Character Traits

Meet Alice Tomlinson of Autumn Paths and More

Angela Wren is the next and last author in this Character Traits series, well, at least for now. Known for her Jacques Forêt Mysteries, Angela writes about Alice Tomlinson, who appears in an anthology series. Next this character will be part of a new series she is launching — exciting news for us fans of her writing. Here. I will let her tell you about it.

Hello, Joan, and thank you very much for hosting me on your blog and letting me run riot about my stories, books and, my newest character.

An introduction to your character, including which book she appears.

Meet Alice Tomlinson.  She’s my crime-busting singleton who is helped by her dad.  More accurately, mostly hindered by her father.  She’s also an interloper because she lives in London but all the crimes occur in the fictional village of Beauregard which is situated a few kilometres south of the fabulous city of Blois with its medieval château and a long history full of kings and dukes, war and rebellion.

Alice first appeared in the short story The Bookseller’s Secret Octavo which was included in the anthology Autumn Paths and published in 2021.  The story examines the relationship between Alice and her dad, Peter Tomlinson, whilst also solving a mystery.  It’s Alice’s experience as a valuer and auctioneer that has brought her to Beauregard, at the request of Peter, for the weekend.  Through the story the reader discovers that perhaps not everything in Alice’s life is as good as it could be – much to the disapproval of her father!

How did you come up with the character and his/her name?

I’m an actor and I’ve been working on stage since I was six years old.  Whether it’s for stage or the page, I build my characters in the same way.  I always start with the shoes.  Once I’ve got that right I know I have the gait and with that, the posture.  Knowing the posture enables me to make decisions about the vocal qualities of the character.  Other details, for example, name, age/date of birth, height, weight, colouring, I just pick and choose until I have what seems to me to be the right combination.  So, Alice is average height, slim, in her late twenties, fair-skinned, and has unruly, dark-red hair.  All the other attributes that makes us the people we are, such as attitudes, beliefs, aptitudes, feelings, etc., I decide on as I create the backstory for each individual.  For Alice, that meant she lost her mum when she was still a child, has a passion for music, and can play the violin.  She’s quite feisty, she challenges her father, and she keeps him, a man who is a bit of a chancer, on the straight and narrow.  And, if I tell you too much more, your readers probably won’t want to discover her for themselves, Joan.  But, I like her and some readers and reviewers do too!

Tell us more about Autumn Paths.

Autumn Paths is a multi-genre anthology and I collaborated with eight Canadian authors during it’s creation.  My story is a cosy crime mystery that sits with other tales about family, loss, adventure, sci fi and a good old-fashioned murder!  The book is the first of four. Winter Paths was published last year and my story in that one related to a French character in the village of Beauregard.  The third book, Spring Paths, is in the making now and will be out later this year.  My story in Spring Paths features Alice and her dad and a mystery that has to be solved.  But there are some surprising consequences.  The fourth book is yet to be planned.

Short stories are not the only instances when Alice and her dad appear on the page.  I’m currently working on the first in a new series of novels, The Beauregard Mysteries, which will put Alice at the heart of crime solving in the sleepy little village.  I’m hoping to get my current work in progress finalised in the next couple of months or so.  So, I hope your readers will check out my website and social media in the autumn for news of the new books.

 Author’s Bio

Angela Wren

Angela Wren has worked as an actor and director at a small theatre a few miles from where she lives in the county of Yorkshire in the UK.  She has also worked as a project and business change manager – very pressured and very demanding – but managed to escape, and now she writes books.

Stories and story-telling are things that Angela has always loved.  Her first published story was in an anthology put together by the magazine ‘Ireland’s Own’ in 2011.  She now works with eight other northern writers to create the Miss Moonshine anthologies alongside her collaboration with the Canadian for the Seasonal Paths collections.  Angela has written some darker fiction for the Dark World charity anthologies created by her publisher Darktroke Books.

Her six full-length Jacques Forêt Mysteries are all set in the Cévennes in south-central France.  And France is where Angela likes to spend as much time as possible each year.

