

Falcon’s Shadow picks up in the immediate aftermath of Eight Pointed Cross and sweeps from quarry pits to sprawling estates, tumultuous seas to creaking gallows, the dungeons beneath the bishop’s palace to the open decks of warships. Chance connections are made, secrets revealed, and betrayals exposed against a historical backdrop. Fates will collide at the Battle of Djerba, a momentous clash that unites lost kin, only to tear them apart once more.

Falcon’s Shadow is available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook (narrated beautifully by voice artist Simon Hester) across all Amazon platforms, ebook and hardcover from Barnes and Noble, ebook from Kobo, and paperback available from bookshops in Canada and Malta.

It was great fun learning more about you, an absolutely pleasure having you be a part of MTA. Wishing you all the best, with loads more adventures and novels! – Camilla

Find the books here:

Eight Pointed Cross –

Falcon’s Shadow –

Connect with Marthese:


My most recent blog-post inspired by a debilitating bout of writer’s block:

Overcoming Writer’s Block When You Feel Uninspired



Instagram – Fenka33

Facebook –

Goodreads –

LinkedIn –

Twitter – Fenka33

Virtual Book Launch –

Blooper Reel –

*My last name, Fenech, means Rabbit in Maltese. Fenka, is girl-rabbit.


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Meet the Author: The Last Day of June by Edward Yeoman

Today we travel to a small stone house just outside Caunes Minervois, in the South of France, to chat with Edward Yeoman about how a science background, a portfolio career, naturism, being a storyteller, a love of music, a bee, olive trees, running a holiday gite, Portugal, and the Indian Ocean come together as part of Edward’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I did the school and university thing, a science background, before having decided what I wanted to do. As a result, I had a bit of a portfolio career; as the current term for jumping from one line of work to another is described. Then I retired, invented Ted Bun and started writing stories about a naturist policeman, a series of light, amusing romances.

Other stories followed, most involving naturism, but some not. There was a story I wanted to write that was more serious.

That story was “The Last Day of June”.

It is very different, no naked people, no big laughs. So different I decided to bring myself out of retirement and publish in my given name.

Currently, you can find me living, with my wife, in a small stone house just outside Caunes Minervois, in the South of France.

In which genre do you write?

This is fun!

I can’t settle on what genre the Last Day of June fits into … I’d go for Romance if pushed or Historical Fiction or Political Fiction or Family Fiction. The one thing I’m sure of, it is definitely Fiction.

Romance or Romantic Comedy or Cosy Crime would encompass most of the rest of my output; (as Ted Bun) The Uncovered Policeman is a love story in ten parts and another one in two parts. Even my Dystopian Fiction piece has an undoubtedly romantic thread running through it.

How many published books do you have?

This is my first in my real name … however Ted Bun has 25 books out, plus several Short Stories on Kindle.

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

I am not really an author. I am a storyteller. I write my stories down to share my amusement with other people.

It started with a play on BBC Radio 4, I was in the car and had an appointment to keep. Be late or hear the end of the play? I was professional and missed the ending. Stuck in traffic on the way home I made up my version of the ending.

Years later I had the time to compose whole narratives.

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

My love of music, that results in songs being referenced (note referenced never quoted!) through my books. A tool I use for giving a feel of time and place or to put ideas into my characters heads.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

A Bee.

The female lead in my first story is named Beatrice, Bea. Ashe developed into the character that I built a world around. A character that influences the lives of others, even people she never meets.

The Bee, of course, is an industrious creature and I try to match its work rate!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It is a warm sunny corner of the garden, near the swimming pool. The nightingales are giving it large in the olive trees that protect the area from public gaze. There is a comfortable sunlounger and a small table with room for a cool drink, a notebook and a pencil.

I create stories in my head, sometimes even redrafting them three or four times before I commit them to the keyboard, sometimes days later. I am after all a storyteller, not an author!

What are you currently reading?

