Author Interview, Crooked Cat Books

6 Ws with Author Isabella May

Isabella May is next in this series featuring fellow Crooked Cat Books authors. I see this as a chance to give the authors a bit of promotion on my website while getting to know them better.

Isabella’s next novel is The Cocktail Bar, which is set for a Feb. 13 launch although it’s available to pre-order.isabellas book cover

Here are Isabella’s responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Isabella May?
That’s a cracker of a question! I think Isabella represents many aspects of storytelling merged into one. She loves nothing more than to fuse diverse subjects into her novels, making them every marketing mogul’s nightmare – not on purpose, of course. She just believes that variety is the spice of life and can’t help herself. From food and drink to comedy, romance and spirituality, travel and jump-off-the-wall characters – a little bit of darkness besides; Isabella always aims to tell a multi-faceted story, with food and drink playing a central role.

I guess you could call her a hammed up version of me (Isabella and May were actually my grandmothers, two feisty and independent ladies, whose names I adore and have turned into my pen name).

What does she write?
The easiest way to pigeonhole her writing would be to call it Contemporary Fiction. She loves to write about temporarily lost characters, re-discovering their inner zest that was there all along. She also loves to shine a spotlight on Somerset, a southwestern county of England that so rarely gets to play the leading part in fiction… more’s the pity! Food and drink are important to her because she wants us to fall in love with them all over again, to quiet the labeling of good and bad, to simply immerse ourselves in their flavours and fragrances and enjoy.

When does she write?
Between 9am and 1pm school days (the kids finish ridiculously early in Spain!). She has also become quite adept at scribbling in notebooks in cafes while she waits for her daughter to dance and her son to play golf. Which makes her sound mega posh… but she’s really not; dance and sports in Spain are just soooo much cheaper than the UK!

How does she write?
With coffee and cake and copious amounts of water… a little Prince playing in the background if mood dictates.

Where does she write?
Normally at the dining table gazing out the window at the azure blue Mediterranean sea (okay, she actually has to stand to see that, but it’s just beyond the hedge as she lives on the beach).

And on hot summer’s afternoons past 3pm, the balcony is covered in blissful shade, and then where better to retreat with the laptop and an Aperol Spritz to listen to the waves crash and roll, to watch the scattering of surfers zip by, and to catch the hint of jasmine on the air as she scribbles down ideas?

Why does she write?
To empty her head of the swirls of chitchat and harebrained escapades that her characters find themselves entangled in.

More: The Cocktail Bar is her second novel published with Crooked Cat Books —  and here’s a sneaky peek of the blurb:

Rock star, River Jackson, is back in his hometown of Glastonbury to open a cocktail bar… and the locals aren’t impressed.

Seductive Georgina is proving too hot to handle; band mate, Angelic Alice, is messing with his heart and his head; his mum is a hippie-dippy liability; his school friends have resorted to violence – oh, and his band manager, Lennie, AND the media are on his trail.

But River is armed with a magical Mexican elixir which will change the lives of the Three Chosen Ones. Once the Mexican wave of joy takes a hold of the town, he’s glad he didn’t lose his proverbial bottle.

Pity he hasn’t taken better care of the real one…

The Cocktail Bar is available to pre-order now on Kindle and in paperback via this Universal Amazon buying link:

Other works: Oh! What a Pavlova – Universal Amazon buying link:

Isabella May on social media:



Facebook Author Page



author pic 2
Author Interview, Crooked Cat Books

6 Ws with Author Val Penny

Val Penny is next in this series featuring fellow authors of Crooked Cat Books. I wanted to give the authors a bit of promotion on my website while getting to know them better. (Like I just learned Val is an American living in Scotland.)

Her debut novel, Hunter’s Chase, will be released Feb. 2 by Crooked Cat.

Here are Val’s responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Val Penny?

I am an American author living in SW Scotland. I have two adult daughters of whom I am justly proud and live with my husband and two cats. I have a law degree from Edinburgh University and my MSc from Napier University, Edinburgh. My Hunter's Chase book cover (1)post graduate creative writing studies were under-taken through Lauder College, Fife. I have had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However I have not yet achieved either of my childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, I have turned my hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. My first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ set in Edinburgh, Scotland will be published by Crooked Cat Books on Feb. 2, 2018. It is available to purchase from Amazon

What does she write?

