Cafelit site has a piece of flash of mine up today….

Budgies and Bingo linked to my fave tea drink ever- Earl Grey. On Gill James of Chapeltown Books site. This is a 2nd outing for the piece; a memoir based tale set in Liverpool in the late 1970’s; we did have a bronze Avenger car (can still remember the registration FOV298L) -how weird is that? I am so not a car person either.

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Clio Barnard’s latest film Dark River previewed at Square Chapel Halifax…

film poster dark river

Starring Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean, shot round Skipton and Malham in June 2017; Otley born director Clio Barnard’s third feature (her first two being The Arbor and The Selfish Giant).

Dark River is superbly acted by the leads, set on a sheep farm; violent, corrosive family secrets return to haunt the present day and shape events. This is a dark dive into the heart of a farming family, not an easy watch but powerful and thought provoking.


Focus on Australian horror author Deborah Sheldon….

I’ve been interviewing (by email not in person) the horror author Deb Sheldon for The Horror Tree and its women in horror month focus. I hadn’t read any of her fiction prior to this interview but I am an avid convert now!

I am currently reading her short story collection, Perfect Little Stitches– which is described on amazon as “Mysterious. Creepy. Disturbing.” It is all of that and more. The mermaid story is still resonanting with me, horrifyingly explicit but brilliant.

One of Aurealis Magazine’s Top Picks of 2017.

Nominated for the Aurealis Award “Best Collection 2017”.

Next up I will be reading her bio horror novella Thylacines which looks heart thumpingly exciting.

You can find out more about her fiction at –

The full interview with Deb will be appearing on The Horror Tree later this month.

I will post a shout out when it’s up to read.

Interview with prize winning writer Mandy Huggins…..

Welcome Mandy to my blog.

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Could you tell us a little more about yourself and how you got started as an author?

Apart from good wine and good company, my three passions in life are writing, reading, and travel. I inherited a love of travel from my parents, so as well as being a fiction author, I’m a keen travel writer.

My first writing success was winning third prize in the school literary competition when I was eleven, with a poem about George Best! And my first serious rejection was an erotic story I wrote for the Sunday Sport in the early 90s. It came back with ‘Good writing, but too dirty. Ed.’ scrawled across the top in blue pencil!

I started writing seriously a few years ago. The first pieces I wrote were for specific competitions, as I found the deadlines were a useful incentive. I sent a travel piece to the Daily Telegraph every single week until they published me!

I have a full-time day job in engineering, so I write in the evenings and at weekends. My partner writes too – a very popular niche music blog – so we both understand each other’s need for creative space!

Which writers have influenced you? Or whose books do you particularly enjoy reading?

My fiction is influenced by many of the great writers that I love – such as Yoko Ogawa, Helen Dunmore, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Ford, A L Kennedy, Helen Simpson, John Steinbeck, Tessa Hadley, Patti Smith, Colm Toibin, A M Homes, Kazuo Ishiguro – the list is endless!

There are many books I would love to have written, such as The Siege by Helen Dunmore, The Housekeeper & the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, or the wonderful Jane Eyre. But the one that stands out for me is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I love all his books, but this is my favourite. It is so beautifully written. A story of a life lost to duty; unsentimental and utterly heartbreaking. A masterpiece.

The Remains of the Day

Where do you get your ideas from for your stories?

My stories are occasionally inspired by personal experiences, and the settings are often places I have explored on my travels. I was brought up on the North Yorkshire coast, and so the sea appears as a major character in a lot of my work as well.

However, most of my main story ideas come straight from my imagination, often sparked by something observed or overheard. Sometimes the starting point will be a newspaper story, or a single scene from a film that inspires me to create a completely new story or an alternative ending.

Writing is a solitary business. How do you interact with other authors?

I’m a member of my local writing group, as well as several on-line groups for fiction and travel writers, all of which are very supportive. Authors I’ve met on-line have become real life friends, and I try to meet up with them a few times a year. Harrogate Crime Writing Festival is one of my regular haunts, even though I’m not a crime writer, because it’s great for socialising! I do find it difficult to attend events, workshops and literature festivals, because most happen during the week when I’m working, and the majority take place in London, or other places far removed from the frozen north!

What do you have coming up in the future?

Seven of my short stories have just been published in the InkTears showcase anthology, Death of a Superhero, alongside three other writers. There was a launch party in London last year, which was very exciting.

Death of a superhero cover

And my first flash fiction collection, Brightly Coloured Horses, is out now, February 2018-published by Chapel Town Books.

Brightly Coloured Horses


“Brightly Coloured Horses is the first flash fiction collection from award-winning author, Mandy Huggins.