On the recommendation of my wife, The Chateau of Illusions by Guy Hibbert, a story set in France during roughly the same period as The Last Day of June. I am only halfway through and it is keeping me engaged.

If it is the same story … I published first!

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

One autumn evening in 1974, I sat on the Dining Hall floor in Elliott College at the University of Kent, Canterbury to watch a concert performance by Al Stewart.

During the show, he performed most of the songs from his just-released album “Past, Present and Future.” Out of all the incredibly good material he performed that night two songs stuck out for the wonderful images they created in my mind’s eye. “Soho, Needless to Say” was one, the other was the inspiration for this book “The Last Day of June 1934”.


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

My wife and I run a holiday gite in the summer. I’m kept busy looking after the pool and the gardens plus cooking for our guests a couple of times a week.

During the winter we cuddle up in front of the log burner.

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

Companionship, I joined a writer’s group, here in the Occitanie. We find a great deal of pleasure in sharing and critiquing each other’s work. Even in the dark days of ‘Le Confinement’ we have carried on through the medium of Zoom!

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

For three years I ran a holiday centre in Portugal, the place was only held together by the paint that my team of helpers applied every spring. Despite that, there was a special spirit about the place.

I took that spirit and transferred into a setting that matched it. The fictional L’Abeille Nue resort that becomes the location of many of Ted Bun’s books.

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

Would you believe it was Shirley Valentine. As I was writing Problems and Passions I found that there were echoes of my memory of the film and the story I was writing. I finished the final draft, then watched the film. I decided that there was enough clear, blue water between the two stories for Pauline Collins and Melody Fabricant (my heroine) to swim safely.

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

Somewhere in the Indian Ocean. The sun is setting on what has been a hot, clear, da. I am sitting on the deck of boat, a cold drink in hand watching the flying fish playing in the wake.

Something I have always wanted to do since reading a very old book of my father’s. It was about two children on the old Queen Mary, a toy sailor and falling into a book they were looking at. I think it must have been published during the Second World War from one picture.

What are you currently working on?

I am writing my first YA Fantasy story in between a new story for crime busters (Mick) Cooke and (Samantha) Loch and a cookery book (don’t ask!)

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Last Day of June was inspired by the 1974 song by Al Stewart, The Last Day of June 1934.

Each of the three verses is a beautifully described vignette of the day from the point of view of three young men: a French farm labourer, a well-to-do English socialite and a young German. The three verses inspire the first three chapters of story. From there we follow the main characters through the years.

From the Night of the Long Knives, when forces loyal to Hitler removed all effective opposition to his rule in a single bloody night – 30th June 1934. Through the brutality of World War 2 into the years of peace that followed. They fall in love, have children and grow older. Their lives intertwining, bringing them closer … again!

It was great having you on MTA, and learning more about your books and background. Wishing you all the best, Edward! – Camilla

The blurb

On the notorious Night of the Long Knives forces loyal to Adolph Hitler moved to eliminate opposition and challengers to Hitler’s position as leader of the Nazi party. Eighty-five political figures were executed without trial. The threatening power of the irregular SA, the thuggish Brown Shirts, was curtailed. Any potential opposition had lost all senior leadership overnight. In a single swift action, Hitler had consolidated power in his hands. The date?

Last Day of June 1934

Three narratives, each starting from an image inspired by a verse of the Al Stewart song ‘The Last Day of June 1934’ twist and cross over the years that follow.

The decades roll past; dangerous times. times for loving, sad times, times of joy, lives lived.

A journey through the sixty years that saw Europe torn apart through warfare and rebuilt; from the viewpoints of three very different families!

“I started to read it and couldn’t put it down!” Robert Whiston-Crisp

“Definitely a book to curl up with as the nights draw in.” Richard Savin author of the Girl In The Bakers Van

“War is hell, yet stories about the war can be fascinating” An American reader

“WOW” Bryce Mclean, USA

Where to find the book:


The Shop Counter

Who is Edward Yeoman

Edward Yeoman is the given name of Ted Bun. The writer of the highly successful Uncovered Policeman books and many more 5 star reviewed stories.

