Daithi Kavanagh: Guest Blog & Giveaway

Welcome to fellow Tirgearr author, Daithi Kavanagh, whose new thriller, ‘The Gun’, is out now. Not only does Daithi highlight some of the background to his own writing life, but also offers us an extract and a free giveaway at the end! Please follow the buy links to purchase a copy. Over to you, Daithi…



My wife Caroline and I have been married for eighteen years. She is the person who has inspired me to believe in myself. When I started to play music as a hobby  I wanted to try and make a living from it and Caroline was behind me all the way. I was working as a Builders Labourer at the time and as I was getting older was finding it more and more difficult physically to do the work. I had always played music and sang and I found the courage and belief in myself (with Caroline’s backing) to look for work playing music.

I eventually found work and gradually built up the business. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I was able to contribute to the support of my family by doing something that I loved.

In the same way when I decided to write ‘The Gun’ Caroline was there pushing me along. I would write in long hand in my kids old school copy books, dictate it to her and she would type it up. She sent my book off to every publisher she could find and eventually I was contacted by Tirgearr Publishing who have been a great support to me.

Now she is my secretary and is doing all of the behind the scenes work in promoting ‘The Gun’. I can honestly say that if she  hadn’t been behind me as much as she was that ‘The Gun’ might not have come to the fore so quickly. It would have taken me about 10 years to type it up for starters! I am now learning to type (albeit very slowly) while I am doing a degree in Irish Culture and Heritage Studies. I have just completed my second book in The Tadhg Sullivan Series called The Brotherhood and have started on the  third book. I am actually typing the third one myself which is a challenge for me and a relief to Caroline I’m sure!

My writing space is varied. Due to my hectic life style I tend to write wherever I can but as I said earlier my preferred space for writing is in bed. Here I get the best of all worlds. I get comfort, inspiration, imagination and the odd cup of tea from Caroline! There is nothing i like more than to wake up and have nothing to do but write. This alas is not always possible but when it is, it’s  great. I wake up, head downstairs for breakfast. While eating I usually get the news on the internet, then head back to bed.

Long may my writing career continue for me and my family. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to write and to Tirgearr Publishing for giving me that opportunity.

The Gun

Book Blurb

Garda Detective Tadhg Sullivan leads a special unit that investigates politically motivated crime. A man known only as The Deerstalker is a cancer who has infected the Irish political system.

Sullivan teams up with journalist Helen Carty, and together they try tracking down the mysterious killer. Carty adds to Sullivan’s problems, when he finds himself falling in love with her. And further complicating things, he starts losing trust in his partner, Detective Pat Carter, who appears to be on the side of the Garda Commissioner, who Sullivan is rapidly falling out with.

Sullivan’s case is further thrown into confusion when a copycat killer, Tommy Walsh, is shot dead by the CIA. When the CIA discovers that they’ve killed the wrong person, the two agents involved–Simon, who has become disillusioned by his time stationed in the Middle East, and Joey, a psychopath who confuses zealotry with patriotism–are also in pursuit of The Deerstalker.

Sullivan finds himself in a race against time, if he is to arrest The Deerstalker before the CIA take him out, and use his death as a pawn in a political game of chess.

Who will win out in the end?

Buy links








The Gun


He stared at the gun lying on the bed.  It was in his possession for nearly half his life and he’d never known what to do with it.  The funny thing was, he’d always hated guns and yet, here he was.

He heard his wife moving around downstairs and knew that very soon she would call him for a cup of tea.  He had to get the gun back into its hiding place.

He thought back to the first time he’d seen it.  A late night knock at the door and a man from down the street had handed the gun and ammunition to him, wrapped in fertiliser bags.

“What the hell is this?” he’d blurted out.

“It’s a gun,” the man had said showing no expression.

“What are you giving it to me for?” he’d whispered, not wanting his family to hear them.”

“Because I trust you,” he’d replied.

“What the hell do you mean, you trust me? You hardly know me! And all I know about you is that you’re mixed up in the IRA.  I have a family and I don’t give a damn about the North.  Now please get away from my door and take that thing with you.”

The man had stared at him, but all calm had disappeared from his features.  Then he spoke through gritted teeth.

“Now listen to me.  The guards are going to be here shortly.  Something serious happened tonight and now you’re mixed up in it, whether you like it or not.  If you don’t take the gun from me now, when the guards arrive here and see us together, I’ll implicate you.  Even if they don’t believe me, it will mean that you’ll have to stand up in Court and give evidence against me. Do you want that for your family?   It would be much easier for you to stick the gun in the boot of your car drive off somewhere and hide it.  But you’d better make your mind up fast, before they drive up and arrest us both.”

He often wondered why he’d taken it.  Was it because he’d had sympathy for the man?  He didn’t think so.  Maybe it was the fear of being implicated, or like the man had said, being branded an informer.  He wasn’t sure, but whatever the reason, it seemed like providence.

BIOdaithi kavanagh

I am 56 years old and I live with my wife and two teenage children in Trinity, Wexford. Up to 2012 when the recession hit Ireland I was making my living as a musician. I then went back to adult education and completed my Leaving Certificate in 2014. I am now studying for a degree in Culture and Heritage Studies at Wexford Campus.

While I was studying for I began writing ‘The Gun’ which is the first book in The Tadhg Sullivan Series.  I have just completed the second book in the series.

I play guitar and sing in many of the pubs in my hometown of Wexford where I am often joined by my two children Ella and Rory who play fiddle and flute.

In my spare time (which I do not have a lot of) I like to walk my two dogs with my wife Caroline.









Please follow this link for the GIVEAWAY…







Jessamine: a sneak peek


Here is an exclusive and  tantalising extract from ‘Jessamine’ by Shani Struthers – a  gothic romance of the highest calibre: a ‘Wuthering Heights’ for the modern day. Click on a cover image to purchase this brilliant novel.


