Monday, 31 December 2012

'The Checkout Boy' on Amazon

My new short story, 'The Checkout Boy' is a humorous tale of drug-induced paranoia and available for download now.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Girls Who Saved Christmas!

My new Children's story 'The Girls Who Saved Christmas' uses duel psychology it will scare kids to death, so don't buy it!   Amazon UK     Amazon US

'The Girls Who Saved Christmas' Available Now!

My new Children's fairytale, 'The Girls Who Saved Christmas,' is now available for download from Amazon.   Amazon UK   Amazon US

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

2 days to Story launch!

My new children's Christmas fairytale 'The Seven girls who saved Christmas' will be released in 2 days. December 21st 2012!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

3 days until my Christmas Fairytale launch

My new children's Christmas fairytale 'The Seven girls who saved Christmas' will be released in 3 days. December 21st 2012!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Fairytale

My new Children's Christmas fairytale entitled 'The Seven girls who saved Christmas' is available for download Friday 21st December on Amazon!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Author Interview with Susan Scott

Welcome to my author interview and many thanks to Susan Scott, 

Author - Susan Scott 
(In Praise of Lilith, Eve & the Serpent in the Garden of Eden & Other Stories)

1/  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I'm a South African living in Johannesburg. I am married to Neil an ENT surgeon (self-employed) and we have 2 adult sons, Mike and David. Mike is an animator, Dave a musician, both also self-employed and following their bliss and on my side it is a joy to witness. I have an honours degree in Clin Psych. I love travel, reading, writing, hiking and walking. In spite of having quite a wide circle of friends, I lead a pretty introspective and quiet life though I place high value on my friendships.

2/  When and what made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I've always kept journals and diaries. I've written newsletters for various organizations over the years. My interest in psychology (Jungian in the main) spurred 
me to putting some of those ideas out there.

3/  Can you tell us something about your books, genre?

My only published book is very psychological. Two of the essays are quasi-academic, 5 are very personal stories. The quasi-academic ones are on the myth of Lilith (first wife of Adam in the Garden of Eden according to the Midrash) which has relevance for us all in our contemporary world; the 2nd is on 'Dreams' and highlights the reality and value of our inner world. The other 5 essays/stories are personal as mentioned, yet they have universality I believe. 'The Opposites' is my experience of the opposites contained within me ... we each have a Mother Theresa and Medusa within, we each have a sinner and a saint, light and dark etc. We need to recognize those inner opposites and hold hem in balance or in a tension; we do not to act upon them but to give them their due. 'Gardening' tells of my experience in creating a secret garden at the bottom of my garden and getting rid of dead wood inter alia, and for me was analogous to clearing my mind, weeding out the dead wood and my ego attitude about many things and allowing space for creativity by unblocking. 'Mt Kilimanjaro' is about climbing and summitting it as both an inner and outward journey. 'Beyond Duty' tells of my picking up trash on the beach and elsewhere and how this led me to believe that there is life beyond duty and yet duty is a necessary something to uphold in our lives. 'Death's Beauty' recounts the extraordinary synchronicities around my mother's death which went beyond. 

4/  Where do you get your ideas from? 

Pretty much from everyday life as well as my own dreams. I carry a small moleskin notebook around with me and often jot down ideas even while driving. Or I hear something on the radio while at my computer and make a note. Daydreaming is productive. Walking in my garden and letting my ego take a back seat is productive.
5/  Are you working on a new book at the moment?

Yes, I am ... a novel.

6/  What are your ambitions concerning your writing career?

Well, I guess all writers hope and wish to be recognized for their writing. It is hard to say what my ambitions are. I am not ambition-less. I am extremely pleased about the reviews posted on about my book which I found enormously gratifying. It would be great if my books sold well and some lovely lolly came in.

7/  Which writers inspire you?

I love many writers and genres .. but off the top of my head I enjoy Margaret Atwood, Ayn Rand, Pat Conroy, William Horwood, post Jungian writers such as the late James Hillman.

8/  What book are you reading at present?

Cosmos & Psyche: Intimations of a New World by Richard Tarnas.

9/  What are your thoughts on reviews, good and bad?

Always great to get good reviews; I would probably sweat over a lousy one.

10/  What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Just write ... if that is what you love to do, then follow your bliss. It is hard I know, to get it down on paper or on the computer. I think it was Wilbur Smith who said writing is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration. If necessary, join a writers' group, or make your own group with others who want to write, and encourage each other that way. Try to keep to a schedule of writing. If this seems impossible, aim for 100 words a day, then 200 and so on. Take your notebook or laptop with you on your lunch break and sit somewhere. Write about your surroundings if nothing else. Get into the flow - make a habit of writing. 

11/ Do you have any advice on how to market your books?