Links to books and social media

Amazon : AngelaWren

Website :

Blog :

Facebook: AngelaWren




Character Traits

Meet Rosalie Giordano of The Secret Cure

Next in my Character Traits is Rosalie Griordano, created by author JD Spero, for her romantic suspense novel, The Secret Cure. JD says she was inspired by a real life observation to create this character. Intriguing. Here. I will let her take over this post.

A brief introduction to your character

In The Secret Cure, Rosalie Giordano is as fiery as she is beautiful. In her mid-30s, she and her hot hubby start to plan for a family … until she is struck down with a mysterious illness that leads to temporary paralysis. From the first chapter, readers experience the dichotomy of her spunky, strong personality despite her not being able to move. 

How did you come up with the character and his/her name?

I don’t remember. My parents had a friend named Rosalie years ago and it came into my mind as I started writing and I went with it. I like both the full and short version, Rosie. Though now I keep running into other book characters named Rosie. It’s like when you buy a new car and then keep seeing it all over the highway. 

Tell us more about The Secret Cure.

So, while Rosie is immobile, she learns her perfect husband is cheating. As she heals and gains mobility, she keeps her progress a secret from her husband in order to observe her dire situation and weigh her options. Turns out, his cheating is just a small aspect of his betrayal. So when he has the audacity to invite “the other woman” on their long-awaited anniversary trip overseas, Rosie weaves a plan for revenge.  

Was a real person your inspiration for this character?

Yes! When my husband and I were vacationing at a resort in Taormina, we witnessed a man toggle between his hot mistress at the beach and his lovely, disabled wife at the pool. The story idea came to mind instantly. 

Is your character likable or not?

I’m not sure I should answer this question. Ha! Let’s just say, she is not a victim. (I like her very much, BTW).

Extract from the book in which the character appears.

All Vin’s attention is with my homecare nurse Cate now, his hand tucked in his pocket. My skin tingles from where he touched me. “I’ll try to be home at a reasonable time,” he says. “But I do have an appointment after work.”

All those tingly vibes fall away. The black hole wants to swallow me. Rage breaks out in my pores. Because I know all too well Vin’s ‘appointment’ is with his therapist, Anastasia, whom he’s been seeing since I got sick. Their therapy sessions have become more common the longer I’m immobile. Always at the end of the day, always a good, generous hour. Who is this Anastasia? And what is she up to with my husband, really? 

So, Vin likes his secrets. Well, I have my secrets too. They live in my blood and run through my veins, filling me with a bulletproof drive to get through this thing. Because I will get through. My god, I was a dancer. My body knows how to move. And it holds a muscle memory stronger than any diagnosis. I will move again. And when I do, no secret is safe.

I can feel it now, the slow, satisfying burn of a buried secret emitting steam from my ears, fire from my nose, laser beams from my eyeballs. 

Cate nods, still about the ice cream, still puffing her chest, a dopey half-grin on her chubby face. Vin clomps out of the room like a brontosaurus. 

I hate them both. 

Johannah Davis (JD) Spero

Author’s Bio

Johannah Davies (JD) Spero’s writing career took off when her first release, Catcher’s Keeper, was a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. Her small-town mystery series, Boy on Hold, has won similar acclaim—IPPY Gold for Best Mystery/Thriller. Check out her bestselling romantic suspense, The Secret Cure, and her contemporary romance, The Muse Next Door. Stay tuned for Hack Ware, a cyber thriller coming August 2023. Having lived in various cities from St. Petersburg (Russia) to Boston, she now lives with her family in upstate New York where she was born and raised.

Links to books and social media

Twitter @jdspero

IG @johannahspero

TikTok @jdsperobooks

Character Traits

Meet Dr. Louise Brimstone of The Phoenix Hour

This episode of my Character Traits Series welcomes Doctor Louise Brimstone, who was created by author Paula RC Readman for her novel The Phoenix Hour. Are you a fan of gothic crime novels? I highly recommend checking out Paula’s novels. Now, it’s her turn to take over this post.

Thank you, Joan, for this opportunity to introduce Doctor Louise Brimstone, the main character from, The Phoenix Hour to your audience.

