#Blogtour Unaccustomed to Grace by Lesley Bannatyne

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Unaccustomed to Grace by Lesley Bannatyne.

About the Author

Lesley Bannatyne is an American author who writes extensively on Halloween, especially its history, literature, and contemporary celebration. As a freelance journalist, she’s covered stories ranging from druids in Somerville, Massachusetts to relief workers in Bolivia. Bannatyne’s fiction is collected in her debut collection Unaccustomed to Grace, out from Kallisto Gaia Press in March, 2022.

Follow @BannatyneLesley on Twitter, Visit lesleybannatyne.com

About the book

The stories in Unaccustomed to Grace are often set in a slant version of reality where the extraordinary can exist side-by-side with the ordinary. In “Waiting for Ivy” a woman grieving the loss of her infant daughter discovers a listserv of parents whose dead children have been returned, as if the tragedy were a clerical error. 

In “Corpse Walks Into a Bar” an indigent loner agrees to bury a reanimated corpse, not realizing what it takes to find a resting place when the dead are as self-serving as the living. Characters throughout the collection act on impulses, quixotic to ferocious: a suburban dad leads a violent riot against his neighbour; an eleven-year-old boy puts himself at the nexus of a manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber. Ultimately, the book plumbs the messiness we bring on ourselves with the best of intentions, and how we find connection and work to build a world we can survive.


Short stories are islands unto themselves – they differ in execution, possible expansion and style. Some short interludes that exist without the need to be anything than what they purport to be, then there are stories I would place in the category of ideas the author could grow. The ones that have the potential to be a novel. I think it’s fair to say this author has a few growers in this compilation of shorts.

I found quite a few of them have certain elements of connection in regard to reactions to the plight of a fellow human. Do I cross my own boundaries, face my own fears and ignore ingrained societal responses and do what my gut says is the right thing to do? Also what impact do these actions, gestures have on the person themselves, not just the person they have decided to engage with or help.

Written at times with a tongue in cheek nod to certain ironies and contradictive behaviour, they are also stories with depth. If you position yourself just slightly differently, if indeed you are willing to do so, then you might be surprised to find the world, the people around you, and your idea of what constitutes a problem to be solved – it might just look completely different.

I’d love to see some of the these short stories evolve into something longer, the Corpse Walks into a Bar is an excellent example of that – I have so many unanswered questions. Either way I would certainly enjoy reading more by this particular author.

Buy Unaccustomed to Grace at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Kallisto Gaia Press pub date 8 Feb. 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Kallisto Gaia Press.

#BlogTour Add Cyanide to Taste by Karmen Špiljak

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Add Cyanide to Taste by Karmen Špiljak. Illustrations by Luka Rejec.  

About the Author

Karmen Špiljak is a Slovenian-Belgian writer with a taste for dark and twisty tales. Her short fiction has been awarded and anthologised. Her as yet unpublished thriller was shortlisted and received an honourable mention on ‘The Black Spring Crime Fiction Prize 2020’. She writes across different genres, from suspense to horror and science fiction.

She currently lives in Brazil with her husband and two cats. Find out more on karmens.net,  Follow karm3ns33ta on Twitter,  facebook.com/karmenspiljak or instagram.com/karmenseeta

About the book

A sinister cook, a cursed cake, and a casual dinner between neighbours that goes murderously wrong. This debut collection of dark tales and recipes by Karmen Špiljak ascends the jagged culinary heights you’ve hungered to explore but could never find on a map. As the characters swoon over every unforgettable mouthful, and sometimes bite off more than they can chew, you’ll find yourself asking: What would I be willing to pay for the meal of a lifetime?

If feasting on culinary noir leaves you hungry, extend your pleasure by preparing the dishes featured in the stories. All recipes provided are cyanide-free.


In a collection like this it is hard to pick favourites and leave others by the wayside. Each story is indeed its own self-devouring snake of mystery, revenge, darkness and evil. Ending with the inevitable and never in quite the same way.

The only downside to culinary noir, crime or stories in general is the jiggling of the synapses that will eventually convince you to eat or snack. It’s a talent in itself being able combine the delight of taste and smell with the depravity of death.

A special nod for Three Roses – I loved the combination of magical realism, mystery, folklore and the fallacy of human nature. 

Špiljak has a knack for the short story – not everyone has – and for creating sharp bursts of darkness. There is often a misconception about how easy it is to write short stories. Imagine having to fit an entire plot, characters and tentative worldbuilding into the smallest space possible, and still be able to engage the reader.

Not only does the author do that, but also successfully. I sincerely hope she decides to engage readers with a greater and longer noirish encounter or perhaps just a venture into the world of crime, because it’s clearly her forte.

And – depending on the cookie, I will always eat the last one.

Buy Add Cyanide to Taste at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour It Will Be Quick by Karl Drinkwater

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour It Will Be Quick by Karl Drinkwater.

About the Author

Karl Drinkwater writes thrilling SF, suspenseful horror, and contemporary literary fiction. Whichever you pick you’ll find interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

Karl has lived in many places but now calls Scotland his home. He’s an ex-librarian with degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science. He also studied astrophysics for a year at university, surprising himself by winning a prize for “Outstanding Performance”. Karl is an active member of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), the Horror Writers Association (HWA), and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).

When he isn’t writing he loves guitars, exercise, computer and board games, nature, and vegan cake. Not necessarily in that order.

Follow @karldrinkwater on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazonon Facebookon Instagram, Visit karldrinkwater.ukBuy It Will Be Quick

About the book

A single decision can save – or ruin – a life.

An opportunistic baby theft by a young woman in pain. Two strangers shipwrecked on a lifeless rock, unable to speak the same language. An isolated cycling holiday descends into terror. One woman seeks the courage to destroy her life. A miracle unites a community, and teenagers take a stand against hypocrisy.

Karl Drinkwater presents characters to root for – and characters to dread – in sixteen tales of humanity, endurance, and spirit.


This is a collection of sixteen contemporary short stories. Each story wanders into a different landscape of emotional confusion, distress and the pain of not being heard. Simultaneously there are also stories that shine a light on the manipulation and control by big tech, the fraught political scenery we are trying to navigate and often simply just the story of life in general.  

Obviously talking about each story would be a lot and leave nothing for potential readers to discover, however I will mention two of them.

Fire in the Hole – A tragic tale of desperation, mental health issues and how too many are falling through the cracks of the system. How perception is everything and misconceptions frame the way we view certain individuals.