The mist seemed to be getting heavier. She felt as though she was in another land entirely, a kingdom of clouds. The loch – where was it? Should she turn left now, off the path and towards it? Surely she hadn’t overshot the mark? Whilst she was contemplating, she heard voices – people shouting, two or three of them, in the distance but not too far.

Jessamin stood absolutely still, barely breathed. Were they in trouble – tourists perhaps who had lost their way? What was the best thing to do? Try and reach them or double back, raise the alarm and get help? Maccaillin had warned her about the dangers of hill walking in the highlands, how quickly the weather could turn, how easy it was to become disorientated. Perhaps that’s what had happened to them.

The shouting stopped. Had she imagined it? Surely walkers wouldn’t be out at this hour? She lifted one hand up to her temple. Her head throbbed, felt clammy despite the cold. Thinking it wise to turn back after all, she was stopped in her tracks again. There was shouting! She hadn’t been mistaken. It was coming from just beyond, distressed sounds and most definitely human, not the sound of sheep distorted.

Jessamin called out. “Hello! Who’s there? Can I help?”

As she drew nearer she could just make out the loch. It looked stagnant somehow, surreal, not welcoming at all.

“Hello,” she tried again. There had been no response the first time.

The shouting ceased. It seemed to be coming in such random bursts. But surely if she could hear them, they’d be able to hear her? If so, why weren’t they shouting back? Letting her know their exact whereabouts?

Continuing to move forwards, carefully so, the last thing she wanted to do was trip again, the silence continued. Perhaps she’d been mistaken. When she’d fallen, she had only grazed her hands, she hadn’t hit her head – she wasn’t confused although she did feel slightly dizzy. She’d call out once more, wait for a few minutes, then go back, report what she’d heard and leave it to those more skilled than her to deal with it.

Pleased with her plan, she put it into action. No reply. She waited. Even the sheep quietened down as if they were colluding with her, listening too.

She was about to turn away when a figure on the far shore caught her eye. Squinting, she realised there was not just one figure there were two and then a third. They were nothing more than shapes in the mist not looking at her but at each other.

“Hello!” She all but screamed at them this time. Her hands raised, she also started jumping up and down on the spot and waving furiously as she did so.

There was no way they wouldn’t be able to see her, they weren’t that far away. One of the figures appeared to be lying between the other two – had that person fallen and hurt him or herself? Certainly something was going on. Although they were no longer shouting, they were talking heatedly, a dark, accusatory tone to their exchange that sent shivers racing up her spine. All her screaming had made her throat sore, then the coughing started up again, a loud, retching sound; she was making a racket. But still they refused to acknowledge her. She couldn’t cross the loch and the mist was too dense to allow her to circumnavigate it. She’d get herself to Comraich. Face Maccaillin. He’d know what to do.

Backing away, Jessamin spied a fourth figure – looming over the three figures in front of him, staring at them, his hands wide as if in supplication.

“Hello!” she tried one last time.

To her astonishment, the fourth figure lowered his hands and turned towards her, albeit maddeningly slowly. Nonetheless, she was hopeful again and resumed waving.

“I’m going to go and get help. Stay where you are. I won’t be long.”

Instead of acknowledging her, the figure continued to stare. Strangely, she could make out nothing about him at all. He was more of an outline than anything else but she had the distinct feeling he was male – anger, shock and confusion rolling off him and towards her. Despite not being able to distinguish his features, she felt his eyes lock onto hers, bore into her. Searching deep within but searching for what, she didn’t know.

Instinctively, she began to back away from the loch, glad now that they were on the other side; that they too would have trouble reaching her. Wouldn’t they? Panic flared. What if they were local, if they knew the landscape well, if they rushed as one entity towards her? Suddenly she realised she didn’t want to see them, she didn’t!


Shani Struthers: we need to talk about ‘Jessamine’.

10250224_627368490715417_4618049168164641621_nI’m delighted to welcome Shani Struthers to my blog. Her brilliant new novel ‘Jessamine’ is now out. It’s a supernatural romance, full of intrigue and mystery. There’s an interview below, and please click on the cover images and links at the end for more details.

Born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, Shani (pronounced Shay-nee) enjoys reading, writing, eating and drinking – all four of these hobbies keep her pretty busy. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. She is the author of contemporary Cornish romance – The Runaway Year – published in 2013 by Omnific Publishing and paranormal mystery – Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall – published by Crooked Cat in April 2014. All events depicted in the latter are fictitious … almost.





What are the main ideas or themes in your book?

‘Jessamine’ is primarily the story of love, loss and acceptance, told from a subtly supernatural angle. Yep, it has ghosts in it, I just can’t help myself! But it’s not just actual ghosts we’re talking about, it’s metaphorical ghosts too, ghosts from the past, which haunt us, or perhaps we haunt them. Perhaps we cling to them, keep them alive somehow, when actually they’d prefer if we let them go. That may sound a bit airy-fairy, but ‘Jessamine’ is a very human tale about coming to terms with loss.

Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas.

There are four main characters – Jessamin Wade (note there’s no ‘e’ on the end, it is not a spelling mistake!), whose husband is dead, a death she feels wholly responsible for. There’s also Fionnlagh Maccaillin, who has returned to the village of Glenelk, in the Scottish Highlands – where the book is set – after fifteen years in the army, bearing scars that are obvious and not so obvious. Stan is his grandfather, who has also suffered a recent loss, the death of his beloved wife, Beth and last, but by no means least, there’s Maggie, who runs the village store, an enigmatic character with an ability to ‘catch’ thoughts.

Why did you write this novel? Any other issues or ‘big ideas’ behind it.