Twenty-seven tales of betrayal and loss, of dreams and hopes, of lovers, liars and cheats. Stories with a strong sense of place, transporting us from the seashore to the city, from India’s monsoon to the heat of Cuba, and from the supermarket aisle to a Catalonian fiesta. We meet a baby that never existed, a car called Marilyn, a one-eyed cat, and a boy whose kisses taste of dunked biscuits.

These stories all have something in common; each is a glimpse of what it’s like to be human. We make mistakes, we do our best, and most of the time we find hope.”

It is earning ***** 5 star reviews:-

“A mind blowing collection of flash fiction stories. So many great windows of life in it, I don’t know where to start. Perfect Word – loved it. Only the Best- brilliant, but sad….”

Follow Mandy here on this link on her amazon author’s page-

I would love to write a literary novel or a full length travel book, but my writing time is limited, and I can’t seem to give up the buzz of writing short fiction and travel pieces.

I am trying to find a home for my full length short story collection at the moment.* I’ve had a couple of very positive rejections, with some really useful feedback, so I’m still optimistic!

*News update on that last paragraph- Mandy has signed with a publisher for her short story collection – Separated from the Sea.

First author signed to Retreat West Books

Delighted to announce that the first author has been signed to Retreat West Books. Amanda Huggins has signed a one-book deal for her short story collection, Separated From the Sea, which will be published in June 2018.

I knew as soon as I started reading it that it was one for Retreat West Books. In stories spanning generations and continents, there is a sense of yearning that underpins them all along with beautiful prose and imagery that transports you. I’m very proud and excited to be publishing Amanda’s work, which deserves to find a large readership.

The collection includes a number of stories that have been previously published as well as many new stories, and is Amanda’s first short story collection. She said: “I’m so excited to be the first author signed by Retreat West Books! As Separated From the Sea is my first full length short story collection it’s very important to me. That’s why I’m really looking forward to working with Amanda, as I know it will be a true collaboration, and that I’ll be involved in all the important decisions relating to the finished book. I can’t wait to get started!”

You can read more about Mandy’s hugely successful writing career and the many publications her fiction appears in on her writer’s blog at:-

Thank you Mandy for chatting with me today.

Calendark- a horror anthology edited by Horror Tree’s Stephanie Ellis and David Shakes……5 stars, great entertainment…

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This is the a second ‘time’ themed anthology of stories from the publishing/editing team of David Shakes and Stephanie Ellis– the first being The Infernal Clock. Calendark (a neat pun on the word calendar) contains within its dark portals 16 horror stories (with some overlap of writers from the first book), this time being inspired by the significant dates within a calendar year- from the more famous ones of 14 February aka St Valentine’s Day and May Day to the more obscure and ancient festivals (now long forgotten) of Mabon ( drawn from the Wiccan calendar) and St John’s Day in June. This lends a folk horror element to some of the stories like Stephanie Ellis’‘The Dance’– which film- wise reminded me of The Wicker Man with its theme of outsiders in a small isolated community.
Each story is prefaced by a festival date/quote and explanation which nicely chapters the stories. The standard of the writing is as high as in the first anthology, and the book is well edited and presented- all again for a cheap price.
In the Lord of Misrule by Christine Dalcher- there is ghostly pay back for a professor at the Twelfth Night supper; in The Presentation in the Temple by Ewan Smith -the innocuous seeming setting of a primary school with the class teacher putting on a Year 2 Candlemas Assembly is swiftly subverted into something much more sinister and deadly; Marie McKay’s Last Laugh (inspired by April Fool’s day) has one of the most original methods of revenge and murder I’ve read in a while and a lead character I really felt for; Sal Page catchily titled Revels with the Devil is powerful, creepy and keeps you on a knife edge of doubt as to whether the Devil is present- the ending made me shiver. Great last line.
I enjoyed all the stories though, but can’t write about all 16 in the space allowed,- but there is something for all horror readers here.
Here’s the cover of the first book- with amazon buying link-
Infernal clock cover

Women in Horror Month- is now- February and I have a bio blog post out on Horror Tree plus a new Valentine’s Day drabble-

MY Blog post on how I got into writing horror when I began with cheery children’s books and poetry; quite a gear change.

“I didn’t spring fully formed into the horror genre; it’s been a gradual slither in that direction……”

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Drabble- One Heart


Mixed marriages don’t work. Mum had tried to warn me.

“He’ll bleed you dry,” she’d said. “You know his kind.”

“He’s not like that. He’s got his own income.”

Valentine’s day rolled around. Our first………