SenSor OS is an incredibly clever tongue-in-cheek swipe at the stronghold technology has on us. We have literally become slaves to the variety of devices and screens we interact with each day. Certain software companies have made it impossible to make independent choices. Others manipulate politics and the law to steal and profit from the public domain. I loved this one by the way. 

Short stories aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps because it isn’t as easy as it sounds to create something small with enough pull, drive and content to captivate like a full novel.

Whilst the ventures into Speculative Dystopian Sc-Fi by Drinkwater are intriguing reads, this book of short stories is much more indicative of the creative and versatile talent he harbours. Each story is a potential novel in the making, each character has a story worth telling. Each brief moment fulfills the satisfying expectation of a longer tale.

Buy It Will Be Quick at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Organic Apocalypse pub date 1 Nov. 2020. Buy at Amazon comHiveBookshop orgWaterstones.

#BlogTour The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael.

About the Author

Half-Welsh, half-Mexican and growing up in London, Alex Raphael was surrounded by different influences and interests. But it was always books that spoke to him most and had the greatest impact.

He started writing when at college, where his love of reading evolved into a desire to write, in particular focusing on poetry and short stories. 

Studying English and American Literature at university meant he took a break from writing, as well as giving him the chance to see more of Mexico on his travels. He concentrated on his journalistic career while working on different writing projects, but his favourite genre of literature has always been short stories as they are what first inspired him to write.

That’s why his first book was The Summer of Madness, a romantic short story that tells of a guy who goes out to try to win his ex-girlfriend back. Will you be rooting for Kurt and his big public gesture or is it more complicated than that and you don’t want her to date him again? Either way you’ll get to know a memorable set of characters along for the ride.

His second book Illusions, Delusions reflects Raphael’s love of alternative short stories from the writers of his childhood and challenges the idea of the narrative. Will your favourite be the story in the form of a questionnaire, a poem or a set of jokes, among the seven very different styles?

Alex Raphael is currently working on his third collection of short stories, which will provide a wide blend of genres and an assortment of very original premises and distinctive character, with his trademark imagination, humour and memorable dialogue.

Follow on Amazonon GoodreadsBuy The Summer of Madness  Visit alexanderraphaelwriter.com and alexraphael.wordpress.com

About the book

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt Vannes decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.


It’s a short read, perhaps speculative if literary fiction can be considered that. Also disjointed and sometimes seeming like a story with no connection or ability to reach out to the audience – it reminded me of flash fiction. But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Raphael draws an interesting comparison between Wuthering Heights and Kurt and his love story and the attempt to regain his lost love. Presented as the boyfriend who wants to win back his girlfriend no matter what – he stages something akin to a romantic ploy to get her back.

Now there is twofold here. Raphael has picked a classic novel, and her favourite book, which is predominantly known for being a romance and tragedy like none other. On the flip-side the author knows many interpret that same story as one of manipulation, of a dysfunctional love, a destructive relationship painted in such unicorn colours that many are willing to forget the darkness and the pain.

Said girlfriend doesn’t want to return to him though and views his attempts as manipulative, embarrassing and perhaps even a little scary. The smaller group of individuals who view his attempts as supportive of this Mr Darcyesque public outcry of thwarted love, but when it all becomes known to the wider world the word stalker slips into the vocabulary.

It’s intriguing how Raphael presents four views of the same relationship. You have Kurt, the girlfriend, the more intimate gathering and then the wider public. Each has a slightly different view on the matter and his actions, which of course is exactly what happens in real life. The girlfriend and her feelings become secondary to his needs, his wants and his convictions. She is silenced and there is no consent.

The smaller group is convinced by his charm and enthusiasm, whereas the larger group sees a bigger picture or is it more about the greater unknown finding something to critique?

I’d like to see the author bring more order into both his ideas, the dialogue and the writing. There can’t be any expectation that the audience will see what is inside your head and what you believe is on the pages – reading will always remain a subjective experience.

Buy The Summer of Madness at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Tale of the What the F*ck by D.A. Watson

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Tale of the What the F*ck by D.A. Watson.About the Author

D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.

He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.

Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.

His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Pubishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland, and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.

About the book

Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.

Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.

Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.

A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawn shop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the Fuck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.


This is a collection of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. What they all have in common is murder, mayhem, revenge and fear – not necessarily in that order of course.

Included in the book: Durty Diana, Coming Home, Mhairi, Wasted, Succubus, Catharsis, The Wee man, John, Coasters Music, Tales of a Scorched earth: Afterburn, The Cravin, Sex Tape, Lisa and Me, The Night Afore Xmas, Deep red, Tech Support, The Ones You Love, John Longmire’s Last Day, Tam O’Shatner, Rusalka, Love and Cabbage and AaaHHH! Zombies.

I’m just going to pick out two to talk about in my review:

The Wee Man – I enjoyed this one in particular, perhaps because the roots are buried in fairytales and childhood. The essence of original fairytales wasn’t to calm or make the reader happy. Instead the tales were grounded in myth and folklore, known as harbingers of threats and death. The adult in this story becomes the child again, as his own childhood fears rise up and threaten to swallow him whole.

Tales of a Scorched Earth: Afterburn – The general assumption, especially when it comes to those who believe in divine intervention and that sinners will eventually get their just desserts, is that true evil will be punished by an eternity in hell. What if that eternity were merely a continuation of their pleasure?

It’s a collection of murder, vengeance and hidden desires in the form of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Watson spins a good tale no matter in which form.

Expect no comfortable tale to embrace you or cotton candy, unicorns and happy endings. Well, then again they might be considered happy endings if you enjoy your stories gory, scary and slightly horrific or score highly on the psychopathic traits test.

Buy Tales of the What the F*ck at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Wild Wolf Publishing; pub date 7 Oct. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogBlitz The Lynmouth Stories by L.V. Hay

Today I am taking part in the BlogBlitz The Lynmouth Stories by L.V. Hay. It’s contemporary fiction with a noirish feel to it.About the Author

Lucy V Hay is a script editor for film and an author of fiction and non-fiction. Publishing as LV Hay, Lucy’s debut crime novel, The Other Twin, is out now and has been featured in The Sun and Sunday Express Newspaper, plus Heatworld and Closer Magazine. Her second crime novel, Do No Harm, is an ebook bestseller. Her next title is Never Have I Ever for Hodder Books.

Follow @LucyVHayAuthor  on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, Visit lucyvhayauthor.com

Buy The Lynmouth Stories

About the book

Beautiful places hide dark secrets …

Devon’s very own crime writer L.V Hay (The Other Twin, Do No Harm) brings forth three new short stories from her dark mind and poison pen:

– For kidnapped Meg and her young son Danny, In Plain Sight, the remote headland above Lynmouth is not a haven, but hell.