Having spent time on the west coast of Scotland, a mysterious place if ever there was one, I knew I wanted to set a novel there. Glenelk is based on the village Glenelg, which overlooks the Isle of Skye. Spectacularly beautiful, it has a haunting quality to it but a healing one too, it’s possible to feel a lot closer to something more ‘spiritual’ when out in the wilds as opposed to being surrounded by neon. These four characters need to ‘heal’ because of recent events and events in the past but first they have to find a way to ‘let go’ before moving on.

How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?

When I sit down to write a novel, I start off with a theme usually, a title and a rough idea of how the first three chapters should be. I don’t bother to outline a novel beforehand, I find that as I write they tend to take on a life of their own and the best thing to do is just go with it – connect to the flow and let it write itself! So, in a way it’s a simple process, although there’s nothing simple about being immersed in a fictional world whilst trying to live in the real one!

What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

Don’t think too hard, don’t worry about spelling mistakes, grammar, how rough or disjointed it is, just sit down, write the story in your head and try and write it as quickly as possible to keep the flow. After that, you can go back and ‘sculpt’ it to your hearts content. Once ‘sculpted’, give it to a few carefully selected test-readers, get their feedback, ‘sculpt’ it once more and then find an editor to knock it into the best shape possible.

What are you working on currently?

I’m finishing up the final book in the Runaway series, my contemporary romance trio and then, from 2015, it’s paranormal all the way! As well as writing Book 3 of the Psychic Surveys series (Book 2 has just been accepted by Crooked Cat Books), I plan to do a few dark spin-offs from the series, concentrating on single case studies and making them very dark indeed! I’ve also got a reincarnation thriller I’m working on, so very busy times.


What would your perfect day be?

I have two kinds of perfect day – one is sitting down and working on a novel, the other is a big family day out, perhaps in London or simply down at the beach, weather pending!

Name a book or a film that means a lot to you.

There are lots of books/films that mean a lot to me, I could write an entire blog post just about that. But one of the most touching books/films I’ve ever read/seen is ‘What Dreams May Come’. The book is by Richard Matheson, the film stars the late, great Robin Williams. Similar to ‘Jessamine’, love, loss and acceptance are themes but Chris Nielsen, the protagonist, goes one step further, he goes to the ‘other side’ to find his wife, who has committed suicide, to save her, to bring her back from an eternal nothingness. A story of life and the life-after. It’ll make you cry!

If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?

Have fun and plenty of it! At the end it’ll be great to think ‘Wow, what a ride!’ before heading into the great wild yonder and the next adventure!




Shani’s Website

Shani’s blog

Crooked Cat Publishing

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Tegon Maus: Interview with an Author

I’d like to welcome author Tegon Maus to my blog. He’s here to talk about his latest release – ‘Bob’, and about other aspects of writing. See the end of the post for a Giveaway and the purchase links. Take it away, Tegon…

Author Bio:

I was raised pretty much the same as everyone else… devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends I could conjure. Not that I wasn’t friendly, I just wasn’t “people orientated”. Maybe I lived in my head way more than I should have, maybe not. I liked machines more than people, at least I did until I met my wife.

The first thing I can remember writing was for her. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was about… something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married me shortly after that. I spent a good number of years after inventing games and prototypes for a variety of ideas before I got back to writing.

It wasn’t a deliberate conscious thought, it was more of a stepping stone. My wife and I had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. “Be as detailed as you can,” we were told.

I was thrilled. If there is one thing I enjoy it’s making people believe me and I like to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mine you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn’t be sure if it were true or not.  When I write, I always write with the effort of “it could happen” very much in mind and nothing, I guarantee you, nothing, makes me happier.

Website: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Maus_Tegon/index.htm

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tegon-Maus/150255051766767

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TegonMaus



What are the main ideas or themes in your book?

I would have to say… fun !  I want my books to be viewed as fun, a coaster ride on one rail, swimming with sharks, falling off a cliff all to be saved at the last instant and you are filled with that nervous laughter of joy to be alive.  That’s what a book should be… if it doesn’t move you – it’s just a text book.

What is the setting or context of the narrative? Why is it important?  

It’s different in each book but I like to take something very familiar and turn it just a little so the reader ‘thinks’ things are okay and then prove to them the world is not what they thought.

Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas.

Bob !! My latest book.  It’s about the lights in the night sky over Arizona.  It’s very funny… very action packed…. A little excerpt The first time I heard it, I thought nothing of it at all… nothing.  I’ve been in the newspaper game for more than twenty-seven years and that kind of experience gave a guy an edge but even that didn’t prepare me.I’d been beaten, shot at, even stabbed a couple of times over the years but I always got the story… always.  But this one… this one was big… too big perhaps…  Maybe we were ready, maybe not.  Either way, it wasn’t my call. None of which filled me with the fear, the trepidation… the anguish of five little words that still haunted me today…  “Is okay.  I have cousin.”

Why did you write this novel? Any other issues or ‘big ideas’ behind it.

No… I don’t think so, no big ideas… not really. I’m a ‘what if kind of guy’  I like to make readers feel off balanced… to make them think “what the hell is going on?”  as much as possible.  I have a time travel book called Department 29 and the entire story revolves around a spoon and the trouble it causes… so No  no big ideas here !

How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?

As a rule I know the beginning and the end before I start… It’s all the stuff in the middle that I have to work at.   It’s pretty simple… just repetitive.

What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

It doesn’t make any difference what you write as long as you write what interest you. You will be terribly bored if you don’t and that will show in your work. Read what you enjoy… read it all and then write and when you’re tired write some more.  Write what’s in your head, what’s a part of you… you’ll be happy and your work will flourish beyond your wildest dreams

What are you working on currently?  