Doctor Louise Brimstone is a scientist who works in genetic engineering research. Her job is to complete the lifetime work started by her parents, Hunter Brimstone and Meredith Thurston, who were the world-leading minds in genetic research before their premature deaths, for the same company Hartley Research Centre of Excellence. 

Extract from The Phoenix Hour

The last to join and the youngest team member was Maddie. To me, (Doctor Louise Brimstone) she seemed too young at twenty to have gained the knowledge and understanding in her chosen field of research, but she was a shining example of everything our company stood for. She was a product of the HII1 drug. Her mother, a single woman, had bought into our creation’s dream, giving her daughter the best start in life by using the drug. I found Maddie to be an easy-going colleague, if a bit headstrong, but in a way, we were both independent, strong women in a man’s world.

With his flowing white beard, Davidson stood before his team, arms raised and outstretched like some biblical prophet. He had to win back the enthusiasm of his team with words of wisdom and encouragement, by telling them that the last fifteen years was just a blip on the commercial horizon. Now we had to face the new challenges before us and take the company forward into the future. As I looked around, I wondered just how many of them were loyal to his cause, or if it was the money, he paid us that kept them from leaving. Being part of Davidson’s team brought us widespread respect and made us wealthy scientists.

“My dear friends and colleagues,” Davidson began. “I’ve gathered you here today to tell you of our amazing plans for the future of our company. Starting with a party on New Year’s Day, we will begin offering our expertise to help give young married couples the chance to conceive a genetically-matched child of their own.”

For a moment, nobody spoke. I guessed, like me, the rest of them were too stunned to speak. Their shocked expressions made me want to giggle, but I bit my lip instead. Was he mad? How did he think we could possibly pull it off? Was he thinking of some sort of fraud?

No one knew the full extent of the problem. It wasn’t until the child reached the age of maturity, that the difficulties appeared: in conception, carrying to full term, and stillborn babies. It wasn’t a case of no genetic material being left in the world to work with, but more about the quality of eggs and sperm. It was as though the human race was dying. Even the wealthy had learnt a hard lesson. No amount of money could buy them the children they wanted to inherit their fortunes. Didn’t Davidson know his new plan was madness?

The plan was not just to create babies, but individual and unique genetically-matching children for the wealthy. The courts might still have been out on whether our drug had caused the fall in the birth rate, but to start another project linked to treating infertility was crazy. Trust Davidson to want to play Russian roulette with the wealthy.


How did you come up with the character and her name? 

When creating characters in my book, I find it satisfying to give them names that match their personality or the overall theme of the story. For example, the character Doctor Louise Brimstone is a scientist, and the name Brimstone, an archaic term for sulphur, seemed fitting. Sulphur is lemon-yellow. When it’s burnt turns into a blood-red liquid, and is often associated with fire and brimstone, a biblical reference to divine punishment. I believe this name choice reflects the theme of my book, as it is a tale that goes against the natural order of things. 

The inspiration for The Phoenix Hour came when I wanted to write two ideas that had been bubbling around in my head. The two themes, which fitted my idea, were Steampunk and Time Travel. These were two subgenres of Sci-fi. The book would be a meeting between The Children of Men by P.D. James and H G Well’s Time Machine. While busy at work, the idea came to me. I had been trying to think of an idea for a drug, and come up with Hartley Intellectual Improvement drug, a drug for improving people’s ability to hold information. I felt it would be something everyone would be willing to take, and give to their children. I’ve always believed, if you educate women, they will educate their children, thus lift themselves out of poverty. 

Was a real person your inspiration?

No, none of the characters are based on anyone I know. All my characters, apart from two in one of my novella are fictional, though the emotions they experience are real as we have all felt them at some point in our life, .i.e., betrayal, fear, love, loss etc. 

Is your character likeable or not?

Yes, I think Louise is very likeable even though she finds herself put in a difficult situation. One reviewer described her as being captivating and frustrating at the same time and is a great example of what people, even smart ones will do in the name of love. Another reviewer said they were drawn into the book on the strength of the main character, Louise Brimstone. I would be very interested in finding out what other readers think of her, too.