– A summer of fun for Catherine in Killing Me Softly becomes a winter of discontent … and death.

– In Hell And High Water, a last minute holiday for Naomi and baby Tommy  becomes a survival situation … But that’s before the village floods.

All taking place out of season when the majority of tourists have gone home, L.V Hay uses her local knowledge to bring forth dark and claustrophic noir she has come to be known for.

Did You Know …?

Known as England’s ‘Little Switzerland’, the Devon village of Lynmouth is famous for its Victorian cliff railway, fish n’ chips and of course, RD Blackmore’s Lorna Doone.

Located on the doorstep of the dramatic Valley of The Rocks and the South West Cliff Path, the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth have inspired many writers, including 19th Century romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who honeymooned there in 1812.


This is a novella length book with three stories based around the Devon village of Lynmouth.

I particularly enjoyed the story of Catherine, Killing Me Softly. It’s dark, morbid and has a noirish quality to it. Death is a friend, a foe, a voice and a constant companion. An entity who forces conversation, thoughts and actions. A constant reminder of the lull of a distant peace, silence and an end.

In Plain Sight is a tale of patience and perseverance, despite all the odds being stacked against a woman and her child. About a person who builds the trap and sits quietly until it snaps shut.

Hell and High Water is a story of karma. It’s unfortunate that this kind of karma doesn’t roll around more often for certain people. For Naomi and her young child it becomes the light at the end of a very dark and long tunnel.

What all three stories have in common is women. Strong women, scared women and damaged women. Living nightmares that are all too normal nowadays. Domestic violence still isn’t dealt with in a satisfactory way. There are too many women, children and men afraid to leave an abusive partner, because the support system is inadequate and the legal system doesn’t punish the perpetrators sufficiently.

The topic of depression is dealt with quite cleverly. In an abstract kind of way, which suggests it lives within the sufferers like a constant nagging voice urging a certain narrative.

It’s an intriguing set of short stories. It gives the reader an idea of Hay’s writing style and where her imagination takes her. It’s contemporary fiction with a noirish feel to it.

Buy The Lynmouth Stories at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Do No Harm by Lucy V. Hay. Read my review of The Other Twin by L. V. Hay.

#BlogTour The Word for Freedom: Short Stories Celebrating Women’s Suffrage

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour – The Word for Freedom: Short stories celebrating women’s suffrage and raising money for Hestia and UK Says No More.

About the Authors

Authors that have donated stories:

Isabel Costello is a London-based author and host of the Literary Sofa blog. Her debut novel Paris Mon Amour was published in 2016 and her short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. She teaches Resilient Thinking for Writers with psychologist and author Voula Tsoflias. @isabelcostello www.literarysofa.com

Christine Powell lives in County Durham and is a member of Vane Women, a writers’ co-operative dedicated to the promotion of the work of women writers in the north east of England ( www.vanewomen.co.uk ). Her stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines.

Victoria Richards is a journalist and writer. In 2017/ 18 she was highly commended in the Bridport Prize, came third in The London Magazine short story competition and second in the TSS international flash fiction competition. She was also shortlisted in the Bath Novel Award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and long listed in the National Poetry Competition. Find her at @nakedvix and www.victoriarichards.co.uk

Carolyn Sanderson has worked in a number of fields, including teaching, training, counselling and working for the Church of England. She has written articles, reviews and a number of hymns. Times and Seasons, her contribution to the Hometown Tales series was recently published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Sallie Anderson is a writer living in Gloucestershire. She now works as a bookseller, but has had many jobs, including election polling clerk, which provided the inspiration for this story. Her short stories have been published in magazines and short-listed in a number of competitions. @JustSalGal

Abigail Rowe lives and writes in Cork, Ireland. Currently completing her first novel, she delights in honing her craft writing short fiction, flash and the odd poem. Abigail’s passions include bees, decent coffee, history, her granddaughters and looking for beauty everywhere and anywhere she goes. @RoweWrites and ismidlifeliminal.wordpress.com 

Rosaleen Lynch is an Irish community worker and writer in the East End of London. She pursues stories whether conversational, literary or performed, keen to explore them as part of the learning cycle of everyday life. @quotes_52 and www.52quotes.blogspot.com

Sophie Duffy is the author of The Generation Game, This Holey Life, and Bright Stars. She has won the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Luke Bitmead Bursary, was runner-up for the Harry Bowling Prize and longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker. She also writes as Lizzie Lovell and is part of the team of CreativeWritingMatters who administer the Exeter Novel Prize. She lives in Devon.

Kate Vine is a graduate of the MA Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her short fiction has been published by Dear Damsels and she is a recent winner of the City Writes competition. She is currently working on her first novel. @Kate_ElizabethV and deardamsels.com/ 2018/ 02/ 16/ he-loves-that-story

David Cook’s stories have been published in the National Flash Fiction Anthology, Stories For Homes 2 and a number of online journals. He lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at www.davewritesfiction.wordpress.com and @davidcook100.

Helen Irene Young is the author of The May Queen (Crooked Cat Books) and a digital editor for a book publisher. She attended the Faber Academy six-month novel writing course. She splits her time between London and Colombia, when she can get there. Her next novel, set in 1940s Bogotá, is about a broken architect trying to build something new. @helenireneyoung and www.helenireneyoung.com

Katherine Blessan is the author of Lydia’s Song: The Story of a Child Lost and a Woman Found (Instant Apostle, 2014), a hope-filled story about sex-trafficking in Cambodia. As well as writing her second novel, Katherine is a screenwriter and short story writer. She lives in Sheffield with her Indian husband and two children where she works as an English tutor and examiner. www.katherineblessan.com and @kathblessan

Anna Orridge has a Masters in Creative Writing with Distinction from the University of East Anglia. Her short stories have appeared in Mslexia, Paper Cuts and the Retreat West anthology Nothing Is As It Was. She is currently writing a Middle Grade Fantasy novel in collaboration with Kickback Media.

Julie Bull lives in South London and Sussex, where she also studied English Literature many moons ago. She is a recovering civil servant and now writes full time. Her first novel lives under the bed. Her short fiction has previously appeared in MIRonline. @juliebu72 instagram: juliebu72 Facebook: Julie Bull.

Karen Hamilton caught the travel bug after a childhood spent abroad and worked as cabin crew for many years. The Perfect Girlfriend is her first novel. It is a psychological thriller about a sociopathic flight attendant, Juliette, who will stop at nothing to win back her pilot ex-boyfriend. @KJHAuthor

Angela Readman’s stories have won The Costa Short Story Award, The Mslexia Story Competition and been on Radio 4. Her debut collection Don’t Try This at Home (And Other Stories) won The Rubery Book Award and was shortlisted in The Edge Hill Prize. She also writes poetry and is published by Nine Arches.

