Sunday 27 February 2022

 Guest Post with Kirsty Ferry

This week I am delighted to welcome author, Kirsty Ferry, back to the blog. Her latest novel, It Started with a Wedding, was published by Choc Lit on February 22nd. 

Kirsty, welcome!
Can you tell us where the idea for your new novel,
It Started with a Wedding, came from?

I needed to write a story for Alfie, as he was the only McCreadie left who didn’t have a story. He’s a scientist and pretty much sees things in black and white, and doesn’t always want to acknowledge his rather psychic ‘gifts’; so I wanted to make his love interest completely different to loosen him up a bit. Fae was perfect and the setting of Bea’s Garden, a mystical garden where magic is somehow real, was inspired by Dilston Physic Garden near Corbridge in Northumberland. I’ve wanted to write a story set in a garden like that for ages, and this is it.

This is your fifth book in the Schubert series. When writing a series of novels as opposed to a single story, what challenges are there for an author?

Trying to remember what I wrote in the first book and making it match! Because I never plan my books, I tend to write all sorts of random things in book 1 and have to try and match them later. Also timelines. They can sometimes pose a problem and I have to make sure characters are the correct age and things. In It Started with a Wedding, I have to bring in Isla’s pregnancy which I mentioned in It Started with a Pirate – so all the wedding planning had to take place within those few months. When I wrote Every Witch Way, the first in the Schubert series, I just kept merrily mentioning Nessa’s brothers. Then I realised that because I’d given her four brothers, there needed to be at least five books in the series – which did seem daunting at book 2, but here we are with book 5 and it’s been a lovely journey.

As well as uplifting, fun, light-hearted and entertaining, your new novel has been described as quirky. Explain why someone should describe it as such.

Because you really need to suspend your disbelief! Schubert is a real witch’s cat, and it’s a standing joke that people always go ‘Mow wow!’ whenever he’s mentioned. He has gained a bit of a cult following and if I step away from the books and look at them objectively,  I go, that’s crazy – who would ever read this and not make a snarky comment? Then when I read them back, they just seem to work somehow. Reality has been so grim recently I think we all deserve a little fun and escapism and these books have all that, in my opinion. Every McCreadie – and some of their partners – all embrace a few quirks and a little magic in their characters; so I think “quirky” is a lovely, fun word to describe the series and I am actually delighted by that adjective in relation to my books.

Please tell us more about the McCreadie family including their very special cat, Schubert.

The books are based in and around Edinburgh, and we started by meeting Nessa in Every Witch Way. She’s inherited more than her name from her great great granny, and she’s decided to embrace her ‘witchy propensities’ and learn a bit more about Wicca and witchcraft. What Nessa maybe doesn’t realise, is that she has a certain power that she’s never really explored before; and Schubert, the kitten she rescued on the Norfolk Broads, is actually a true witch’s cat – as well as being absolutely enormous and spoilt rotten – and already knows more than she does about her great great granny. Schubert is often passed around the siblings for cat-sitting duties, and it seems that every time he’s involved in a budding relationship, magical things happen. Scott, the eldest sibling, has more than a hint of the fallen angel, devil-may-care attitude about him; Hugo has a wild, ‘chequered past’, as Nessa says, and has had a constant battle with a childhood rival. But one mustn’t underestimate the Celtic myth of the Holly King and the Oak King – one of them has to come out on top eventually. Billy has seen ghosts all his life, and when Scott’s daughter attempts a love potion to bring Billy and Lexie together, it raises a rather bonkers Jacobite ghost as well. Alfie is, as I say, a scientist – and his quirk is predicting the future. Which of course he doesn’t really want to embrace, as it’s not logical – everything has to have a scientific explanation as far as he is concerned. But sometimes, it’s really ‘just magic’. At the heart of the series is, of course, Schubert – who loves Nessa, loves his manky old soft toy Catnip, and loves his family in his own special way. He also has his own special way of helping people and I love him as a character. He’s pretty real to me and his fans!

Is Schubert based on any particular cat?

Our next-door neighbours had a gorgeous cat called Flossie. She used to wait at the bus stop for my son coming home from school and take herself for walks around the estate, and attach herself to random people as she walked. She had about five ‘homes’, and ours was one of them. She would get into the house by unknown means, and one day I was in the bath, and she just appeared in the doorway meowing at me. One Christmas Eve, there was an enormous clatter in the loo, and she’d squeezed in through the open window and landed on the cistern. She’d sit outside my son’s bedroom window on the conservatory roof and meow pitifully, hoping he’d let her in. So parts of Schubert are loosely based on her, but Schubert’s largely his own creation. And he’s rather unique, I have to say!