I wish I did. I am so not good about putting myself out there or doing any self promotion. Also I am still a bit of a technophobe but it seems there are good and useful ways of using the social media to market. Perhaps an idea would be to build up a blog and use that format to list one's book. This interview with you is an opportunity and I am grateful for it, thank you!

12/  What would you consider to be the worst thing about being an indie author?

The difficulty of using the social media effectively I guess? The hard and committed work that this would no doubt entail?

13/  What do you like to do when you're not writing, hobbies etc?

I love reading and getting involved in the plot. I like to take a walk around the block time permitting. I love my yoga classes. I sometimes pop into my secret garden and meditate.

14/  How long on average does it take you to write a book, what is your schedule?

I've written only one (published) book and it took me a long time. From start to finish I reckon 5 years. The novel that I'm currently working on and my schedule? I wish I could say I have a schedule .. I still have to incorporate that good habit into my life-style. It's all well and (not so)good to give that advice as I did earlier and not live by it myself, but I work on it when I can, snatching a moment here and there.

15/  What is your favourite positive saying?

Harm no one or thing ... a good tenet to live by.

16/  Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your books?

Who could play the daemon/demon i.e. Lilith? Jodie Foster, Salma Hayek? Our own (South African) Charlize Theron?

17/  Who did your fabulous book cover?

My son Mike did the cover.

18/  What is your favourite movie and why?

I didn't want to see the film 'The Prince of Tides' as I had read the book by Pat Conroy. I was convinced that the film would not do credit to the book but I was very pleasantly surprised. I loved the film even though many segments of the book were not included.

19/  Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?

Hard to imagine! Who knows? Maybe down in Plettenberg Bay on the south-west coast of the Cape of South Africa, one of the most beautiful spots in the world.

20/  Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Unquestionably Mr. Nelson Mandela, South Africa's past president. He was a beacon of hope and inspiration for us all following the death of apartheid 20 years ago. He is very elderly now, 94, and not in the best of health but he continues to inspire us all. His legacy will never be forgotten, not just here in South Africa but around the world. In his book 'A Long Walk to Freedom' he writes that if you want to change the world, start with yourself. This is so wise and what all wise philosophers in aeons past and contemporary wise people have always said. Start with yourself .. which is of course, the hardest of all but by no means impossible. Change yourself, your attitude, your own way of being in the world. Be kinder, do what you can when you can. Be compassionate towards yourself and you will find compassion towards others, easier.
21/ What is your favourite takeaway food?

Nothing like a good Thai chicken curry or chicken korma.

Thank you Tom I have enjoyed this.
Where can you be reached?
Facebook page:

Susan Scott

My thanks to Susan for a wonderful and insightful interview.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Agatha Christie, The queen of Crime

Outsold only by the Bible and the Koran, she is quite literally a publishing phenomenon. Her books have been translated into sixty-four languages worldwide and to date she has sold an estimated 200,000,000 books.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on the 15th September 1890. She was the third child of Frederick Alvah Miller, an American and Clara Margaret his English wife. She grew up in Torquay and was educated at home by her mother. At the age of fifty-five her father died, she was just eleven years old and found herself living with just her mother. Her brother Monty was in india with the army and her sister Madge was married with a family of her own. At fifteen she was sent to finishing school in France where she developed a talent for singing and playing the piano. For a while she harboured a wish to be a concert pianist. At seventeen she returned home from finishing school and went to Cairo with her mother for the winter. This trip to Egypt opened her eyes and gave her an appetite for travel, especially the Middle East, where many of her novels were based.

In 1914 Agatha met her first husband, Captain Archibald Christie. Three months before they met he had applied  to join the Royal Flying Corps. Once he had been accepted he asked Agatha to marry him. Her mother encouraged her though to wait but in the summer war broke out.
Agatha went to work in a hospital in Torquay, firstly as a nurse and later moving on to the newly opened dispensary. She was quick to learn and completed the examination of Apothecaries in London. Here she learned about the the different kinds of poisons, which she would use as the murder weapon in many of her books.

Working in the hospital had a disturbing effect on her, she feared for her beloved Archie fighting over in France and when he returned on leave for Christmas. The two were married by special licence on Christmas Eve 1914 in Bristol. On Boxing day Archie returned to France. The war years were a great strain on her, she worked tirelessly as a nurse in a surgical ward tending the wounded sent back from the front.

In the Autumn of 1918 Archie returned from France and was posted to the Air Ministry in London. He had returned a hero and was awarded the C.M.G and D.S.O, along with a promotion to Colonel. After the war the couple stayed in London and rented a small flat. Archie secured a job in the city and in late 1919 the couples only child was born Rosalind. The war had not been kind to Archie's health, he had developed sinus trouble and a nervous stomach, but the couple calmly built their life together and Agatha developed a career of her own. In 1916 she wrote her first Detective story, 'THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES'. Though it wasn't until 1920 that it came to the attention of publisher John Lane, when it did, it sold extremely well and Agatha signed a contract to write five more books. 'THE SECRET ADVERSARY' was published in 1922 followed by 'MURDER ON THE LINKS' in 1923.