Anna Mazzola is an award-winning writer of historical crime fiction. She has published two novels (The Unseeing and The Story Keeper) and several short stories. She is also a human rights solicitor. She lives in South London with two children, two cats and one husband. @Anna_Mazz and www.Annamazzola.com

Anne Hamilton is a writer, tutor and editor of fiction, and the editor of online magazine, Lothian Life. Her stories are published in several journals and anthologies, and she has read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Her travelogue A Blonde Bengali Wife, inspired the charity, Bhola’s Children, and she is now working on her second novel. Anne lives in Edinburgh, with her young son. www.writerightediting.co.uk and @AnneHamilton7

Dane Divine is an emerging writer from Plymouth, UK, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing. She now lives in Wellington, New Zealand where she works at an art college. Dane creates short stories and flash fiction. She is also working on a novel. instagram.com/ dane_divine 

Cath Bore is based in Liverpool. Her fiction and essays are published in Mslexia Magazine, Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class (Dead Ink), National Flash Fiction Day Anthologies, I Hope You Like Feminist Rants, Fictive Dreams, Spontaneity and more. She also writes about music, books and pop culture. @cathbore and cathbore.wordpress.com

Taria Karillion – As the daughter of an antiquarian book dealer, Taria grew up surrounded by far more books than is healthy for one person. A literature degree, a journalism course and some gratuitous vocabulary overuse later, her stories have appeared in a Hagrid-sized handful of anthologies, and have won enough literary prizes to half-fill his other hand. Despite this, she has no need as yet for larger millinery.

Emily Kerr is proud to be a feminist. Her day job is as a journalist for ITV News and she spends her spare time writing fiction. Her novel Who Does He Think He Is? was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award 2017. She is currently working on her second book. Twitter: @EmilyKerrWrites and www.emilykerrwrites.com

Angela Clarke is the award-winning, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Social Media Murders, including Follow Me, Watch Me, and Trust Me. Her new novel is a gripping psychological thriller that highlights the plight of pregnant women in UK prisons: On My Life is out March 2019. www.AngelaClarke.co.uk

Rachel Rivett – Author of three picture books, Little Grey and the Great Mystery, Are You Sad, Little Bear? and I Imagine, Rachel Rivett has an MA in Writing for Children. She is happy to have short stories in anthologies with Mother’s Milk and Retreat West. www.writewild.weebly.com


Amanda Saint founded and runs @RetreatWest, providing creative writing competitions and courses, and in 2017 launched Retreat West Books indie press. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her new novel, Remember Tomorrow, is coming in 2019. Her short stories have been widely published and been long and shortlisted for, and won, various prizes. @saintlywriter

Rose McGinty is the author of Electric Souk. She lives in Kent and is a creative writing tutor and editor at Retreat West. Previously she worked for the NHS. Rose has won a number of writing competitions and had short stories selected for anthologies. She also enjoys running creative writing workshops in support of social causes. @rosemcginty

About the book

A collection of 24 short stories celebrating a hundred years of women’ suffrage, from both established and emerging authors, all of whom have been inspired by the suffragettes and whose stories, whether set in 1918, the current day or the future, focus on the same freedoms that those women fought for so courageously.

A clerk of works at the Palace of Westminster encounters Emily Davison in a broom cupboard; a mermaid dares to tread on land to please the man she loves; a school girl friendship makes the suffragette protests relevant to the modern day; a mother leaves her child for a tree; an online troll has to face his target; and a woman caught in modern day slavery discovers a chance for freedom in a newspaper cutting.

These stories and many more come together in a collection that doesn’t shy away from the reality of a woman’s world, which has injustices and inequalities alongside opportunities and hard-won freedoms, but always finds strength, bravery and hope.

Through this anthology Retreat West Books is proud to support Hestia and the UK Says No More campaign against domestic abuse and sexual violence.


The stories are inspired by the suffragettes and also by stories of women and oppression. The tip of the iceberg was fighting for the right to have a voice and vote, but the fight for all the other freedoms is still a raging battle.

Each one of the stories comes at the topic of oppression, domestic abuse, rape, sexual abuse, neglect, slavery and inequality from a completely different angle. The importance of that might not be relevant until you read each story and perhaps recognise a factor or a character you can personally relate to in a few or just in one story.

That in itself is an important statement, because the authors don’t purport to be the same as you or I or to have lived the same lives, but they do want each of us to connect with what we have in common. On some level or another each one of us will have experienced something in life that has tried to or still tries to define us as being the weaker gender, the prey, the never quite equal player in business, sport, politics or the world in general. Somewhere out there, there is always someone thinking or acting upon the concept of ‘but you’re just a girl’ – and that is certainly one of our common denominators in life.

Women, and I have said this before, are often their own worst enemy and greatest opposition, because they have been raised to believe the misconceptions and the rule created by the patriarchal systems and society we live in – that woman is less than man. Everything about women is based upon that archaic thought. When society created a layered hierarchy they created it with women as the plus one at the table.

The only way we can alter the thought-process, the system and the way we are treated and perceived is to link together and support each other. Stand up, speak out and be counted. Don’t let men, and women wearing rose-tinted glasses, steal your voice and allow them to take us back into the Dark Ages. Let me tell you that you will be sneered at, ridiculed, abused and denied your rights, but one day change will come. Women like Sarah Parker Remond, Elizabeth Stanton. Alice Paul, Emmeline Pankhurst, Sushama Sen and PL Roy fought for their voice and ours, and we have to fight to keep it.

The book contains the following:

The Word For Freedom, Counting For England, Below The Line, Women Don’t Kill Animals by, One Woman – One Vote, Cover Their Bright Faces, My Mother Left Me For A Tree, Myopia, The Colour Of Sunflowers, Enid Is Going On A Journey, To The Sea, Sayyida Nanda, Relevant, Those Who Trespass Against Us, Past Present Future, Tiny Valentines, The Silent Woman, Not Our Kind Of Girl, Treading On Needles, The Second Brain, The Servitude Of The Sudaarp, Out Of Office, Gristle and Brick.

It’s full of distinctive and powerful voices. In some of them you can feel the anger, the disillusionment, the concern that it may never change, but you can also feel and read the fight. Never lose the will to fight for what is rightfully yours. The right to be safe, to be heard and be equal unto others.

Buy The Word for Freedom at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by Retreat West on 1 November 2018

Retreat West Books is an independent press publishing paperback books and ebooks.