Are there any more novels in the series planned?

Good question. It’s sort of reached a natural break as everyone is paired up – but there is scope for a couple of new books, I think. I pulled out a character from It Started with a Wedding and have begun to write about her. I’m struggling, though, as part of me thinks Schubert should be there, although I didn’t intend him being in it. I need to put it aside and have a think about it before I decide for sure.

What is the biggest compliment a reader could pay you after reading It Started With a Wedding?

I don’t know – I’m always delighted when people enjoy my books and tell me about it, so any positive comments are always very well received and encourage me to continue writing. It would be nice to hear a brand new reader say something to the effect of, ‘That was amazing! I need to read the rest of the Schubert series, and buy all your other ones too!’

Where and when do you do your best writing?

I find I write better in early afternoon, at home, between lunch and tea! Also, I write quite well in coffee shops. If I take my laptop with me, I’m usually time-limited, so I get quite a bit done in the time I have. The nice coffee and occasional cake help greatly.

Having had so many novels published, what would be your top tip for a novice writer?

Enjoy yourself, and don’t put any pressure on yourself. And don’t just talk about writing a book - write the book and submit it. And don’t give up after the first rejection. Also, once it’s accepted, it will be edited and changed, and you just can’t be precious about the manuscript. Your publisher knows what their readers like so respect that.

What are you currently working on?

A book that’s flailing at the minute, finely balanced between Schubert or no-Schubert. I need to have a good look at it and make a decision. But like I said above, I’m not putting any pressure on myself.

When not writing, how do you relax?

In the summer I enjoy my garden. I’m doing an art qualification at the minute, which has been on my ‘to do’ list for years, so I’m enjoying that as well. I like to read, and also to have lovely deep bubble baths, and go for walks and coffee shop visits with my family and my dog. I like doing the odd jigsaw, and I’ve even dragged my ancient sewing machine out to do the occasional project with. I usually have so many activities on the go at once, I struggle to fit everything in as I have a day job as well. I think I need a clone.

Can you pick one book you wished you had written?

Wuthering Heights is the one I always say. Also, Thornyhold by Mary Stewart is another favourite. I know that’s two books, but it’s a tough question!

Thank you, Kirsty. I'm in awe of the number of books you write and this latest novel sounds a great read. I hope the sales will fly for you. 


It's one thing to be asked to plan your sister's wedding; it's quite another when your sister is Nessa McCreadie...

Alfie McCreadie wants his twin sister Nessa to have the best wedding ever, but he's not happy at being roped in as wedding planner - especially as, unbelievably, his main assistant seems to be Nessa's cat, Schubert. Anyway, Alfie is a scientist. He might know his protons from his neutrons, but what does he know about weddings?

It's Nessa who points him in the direction of Bea's Garden, just outside Edinburgh, where he's tasked with picking a 'very-relevant-bouquet'. It's there he meets Fae Brimham, who might be prettier than any bouquet bloom but doesn't seem impressed by Alfie's sensible, scientific side.

But when Nessa and Schubert are involved, surprises are bound to happen and, despite less-than-perfect first impressions, perhaps something can still blossom for Alfie and Fae... 


Kirsty Ferry(


Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that's even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

For more information on Kirsty visit:

Thank you for reading. What is it about reading a series that appeals to you? I'd love it if you left a comment for Kirsty and me. Thank you.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

To find out more about me and my books please visit Jan Baynham Amazon Page. Thanks.

Monday 14 February 2022

 Guest Post With Marie Laval

Today, I'm so pleased to welcome author, Marie Laval, back to the blog to talk about her novel Queen of The Desert. I enjoyed finding out about the story behind it and I'm sure you will. too.

Marie, welcome! 

Thank you so much, Jan. for inviting me on your blog today to talk about Queen of the Desert, my latest historical romance which is published by Choc Lit tomorrow.

I am very excited about this release, not only because I absolutely love my brave and unconventional heroine Harriet Montague and my formidable and wonderful hero Lucas Saintclair, but also because writing about their adventures took me to another period in time – 1845, to be exact – and to a faraway land which has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. 

Your new novel, Queen of the Desert, sounds fabulous. What was the inspiration behind it?