At present I’m working on two books.  The first is the third book in my Series The Eve Project… The Cordovian Effect…  Time has passed and Ben Harris has as well.  He awakes to learn he is now one of Roger’s Dikika people… a machine and has been given a new identity…  Jon Ironwood.  Roger has made arrangements for his finical future and he is now ready to start a new life.  The problem is someone knows they are machines and is murdering the Dikika one at a time.

3 - The Eve Project - The Cordovian Effect by Tegon Maus - 200

The other is the second in my Littlefield Series…  Black Moon and Tucker Littlefield is in big trouble.  Every 28 years there is a solar eclipse in the same exact spot… the spot the Kindred hold sacred.  With the sun’s passing and renewal a new leader… the Sholic…  is chosen and rules over the Kindred until the next eclipse.   With this passing the old Sholic is murdered  and the next in line is accused… threatening to throw the Kindred into civil war. Tucker Littlefield and his Mrs. are in way over their head when he accidently becomes the Sholic.

What would your perfect day be?

Sunday !  All perfect days are Sunday.   I get to sleep in late, I make breakfast for Dearheart, catch up on my reading, catch up on my writing… watch a little tv… let the tv watch me a little… no phones, no visitors…   Oh yeah defiantly Sunday !

Name a book or a film that means a lot to you.

 Lots of both… from Robert Young’s The Canterville Ghost to ID4 !  Depends on the day or my mood.

If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?

Knock it off ! Get along before I get my belt !   Who knows??   It worked with my kids.


Excerpt #1  ******************

I blinked in disbelief, too stunned to speak.

Standing in front of me, dressed in black jeans, a dark blue tee shirt with a picture of Bob Marley and a backward baseball cap was a small, no more than 5′ 2″, twenty something, black man.

“Hi.  I’m Pete,” I said, offering my hand.

“Ahh, is sad story.  Bob’s cousin not speak English,” Bob said pushing my hand away.

“Awhhh,” the little man breathed hoarsely, turning away, his arms swung loosely in response.

“Bob, he just said dude to me when he came in,” I said, pointing an insistent finger at the little man.

“He tries, broken English not so good.  Is Fred,” he answered, spinning his hand playfully in the air, pointing, draping a large, affectionate arm over the man’s shoulder.

“Fred… your Russian cousin?”

“Da,” he answered simply without blinking.

“Bob… he just spoke to me and it wasn’t Russian,” I protested.

“Ahh, Bob’s friend generous, not make Bob’s cousin self-conscious.  You good man, but Fred speaks no English,” he argued, folding his arms.

“Ahhh, damn it, Bob.  You promised me… you said I could talk this time.  Shit man,” Fred cursed in a raspy whisper, stomping his foot, turning away.

“Nyet, nyet,” Bob scolded, grabbing Fred.  He began to speak Russian, shaking his finger in the other man’s face.

Fred’s shoulders slumped.  His head swung loosely from side to side, avoiding Bob’s gaze.

“Da,” he said dully, turning in my direction once more.

“His English not so good,” Bob added, wiggling his hands dismissively.

“Sounded damn good to me,” I said honestly.

“Bob understands.  Bob’s friend speak Spanish?” he asked with a little annoyance in his voice, threading his fingers through his hair in frustration.

“Nope.  Can’t say as I do,” I answered, folding my arms.

“How you say… no speak Spanish?” he asked, folding his arms as well.

“No habla Hispano.”

“AAAHHH, to Bob, Bob’s friend sound like native.  Bob thought he smelled burritos, heard waves on beach.  Very impressed.  Bob’s friend has gift for language.  Sure not speak Spanish?”

“Fred,” I said flatly, stepping directly in front of the little man.  “Do you speak English?”

“Da. Fred speak no English,” he responded dully, tilting his head from side to side, his arms hung slack, swinging loosely as he spoke.

“Very sad, like Bob say.  Fred’s parents live too close to nuclear plant.  Sure, sure, rent very cheap but Fred… no brain for English,” Bob said, closing his eyes, shaking his head in a pretentious, melancholy way.

“Bob,” I started.

“Very late.  No time for Fred’s story.  Bob’s friend want to see house tonight or no?” he asked, pushing himself to stand between me and Fred.

“Alright, have it your way.  Let’s go,” I demanded now irritated, angrily grabbing my coat off the back of the chair.

“Nyet, nyet.  Bob’s friend almost forget,” he said, turning his back quickly, wriggling his fingers.

“Dear God.  Money?  Now?”  I said, throwing my coat across the back of the chair again.

“Business before pleasure… makes good fences.”

“The saying is, ‘good fences make good neighbors’ not…”

“Bob’s friend knows what Bob say.  Not want money to be sticky bug between us.”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it.  How much this time?” I asked aggravated, removing my wallet.

“Bob not know about such things.  Must speak with cousin,” he said, wrapping a huge arm around the tiny man, pulling him to the other side of the room.

“Bob, you gave me your word,” Fred whispered forcefully, sending a pointed finger into Bob’s chest.

“Fred say, must think about it.  Fred likes Bob’s friend Peter, wants give good price,” he said, smiling in my direction and then began to speak rapidly in Russian.

“Damn it, Bob.  You promised me,” Fred whispered disappointedly.

“Fred say, four hundred dollars,” Bob said, holding up four fingers of his right hand, all the while maintaining his grip on Fred’s shoulder.

“Three hundred,” I countered, folding my arms, returning my wallet to my hip pocket.

“Oooh, Bob’s friend breaks Bob’s feelings.  Bob’s friend would steal bread from Fred very mouth?”

“It’s not in Fred’s mouth just yet… three hundred,” I insisted.