In 1924 Archie accepted an offer of a job from one of his former schoolmasters Major Belcher. The job was as financial adviser on a ten month trip to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa to drum up support for the British Empire Expedition. Agatha would accompany her husband on the trip with all her travelling and hotel expenses covered.

By the end of the trip, Agatha had completed five books and acquired a literary agent. The couple decided to move from London and bought a property near the golf course in Sunningdale. Archie took up the game with gusto. Working long hours during the week and playing golf all weekend. At the end of 1924, the couple moved again. This time to a larger grander house which they named 'STYLES'. Agatha didn't care too much for golf but she did take out a subscription to nearby Wentworth golf club. In 1926, her mother died and Archie became more preoccupied with golf and his golfing friends. One of these friends was Nancy Neele, the attraction was mutual. At the beginning of August he confessed to Agatha that he was in love with Nancy. Agatha was inconsolable. Archie moved out of the house and Agatha slipped into a deep depression. In the middle of the night she got into her car and drove away from 'Styles'. The next ten days are like a plot from one of her books, a complete mystery. She was found at a hotel in Harrogate suffering from amnesia. When she recovered some time later she agreed to the divorce. The marriage ended in 1928.

In 1929 Agatha took a trip to Baghdad, where she met the famous Archaeologist Leonard Woolley and his wife Katherine. They introduced her to an archaeologist friend of theirs, Max Mallowan. The courtship was quick and the couple were married on September 11th 1930 in Edinburgh. By the same year and despite her earlier problems, Agatha had written thirteen books. John Lane, who Agatha had not had a very good relationship with, had published the first six books. She felt they had taken advantage of her ignorance in business matters. So from 1926 onwards Agatha's British publisher was now William Collins. 'THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD' being the first published title.

After Agatha and Max's marriage, she accompanied him annually on his trips to the Middle East, notably Iraq and Syria, where Agatha gathered material and wrote the books, 'MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA' 1936, 'DEATH ON THE NILE' 1937, 'APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH' 1938 and 'THEY CAME TO BAGHDAD' 1951.

Mary Westmacott was a pseudonym used by and kept secret for some fifteen years by Agatha Christie. She wrote six books. All described as romantic novels. The name Mary was her second name and Westmacott was some distant relative. The books never got the same recognition as her crime books and were only modestly successful. She wrote the first as early 1930, 'GIANTS BREAD' published by Collins. 'UNFINISHED PORTRAIT' 1934, Collins. 'ABSENT IN THE SPRING' 1944, Collins. 'THE ROSE AND THE YEW TREE' 1948, Heinemann. 'A DAUGHTER'S A DAUGHTER' 1952, Heinemann and 'THE BURDEN' 1956, Heinemann.

In 1946, Agatha wrote the Autobiographical 'COME TELL ME HOW YOU LIVE' published by Collins and under her married name Agatha Christie Mallowan. The book was a record of her travels with Max to the Middle East. Extremely rare to find today, especially in its distinctive dust jacket.

Agatha Christie created probably the two most recognised Detectives of all time. Hercule Poirot first appeared in Christie's very first novel, 'THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES'. The little Belgian Detective always immaculately dressed and with the catchphrase 'The little grey cells', appeared in thirty-three full-length novels and fifty-five short stories. Before Christie killed him off in her novel, 'CURTAIN, POIROT'S LAST CASE' 1975, Collins. She also created Miss Jane Marple and was said to have based the character on her own grandmother. Miss Marple first appeared in the book, 'MURDER AT THE VICARAGE' 1930, Collins. The character lived in the fictional village of St. Mary Mead. Christie described her as "Dear, old and fluffy with a sweet and gentle appearance and her passions in life were knitting and gossip." Miss Marple appeared in twelve books and over twenty short stories.

Agatha Christie's work of course has not only been about writing books. She has written numerous plays for television, theatre and the cinema. She holds the world record for the longest running theatre play, 'THE MOUSETRAP' which premiered on the 25th November 1952 at the Ambassadors theatre, London and is still running today. Twenty-five of her books have been made into feature length movies. Her television work is too numerous to mention. The series Poirot being a notable highlight.

Max Mallowan was Knighted in 1968 for his Archaeological work. Agatha Christie was made an honorary Dame of the United Kingdom in 1971. Agatha Christie died peacefully in 1976 aged eighty-six. The couple shared forty-six years together. She died a year after killing off arguably her greatest creation, Hercule Poirot.