Interview with Jeanne Whitemee

Jeanne Whitemee is the author of over forty novels and short stories. She started out as an actress, before realising her ambition of becoming a fulltime writer. The Lost Daughters chronicles the intertwining lives of two young women in 1950s England, whose lives are beset by personal loss, and their remarkable journey to the capital, to exceed the expectations of their gender and embark upon remarkable business ventures. How did you come up with the idea for The Lost Daughters? And why did you decide to start the story in 1955? I’m always fascinated by the way a meeting between two people can influence their lives and I think that the fifties was an interesting decade – a world struggling to reshape itself after WW2. Although they occasionally meet, Cathy and Rosalind tell their own separate stories. What made you decide to have two protagonists instead of just one? The […]

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Scandals, Intrigues, Family Feuds, Murders, Hatred, Love and Envy: Episode 13

By Joy Martin In my novel, Seeking Clemency,  Carrigrua, the graceful, blue-grey Georgian manor on the shore of Lough Derg, belongs to the Conroys, an Irish Catholic family.  But Carrigrua was built at a time when Roman Catholics were still banned from holding rights to property and its first owners were well-to-do Protestant settlers: the only Catholics to set foot in it then would have been servants, or skivvies. After independence in Ireland in 1922, Georgian houses, with their unified style derived from Palladian architecture, were viewed as a symbol of British rule and alien to Irish identity. Nevertheless, wealthier Catholic families bought them – and felt that, in doing so, they had come up in the world. In Seeking Clemency,  the cruel matriarch, Olive Conroy sees Carrigrua as a fulfilment of her social aspirations. But to her grand-daughter, Caroline, Carrigrua is more than that. Much more. For Caroline’s fragile sense of […]

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The Book a Drug Giant Wanted Banned… By Douglas Stewart

When White Lodge first published my book, The Dallas Dilemma, in the late 1980s and it was selling well, my Monday morning was spoiled on receiving a letter from attorneys for an American drug giant threatening me with a $10 million lawsuit for alleged defamation. However, I was confident that I had a good defence to the allegations, and so did the publishers. Unfortunately when I jetted over to the FDA archives outside Washington DC, the records on which I had relied had been removed (presumed stolen). Senator Edward Kennedy could have been a good witness on my behalf but he declined to get involved. Such records as I had were then supplied to an expert in the UK who fell onto a railway track in London and the documents were blown away. (There must be another thriller in what really happened involving the expert!). Along with the publishers, we were […]

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Death Trap by Patrice Chaplin

Death Trap  offered a chance to go deep into the often misunderstood world of Co-Dependency. I work for a Charity using “Creativity Against Addiction” – and I had come to understand Co-Dependency was not as I supposed, a clinging SM pain-seeking exchange with ever reducing returns, but an addictive state which stemmed from the same place as other addictions. The victim is rarely masochistic, but looks for fulfilment and warmth and this is not gratified through pain. The perpetrator, usually male, cannot survive without controlling – so causes pain. He has often been abused as a child. The victim with too few boundaries and too much need for closeness is open to attracting a partner who needs to control and punish. The initial fix is his initial charm, and the victim’s submission. The bond is ecstatically complete. The too good fit. The locked horns of symbiotic closeness lead to ever more […]

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Eliza Jumel Burr, Vice Queen of America by Diana Rubino

Abandoned at childhood, Betsy Bowen finds out she’s George Washington’s daughter and escapes the streets of Providence to become Eliza Jumel Burr, New York’s richest woman. She pursued Aaron Burr, the love of her life, for decades and he finally proposed when he was 80 and she was 56. She divorced him on adultery charges, and he died two days after being served the papers. Who was her lawyer? Alexander Hamilton, Jr., the son of the man Burr killed in the famous 1804 duel. Eliza believed George Washington was her father. Nine months before she was born, her mother spent one night with the general and became pregnant. Eliza’s manyattempts to reach her father gained her an invitation to Mount Vernon weeks before his death. She met the love of her life, Aaron Burr, at President Washington’s inauguration. While Aaron was in the capital serving as a senator, Eliza met […]