Connect with Edward:






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Friday with Friends: Doing the Tango and Writing Historic Novels

Welcome to a new series on Meeting the Authors …. Friday with Friends. On select Fridays we will feature a unique guest post/interview with an author that has previously been interviewed on MTA. Welcome to Tom Williams to help kick off this new series.

When Camilla was kind enough to offer me space to write on her blog, I asked if she had any idea what people would like to read about. She replied, “If you want to write about your passion of dancing, that may be fun.”

Well, I always love writing about tango, but I also want to encourage you to read my books. And although I keep wanting to write a book about tango, I never have yet. So can I write about my dancing and link it to any of my novels?

Oddly enough, maybe I can.

A very, very long time ago, I used to ice dance. Here’s a photo of a much younger me posing with wife, son and competition cup (we all danced on the same recreational competition team).

One of the other ice dancers had taken up Argentine tango and started teaching it and she persuaded Tammy and me to give it a go. That was over 20 years ago.

It’s fair to say that we got quite enthusiastic about it. In 2003 we made our first trip to Buenos Aires and life was never quite the same again.

We’ve been back more times than I can remember since then. We’ve danced in France, Iceland, Portugal, Turkey and Romania. We’ve tangoed for fun in parks in Barcelona and hotels in the Highlands and semi-professionally in an Army base and on a narrow-boat. Tammy has even gone dancing in Korea. Here we are dancing where we live. (Please be gentle with us – it was 10 years ago.)

As I took up writing, the idea of a book about tango obviously came up once or twice. I even started on one, but I was never able to make it work. Instead I ended up a writer of historical novels.

My first book, The White Rajah had just been turned down by all the major publishers on the grounds (mainly) that it was “too difficult for a first novel”. My agent suggested I write something more straightforwardly commercial.

But what? I started asking around my friends if they had any ideas.

On one of our trips to Buenos Aires we had met an Alaskan woman who was even more passionate about tango than we were and was living there for six months. (The most we have ever managed has been six weeks.) It was her suggestion that there were lots of interesting figures linked to the early history of European colonisation of South America and the struggles for liberation from Spain. So it was that I discovered the real-life British spy, James Burke, and his role in the 1806 British invasion of Buenos Aires. His Argentinian adventures were to become the basis for Burke in the Land of Silver.

I had a lot of fun following his footsteps around the town, exploring the remains of the old fort (now hidden away under the presidential palace) and riding out into the Andes, which he crossed on horseback. Sadly, my research into his life didn’t allow any room for tango. James Burke was active in Argentina early in the 19th century and tango only arrived almost a century later. The South American poet and historian of tango, Horacio Ferrer, writes:

“Nowadays, it is thought that between 1895 and 1900, Tango was born as a musical art clearly predestined and unmistakable.”

(Argentinian poets write like that.)

High in the Andes: not ideal dance conditions

Leaving aside issues of historical authenticity, there is limited potential for tangoing in the snow at 3,000 metres on the road to Chile, though we did get the odd dance in back in Buenos Aires. Poor James Burke, however, doesn’t get to dance at all, though he does join a group of gauchos, the cowboys of Argentina, as they sing after a cattle drive.

The guitars began to play again and everybody joined in singing long, slow songs about the loneliness and loss that seemed an inescapable part of living in this vast emptiness at the bottom of the world. The words were sad and the melodies plaintive but the singing evoked the beauty of the landscape and the passion with which they loved it.

In Argentina, many people believe that tango is principally about the songs and only secondarily about the dancing. The music of tango is the soundtrack of Buenos Aires and the songs are still songs of loss and loneliness; the struggle to find love and the inevitability of its loss. They are sad songs that somehow make you feel happy. It is true, as the great tango composer Astor Piazzolla said, that “Tango is darkness made light through art.”