Famille Cantrel
Jan 1940
My mother grew up in Algeria in a very vibrant and colourful Italian, Spanish and French family who had settled there in the late nineteenth century. They weren’t wealthy at all, and my mother often told me how being the youngest child, she was the one her parents sent to the corner shop to buy food ‘on the tab’ when money had run out. If the greengrocer refused, then my mother and her siblings would have to make do with slices of bread dipped in olive oil and rubbed with a garlic clove for tea.

Tombeau de la Chrétienne
Sep 1959

However, it wasn’t all hardship and she had weird and wonderful stories of fishing for mussels or urchins with one of her very eccentric brothers ‘dressed’ or rather ‘undressed’ like Tarzan with nothing else than a loincloth and a spear ((he was a fan of Johnny Weisssmuller); of family trips to the stunning Roman ruins of Tipasa or the beautiful

Tipasa, Algeria
‘Tombeau de la Chrétienne’ near Cherchell... and of curses and the evil eye and all kinds of superstitions her family believed in.

It is no wonder then that I wanted to go to Algeria myself not only to see the places where my mother and her family had lived, but to travel further South to the Sahara desert and discover the oases, the rock art and the Ahaggar mountains (also called the Hoggar).

I read many novels, travellers' accounts and short stories set in Algeria too. Some of the most memorable being by Isabelle Eberhardt, who was an incredible woman explorer and writer whose life was cut short in 1904 when she was only twenty-seven.

I may never have been to Algeria but I have so often dreamt about it that I knew I wanted to set some of my own stories there.

Before I even read a word of your novel, I’m drawn in by the striking cover design. Can you tell us about that and the chosen title?

I do love that gorgeous cover too! It is all I was hoping for, and more...

As for the title, it refers to Queen Tin Hinan, who is rumoured to be the ancestral queen of the Tuareg people who live in the Sahara – or as they are sometimes called, ‘the People of the Veil’ or the 'Kel Tamasheq' (those who speak Tamashek). Her tomb which is in Abalessa near Tamanrasset was discovered in 1925 by archeologist, adventurer and allegedly occasional com artist Byron Khun de Prorok (you couldn't make up such a name!) in 1925.

In my story, it is Harriet's father, archeologist Oscar Montague, who discovers the tomb. Harriet believes that he has been taken prisoner by some Tuareg who are angry at him desecrating the tomb and hires former army scout Lucas Saintclair to take her to Tamanrasset and pay her father's ransom. At first, she absolutely despises Lucas who appears to be only interested in money, taverns and women, but in the course of their long and arduous journey, she discovers that he isn't quite what he seems...

Can you say which came first, the characters or the story you wanted to tell?

It’s all mixed up, really. I wanted to write about a heroine who refuses to be bound by the conventions and constraints of Victorian society, and who loves nothing more than working on archaeological sites alongside her father and sketching their finds in her beloved sketchbook. Harriet Montague is incredibly brave and knows her own mind, and she definitely isn’t made for sipping tea, making polite conversation, or doing her embroidery in the drawing room of her father’s London house. And of course, there was Lucas Saintclair – the bad boy who seems to care about no one and nothing, apart from money, women and pleasure, and who in fact hides a broken heart and a broken soul... They seemed to me to the perfect pair for my North African adventure.

Thank you, Marie. That's such a fascinating story and all the more special because of your links to the area because your mother lived there. I hope the novel flies for you. 


Sometimes the most precious treasures exist in the most barren and inhospitable of places …

Harriet Montague is definitely too much of a gentlewoman to be frequenting the backstreet taverns of Tangiers. But her father has been kidnapped whilst on an expedition to the tomb of an ancient desert queen, and she is on a mission to find the only person who could save him. It's just unfortunate that Lucas Saintclair, the man Harriet hopes will rescue her father from scoundrels, is the biggest scoundrel of the lot. With a bribe in the formn of a legendary pirate map, securing his services is the easiest part - now Harriet must endure a treacherous journey through the desert accompanied by Sinclair's band of ruffians.

But on the long, hot Saharan nights, is it any wonder that her heart begins to thaw towards her guide - especially when she realises Lucas's roguish façade conceals something she could never have expected?

Author Bio

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire and writes historical and contemporary romance. Best-selling Little Pink Taxi was her debut contemporary romantic novel with Choc Lit. A Paris Fairy Tale was published in July 2019, followed by Bluebells Christmas Magic in November 2019 and bestselling romantic suspense Escape to the Little Chateau which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Award. Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove is her latest contemporary romance. Queen of the Desert is Marie’s second historical romance, following on from Angel of the Lost Treasure which features another member of the Saintclair family.