Founder, Amanda Saint, is a novelist and short story writer. She’s also a features journalist writing about environmental sustainability and climate change. So all Retreat West Books publications take advantage of digital technology advances and are print-on-demand, in order to make best use of the world’s finite resources.

Retreat West Books is an arm of Amanda’s creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs fiction writing retreats, courses and competitions and provides editorial services.

Initially started to publish the anthologies of winning stories in the Retreat West competitions, Retreat West Books is now open for submissions for short story collections, novels and memoirs. Submission info can be found here.

#BlogTour Last Train to Helsingør by Heidi Amsinck

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTourLast Train to Helsingør by Heidi Amsinck. It’s a collection of short tales of Scandinavian Noir with a huge dollop of spooky and a smidgen of creepy.

About the Author

Heidi Amsinck, a writer and journalist born in Copenhagen, spent many years covering Britain for the Danish press, including a spell as London Correspondent for the broadsheet daily Jyllands- Posten. She has written numerous short stories for radio, including the three-story sets Danish Noir Copenhagen Confidential and Copenhagen Curios, all produced by Sweet Talk for BBC Radio 4, which are included in this collection .

A graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, Heidi lives in Surrey. She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Last Train to Helsingor is her first published collection of stories.

Follow @HeidiAmsinck1 @MuswellPress on Twitter

Buy Last Train to Helsingør

About the book

From the commuter who bitterly regrets falling asleep on a late-night train, to the mushroom hunter prepared to kill to guard her secret, Last Train to Helsingor is a chilling and darkly humorous collection of stories.

Copenhagen becomes a city of twilight and shadows, as canny antique dealers and property sharks get their comeuppance at the hands of old ladies, and ghosts act in most peculiar ways. With echoes of Daphne du Maurier, Roald Dahl and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Last Train to Helsingor will keep you awake into the small hours.

Q&A with Heidi Amsinck  (provided by Muswell Press)

The stories are all set in Denmark and all have a fairy-tale like quality to them. Is there a Danish tradition of ghost stories that you are influenced by? Having grown up in Denmark, the romantic, bitter-sweet stories of Hans Christian Andersen are indelibly printed on my psyche. However, as a young child I preferred the gothic horror of Grimm’s fairy tales, which I swallowed raw, poring wide-eyed over the original illustrations by Philipp Grot Johann and Robert Leinweber. There is an echo of these fairy tales in the work of Karen Blixen, particularly the story collections Seven Gothic Tales and Anecdotes of Destiny, which have a deliciously mystic and eerie quality to them, and are the books I would save first if my house was on fire. But the biggest, single influence on my work has undeniably been the British TV series of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, broadcast with subtitles in Denmark in the early 1980s. I never missed an episode.

What is it that appeals to you about the short-story format? I love the discipline of working towards a single moment of revelation, or epiphany, the deceptive simplicity of the format that requires months, sometimes years, of stripping back dead wood and random plot shoots, or at least trying to. Above all, I am an enthusiastic and humble reader of short stories, from Carver and Wolff to Chekhov and Maupassant. The perfect short story (see Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country People or James Joyce’s The Dead) will floor you with a single blow, in a way no novel can.

You are Danish and yet you wrote the stories in English. Why is that? I like the freedom English gives me to invent stuff about my place of birth: the Copenhagen of my stories is very much an imagined one, conjured from childhood memories and my love of mystery and darkness; writing in English, I am able to look at the city from a distance, noticing its otherness, like a stranger might.

Which is your favourite story in the collection and why? There is a bit of me and my large Danish family in each and every story in this collection, but The Chanterelles of Østvig is particularly personal to me, as it was inspired by my father who taught me the secrets of mushroom hunting in Denmark’s great sand dune plantations. He passed away suddenly last summer, two days after my mother died from cancer. Childhood sweethearts from Copenhagen, they were in love for 65 years, and this collection is dedicated to them.


My first thought, and this was before I read a Q&A with Amsinck, was how much these tales reminded me of The Tales of the Unexpected (TV series from 1979 – 1988). A lot of the episodes were based on short stories written by Roald Dahl. The script writers often wrote endings or conclusions to the tales for the audience, whereas the stories they were based on were more inconclusive, open and mysterious. I grew up watching The Tales of the Unexpected, and much like the Hammer House of Horror and Graham Greene tales, the episodes were incredibly creepy and stuck in your mind for ages.

Although the author has taken inspiration from certain sources it is fair to say that she has put her very own Scandinavian Noir slant on her tales. No tale is alike except for the unusual twists and creepy factor. Now and again there is also a question of justice, morality and whether everything is always black or white.

The book includes the following tales:

Last Train to Helsingør – I bet there are plenty of people who sit on trains and wonder whether that train will end up taking them somewhere unexpected. You get a sense of lack of control, as you watch houses and fields whizz by, perhaps even more so when you can see nothing but darkness through the glass windows.

The Music Box – Sometimes a curse isn’t just a collection of rumours, hearsay or Chinese Whispers repeated over decades. Sometimes a duck is just a duck, and a curse is really a curse.

The Chanterelles of Østvig – Gudrun Holm has a conundrum. She must share her secrets with someone before she dies, and yet at the same time she has to protect said secrets from ever being found out.

The Light from Dead Stars – This is one of my favourites too. Does the truth always have to come out? Are there people who deserve their destiny even if it is forced upon them? Is it always wrong to take things into your own hands?

The Man Upstairs – Do you know a man or woman upstairs? I bet if you thought about it for a while someone would come to mind. A person who has always been there throughout time – with no explanation as to how it may be possible. In fact I might just go look in the upstairs window to see if I can get a glimpse of his face.

Conning Mrs Vinterberg – You can’t con a con-artist or trick a possible serial killer, especially ones that look like friendly little old ladies.

The Night Guard – The next time you go to an art gallery pay more attention to the details, perhaps some small element of the paintings change without you ever realising it.

The Bird in the Cage – I enjoyed this one, because it speaks to the innate greediness of man (persons). An item is only ever worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Make it more exclusive and add a tale of mystery to the item, and you just might end up paying a million pounds for a picture by an elusive artist which shreds itself as soon as said item is sold. (Nods in the direction of Banksy)

The Miracle in Dannersgarde – When is a miracle really a miracle and when is it just a coincidence? This is a story of faith being born unto the non-believer at a time when she needs it the most.

Like White Rain – Angels come in all shapes and sizes, and in this case it is an old suicidal man and an abused young girl finding comfort and the will to live by helping each other.

The Climbing Rose – This will make you wonder about the meticulous rose gardener you might know. The attention they pay to detail and the lengths they will go to to make the roses grow.