Nik Morton: Author Interview and Extract from ‘Prague Papers’

NikI’m delighted to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author,  Nik Morton, to my blog. With fifty years writing experience and many books to his name, Nik is a brilliant writer of pacy, action-packed and fascinatingly researched books. He’s here to discuss his latest spy novel, The Prague Papers. There’s also an extract and links at the end. I’ll hand straight over to Nik who will tell you more…

The Prague Papers transports the reader to a relatively exotic locale and period and is fast-paced and highly visual. Running through the series of Tana Standish chronicles are several leitmotifs: each story begins with a Prologue about the handing over of a secret manuscript; each tale starts with a victim in the sights of a weapon. Astute readers will appreciate that Tana experiences flash-forward images of future threats, which are played out in the respective sequels. Intentionally, the blurring of fact and fiction occurs and each tale ends with a news report, often hidden away in the middle of a newspaper: bland paragraphs that hide a lot of international tension and chicanery. Many of the subsidiary characters appear again in the follow-up, The Tehran Text. The end of each adventure plugs the first chapter of the next; for example, the first chapter of The Khyber Chronicle is already appended to The Tehran Text. Tana’s Khyber mission takes place in Afghanistan in 1979/80 and the follow-up to that is in Argentina/Falklands in 1982); all echoing real events in recent history.

The readership

These Tana Standish books will appeal to readers of Jack Higgins, John Le Carré and Ian Fleming or any reader who enjoys The Manchurian Candidate and Modesty Blaise capers. The books also offer the serious side to Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Prague Papers1 - Copy (2)

What are the main ideas or themes in The Prague Papers?

For years I’d been interested in psychic research and read a great deal about it. When I learned that in the 1970s governments actively pursued this for potential use against enemy states, I linked up the idea with a spy organisation I’d created in the 1960s in my first two (unpublished) novels. The theme is the survival of the human spirit even when oppression is the norm. The heroine epitomises this, from her fifth birthday in 1942 to 1975, with this latest mission.

 Exciting stuff. So why is the setting so important?

We have all lived in interesting times, and I feel that the Cold War period still has many more stories to tell. Reappraising that time some forty years later, there’s scope for inserting the grey as well as the heroic. I’d researched Czechoslovakia a great deal and found myself sympathising with the people. Freedom was something to fight for, to work towards in 1975; it took another eighteen years for it to be a reality, when the country was split in two. The Tana Standish series reflects the history we’ve lived through and shows how events in the past can influence the ‘now’.

Tell us more about Tana and some of the other characters.

Tana Standish is a spy working for an organisation linked to but not part of MI6. The organisation came into being in an attempt at avoiding the constant Soviet leaks. She is a psychic with a photographic memory; she’s not superhuman, though, as her abilities cannot always be turned on and off at will. Laco is an old friend and ex-lover who is head of an underground cell in Prague. Sadly, being a friend of Tana can prove fatal. There are echoes from her past, in the guise of Ilyichev; some years back, she crippled him when he was spying in Northern Ireland. And there are echoes from her future – in each book, she gets tantalising glimpses of an event or situation she will be involved in, often puzzling, often threatening. Tana’s dilemma is to survive capture and brainwashing.

Why did you write this novel?

I always wanted to write about characters who could cross the globe on their adventures. Having an interest in the history of espionage, I felt that it seemed logical to write about a period I’d lived through and understood. The psychic elements are provided in a realistic setting; that’s the hard part, making science fiction believable. Certainly, Tana has evolved into a strong character who can easily tread the murky byways of recent history.

 How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?

I’ve been writing novels intermittently for fifty years, though I’ve only had novels published for the last seven! It depends on the original impetus – is it an idea, a character, an event? Now, I tend to plot the full story – not in any great detail – just so I know where I’m going.

This is easier (and harder) for the Tana books because she is tied to real historical events; easier, because I have a route; harder, because I’ve got to make the action fit the real timeline.

A stand-alone novel is relatively easy, once the plot-plan is devised.

A series requires certain characters to reappear; also there’s some foreshadowing into future books, and back-references with perhaps fresh revelations on past events. A spreadsheet is useful for keeping track of characters and where they appear, too; for example, The Khyber Chronicle already has 43 named characters and has some way to go!

What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

Be your harshest critic. Write the whole book; don’t dally with the first part, trying to get it right. Move forward. Get it down on the page, get it done.

Once it’s ‘finished’, then you can go over it to find the inconsistencies, the word repetitions, the logic lapses, the contradictory timelines, and the spelling and grammar mistakes.

Self-edit, self-edit and just to be sure, self-edit. You’ll never achieve perfection, but strive to that end.

Put it aside for a few days and read it with fresh eyes. You’ll still find mistakes. Correct them. Then, when you feel you can’t improve it any more or may even be in danger of destroying those flashes of spontaneity, prepare a pristine copy along the guidelines of your target – publisher, editor et al – and send it off with the synopsis and anything else that is required. In short, don’t rush it. You only have one chance to create a good first impression.

What are you working on currently?

I’ve got three books on the go. 1) To Be King is the sequel to a co-written fantasy quest Wings of the Overlord. This series has been evolving for over forty years; Gordon created the fantasy world and paints the broad plot strokes: I write the book, adding sub-plots as appropriate. 2) Cataclysm is the second sequel to Catalyst, which is due from Crooked Cat on 11 December. Catalyst is the first in the ‘Avenging Cat’ series, about another female protagonist, Catherine Vibrissae, who is set on destroying the global organisation Cerberus and its head, Loupe Malefice. Her adventures take her to Spain, Morocco and China. 3) The Khyber Chronicle, the third in the Tana Standish series, set in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. Happily, they’re all different enough so that I don’t get confused!

What would your perfect day be?

Excluding family, I’ll answer this from a writing perspective: the perfect day would be when I saw one of my books on film! Well, we can all dream, Jeff!