The real James Burke may never have got to tango, but he did go on spying until well after the Napoleonic wars were over. He carried on in my books, too. In fact, I have just re-published the first three books (starting with Burke in the Land of Silver) ahead of publishing two new ones later this year. I’ve carried on dancing, too: the photo shows Tammy and me celebrating our Ruby Wedding two years ago.

James Burke, spy

James Burke’s published adventures take him from South America to Egypt and, inevitably for any Napoleonic wars hero, to Waterloo. His further adventures will see him up to dark deeds in Spain and Ireland. You can find out more about Burke and his world (and my other books) on my web-site:

Burke in the Land of Silver

Burke and the Bedouin

Burke at Waterloo

Tom Williams

Tom Williams used to write about business but he’s given that up to indulge himself and write historical novels. Besides three books about James Burke he has three others set at the height of Empire in the mid-19th century: The White Rajah, Cawnpore and Back Home.

He lives in Richmond and, when he’s not dancing (or teaching people to dance), he spends a lot of time street skating.

Thank you for this great post! I absolutely love it, as I find it inspiring to learn more about the past and current lives of authors.  I adore the video of you and Tammy dancing. You two are beautiful! Wishing you all the best, Tom! – Camilla

Social Media Links


Twitter: @TomCW99



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Latest News: Top Interviews With Most Views for May 2020

Interview with Most Views for May 2020:

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Interview with Third Most Views for May 2020:

#3 Meet the Author: Victorine by Drēma Drudge

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#4 Meet the Author: Wishes Under a Starlit Sky by Lucy Knott – This is a FIRST! First time we’ve had an interview in the Top Interviews for two months in a row! Way to go Lucy!! 

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Thank you for taking the time to read more about these authors and book bloggers, and for sharing the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by all involved. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

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Meet the Author: The Girl on the Roof by Debra Moffitt

Today we travel to the French Alps to chat with Debra Moffitt about how spirituality, psychic abilities, deep yearnings, a hawk, high perspective, cozy spaces, vivid images, South Carolina, being in the flow, and intuition come together as part of Debra’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

​I’m an American author living in the French Alps and my books are very much influenced by my travels. My first books were non-fiction with a focus on spirituality, intuition, and self-awareness.

But my first love has always been fiction. As my psychic abilities expand, it has added a multidimensional experience to my writing which is visible in my first novel, The Girl on the Roof. I experience the world in a unique way, very much aware of the energies and beings around us, from angels to departed souls. Readers on a spiritual path really connect with The Girl on the Roof, even though they might not usually read a WWII book.

The scenes from local culture – like wrapping a shrouded body and placing it on the North side of the roof – are the kinds of things one learns from being in a place and hearing someone’s grandmother tell her stories. I love these kinds of inspirations. I also love that so many readers are telling me that “The Girl on the Roof” is a book that stays with them as they contemplate the many dimensions it touches on that reach beyond the visible one.

In addition to writing, I also mentor writers and do intuitive readings and workshops. My annual French Alps retreat has been really popular with writers for the last seven years.

In which genre do you write? ​

This is a fun question because I write different kinds of books – from non-fiction books on spiritual practices and intuition, to a book of short stories, and my first novel, The Girl on the Roof, was released in March. It’s set in WWII Annecy and is a blend of mystery and historical fiction. It has a very strong spiritual element that falls outside of categories.

How many published books do you have?​

So far I have four published books and I’ve also been published in an anthology. If the translations count, then you’d have to add my books that were translated into Spanish, French, Chinese, Lithuanian…and maybe some more languages.

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

I can recall being very young – maybe 4 or 5, and simply knowing I’d be a writer. As a teenager I recall walking into a sort of New-Agey book store and I felt a really deep yearning to see my books on the shelves there too. It was fun to see my books on the shelves when there were more brick and mortar stores.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?​

Oh this is an easy one – a hawk. I love the high perspective and the clear vision. When writing, I have amazing moments with perceptions that give this vast overview of a story, and then I have to bring it down to earth.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

​I love spaces that are cozy and cocoon-like, with a window. This doesn’t mean narrow or tight spaces, but spaces where I feel like I’m surrounded by beautiful things and music and images. I create these spaces when I write in different locations.