The Wailing Girl – The moral of this story is to never assume you have experienced everything in life and that karma might want to have a word if you try and screw with someone.

Room Service – When someone experiences the inexplicable the majority tend to side with the more practical and logical solution, because there is no such thing as ghosts right?

The Ghost of Helene Jørgensen – This tale is about justice, but it is also about leaving everything behind and starting a new life. Cutting all the strings, both positive and negative, that keep you attached to a life you expected to be more than just a daily struggle to survive.

The Suitcase – This tale is a bit like signing a contract with the devil, except you have no choice in the matter and your heart is dictating your actions. The stringent boundaries of OCD are skewed, which could be a good thing I suppose.

The Tallboy – This one reminded me of the kind of horror the Hammer House stories were known for. The kind of mystery you want to solve, but are really too frightened of the truth to find out.

Detained – What would make you crack? What kind of incident would make you re-evaluate your life and turn your back on everything and everyone? Do you think one scruffy man in an airport could make you think about what is really important in life?

The Crying – I guess the moral of this story is that you deserve what you get, especially if you lied to get it. I wonder if the insanity was already there buried deep inside him or whether the apartment made him do it? Do what…why kill of course.

The Last Tenant – Sometimes there is a reason a deal is a deal. A house that wants to draw you in, but doesn’t really want anyone inside at all. Once you’re in there is only one way out.

I am going to have a listen to these on audio (they have been read on BBC 4 radio). For people like me who as a child used to enjoy tuning in for The Whistler on the radio and being scared before bedtime, these tales will be perfect.

It’s a collection of short tales of Scandinavian Noir with a huge dollop of spooky and a smidgen of creepy.

Buy Last Train to Helsingør at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Muswell Press, Pub date 22 February 2018

#BlogTour The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories by Teresa Solana

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories by Teresa Solana (translation – Peter Bush). Solana moves between cute and crass to bold and timid, and yet the vivid imagery remains the focal point in every story.

About the Author

Born in Barcelona in 1962, Teresa Solana lives in Oxford. She has written several highly acclaimed novels. A Not So Perfect Crime, the first in the Borja and Eduard crime series, won the 2006 Brigada 21 Prize for the best Catalan crime novel. Since then, she has published five more novels. Author of many articles and essays about translation Teresa Solana has also written children’s books.

Follow @TeresaSolana1 @bitterlemonpub on Twitter

Buy The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories

About the translator

Peter Bush is a celebrated translator from the Spanish and Catalan, known for his translations of Leonardo Padura, Juan Goytisolo and Josep Pla.

About the book

An impressive and very funny collection of stories by Teresa Solana but the fun is very dark indeed. The oddest things happen. Statues decompose and stink out galleries, two old grandmothers are vengeful killers, and a prehistoric detective trails a triple murder that is threatening cave life as the early innocents knew it. The volume also includes prize-winning Connections, a sparkling web of Barcelona stories–connected by two criminal acts–that allows Solana to explore the darker side of different parts of the city and their seedier inhabitants.


This is a compilation of short stories written by Solana and translated by Peter Bush. The stories all have one thing in common, Solana’s tongue-in-cheek macabre wit and a sense of truth within her pithy tales.

The stories are split into two sections: Blood, Guts and Love, and Blood Connections.

Blood, Guts and Love

The First Prehistoric Serial Killer – I wonder if this was picked as the first story because the title is so unusual and draws attention. It isn’t the one I would have picked to start the book with, but it is one of the more bizarre ones. Can you imagine prehistoric humans trying out their Sherlockian skills of deduction?

The Son-in-Law – This one was a favourite, perhaps because it is something I would consider doing, although I would pick a cleaner way of getting rid of any evidence. Little old vigilante or justice warrior for the oppressed and the beaten?

Still Life No. 41 – The sad thing about this story is the fact it could absolutely happen, especially in our world of performance art and pretentious supposed art experts with made-up language to make it seem as if a blob on a canvas is indeed the work of an underrated genius.

Happy Families – What a lovely thought, that the previous unlucky inhabitants of a mansion should endeavour to protect and keep new ones safe, even if it’s only because some of them want to watch reality tv.

I’m a Vampire – Is it still murder if the victim is a bloodsucking killer? Are you ridding the planet of a danger if you kill a vampire or are you just as bad as the next serial killer?


Flesh-Coloured People – Interesting slap back at society and the cross-race effect. The cross-race effect suggests that we are more likely to recognise people who are of the same race as ourselves, and less likely to do so with other races because we think they all look alike. Very important when it comes to witnesses of crime and also the reason many innocent people are ‘identified’ as possible culprits.

The Second Mrs Appleton – Proof that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and that sometimes you end up with the person you deserve. Just because a diamond is more flashy and seductive it doesn’t mean it is worth more than the more understated gem.

Paradise Gained – I guess this is what you would call an ironic twist. A thief asking another thief to take care of his money and then being surprised when the inevitable happens, and yet he still doesn’t learn his lesson.

Mansion with Sea views – What are the chances of kindred spirits doing each other a murderous favour without even being aware of each other? But is he the same, should all killers be judged by the same criteria?

I Detest Mozart – The irony in this story is the fact the killer is punished by the hell which made her kill in the first place. Her own private inferno on a loop until she dies.

Birds of a Feather – Never underestimate any person, but especially not those you think are incapable of sinking to the lowest level to get what they want or in this case to get their revenge. Just because it looks like a Siamese cat it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lion hidden underneath waiting to devour you.

Barcelona, Mon Amour – You can take the girl out of the city, but never the city out of the girl. You also can’t just leave old habits behind, somehow they are always lurking in the shadows waiting to be picked back up again.

But There was another solution – Sometimes it is better to just forget and get on with things. Why mess up a good business opportunity just for the sake of being on the right side of the law, especially when you were never quite on the right side to begin with.

The stories are all amusing and ironic, the common thread between them is the where and the love for the city. The other element that connects them is the base nature of human beings. Nobody is perfect in this shiny polished world and everyone has secrets they want to hide. Some more than others perhaps.

Each story is a small universe in itself, despite there being connections along the way. You can read one and be satisfied and return for the next one a little later. A wee bit like a box of chocolates and never knowing whether to expect a soft caramel or nut in the middle, and always wanting to go back for one more morsel.

It’s noir with a flair for the more macabre, but with a solid sense of surroundings. The reader can imagine sitting and watching each drama unfold. Solana moves between cute and crass to bold and timid, and yet the vivid imagery remains the focal point in every story. It has certainly convinced me to pick up one of her novels to read.