I certainly share that dream, Nik. Name a book or a film that means a lot to you.

Having over 4,000 books and several hundred films on the shelves, that’s a tall order, so I’ll duck the question. My blog has a list of favourite books, and it’s quite a list. (Nik’s blog).

 If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?

I guess embedded in most of my books is the message that ‘good triumphs over evil’, so I’d let the books speak for me.

All the best with your many different projects, Nik. Sounds like you’re busy, but finding great success now. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.

 Prague Papers1 - Copy


Extract from Chapter 2: Tana

Perversely, it was good to be back after seven eventful years – dangerous and secret years in far-flung places like Karachi, Tehran, Elba, Gibraltar, Hong Kong and Mombasa. Caution and deceit were second nature to her, she reminded herself and grinned. Yes, I feel quite at home again.

The sound of the heels of her calf-hugging black boots added to the general hubbub in the echoing terminal. Tana moved through the wide glass-partitioned entrance then lowered her travelling-case on the steps and checked her watch.

The British Airways flight had been a couple of minutes early – a favourable tail wind. She’d allowed for a much longer delay in customs, so now she had at least ten minutes to wait before Laco arrived with transport to take her the seventeen kilometres into the city.

The very air seemed grossly oppressive – and it wasn’t the weather.

At least the rain had stopped, although the grey heavens stayed overcast. From the aircraft, she’d seen the lights shining between the rows of Charles Bridge’s Baroque statues, while the Vltava, edged with rain-sodden trees, reflected the city’s winking night-lights and numerous turreted spires and domes. A beautiful city that seemed to benefit from Communist neglect; it lacked modern hoardings, neon advertisements and garish shops and she felt it was probably better for it.

After all these years it was easy enough for her to keep in check her distaste for the Soviets and their system, which had seemed to get even more corrupt. Odd, but Sir Gerald had openly regretted Kruschev being deposed the year before she joined Interprises – “Not as shifty as Brezhnev. We thought we had a chance to work with the Russians,” he’d said. “Now, after over a decade of Brezhnev, I’m not so sure any more.”

She really felt for the oppressed Czechs and Russians; they were regularly lied to and deprived of so much; all so that the Soviet hierarchy could live well. Where there was oppression, there was fear, betrayal and personal danger.

Still, so far she had no reason to doubt Merrick’s assessment was accurate. “Minimal risk,” he’d said. “A straightforward repair and rebuild assignment. I thought you’d enjoy it; a return to see old friends.” Then he’d added, with a lecherous smirk, “Laco Valchik’s still in charge, he picked up the pieces and got Torrence out. A close call, by all accounts.”

As soon as she’d heard about Torrence, Tana had contacted Enid Shorthouse, the Interprises filing clerk in the basement Library. Enid had been with Sir Gerald since the beginning in 1963 and, it seemed, had a memory second only to Tana’s. She knew all the Interprises field agents and their traits. Her filing system was separate to the Ops Officer’s and that’s the way she liked it. Idiosyncratic. Only she could find anything. She was supposed to provide documentation and information backup for the agents in the field. But Enid took her job too seriously to limit herself, so whatever she could find out she put in her files – on paper and in her memory.

“You know, Enid,” Tana had remarked, “all Moscow Centre has to do is to kidnap you. Interprises might as well fold up then.”

Chuckling, Enid leaned on the enquiries counter, drooping breasts encased in a My Weekly pattern blue-green bobbled cardigan, well past its best. She lifted her spectacles from her pointed nose and rested them among the permed curls of her blue-rinsed hair. “You’re the only agent who knows the full extent of my knowledge, my dear.” She winked. “The Ruskies’d have to be psychic to know, really.”

Tana grinned. “Let’s hope so. Now, what can you tell me about Reginald Torrence?”

“Torrence!” Enid’s normally kindly features suddenly transformed, lines pronounced around her glaring eggshell blue eyes. “He’s a buffoon. I don’t know why Sir Gerald allowed him to stay after he bungled Izmir.” She calmed down, waving a hand airily. “Fine, he’s good in the classroom, knows the theory, but his people-skills are nothing to write home about, I can tell you.”

Tana wondered why Merrick had sent in that buffoon, as Enid called him. Apparently, he bungled the whole operation from the word go. All he had to do was consolidate the underground faction, obtain any useful information, and then return with technical requirements they might have. Instead, he blew it, the whole fabric torn at the seams, one cell disrupted, others in hiding and fearing the worst.

At least Torrence got out – thanks to Laco and his network’s survivors.

Was it Torrence’s fault or was there a mole in Laco’s organisation?

But Tana knew there was another quite unthinkable possibility.

She still puzzled over what happened to Toker in Istanbul last month – and Enid hadn’t been any help, either, save saying that Dudley Toker had been a real professional and a gentleman as far as she was concerned. “I tell you truly, Tana, I really miss his wonderful smile and chivalrous airs. Not much gallantry about since the Sixties.”

A chilly sensation down the nape of her neck returned Tana abruptly to the present.

The man was obviously watching her. Hatless, close-cropped black hair, greying at the edges. Stout, short, a broken bent nose, flaring nostrils. He was so blatantly an agent of the StB, their political security police, no doubt sent from his rat-hole in Bartolemejská where they’d taken over the old convent and eighteenth century church of Saint Bartholomew. One day, maybe the church and convent would echo to hymns and psalms again instead of the plaintive cries of tormented citizens. But she wouldn’t hold her breath.

All StB agents wore civilian clothes, yet they might as well have displayed placards with neon lights. It was a combination of their unrelaxed poses, their strained unawareness and something indefinable, almost as though they smelled of decay and corruption.

On the other hand, he could be KGB – they were little better, confident in their superiority and their ability to instil fear into the populace. And if so, then she was probably blown before she started.

She was aware that in the last six months Interprises had lost two other experienced agents, besides Toker. Cornelius in Helsinki and Segal in Berlin. Her thoughts naturally turned to the existence of a mole inside Interprises. Sir Gerald had created Interprises twelve years ago, specifically because MI6 seemed riddled with Soviet double agents.

Only a week earlier, James Fisk had obtained authorisation for Tana to experiment with a new probing technique on the staff of Interprises. It had risks to her mental well-being, he warned, but she said she was willing to try. The technique used a prototype bio-feedback system combined with remote viewing. Then this mission cropped up. Bad timing, really. Still, when she got back, they’d set it up and with any luck it just might help identify the mole, if there was one.

As the watcher’s black rodent-like eyes momentarily latched onto hers, Tana’s brain echoed with a loud throaty scream, a woman in extreme agony:

Completely naked, the woman was strapped to a chair, her skin blemished with electrode-burns, lathered in glistening sweat, trembling violently.

The stark moment passed. Tana didn’t superficially react at all; the mental image had been too swift. But her pulse and heart rate quickened.

The sensation was not wholly alien to her; it was akin to previous bouts of precognition. But it was also possible that it could have been a captured impression from the watcher’s sewer-like mind. He looked old enough to be an apprentice during Stalin’s time. Probably reliving his stimulatingly vile memories.

A sibilant hiss of tires on the wet tarmac caught her attention.

Prague Papers1



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Author Interview: Charlotte Howard

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I’d like to welcome Charlotte Howard, fellow Tirgearr author, whose latest book, One Night in Edinburgh, is next in the ‘City Nights’ series, following Jaz Hartfield’s One Night in Amsterdam

What romantic themes are explored in One Night in Edinburgh?

One Night in Edinburgh is all about love at first sight, and the difference between lust and love. We’ve all been in lust, and most of us are lucky enough to have been in love as well, but not many people think love at first sight is possible, which makes me sad because I am a great believer.

Tell us more about your main character’s dilemmas.

Chloe Shade has 24 hours to seduce the CEO of Lowe ‘n Beholden, and convince them that they should stock the selection of adult toys that Chloe’s company produces and sells. Unfortunately, travel arrangements to Edinburgh haven’t taken her fear of flying into account. While she’s on the plane, she meets Ethan – he’s sexy, he’s charming, and he’s able to keep her calm while they land. It’s not long before she ends up in his car, bed, and everywhere else he wants her, and she’s left having to make some life-changing decisions.

Why is the setting so important?

Edinburgh is a beautiful city. I’ve been there a few times, and have loved every minute spent there. I wanted the story to be less about sex and one-night stands, and more to be about romance, and in my opinion Edinburgh castle and The Royal Mile provide that.

Is writing adult romance difficult or fun?

Fun, challenging but fun. I love writing juicy scenes – the heat, the passion, it’s all escapism in one way or another, and I think we need that sometimes. It can be tricky getting the story just right though. I’m terrible with endings. Most of the time I have to take a step back, and tell myself to leave it. It’s like when you’re painting a picture. It would be very easy to add that one detail that is too much and ruins the whole thing, which is why I’m grateful for my amazing editors!

Charlotte Howard
Charlotte Howard

Why did you write this particular book?

I was at Smut by the Sea in Scarborough when I got talking to Lucy Felthouse. She told me about the ‘City Nights’ series and suggested I give it a go. I thought it might be a good challenge – I’ve never written a short erotic romance before. Turns out, I loved every minute of it.

Tell us about your current work in progress.

I’ve just finished working on another full-length novel, which will be published at some point next year (keep an eye on my website www.charlottehowardauthor.co.uk for more details!), and I was going to take a break from writing, but that never works.

My latest WIP is about an English teacher and her affair with a colleague who turns out to be so much more than he seems. It’s another erotic romance, but promises to be hotter than anything I’ve previously written!

Any good marketing tips for other authors?

Don’t be afraid to network. I keep business cards in every handbag (I have a lot of handbags), coat pockets (I have a lot of coats too!), and in my car. If someone asks me about a book, or mentions that they’ve read something slightly erotic, I hand them a card. I’ve also given a pile to people like my Mum, husband, sisters, friends, and they leave them lying around wherever they go. From caravan sites to dentist surgeries, my business cards are everywhere!

Why should people read the ‘City Nights’ series?

It’s hot and it’s unique. Most erotic stories take place over several days, weeks, months, even years! But the ‘City Nights’ series all take place over 12 to 24 hours.

I’m currently reading One Night in Boise, and will be putting a review on my blog: http://www.choward2614.wordpress.com when I’ve done, but one chapter in and I already know it’s going to be 5-stars.

They’re all well written by fabulous authors, and I’m very proud to say I’m part of that group.

Blurb:One Night in Edinburghby Charlotte Howard - 200

Chloe Shade has travelled to Edinburgh to meet up with a potential client, and has just twenty-four hours to convince them to sign her contract. But when she meets the delicious Ethan, he proves to be so much more than an enticing distraction. It’s not long before Chloe has some life changing decisions to make, and less than a day to make them.

Author Bio:

British author, Charlotte Howard, was born in Oman and spent much of the first part of her life flitting between Oman, Scotland, and England. Now settled in Somerset, Charlotte lives with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets.

Her career as a writer began at an early age, with a poem being featured in an anthology for the East Midlands. Since then Charlotte has written many short stories and poems, and finally wrote her first full-length piece of fiction in 2010.

During what little spare time she has, Charlotte enjoys reading and writing (of course), spending time with her family, and watching action movies whilst eating curry and drinking tea.

Charlotte is an active member of Yeovil Creative Writers Group.