Author’s Bio

Paula R C Readman is married, and lives in Essex, England, with her husband and two cats. In 1998, with no understanding of English grammar, she decided to beat her dyslexia, by setting herself a challenge to become a published author.

She taught herself ‘How to Write’ from books her husband purchased from eBay. After making the 250th purchase, Russell told her ‘just to get on with the writing’. After having many short stories published and winning several writing competitions, in 2020 she had her first crime novella, The Funeral Birds, published by Demain Publishing, a single collection of short stories Days Pass Like A Shadow, published by Bridge House Publishing. Stone Angels, Seeking the Dark and The Phoenix Hour were published by darkstroke books. In April 2023 her second novella, Never Reaching the End was published by Demain Publishing.


The Phoenix Hour:

Seeking The Dark;
Stone Angels:
The Funeral Birds:
Days Pass Like a Shadow:

Twitter: Paula R C Readman@Darkfantasy13

Character Traits

Meet Hunter Wilson of The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries

D.I. Hunter Wilson is my favorite character in Val Penny’s Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, which includes the most recent, Hunter’s Blood. So, I made a special request that she feature Hunter in my Character Traits Series. Now, it’s Val’s turn to take over this post.

The first novel I wrote was Hunter’s Chase. The main character is a police detective inspector, Hunter Wilson. Let me tell you about how I developed this character.

I knew I needed a character I could trust and rely on and I wanted a name that reflected his job, fighting crime. One day when my husband and I were going to my mother’s house, we passed a lawyer’s office. The name on the facia was Wilson Hunter. Perfect! However, my husband thought that I better not use that name, in case the lawyer objected, and so Hunter Wilson was born.

I always write biographies for my main characters. This allows me to get to know them well. When I wrote Hunter’s biography I realised that he was ‘a son of the manse’ as they say in Scotland. That means that his father was a protestant Church of Scotland minister (at that time all ministers were male). His mother had had a traditional role as the minister’s wife, making scones for church coffee mornings, tending to the church flowers and running the women’s group (known as the Women’s Guild) in the church.

This gave Hunter his strong Scottish work ethic, his innate sense of fairness, the importance he places on loyalty and his strong sense of right and wrong. It also explains his love of good coffee and freshly baked cakes and scones!

When I thought about it a bit more, I realised Hunter must also be a family man. He rarely sees his daughter, Alison, who lives with her husband and two children in the very North of Scotland on the Shetland Islands. Hunter also has a son, Cameron. Cameron, like many children has given his father cause for concern over the years and these struggles have provided colour and narratives in several of my books.

I realised also that life had not always been easy for Hunter. So he is divorced from the mother of his children. The visible cost of that divorce is that he lives in a two-bedroomed flat in Leith, which is a modest area in Edinburgh. He is not house proud, so his home is often messy and in need of being cleaned and tidied before he has visitors. His most frequent visitor is Dr Meera Sharma, the principal pathologist of his region. He loves Meera deeply but they both have heavy work schedules. That is their challenge.

Physically, I see Hunter as just under six feet tall with steely, intelligent grey eyes and brown hair cut in an unfashionably short style. He is slim and wiry and dresses sensibly for the Scottish weather.

Hunter is loyal and sociable. He likes to be part of a team, both at work and at home. He used to play football in his younger days, but now he referees boys’ matches and plays darts for the team in his local pub, The Persevere Bar in Easter Road where the other members of the team have nicknamed him ‘Clouseau’ after the hapless detective ably portrayed on film by Peter Sellers.

I like Hunter and I enjoy feeling him grow and develop in my novels. I hope he like me, because we’re going to spend a lot of time together going forward.

My most recent novel, Hunter’s Blood is published by SpellBound Books Ltd, on 2nd July 2023.

Hunter’s Blood Blurb

Mutilation and murder outrage DI Hunter Wilson, especially when he knows the victims.

He learns three elderly women have died in mysterious circumstances and is horrified to realise that he is the only person who has met each of them.

Hunter scrutinises the evidence but must accept help from the Major Investigation Team when he investigates the triple murder.

He is amazed that the breakthrough comes from an unexpected witness. 

What did she hear? 

Hunter confronts the perpetrators and fights for the victims’ rights – even when the crime has been committed with the best of intentions.