Buy The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and other Stories at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press

Pub Date: August 10, 2018

#BlogTour Nothing Is As It Was: A Collection of Climate Change Fiction

I am delighted to be taking part in the BlogTour for Nothing Is As It Was. It is a collection of short stories about climate change – edited by Amanda Saint & Gillian Walker.

I believe it is an incredibly interesting topic, which these authors have managed to make relatable and interesting. Using flash fiction and short stories to get their point across is an effective way to engage the reader without them losing interest, especially because each one of them has such an individual approach.

Buy Nothing Is As It Was

About the book

A collection of short stories and flash fictions on the theme of climate change from established and emerging authors who all care about our planet.

A schoolboy inspired by a conservation hero to do his bit; a mother trying to save her family and her farm from drought; a world that doesn’t get dark anymore; and a city that lives in a tower slowly being taken over by the sea.

These stories and many more make up a poignant collection that is sometimes bleak, sometimes lighthearted, but always hopeful that we can make a change.

Climate Change Cover (1)


This is a collection of flash fiction and short stories on one of the most important topics of our time – climate fiction. This collection is raising funds for the global climate action group, Earth Day Network. In the foreword Amanda Saint speaks about the importance of climate change and getting more people or readers to comprehend the importance of this topic. We are living in a world split down the middle when it comes to this particular topic. Many people, including those in the highest political positions in the world, are climate change deniers. No matter what scientific evidence is presented or even actually being able to see the difference in weather patterns, some people would rather leave the planet to self destruct instead of implementing changes to ensure our survival.

With an anthology it is important to get a flavour of what you’re getting and who you’re getting it from. I think the choice to focus on flash fiction and short stories pieces is very much in line with the topic. Just as the weather now hits us with a fierce vehemence and a violent brutality, so do these individual pieces of work. Here is just a taste of what to expect from Nothing Is As It Was:

Mirror Image by Anna Orridge – ‘Give Nature a chance, and she will return.Head held high.’ Mirror Image is anything but a pretty flash into the future we can expect. One in which the malice of our base human nature shines through in the guise of survival.

Me and the Mountain by Vicky Ridley – ‘Earth’s guttural cries of agony’- An interesting premise. Is earth speaking to us? Crying out for attention? Pleading with us to stop destroying her, using her voice to communicate the frustration she feels at the destruction.

Portal by Philip Sobell – This is definitely a tongue-in-cheek sign of the times story, and the sad thing is I can see this happening. Without any shadow of a doubt the human race would, after determining no real value or solution for the Portal, use it to dispose of a problem. Sad, but true.

No-Car by David McVey – Separating the wheat from the whey, the poor from the rich. Unfortunately this reality is already upon us. When the car becomes the luxury item, as opposed to the common item to own. Public transport being re-delegated to that of the poor, and class structures taking on more immense proportions. Begs the question, whether those who choose to save the environment now with a no-car choice and inadvertently moving themselves into that position already. Food for thought.

Sun by Wiebo Grobler – Will it descend into complete chaos? Good question, but what is more intriguing in Sun is the fact that we just stand by and accept our fate. Isn’t that what we are doing already?

Warrior by F E Clark – I love the Author’s Note on this: Written in response to reading that The Oxford Juniour Dictionary had deleted nature words – particularly the names of flowers. The eco-warrior will become one of the most important elements of our future. Just saying.

Graduation Day at the Fishmonger’s Institute by Anne Summerfield – This doesn’t just speak to climate change, it is already indicative of the times we live in now. So many career paths have disappeared and become extinct. It is a downward trend when it comes to survival. One day there will only be holographs or pictures of certain species perhaps we will be one of them.

The GoodLuck Camera by Kimberly Christensen – This story is prophetic. This is what will befall the majority of us if the water levels continue to rise. Our grandchildren or great-grandchildren may never know the abundance of food and water, or the feeling of sand between their toes.

The Other Side of Me by Norman Coburn – How important are the people who can envisage the future and are trying to change the outcome for every one of us?

Bottleneck 2048 by Neil MacDonald – ‘It was too late for precautions, much much too late.’ This is the reality of our situation. Even if everyone was less interested in profit and making the rich even richer, and the deniers were finally taken to task, the process is already well underway.

Nothing Is As It Was by Nick Ryle Wright – Nobody can protect us from Mother Nature, and there is only so much we can predict. ‘Doing nothing is not an option.’

Healng AthaBasca by Keygan Sands – Poetic and sad, with the ultimate grand gesture, albeit an empty one, but at least it is one that ignites the fire inside of the girl who sees the destruction around her.

The Arctic Commandments by Cath Barton – The desperation of knowing there is no solution, and when nature takes over is it not better to let it take you and end that sense of  your inevitable demise?

I am Stealthy, I am Swift by CJ Conrad –  Is this what awaits us in the end. Will we return to the hunter, gatherer mode? Will extreme survival remove generations of societal norms?

New Moon by Dave Murray – We are complacent and we are in denial, at least a fair number of us. At the moment we are at a stalemate, that period in time just before the next wave comes.

Like a Captain of Old, Going Down with the Ship by Fiona Morgan – We will become a collection of memories and executable files. The far-fetched notions from popular space fiction movies, where they watch back history on recorded tapes. That will be us one day.

Blue Planet Collection by Jane Roberts- It starts with one boy. Imagine if we all did our part to make sure the fish can swim unhindered in the oceans. The oceans filled with waste and plastic.

Come and Gone by Angelita Bradley – ‘Like a chance to make things better has come and gone.’ That is it in a nutshell really. We have been given enough warnings and plenty of opportunity to change the result.

The Warming by Karen Morrow – The land is being consumed by the oceans. Without it we become Waterworld. Salvation is the object we poison, and in return poisons us.

Plenty More Fish in the Sea by Luke Strachan – The thing with evolution is that the majority of species adapt to their environment, so it isn’t to far-fetched to think that some may survive over others. In that there is potential and hope.

Hasta La Vista, Babsy by Fee Johnstone – This is a cute little story, and perhaps one that explains more than just whales getting lost and being beached because the currents are changing. Species securing their survival by making their genetic strains more adaptable to the changing environment. Perhaps animals are a lot smarter than us,because they trust their instinct.

Walking with the Weather by Rob Walton- Short, poignant. What good is a petition, a piece of paper or electronic trail that no person pays any attention to?

Too Late by Ros Collins – The empty promises of politicians, who are too concerned with fame and notoriety than with the facts of the situation. You are doing yourselves a disservice if you are governed by a politician who chooses to ignore the inevitable.