What are you currently reading? ​

I’m currently looking for some good books to read. It takes time to find authors I love and that feel good to me. Reading is very intimate and opening a book and allowing someone into my most intimate space, into the heart of me, is not something I take lightly. This is why I am very respectful of the energy and words I share with readers. Writing for me is like sharing an alchemical experience that creates sensations in the reader. When I write the images, colors, smells, and sounds are vivid and readers tell me they pick up this experience too.

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

Writing The Girl on the Roof was a fascinating and unusual experience. I’d been working on a book set in Charleston, South Carolina, when I started to perceive images of WWII Annecy. I was living in the French Alps in an 1840’s farm house, so maybe that held some influence. As I paid attention to the images, I decided to move forward and write down what I was seeing. Then I would research the information and it was quite accurate. I’m convinced that many authors especially of historical fiction receive information this way. ​​

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

I love hiking, being in nature, biking, reading. Gosh there’s so much to do and to discover.

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

​I discovered my psychic abilities! They just opened up! I was participating in a spiritual circle in Geneva, Switzerland just before The Girl on the Roof was born and one morning while sitting in meditation quite early I felt a presence come in and say my name. I knew from the spiritual circle that this was a departed soul. He knew that I could hear him, but it was a shock to me. It took me some time to adjust to that discovery and eventually with The Girl on the Roof, the girl who became Aurelie appeared and so did many of the Resistance fighters.

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

The flow. I love being in the flow of drafting a new book, a new scene. The edit process can also be intuitive, but different.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? What do you do to prepare yourself?​

At the moment I love to listen to Robert Haig Coxon’s channeled music. It’s amazing. And I will often just take a moment to move inward and align with my heart space and trust what wants to come through.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?​

This is a tough question because after a book is written and edited, I often forget huge chunks of it. Of course when I go back and read it again I remember, but it’s just a part of my process.

What do you miss about being a kid? ​


List 3 interesting facts about yourself. ​

  1. I’m very private and don’t like to talk about myself.
  2. I’m highly intuitive and do intuitive readings, but don’t usually publicize it.
  3. I love to teach people how to also tap into their intuition as everyone has this ability.

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

Intuition has to be number one. It warns me and also brings me a lot of information about good things to come. It can be a little daunting when I hear people’s thoughts though. I was leading a workshop and at lunch time we did a silent period with an outdoor space that had walking paths. On one path, one of the participants walked toward me in silence. She put her hands together and bowed. So I bowed back, thinking it was an odd behavior. When the woman bowed, I heard, “Screw you.” The words were spoken so strongly and clearly from her head that I straightened and my mouth dropped open. Her posture and behavior was completely contrary to her behavior and I was stunned.

Tell us about your most recent book.

​The Girl on the Roof begins when Aurelie watches her family and friends at a funeral during the period of the state of siege in WWII Annecy. It’s dead winter and the ground is frozen solid so her father and brother take the shrouded figure and put it on the North side of the roof awaiting the thaw for burial. People seem to treat Aurelia differently than what she is used to and she must discover who died, how and then prevent the same terrible fate from happening to her best friend.

Here are some pictures of the area where I am located. It’s also the setting of the WWII fiction mystery, The Girl on the Roof. It’s the lovely French Alps town of Annecy, which is also referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of its lovely canals and lake-side setting.