Excerpt from Hunter’s Blood

“Fucking shit! Did you see that? How fast was it going? It could have taken my nose off!” DI Hunter Wilson roared as a red van raced past them in the outside lane.

“Your nose isn’t that big, darling,” Meera Sharma smiled.

“Huh, thanks. I think. Where are the traffic cops when you need them? And really, how fast was that van going?”

“Some are in a real hurry to meet their maker.”

“I just get so angry. They don’t even think about who else they could take with them if they crash and that was a business vehicle. I’ll bet the owner wouldn’t like their employees to be racing around like that.”

“Probably not,” Meera sighed.

Hunter was driving back from a leisurely lunch at The Steading at Hillend on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with the petite pathologist, Meera Sharma. He always enjoyed their time together. She was easy company, and they got on very well indeed. The Steading was a good place to eat after they had been for a long walk in The Pentland Hills. Maybe this time he would be lucky in love.

Meera changed the subject. “That was delicious, thank you. We should spend more time like this. There is no better exercise than walking you know.”

“Oh, I can think of at least one form of exercise I prefer,” Hunter grinned.

She turned and grinned back at him.

“You’re very cheeky, you know that, don’t you?”

“That’s why you love me,” he glanced away from the road to smile at her.

Meera looked into Hunter’s intense grey eyes and smiled at his traditional short haircut. He would look even better if his hair were just a little longer, but he complained that he looked like the cartoon character ‘Oor Wullie’ when it grew even just a little. She sighed inwardly. Hunter was one of the good guys. Maybe this time her parents would accept her partner of choice.

“Of course, we should make more time to go walking together,” Hunter replied with a sheepish grin. “But you well know how likely that is with our schedules, doctor. In fact, I forgot to tell you, I’ve got to go back to the station this evening. There are a couple of things still I need to finish.”

“Of course there are, Detective Inspector. There always are. But a girl can dream, can’t she?” Meera smiled at him.

Hunter felt warm inside. He might have thought it was the sticky toffee pudding, but Meera’s smile always made him feel like this.

About Val Penny

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. 

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd. 

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat. 

Social Media Links

Buy Links

Hunter’s Chase –

Hunter’s Revenge –

Hunter’s Force –

The First Cut –

Hunter’s Blood –

Character Traits

Character Traits: Meet Lily West of Bleak Waters

In this next installment of the Character Traits series, Lily West, a creation of author Gary Kruse, is featured. Gary describes himself as a writer of thriller and horror fiction about people on the edge of society struggling to discover themselves. That includes Lily West. Now, I will let Gary take over on this post.

Lily West is the main character in my new supernatural mystery, Bleak Waters. She’s in her early 20’s and when we meet her in the book, she’s standing on the water’s edge of Hickling Broad in the middle of winter, struggling to process the suicide of her father the previous summer. 

As a child, Lily used to get severe migraines which bought on ghostly visions, but these faded after a vicious intervention from her mother, Hetty. 

She lives and works in the Whippet, a fictional pub in Hickling village, and the villagers are like an extended family to her, and some of them stepped in to help after her father’s death. It’s a close-knit, rural community.

But like all villages, it has its secrets, and one secret in particular will shatter everything Lily believes. 

How did you come up with the character and his/her name?

Lily was one of the first characters I came up with for the book. I was on holiday in Hickling with my sons in spring 2019, and as with Badlands, the more time I spent in the area, the more my writer’s brain started whirring and I started getting ideas for a new story. 

In the first serious brain-storming session, I decided that the MC would be a barmaid in the village pub as she would be able to naturally interact with all the characters and also face conflict with them when she started asking questions about the central mystery. 

Initially, I struggled to come up with her name. I brainstormed a list of about thirty names, and as I was making notes and developing the character, Lily was the name that stuck.

Tell us more about Bleak Waters.

It’s part ghost-story, part mystery, part crime novel. A stranger, Theo Sinclair, arrives in the village of Hickling in the dead of winter asking questions about the disappearance of a young woman called Claire Baldwin twenty-five years earlier. At first Lily doesn’t trust Theo and won’t help him. She’s already got enough on her plate dealing with the questions raised by her father’s suicide, questions that make her wonder how well she really knew her Dad.