Purchase Links:


One Night in Amsterdam by Jaz Hartfield - sm banner


Click HERE to purchase ONE NIGHT IN AMSTERDAM  by Jaz Hartfield.


Jaz Hartfield’s ONE NIGHT IN AMSTERDAM is here!

Friend and fellow Tirgearr author, Jaz Hartfield, has a new book out called ‘One Night in Amsterdam’. It’s  hot and steamy – and not for the faint-hearted already described by one reviewer as having “a great romantic plot with lots of sexy encounters”.  I’ll hand over to Jaz to tell you more:

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Hi, folks – thanks to Jeff for letting me invade his blog. My fiction is a little different to his: it’s adult romance! ‘One Night in Amsterdam’ tells the story of Chloe and Dean who are on a hen and stag party respectively, when their paths cross in the red-light district of Amsterdam. Things start getting sexy and a little over-heated, with Dean having doubts about his forthcoming marriage, and Chloe sick of having  short-term relationships. Is their ‘holiday romance’ just that or something deeper? This is the point where love and lust most certainly meet.

The Blurb

Chloe organizes Jo’s hen weekend in Amsterdam, glad to get away from the usual boring or married men that she sleeps with. Perhaps she’ll meet some cool guys up for a bit of fun. If not, at least she’ll make sure her best friend gets very drunk while they all party in style. 

Dean is getting married to Tamsin, but having serious doubts. His mates take him to Amsterdam for one last weekend of debauchery before settling down for the rest of his life. But is Tamsin the right woman for him? 

When Chloe and Dean meet in Amsterdam’s red-light district, they are immediately attracted to each other. Dean tries to justify one last fling before marrying Tamsin. Chloe feels bad about having sex with someone else’s intended. Yet, a night of amazing sex is exactly what both of them want. So, why shouldn’t they just enjoy one night of fantastic, guilt-free sex?

One Night in Amsterdam by Jaz Hartfield - 500

A free (and carefully chosen!) Extract:

Chloe smiled politely as she slipped the pink sweatshirt on. The name printed on the back was ‘Office Bike’. They weren’t allowed to choose their own name, of course. Still, it could have been worse: Di’s sweatshirt said ‘Bitch-Ho’, and Jo’s, whose hen party this was, proudly displayed the title, ‘Bridezilla’. Ushma had the most pleasant moniker with ‘Virgin Queen’. Jo’s sister, Glynis had ‘MILF’ printed on hers, which Chloe felt flattered her rather, but Jo had insisted on it.

They’d started drinking at Gatwick Airport, before their morning flight; continued on the plane with two white wines each. The flight only took two and a half hours. Once at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Chloe took charge, as chief bridesmaid. A taxi took them to their hotel where she did the talking at reception.

“Sorry, madam, but we have no reservation under that name.” The lady spoke in perfect English with only a vague hint of a Dutch accent.

Chloe suddenly regressed to being a humiliated, naughty child. She felt the judging stare of the receptionist as she stood in her ridiculous pink sweatshirt. She had no idea what to do.

“Which travel agency did you use? I could phone them for you, if you like.” The lady smiled with only her lips. “Do you have the number?”

Chloe blushed as everyone turned to stare at her. She’d not thought to bring contact details. It hadn’t occurred to her.

“I booked online and can’t remember the company name.”

“Oh, Chloe!” Glynis chided. “Told you I should’ve organised this trip.”

The others sighed and gave her irritated glances.

“We do have two rooms I could let you have. They are a bit more expensive and the only ones available tonight. Would you like those?”

The other four nodded.

“Not much choice is there?” Glynis mumbled.

“That’ll be two hundred and eighty Euros, please.” The lady tapped on her computer as Chloe held out her debit card. None of the others offered to pay their share. Chloe put in her pin number and hoped the bank wouldn’t charge too much for going overdrawn. She took the receipt, printed on watermarked, cream coloured paper.

“I’ll need all your passports, please,” the receptionist announced. “And your rooms are on the third floor.

Once they had the key cards, Glynis dragged her case towards the lift on the other side of the lobby, huffing and puffing loudly.

“The elevator is out of order today.” The lady pointed to the red carpeted stairs.

They eventually found their rooms. Jo and Glynis shared one, while Chloe, Ushma and Di were round the corner in another.

Di bagged the sofa bed, leaving Chloe and Ushma sharing the double bed.

Chloe had a need to voice her irritation. “I expected some kind of an upgrade, at least. This is just another cramped room with no floor space.” She twisted her mouth and stopped to get a response. She got none. “Still, it’s gonna be such a cool weekend.”

“Someone check the mini-bar,” Ushma ordered, jumping onto her side of the bed. “Any vodka in there is mine.”

“See if we can clear it out in the first five minutes,” Di grinned without irony.

Chloe laughed aloud, wondering if the cost of the whole mini-bar would go on her debit card. To her relief nobody moved.

“So what’s the plan, Chlo?” Ushma asked, stretching languidly on the bed.

“Find a good bar and get Jo pissed.”

“A bar with lots of fit blokes, hopefully,” added Di.

“A male strip joint?” Chloe suggested.

“Yeah, to start with,” Di said. “But those places are just full of desperate slappers and sad biddies —”

“Like us, you mean?” Chloe snorted with laughter, making Ushma giggle.

“Speak for yourself,” Di answered, looking away.

“Says the girl with ‘Bitch-Ho’ on her back,” Ushma said, sending her and Chloe into convulsions.

“Whatever.” Di held up a hand and went to fill up the kettle.

“Okay,” Chloe said, regaining control of herself. “So we get Jo pissed, take photos of her in various naked, embarrassing positions, then post them on Twitter and Facebook?”

Ushma gave her a high-five.

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