Website and/or Blog:


Facebook page:

BUYING LINKS for Queen of the Desert:

Queen of the Desert is available as ebook from AMAZON  and KOBO

Thank you for reading. If like me, the story behind Queen of the Desert together with the fabulous cover and intriguing blurb has persuaded you to download the book in the morning, I'm sure Marie would love to hear your thoughts after reading. 

You may also follow me on Twitter: @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer page.

More about me and my books may be found on my AMAZON page.

Monday 7 February 2022

 Guest Post With Jo Boden

Today I'm delighted to welcome author, Joanne Boden, to the blog. Jo's debut novel, Escape to Little Bluewater Bay,  was published by Choc Lit on January 31st.

Jo, welcome. I think you're going to tell us something about the inspiration behind your new novel. Over to you!

Hello Jan and thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog to
celebrate the publication of Escape to Little Bluewater Bay. I am so excited to share Willow and Noah’s story! I thought it’d be a nice idea to write about the inspiration behind the novel.

A grandmother and granddaughter relationship 

I felt the need to write about the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter. This was my initial idea. The grandmother in the story, Annie, is very much an amalgamation of my maternal and paternal grandmothers, both of whom have now sadly passed away. 

I thought it’d be fun to explore the relationship between the generations. I wanted to show the strength of older women and how a grandmother can help guide a young woman through a difficult period in her life. I also wanted to write about the joy and life and love that embodies this relationship. 

A winter-themed romance 

I loved the idea of writing a winter-themed romance.  There’s something so incredibly romantic about sharing hot chocolates and getting to know that special someone when cosied up together in front of an open fire. So, I needed to find a location and I needed to set it in the winter. What better than a remote island in January? Once I'd come up with the setting and time of year, I then had to think about the kind of man Willow would meet on the island. Why had Noah moved to the island? What was his backstory? I had a lot of fun creating Noah Atkinson. 

So, I had everything I needed to create a winter-themed romance. The seaside location, the friendly cafe along the shore and the handsome man, a loner, who lives in a shack off the beach.

 The slower pace of life 

Little Bluewater Bay has no Wi-Fi and for very good reason. I wanted there to be fewer
distractions. The inhabitants are not plugged into smartphones or laptops. When Willow turns up in the bay, she begins to appreciate the 
joy of outdoor life – walking on the beach, absorbing and appreciating nature and simply being able to take a step back and breathe. I suppose writing this novel during lockdown helped me to focus on the most important things in my life. Being able to access outdoor space, to go for a walk, and chat with people. I wanted Little Bluewater Bay to echo these qualities and to evoke a feeling of times gone by. 

The lack of technology and the remoteness of the island also contribute to the characters slowing down, both physically and mentally. They have time to sit and think, to talk to others and to share a hot chocolate while putting the world to rights.

 A feel-good read

I also wanted to write an uplifting story – a feel-good read, full of hope. I love reading books that make me feel good and leave me feeling hopeful and happy. When Willow travels to Little Bluewater Bay, she is a little lost in life and not in a good place. This was my starting point for creating a feel-good romantic read.

Thank you, Jo. I enjoyed hearing about what inspired you to write Willow and Noah's story. Judging by the excellent reviews the novel has already received, it sounds as if you have achieved your aim of writing an uplifting and feel-good story.


Start the new year in Little Bluewater Bay…

New year, new Willow Jenkins? All Willow knows is that she needs an escape. So, she takes an extended break from her PR job and retreats to her grandmother’s cosy cottage by the sea in Little Bluewater Bay, where a limitless supply of hot chocolate will soothe her broken heart and a limited wi-fi connection will prevent her workaholic tendencies.

Willow is soon made to feel welcome by friendly locals – although grumpy artist Noah Atkinson doesn’t seem to like her very much. Just what is his problem?

But then Willow is asked by her grandmother to approach Noah with a very special commission, only to discover that he hasn’t painted people for a long time – and with good reason. Will he make an exception, and in doing so usher in a hopeful and healing new era for them both?



Twitter: @JoBodenAuthor



Choc Lit:

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed finding out more about Jo and her novel. If you could escape from your busy life, where would you retreat to, and in what season of the year? I'd love it if you left a comment and told us. Thank you.

You may also follow me on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page and on Twitter @JanBaynham

To find out more about my books, visit Jan Baynham Author page on Amazon and on Ruby Fiction.