My novels fall squarely within the genre of crime thrillers. I write police procedural novels: my main protagonist is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson. In Hunter’s Chase, DI Hunter Wilson struggles to ensure the crime in Edinburgh does not go unpunished. Hunter’s Chase introduces a new detective, DI Hunter Wilson into Tartan Noire. I am delighted to be compared to other proponents of Tartan Noire such as Ian Rankin, Alex Grey and Quintin Jardine.

I think all crime novels explore the triumph of good over evil. The readers know the criminals will not succeed. Still, the thrill of the chase and the problems overcome to achieve justice for the victims must enthral and satisfy the readers.

When did she begin writing?

I began writing my first novel when I was being treated for breast cancer. I had taken early retirement and was beginning to wonder how I had ever had time to work when I received the unwelcome diagnosis of breast cancer.

As my treatment proceeded, I started to blog about my experience. My writing here still receives considerable attention: I found my treatment very tiring and had little energy to do anything but read, so I started reviewing the books I read on

I have always enjoyed crime fiction and I began to think that, as I had the time, I would try my hand at writing a crime fiction novel. It was not an easy task, and it took a lot longer than I thought it would, but the result was Hunter’s Chase.

How does she write?

I write my notes and plan my work in a notebook using pen and paper. I was advised to plan my novels by the successful novelist Sue Moorcroft. She writes womens’ contemporary fiction, a totally different genre to mine, but the advice was sound nevertheless.

However, when I am writing the drafts of my novels, I type the work up on my computer referring closely to my notes. I also make sure that I keep details of the action and characters in spread sheets to try to avoid inconsistencies.

Where does she write?

I write wherever ideas occur. I carry an ideas notebook with me wherever I go. People say the funniest things and I often jot down things I see or hear so that I do not forget them. However, my ‘serious’ writing efforts on my computer are usually conducted in a cosy corner of my living room. Here, I am close to the kitchen for coffee breaks and the space is peaceful with my two cats curled up in their beds.

Why does she write?

I write because I have stories to tell and nobody else will do that. I find the process of writing therapeutic and the results rewarding. It is often said that writing is a solitary occupation, but I do not find it so. Between contacting experts for purposes of research, discussing my work in progress at my local writing group and chatting to fellow authors about the challenges we all face, I may often be alone, but never lonely.

More: In my debut crime novel, Hunter’s Chase, DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller. Hunter by name– Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Other works: I am presently working on the sequel to Hunter’s ChaseHunter’s Revenge. My publishers, Crooked Cat Books, have just confirmed that it will be published in August/September 2018, so I better get a move on and finish it.

Thank you for allowing me to visit your blog today, Joan. I really appreciate it. I can be contacted on social media at:



Friends of Hunter’s Chase on Facebook


Author Interview, Crooked Cat Books

6 Ws with Author Miriam Drori

Miriam Drori is next in this series featuring fellow authors of Crooked Cat Books. I Coverwanted to give the authors a bit of promotion on my website while getting to know them better.

I will let each occupy the top spot on this site for several days. Miriam Drori, who is also my editor, is the second. Her most recent book is Social Anxiety Revealed, published by Crooked Cat Books.

Here are Miriam’s responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Miriam Drori?

Could I answer that with a poem?

I am – I am not

I am a wife.
I feel secure
With D in my life.
Long may it endure.

I am a mother.
Three children I raised –
Two sons and one other
Now adults. I’m amazed.

I am a sister.
Though he’s far away
With a different vista,
My family he’ll stay.

I am a dancer.
“How come you can?”
I don’t have an answer.
It’s just how I am.

I am a writer.
I hide away
And make my world brighter
With words I can’t say.

I am sensitive.
I fear that you see
All sorts of negative
Traits in me.

I am clever
Though most never know.
I hardly ever
Let that show.

My figure is trim,
Of that I am glad.
The battle to slim
I’ve never had.

I am outgoing.
“How’s that?” you ask.
That is by knowing
The other’s a mask.