Theo’s arrival also seems to stir Lily’s long-buried curse of seeing the dead as the night after his arrival, she experiences the first twinges of a migraine and senses a shadowy presence haunting her room. 

Theo persists in asking Lily for help, and as Lily learns more about him and why he’s come to Hickling, gradually her reluctance breaks down. She starts to help him and as she and Theo dig deeper into Claire’s disappearance, the ghostly visions grow stronger, and Lily finds disturbing links between her father and Claire.

Already harbouring suspicions about her father after his suicide, she starts to realise that finding the truth may destroy everything she loves and holds dear, and force her to finally confront the ghosts that haunt her. 

Was a real person your inspiration for this character?

No, Lily, like all of my characters, is a mix of different influences and inspirations, not one real person. When I look back at the first notes, as I say, the character came from a need to have someone who could act as a go-between for the stranger arriving in the village, and the villagers themselves. 

The Whippet, the Pub in the book, was inspired by a real Pub in the village of Hickling called the Greyhound, and what struck me about the Greyhound was how it seemed to be a hub of village life so that naturally suggested making the main character someone who worked in the pub.

From there, Lily’s character evolved first through the notes and planning, then through the drafts. And naturally, the main character has to be the one who hurts the most, who suffers the most, and by the end of Bleak Waters, Lily has certainly done that.

Is your character likable or not?

According to the beta readers, yes! It’s interesting because when you read the reviews of my first book, Badlands, a lot of people felt that Willow was a tough character to like, but that characterisation came from her harsh back-story. 

When we meet Lily, she’s not world weary in the way that Willow was. She’s haunted, and guilt-stricken yes, but she’s still living at home, in her cozy village with people she loves, and she’s got a big heart. She cares and in some ways she’s an emotional open book, whereas Willow is more guarded and more defensive. But none of that was deliberate for either character. It all evolved naturally from the respective story’s needs.

Extract from Bleak Waters

Lily threw her phone down on the bed. Eyes gritty, the need for sleep clouding her thoughts now, she stripped and slipped on a pair of thick woollen pyjamas. She cleaned her teeth, peed, washed her hands then slapped out the light. In the dark, she crossed to the bed, yawned, and stretched wide. As she lowered her arms, a sharp pain stabbed over her brow. 

She winced, pressed her fingertips against the bone and rubbed the skin. The pain made her stomach squirm. It bought back memories of the migraines that had plagued her early adolescence. 

Back then, the migraines had gotten so bad they left her speaking in tongues and seeing visions, seeing people that were not, no, could not be there. Still, she had been migraine free for almost ten years now. This was probably just tiredness. Lowering her fingers, she turned to draw back her bedclothes. 

The pain flared. A shadow moved in the corner of her eye. Vague and blurry. Heading for the door behind her. Sucking a gasp, she spun to get a better look. Saw nothing but the door locked and latched. 

The pain faded but didn’t vanish completely. She blinked in the dark but saw nothing now. 

Skin crawling, but convincing herself she was overreacting, she turned back to the bed. As she reached for covers again, she sensed a movement in the dark behind her. And a sound. Like a footstep on the laminate floor. 

She froze. The pain in her brow throbbed. A scent lingered in the air, faint, and ephemeral. It smelt like the ghost of a memory. It was the smell of sweat and sun-cream. Fists clenched tight, Lily turned and peered into the darkness behind her. 

“Dad?” she whispered. 

Her voice broke the silence. The pain disappeared and the feint scent vanished. Lily stood in the dark, heart trembling, breathing quickly, two questions consuming her thoughts. 

Had she imagined that sense of movement, the footstep, the ghostly smell? Or were the migraines, and the visions that came with them, starting again? 


Authors Bio

Gary Kruse is a writer of thriller and horror fiction about people on the edge of society struggling to find who they are, where they come from and where they’re going. He has won and been shortlisted for several short story competitions and his debut novel, Badlands is an Amazon bestseller. 

Bleak Waters is his second novel. 


Bleak Waters:

Author Website: