This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: firstname.lastname@example.org
A big THANK YOU to those of you have read one or more books in my history-meets-legend series, A Light in the Dark Ages. This is now complete, with the story of Arthur – the man behind the legend – reaching its climax in Arthur Rex Brittonum (published June 2020). In June it was reviewed by the Coffee Pot Book Club and received a ‘Highly recommended’ badge. Here’s what reviewer Mary Anne Yarde had to say about it:
“From the desperate battle at Mount Badon to the harrowing final confrontation at Camlann, Arthur Rex Brittonum by Tim Walker is the enthralling story of the latter half of King Arthur’s reign.
With an engrossing sense of time and place, Walker has presented his readers with a novel that is as rich in historical detail as it is in story.
I was eagerly awaiting the next instalment of Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series. I am pleased to report that the wait was most definitely worth it. This book was simply brilliant!”
The author presents his readers with a plausible Arthur – a very human Arthur, who stumbles, falls, makes mistakes and has moments of unbearable guilt.
I thought Walker’s portrayal of Arthur was very authentic in the telling, and he was a character I relish reading about. I highly recommend.”
Available from Amazon in PAPERBACK and KINDLE
Also, in i-books, Kobo, Nook and others.
This month’s guest author is Allie Creswell. This is her second book this year and her second appearance as guest author – she has certainly been busy in lockdown!
Allie Cresswell began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil. One Christmas she asked her parents for a stack of writing paper as a gift. Not surprisingly, they were happy to oblige.
In 1992 she began her first novel – Game Show. With no encouragement from anyone, it took ten years to finish, its completion impeded by the school-run, the village flower and produce show and the ancient computer that regularly failed to ‘save’ any progress that might have been made.
Then, in 2007, a shocking and life-changing thing occurred – emotionally traumatic but creatively prolific – which meant she could concentrate full time on her writing. Nine more novels followed. Allie writes contemporary fiction as well as historical fiction. Her best-selling saga, Tall Chimneys, spanning the twentieth century, tells the story of a woman and her strange, isolated, dilapidated house in Yorkshire. Currently Allie is working on the first of a series of prequels to Tall Chimneys. The first of these, The House in the Hollow, due to be released at Christmas, is set during the years of the Napoleonic war.
This is a period where Allie is comfortably at home. Her Highbury Trilogy is set in the Regency. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma it imagines the little town in Surrey thirty five years before Jane Austen’s fourth novel begins. The first two books, Mrs Bates of Highbury and The Other Miss Bates follow the fortunes of the Bates family. Then, turning the focus of Emma forty-five degrees, the third book, Dear Jane, explores the characters of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill whose childhoods and meeting in Weymouth are hinted at but never fully explored in Emma.
Allie’s writing has been compared to Alice Munroe and Barbara Pym as well as to Jane Austen. She is the recipient of two silver medals and an Honourable Mention in the prestigious Readers’ Favourite competition, as well as the coveted One Stop Fiction Five Star award and a Pink Quill award.
The House in the Hollows by Allie Cresswell – book blurb
The Talbots are wealthy. But their wealth is from ‘trade’. With neither ancient lineage nor title, they struggle for entrance into elite Regency society. Finally, aided by an impecunious viscount, they gain access to the drawing rooms of England’s most illustrious houses.
Once established in le bon ton, Mrs Talbot intends her daughter Jocelyn to marry well, to eliminate the stain of the family’s ignoble beginnings. But the young men Jocelyn meets are vacuous, seeing Jocelyn as merely a brood mare with a great deal of money. Only Lieutenant Barnaby Willow sees the real Jocelyn, but he must go to Europe to fight the French.
The hypocrisy of fashionable society repulses Jocelyn—beneath the courtly manners and studied elegance she finds tittle-tattle, deceit, dissipation and vice. Jocelyn stumbles upon and then is embroiled in a sordid scandal which will mean utter disgrace for the Talbot family. Humiliated and dishonoured, she is sent to a remote house hidden in a hollow of the Yorkshire moors. There, separated from family, friends and any hope of hearing about the lieutenant’s fate, she must build her own life—and her own social order—anew.
This month we have a short story submitted by a subscriber – Linda Oliver. Make a New Year’s resolution to send me a poem or flash fiction (up to 1,000 words) and I’ll find a suitable picture to accompany it.
A Dippy Poppy Day
By Linda Oliver
Crystal grouped the people she would encounter from behind her poppy tray. There were people she didn’t know at all, requiring general courtesy. They were easy. Then there were people she had known all her life. They were the best. If she had seen them off and on, she could look straight past the fading hair and rounded back, recognise them and know exactly where she was with them. That was a load off.
Terry Jolly at fifty was no different to Terry Jolly at ten. Her memories of carefree sunlit hours swinging her rounders bat and missing the ball marshmallowed around him, and when she said it was really nice to see him, she meant it. With no idea of how his life had played out, she had no doubt he had played fair. It delighted her that her name always tripped straight off his tongue, every decade. ‘Alright, Crystal?’ Just like that. Likewise, Moira Dent was not a mystery. She could be ignored, because that was all she deserved, and it was also wise to check your handbag was zipped and hold the collection tin tight. If there was someone from her childhood Crystal didn’t recognise, she was fairly sure they wouldn’t twig who she was either. Twig being the operative word, as she was no longer anything like one.
Crystal’s third group of people she might have to process was the trickiest. These people had known her more recently, in her heyday, though she hadn’t known it was that at the time, when she had been busy, busy, busy. In those days, she had a voice, was actually tired of hearing it. Dressed in head-turning heels, bright blouse and a well-pressed pencil skirt, unabashed to bring a crowd to attention or ‘work’ a room full of strangers, she had mingled with golden balls types, even the women, people who were going places. When she saw them now, after they had been and come back, she mostly wished she hadn’t. They wouldn’t be satisfied with a greeting of Terry Jolly mode, but would expect to grill her, albeit briefly, before marinating her in the syrup of their successes, until her nod and rictus grin wore them down.
There was so much spin on the reports, so much over-interpretation by proud grandmothers, she believed they bore little relation to the truth. Were largely rubbish. This had given her an idea. It had occurred to her that she could launch into a tale, any tale, one of calamity and gloom. The golden ones might be so desperate to get away from her that they’d skip the bit where they pretended to be worried about their over-equipped lives and ‘have to dash’. So, the Calamity Chronicles had been born.
She wouldn’t wait for the words, ‘so how are things with you?’ to settle on the covid cloud between them before launching into a tale. It could be a yarn telling how she was put at the back of the list for alien abduction, yet again. That would keep them moving along. Or she could drivel on about how she was sued for frying onions with the cat flap open (her supposed defence there being a lifelong confusion between cat flap and flat cap – she might add that the judge wouldn’t wear it).
She had rehearsed a dozen or so plots, not wanting to bore herself or get caught out by inconsistencies in retelling the same story. She might drop in an occasional platitude about the weather, along the lines of how much worse it was because of the migraines induced by low air pressure. No, too much. She didn’t want them to stop buying poppies.
As Peter MacDonald and his wife pinned on their poppies, she knew they were far too expansive a couple to get quietly about their business.
They would linger, chatty, maybe even draw a crowd, God forbid, with him being Councillor MacDonald. As she ran through the Chronicles designed to flummox and discourage lingering, she heard the anticipated query. It was now or never.
‘Well, I’ve been battling bovine TB in the birdbath all summer,” she replied, assuming a worried frown and shaking her head.
Peter puffed out a long breath that made his mask quiver. ‘Don’t get me started on that,’ he said. And he was off.
Crystal nodded a lot and wondered how her next Calamity Chronicle might backfire. She should have chosen the one that catalogued her attempts to start a support group for people owning vinyl copies of the theme tune to Daktari. ‘Social stigmas are wherever you find them,’ she could have said. And who can argue with a statement that says nothing! A councillor would have heard too much already about support groups to tolerate them on his day off. Her most daring Calamity Chronicle would be next. It began with a cold caller telling her she was on the wrong sewage recycling tariff, meaning she might have to strain her own urine through a vintage cheesecloth shirt – and to comply with WTO terms that could not be French cheesecloth. And it ended with these immortal words: reader, I married him.