It was lovely to have you be a part of MTA, Debra. I feel similar about books that I read. I am very deliberate about choosing books. I listened to one of Robert Haig Coxon’s recordings, and loved it, so just had to include it for the readers. These are amazing photos. It looks incredibly beautiful! All the best to you Debra! – Camilla

Girl on the Roof

A WWII Mystery with a Supernatural Touch

As the people of Annecy in the French Alps meet the Gestapo’s brutality with surprising resistance, a teenaged girl cannot rest until she solves the mystery of a death in her family. Aurelie watches as her father places a shrouded body on the North side of the roof of the family home. It’s winter, under a Nazi-declared state of siege, and they must wait until the spring thaw for the burial. But who died? And why is no one speaking to her anymore? Aurelie cannot rest until she discovers the truth and fights to prevent the same terrible fate from happening to her best friend.

Rich with historical details and forgotten customs, The Girl on the Roof introduces both harsh and vulnerable characters that sear the imagination. Against every moment’s tension between life and death, the story blends the themes of deprivation, courage, trauma, sexual obsession, and unconditional love.

“A haunting, beautiful book.” – Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times Bestselling Author

Connect with Debra:


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Meet the Author: Victorine by Drēma Drudge

Today we travel to Indiana in the Midwest of the United States to chat with Drēma Drudge about how corn, cows, hummingbirds, writing outdoors, a sombrero wearing penguin, journal writing, and the Indiana Dunes are a part of Drēma’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Drēma Drudge, author of the newly released novel, Victorine, about Victorine Meurent, the artist Édouard Manet’s favorite model who, history has forgotten, was also an artist. My musician and writer husband, Barry, and I live in Indiana in the United States. That’s in the Midwest, for those who aren’t familiar with it, the land of corn, cows, and us. We host a podcast, Writing All the Things.

In which genre do you write?

I write literary fiction, though my debut novel is also historical fiction.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

Maybe a hummingbird, because I love to flit from idea to idea. My curiosity knows no bounds. Hummingbirds are beautiful, glistening, and yet if you don’t watch carefully, they are there and gone. Maybe as a person I’m a bit that way – I want to talk, but I also want to be off writing my next book. And, too, I probably flap my wings just as fast trying to stay airborne with my newest idea until I realize what it is I’m trying to say!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

On days when it’s warm enough, I go to our local café and write outdoors on their lovely porch all afternoon. Not only do I get visited by the café’s patrons, but by squirrels, birds, and a whole host of nature’s lovelies like butterflies and beautiful, fat bumble bees while being surrounded by the season’s flowers.

If you could have a coffee date with a famous person from the past, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’d love to have coffee with Victorine Meurent, the main character of my novel. Since she was a real person, I’d ask her if I even came close to getting her story right – she’s someone who, because she was a woman and from a poor family in the mid-19th century in Paris, we don’t know lots about. Mostly what we know of her comes from the paintings others – men – did of her.

I’d ask why she went to art school, and how long she had wanted to. Was there one particular thing that drove her to it?

Until the past few years, it was believed that only one of her own paintings had survived. Now we know of four, most importantly, her self-portrait. What a triumph, getting to see how a woman who was painted dozens of times by men saw herself.

Her work was shown in the prestigious Paris Salon six times, and all history typically remembers her for is being a model. I would like to ask her how she feels about that, and if I’ve done enough to bring her back to life.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced to help create a scene or plot?

While my husband and I were in Paris, we stood in front of Manet’s painting of Victorine as Olympia, and I felt like there was more she wanted to say, but I couldn’t hear what. There was something strange with the model’s nose. I started crying, and then a tour group came by and the guide spoke about the painting. She said the one thing that explained what I was feeling: she claimed Victorine had dated a boxer who had messed up her nose, and it sent me off on this journey to write about Victorine. (Interestingly enough, I never found proof about that story, but it set me to researching her, so it did what it was intended to do, I suppose.)

Do you journal write? Has this helped with your published writings? 

