A gripping story of heartache and intrigue
1559. A girl arrives in London to search for her brother.
Aalia, an awkward, arrogant teenager plans to bring William to his senses, until she discovers that both their lives are based on a lie.
Aalia must unravels a web of secrets but has the weight of her past to contend with.
Courageous and undisciplined, Aalia gradually comes to terms with the truth that William, her brother, has royal blood.
Deciding to undermine the men who want to use him as a pawn, Aalia must negotiate a world where secrecy arms the powerful. But unwilling to ask for anyone’s help she is forced into making a fateful decision.
Who can she trust when everyone around her is plotting?Is the truth really something worth dying for?
This epic story of secrets and betrayal paints a vivid picture of Elizabethan England and asks…
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A wonderful anthology seasoned with crime. Mine’s number two!
No, this isn’t me talking to the relatives at Christmas, it’s the title of the second anthology of crime stories from attendees of the annual Crime & Publishment writing course, which launched a few weeks ago but which I’ve been too busy to mention.
Bad me, because it’s a great little collection with a crime/holiday theme (hence that title, obviously), and it’s stuffed with stories by a wide range of authors, some published (Graham Smith, Les Morris, Angela King) and some getting their first taste of publication.
My own contribution to the collection is a dark little tale called ‘Last Chance Saloon’, involving a dirty weekend, a dodgy car and a remote country road. What could possibly go wrong?! The story was first published in Betty Fedora, which specialises in kick-ass women’s fiction, so you can tell it’s going to be a wild ride for the men.
Better still, a…
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Someone once told me a writer should act like a key which opens the door to another world.
While I rather like the analogy it’s my understanding that a writer needs to do more than simply provide a key. Having means to unlock a door simply isn’t enough; you need something to tempt the reader inside. A photograph is a flat rendering of a captured scene but we trust its reality. However, engaging with a story isn’t simply a matter of ‘beam me up Scottie’ and you arrive in another time and place, stories require you to step inside the world of imagination.
Scary thing imagination.
Writing is an infinitesimal spell created out of words and wonder, therefore entering a story requires a certain leap of faith. No matter how well written, or finely observed, nothing in a book will live if the imagination doesn’t commit wholeheartedly to its magic.
Therefore, I believe, the business of writing stories is tantamount to being a magician who conjures with imaginings – an imagineer.
Without imagination not merely stories die, imagining provides a ratchet to our soul.
It isn’t so much dancing in the rain as feeling the water on your face and not getting wet. Isn’t that truly magic?
On the twelfth night of the new millennium (6th January 1600) Queen Elizabeth I entertained the Russian Ambassador, Grigori Ivanovich Mikulin, to a sumptuous banquet at the Palace of Whitehall in London. The Russian gentleman was highly impressed by the English queen and wrote a detailed account of the event for his master, Prince Boris Fedorovich, Tsar of all Russia. The English Muscovy Company had fought hard to forge trade links with this strange and distant land and wanted to consolidate their lucrative treaties with a memorable performance of state pomp and ceremony. Sadly, poor Grigori wasn’t invited to take part in any of the entertainments which followed the banquet, due to his lack of understanding the English and their manners.
At least that was the opinion of another foreign guest who wrote an eyewitness account of the same event – Don Virginio Orsino, Duke of Bracciano. In a letter to his uncle, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, he described how the Muscovite ambassador would have been beheaded by his Tsar if he’d failed to eat in the Queen’s presence but also noted that the ambassador wasn’t amongst the ‘honoured’ guests conducted into a public hall after the banquet ended. ‘As soon as her majesty was set at her place, many ladies and knights began a grand ball. When this music came to an end, there was a mingled comedy with pieces of music and dances, and this too I am keeping to tell by word of mouth.’
The ‘mingled comedy’ he mentions was Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare. It was likely written and performed, this first time, in honour of Orsino. You might expect the Duke to note how he was immortalised by the playwright or that his character spoke those hauntingly beautiful opening lines –
If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
However, it appears Her Majesty barely allowed the Italian gentleman time to concentrate during the play’s performance, ‘I stood ever near her majesty… she withal caused a stool to be fetched for me; and although she willed me a thousand times to sit, I would however never obey her. She conversed continually with me; and when the comedy was finished, I waited upon her to her lodgings, where there was made a most fair collation, all of confections.’
Wouldn’t it be delicious to discover what the writer thought of his audience and whether William took an active role in his new creation? Personally I wouldn’t think he could resist.
Painting of Whitehall from St James Park – before it was destroyed in the fire of London.
I’m adding this to my book list
The coastguard’s residence Chamber Cottage, which sits high up on the North Yorkshire cliffs overlooking The North Sea, holds many dark secrets.
Alec and Peggy are struggling to overcome their marital problems. Both damaged by problems from their childhoods, they are trying to get on with their lives. But this is hard for them to do when they both believe they are being watched. As a result, Peggy, who has terrible scars on her face, becomes more agoraphobic.
To make matters worse, Peggy discovers her estranged mother is stalking both she and Alec, claiming she has a dark secret that is putting Peggy in danger.
What caused the scars on Peggy’s face? Is Alex really the monster Peggy’s mother believes him to be? And what secrets does Chamber Cottage hold?
I loved the setting for this book. It really adds to the atmosphere of the story…
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