I am a presenter.
My speech could reform
Your view. From the centre
I love to perform.

One thing I’m not
And I’ll continue to cry
Till the lie doth rot:

(Alternative answer: I’m an author and an editor, and I grew up in the UK. Don’t forget the last point as you read on.)

What does she write?

Short stories, novels, novellas. And rhymes, of course. If you want to know about genre, that’s more complicated. Of the three books I’ve had published, the first is a romance and also a story that addresses several issues. The second, co-written with the very talented Emma Rose Millar, is historical and the first in a series of novellas based on a painting by Klimt. The third is non-fiction and is featured below.

When did she begin writing?

After I discovered social anxiety, in 2002, I realised the world would be a much better place for many people if it were better known, and I became passionate about raising awareness of it. I knew I could express myself much better in writing than in conversation, so naturally I went in that direction. The scope of my writing has widened since then, but I’ll always come back to my passion.

No, I didn’t write stories before that. I was put off long before, in English lessons, because I was never mature enough for what we were expected to write, making me think I didn’t have an imagination.

How does she write?

I’m sure the process would be much smoother without that niggly voice that says, “You don’t have an imagination,” and “Who do you think you are, posing as an author?” Yes, I do tell it to get stuffed, but it persists, albeit a little more quietly. So, I come up with a skeleton of a story and I have a few ideas of how to fill it in. I know that’s not enough, but I start writing and get through to the end. And I have about twenty thousand words – less than a third of a full-length novel. Then I go back and put in more dialogue and descriptions, think of more scenes and I have maybe thirty thousand words. That’s when I decide I need to do something drastic, like adding a sub-plot.

Don’t get me wrong. These additions don’t feel like add-ons when I’ve finished. They’re all important to the story, but I forgot to include them in the original twenty-thousand-word first draft because the niggly voice wouldn’t shut up.

Where does she write?

I can write anywhere – in a noisy restaurant, in the garden, on our roof now that we have stairs that lead to it, on a bus although I’d rather not. But mostly I sit at my laptop in my office/den.

Why does she write?

I love to write. I love being able to put my thoughts into words coherently, succinctly, in a way I never can when speaking. I love editing, taking a sentence and moulding it into something that gives me pleasure. I also write to raise awareness of social anxiety. Did I mention that before?

MoreSocial Anxiety Revealed is a book for someone who has social anxiety, or is related to someone who has social anxiety, or works with someone who has social anxiety, or teaches someone with social anxiety, or has a friend with social anxiety. In other words, it’s a book for everyone, because everyone will meet social anxiety in some way. It will help you understand yourself or someone close to you, someone you want to help.

The book makes extensive use of quotes from many people who have experienced social anxiety and who agreed for me to use their words anonymously. This enabled me to show how, despite the similarities, we’re all individuals and that social anxiety affects each of us in different ways.

The reviews call it a no-nonsense book that’s well-written and easy to read. I’m glad, because that’s how I meant it to be.

Social Anxiety Revealed is published by Crooked Cat Books and you can buy it online here.

Other works:

Neither Here Nor There

The Women Friends: Selina

Miriam Drori on social media:


social anxiety blog






Amazon page:

Romance with a twist 3
Author Interview, Crooked Cat Books

6Ws with Author Sue Barnard

This is the first in a series featuring fellow authors of Crooked Cat Books. I wanted to give them a bit of promotion on my website while getting to know them better. I will let each occupy the top spot on this site for several days. Sue Barnard is the first.

Here are Sue’s responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Sue Barnard?

Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet who believes that an immaculate house is a sign of a wasted life. Hence, her house is chaotic but her life is very fulfilled.

Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in the Manchester area. After studying French and Italian at Durham University, she got married and had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.

Sue’s mind is very warped – so much so that she has been asked to compile questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird”. That was nearly twenty years ago, but the label has stuck.

She is also very interested in family history, and her own background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue now lives in Cheshire with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

What does she write?

Sue writes novels, short stories, poems, articles, and the occasional stroppy letter to the BBC. She has also worked as a freelance copywriter, producing pieces on such widely diverse subjects as business taxes, dangerous sports, the London Olympics, and the symbolism of teeth in dreams.