I journal often. Not every day, but every few days, at least. It helps me to empty my mind of the tedious and everyday and prepares me for creating. I wish I wrote erudite, meaningful journal entries, but I don’t. My journals would be worthless to anyone but me.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

I think the penguin would take me by the hand and tell me it’s time for an amazing adventure. He’d say “Let’s go,” and we would waddle down the street, stopping to say hello to everyone. At the end, what I’d discover is that everything I’m writing about is alive, too, is out there, in one way or another, and my penguin friend was sent to invite me to enjoy the real world, which, too often, writing can cause one to forget.

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

I adore the Indiana Dunes. Going there is like visiting the ocean, though it’s really on Lake Michigan. I can relax there in a way I can’t anywhere else. My mind gets to recover there, something it doesn’t often do, because it races all the time, seeking writing material. But at the beach I sit (or collect shells and stones, or climb the dunes) and I may read or I may not. I may just sprawl on my towel and forget about everything, or I may have a deep, philosophical conversation with my husband about literature, about life. Or maybe we buy chocolate-covered bananas and flip through magazines. It’s pure paradise to me.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My debut novel, Victorine, features Victorine Meurent, a forgotten, accomplished painter who posed nude for Edouard Manet’s most famous, controversial paintings such as Olympia and The Picnic in Paris, paintings heralded as the beginning of modern art. History has forgotten (until now) her paintings, despite the fact that she showed her work at the prestigious Paris Salon multiple times, even one year when her mentor, Manet’s, work was refused.

Her persistent desire in the novel is not to be a model anymore but to be a painter herself, despite being taken advantage of by those in the art world, something which causes her to turn, for a time, to every vice in the Paris underworld, leading her even into the catacombs.

In order to live authentically, she eventually finds the strength to flout the expectations of her parents, bourgeois society, and the dominant male artists (whom she knows personally) while never losing her capacity for affection, kindness, and loyalty. Possessing both the incisive mind of a critic and the intuitive and unconventional impulses of an artist, Victorine and her survival instincts are tested in 1870, when the Prussian army lays siege to Paris and rat becomes a culinary delicacy, and further tested when she inches towards art school while financial setbacks push her away from it. The same can be said when it comes to her and love, which becomes substituted, eventually, by art.

The best place for people to learn more about my writing, about art history and news, is through my mailing list. Sign up on my website at: When you do, I’ll send you a free historical fiction story.

Thank you for being a part of MTA, Drēma. It was wonderful to learn more about you and how Victorine came to be. The Indiana Dunes sound beautiful and wonderful. I think I’m going to add that to my bucket list! All the best to you! – Camilla

Victorine is a compelling rendering of the life of a model working for Edouard Manet in the 1860s, who longed to be a painter in her own right. In this book, you will feel paint flow onto the canvases of Manet, Monet, Degas, Morisot, Stevens, Meurent, and others. You will imagine life on the streets of Paris in all its beauty, harshness, and fragility. And you will see a relationship between painter and model unfold with remarkable clarity and sensitivity. Victorine Meurent s body is the vehicle for Manet s artistic vision, while her robust courage, irreverence and honesty, and her longing for her own agency, shapes the painter s vision. The intimate collaboration between two artists creates life-changing revelations on both sides this dance of color and light complicated, sensuous, and intense. –Eleanor Morse, author of White Dog Fell from the Sky

The model for great impressionist artist, Manet, the sassy, sexy, smart and artistic Victorine is as vivid as his best paintings. Yearning to paint herself, she questions Manet and his artist friends closely annoyingly about what they paint and how they paint it, treating the reader to a sequence of fascinating exchanges about art, its creation and demands. In a gallery of episodes, narrated in the gaudy, evocative voice of the protagonist, author Drema Drudge renders Victorine Meurent from flesh to soul. Applying bold strokes of language, Drudge animates the story of a life lived at high intensity sparkling, inventive, imaginative, ambitious a totally original life. You can t help but love them both. –Julie Brickman, author of Two Deserts and What Birds Can Only Whisper

Book trailer:

Connect with Drēma:

Facebook: The Painted Word Salon

Twitter: @dremadrudge

Instagram: Drema Drudge


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