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How I Wrote My First Novel, ‘Blood Will Be Born’ (Part 3)

By Gary Donnelly Part 3: Whether you focus on the journey or the destination, completion is the key to successfully writing your first novel. Writing a novel is a bit like embarking on a regime to avoid chocolate or mid-week wine in the run up to Christmas. Both are easy enough to start, harder to remain on board with and a true challenge to see through to the end. According to Stephen King, novels are completed one word at a time, and let the story be boss. Plot at your peril and fear not; as you dig, it will be revealed. I don’t dare suggest he’s wrong (check out his list of published works) but his way may not be right for you. Certainly, King’s approach helped me cover a lot of ground, but by the time I went to Crimefest 2016, I’d lost my way. CJ Carver, speaking on a […]

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Scandals, Intrigues, Family Feuds, Murders, Hatred, Love and Envy: Episode 12

Following on from the 11th instalment in Joy Martin’s blog series, available to read HERE.  The men and women interviewed for Twelve Shades of Black were – mostly – slow to talk at first.  But gradually they grew less shy and spoke to me about their lives.  The priest, Father Samson Kataka, faced with witchcraft in his church.  Sarah Mashele, the inyanga, whose clients paid her on HP for charms they hoped would cure their ills.  Ephraim Tshabalala, the millionaire who couldn’t own a house, or land.  Marjory, the shebeen queen, who went to church on Sunday mornings and not drink alcohol.  The teacher, artist, policeman, actress; the maid, the playwright and the beauty queen. As they relaxed with me I began to feel at ease when I went into the townships, particularly in Soweto.  It was bleak and ugly – yes: devoid of flowers and plants and trees with endless […]

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Researching 13th Century China

By Karen Warren It was quite a challenge for me to write a novel about the Mongol Empire. I’d come across the story of the legendary explorer Marco Polo escorting a Mongol princess by sea from China to Persia, and I knew that I had to write about it. But I knew nothing about the Mongols, 13th century China, or medieval ships. I needed to do some research! Fortunately, history and travel are my twin passions (when I’m not writing fiction, I’m working on my travel blog). I started by reading everything I could find about the Mongol Empire and medieval travel – visiting the British Library and scouring charity shops for lesser known titles. There was practical research too. I wanted to see some of the places I was writing about and to find out what it was like to travel across the ocean, so I signed up for […]

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The Custom of the Sea, by Neil Hanson

Four starving men adrift in a dinghy for 19 days. Should all die together, or should one be sacrificed to save the rest? Captain Tom Dudley faced that cruel dilemma in 1884. His decision – and his honesty about it – made headlines around the world and led to a trial that split Victorian Britain in two, ranging the establishment and ‘polite society’ against the entire working class. A devout Christian, Dudley refused to lie about or conceal what he had done. His voluntary confession was the only evidence against the men. The Custom of the Sea required starving sailors to draw lots to decide whom should be killed and eaten. It was so deeply ingrained and so frequently used that it was accepted without question by seamen – the dead boy’s own brother publicly exonerated his killers. Desperate to secure the conviction that would outlaw the Custom of the […]

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Deadly Return by Daniel Bjork

The Evil One, Henry Chase, the man who drowned his daughter, slit his wife’s throat, and murdered a half dozen more was in an unmarked grave, killed by his own son.  But wait!  His daughter and wife have disappeared from their coffins in Sleepy Hollow cemetery Concord, Massachusetts.  Doubtless some drunk boys stole them as a village prank, or so thought the local sheriff.  But retired doctor Josiah Bartlett smelled a rat.  Henry Chase’s body was not in an unmarked Concord grave and then the skulls of his daughter and wife were found hanging from village porches.  Could it be that Chase was still alive?  Impossible.  The doctor, the sheriff, and Chases’ son had identified the body.  The curse of Henry Chase was over.  Yet once before, after drowning his daughter and shooting himself in Boston in 1852, the sheriff had mistakenly identified Chase’s body.  Could it be that The […]

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