When did she begin writing?

If you include those compulsory “Composition” exercises at school, Sue has been writing for almost her entire life. Her first writing success was at primary school when she won a prize for writing an essay about chocolate. But she began to take her writing more seriously following a life-changing event in 2004. At that point she did a series of on-line writing courses, and a few years later she set herself the challenge of writing her first full-length novel. The eventual result was The Ghostly Father – a retelling of the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet, but with a few new twists and a whole new outcome – which was first published by Crooked Cat Books in 2014.

How does she write?

She wishes she knew the answer to that. Somehow, it just happens. But inspiration strikes when she’s least expecting it. She gets a lot of her ideas when she’s digging the garden or mowing the lawn, and on one occasion a complete stanza of a poem arrived, fully-formed, when she was stuck in a traffic jam. She had to keep repeating it over and over until she got home and could write it down.

Where does she write?

Anywhere and everywhere. She has her laptop set up in a table overlooking the garden, but she has been known to scribble ideas on the backs of envelopes or in the margins of newspapers. Some of these scribbles make some kind of sense when she looks back at them later. Most of them do not.

Why does she write?

She started writing just for herself, but she’s immensely grateful to all those people who buy her books, read them, and are kind enough to say they enjoy them. Now she can’t imagine a life without writing.

More about Sue Barnard:

Sue’s most recent book is Never on Saturday: a time-slip romance novella with a hint of mystery and a touch of the paranormal, based on an old French legend. It is published by Crooked Cat Books and is available on Amazon.

Other works:

The Ghostly Father: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, NookApple iBooks, GooglePlay

Nice Girls Don’t: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, NookApple iBooks

The Unkindest Cut of All: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, NookApple iBooks

Never on Saturday: Amazon

Sue Barnard on Social Media







Crooked Cat Books

At Last a Publisher

I have some news, actually really great news to share. Crooked Cat Books will be publishing my next novel — my first mystery called Chasing the Case.

Those who know me also know this has been a long time coming.

I started writing fiction in earnest sixteen years ago or so. During that time, I contacted an immeasurable number of agents and indie houses with zero success in getting my novels published. (Masochist that I am, I began feeling grateful for a personal response even if it was a no. Of course, there were the “dear authors” and worse, especially after email submissions became the norm, absolute silence. You gotta have thick skin.)

I even had two agents and let go of both.

But I persevered. I kept writing. Those who follow this blog are aware that I self-published three books rather recently — Peace, Love, and You Know What; The Sweet Spot; and Los Primos y el Pez Mágico/The Cousins and the Magic Fish. I have completed other adult novels, a middle grade series, and more in the bilingual series.

Yes, I couldn’t help myself.

Earlier this year, I decided to try writing a mystery. Actually, I’ve finished two: Chasing the Case and its sequel, Redneck’s Revenge. Like a lot of my adult fiction, they are set in the hill towns of Western Massachusetts where I live. The series features Isabel Long, a former journalist turned amateur P.I. (Here’s my last post on the topic: Getting My Revenge)

I wanted an ally in the writing biz, and so I decided to go through the process yet again of finding a publishing house. I came awfully close with two.

And then, I found Crooked Cat Books, owned by Laurence and Stephanie Patterson. I followed their submission requirements and was a bit surprised when they asked to see the whole manuscript. A couple of weeks later, after a conversation with Laurence, I was offered a contract, which I signed Monday. Chasing the Case will be published in mid-2018 in Kindle and paperback.

Well, knock me over.

So, what is Crooked Cat Books? It is a publishing house founded in Scotland six years ago. Laurence and Stephanie live now in Southern France. Laurence has worked in academic publishing. Stephanie has written romantic historical fiction. They have well over 80 authors in their roster. Here’s the link: Crooked Cat Books

Crooked Cat will handle the editing, cover design, and formatting for Chasing the Case. As for promotion, I will certainly be in the thick of it on social media etc., actually taking the lead, but I will have strong allies in Laurence, Stephanie, and my fellow authors, who have given me a warm welcome — plus their guidance on how to get it done.

Am I excited? You betcha. Thanks Crooked Cat. It all feels just right.

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: That’s the logo for Crooked Cat.