Where Lies the Line by Taria Karillion – ‘Two sides of the same tool of change.’ Unfortunately the human species is a selfish one and one that secures survival before that of others. Not even faith can change instinctual behaviour patterns.

Airpocalypse by Rachel Rivett – The air we breath may soon become a commodity, an illegal one at that. Even now there are cities and countries covered in smog so thick you can cut through it with a knife. We take it for granted.

New Shoes by Charlie Hill – This story is indicative of our society and the way we place property before lives, millennial are especially guilty of this. What matters the nice pair of shoes when death is looming at the front door?

Thirst by Lorraine Wilson – Wouldn’t you do anything to save your child? Break the law and steal from others to secure their survival. In a world full of bureaucrats who care nothing about black and white names on paper.

Deluge by Susmita Bhattacharya – Deluge remembers the victims of the unpredictability of Mother Nature. Climate Change is reaping lives like a wanton seeker of souls. Collecting his dues for supposed past indiscretions. She takes the innocent, the young and the blameless.

Fireworks by David Barker – The animals are encroaching upon our territory. The hunter becomes the hunted, especially when the race for survival becomes an equal one.

Ophelia Rising by Elaine Desmond – The banality of life in general supersedes the overall concern we should have for our survival. Affairs, betrayal and emotional upheaval all blitzed by the majestic power of Mother Nature rising to challenge us.

The Window Box by Stephen Connolly – This is a chapter from his current novel-in-progress. I can honestly say that based on this short introduction it is one I would pick up to read. The setting is a drab dystopian world of dog eat dog. Survival of those who abide by the rules of big brother and are threatened by the steady presence of the almighty Poseidon.

Up Above the World so High  – ‘The distinction between night and day is disappearing in the most heavily populated regions of the Earth.’ Knowing what we do about biological clocks and the impact it has on physical and mental health, I am surprised this isn’t a better known fact or discussed fact.

Although the stories have a common denominator, they are all incredibly different. The fact that they are short actually helps the reader to take on board more information. It is like watching an art display of flashbacks or photographs being projected onto a wall for five minutes at a time.

In a time where the masses are being given conflicting information about climate change, and it has certainly fallen prey to the false news propaganda groups, it is important to try and change the perspective of this issue.

The global companies who control our energy resources are really invested in trying to convince the common man and woman, that climate change doesn’t exist. That the extreme weather, the change in seasons, the change of climates is but merely a natural evolution of earth.

It isn’t. We are destroying our habitat, our species and other species. We have probably already passed the point of no return and the inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. We should at least try to sustain the planet we live on for future generations.

Nothing Is As It Was is an ode to the planet and at the same time a call to rise up and do something, even if it is just that one small thing you can do for your environment.

Buy Nothing Is As It Was at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by Retreat West on 3 May 2018 Follow @RetreatWest

Retreat West Books is an independent press publishing paperback books and ebooks.

Founder, Amanda Saint, is a novelist and short story writer. She’s also a features journalist writing about environmental sustainability and climate change. So all Retreat West Books publications take advantage of digital technology advances and are print-on-demand, in order to make best use of the world’s finite resources.

Retreat West Books is an arm of Amanda’s creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs fiction writing retreats, courses and competitions and provides editorial services.

Initially started to publish the anthologies of winning stories in the Retreat West competitions, Retreat West Books is now open for submissions for short story collections, novels and memoirs. Submission info can be found here.

Nothing Is As It Was – About the Authors

Mirror Image by Anna Orridge – Anna Orridge has a BA in English Literature from York University and an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from the University of East Anglia. Her short story, “Rook”, was shortlisted for the Bedford Prize in 2013. The synopsis and opening for an adult novel “Assemblage” made the shortlist for the 2015 Flash 500 competition. Another story, “Number Four”, appeared in the Spring edition of Mslexia in 2016. She is currently writing a Middle Grade novel and was a winner in this year’s #pg70pit competition, which judges the strength of the voice of a novel’s 70th page. The novel has also been selected for the longlist of the 2017 Flash 500 competition. Anna has worked in Spain, Slovakia and Bolivia as an English language tutor, but now lives with her husband and two children in Croydon. Follow @orridge_anna

Me and the Mountain by Vicky Ridley – Vicki Ridley is an author of speculative and young adult fiction and is currently studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University. She has worked for twenty-five years in schools, youth and community organisations, and universities and is now following her ambition of writing genre and graphic fiction. A passionate advocate of protecting the environment, Vicki is a member of the Scottish Green Party. She avoids writing dystopian climate fiction, remaining hopeful that we can achieve a positive environmental future if we work together in the here and now. Vicki is currently working on her first novel, which will feature utopian climate fiction as well as dead Romans. Follow @VickiRidley1

Portal by Philip Sobell – Philip Sobell has been writing short stories (science fiction, horror and fantasy) for several years. ‘Portal’ is his first publication and he recently joined Retreat West as an intern, working on the social media platforms and contributing content ideas. Follow @PhilipSobell

No-Car by David McVey – David McVey lectures in Communication at New College Lanarkshire. He has published over 120 short stories and a great deal of non-fiction that focuses on history and the outdoors. He enjoys hill-walking, visiting historic sites, reading, watching telly, and supporting his home-town football team, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy FC.

Sun by Wiebo Grobler – Born in South-Africa and raised in a small farming community, Wiebo only had his imagination to keep him occupied, till he discovered the magic of books. He fell in love with the characters within from an early age. Soon he created his own worlds and stories in his head. These stories developed voices, which clamoured to be heard. So, he writes. Shortlisted for his Flash Fiction and Poetry for the Fish Publishing Prize he has various stories published in Molotov Lit, National Flash Fiction Day, Reflex Fiction and more. Follow @WieboG

Warrior by F E Clark – F.E. Clark lives in Scotland. She writes and paints, and takes much inspiration from the natural world where she lives. The changing weather and seasons are of great concern to her. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, read her words at: Molotov Cocktail Literary Magazine, Poems for All, Occulum, Moonchild Magazine, Ink In Thirds, Poems for All, Folded Word, Ellipsis Zine, Story Seed Vault, Luna Luna Magazine, and The Wild Hunt. Follow @feclarkart Visit feclarkart.com

Graduation Day at the Fishmonger’s Institute by Anne Summerfield – Anne Summerfield writes short and long fiction and poetry. Her most recent publications include stories in Sleep is a Beautiful Colour (NFFD Anthology 2017) and Flash Fiction Festival One. She has work online and forthcoming in Spelk, Ellipsis, New Flash Fiction Review and Jellyfish Review. Her story ‘Lamb’ was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2018. Se is based in Hampshire, England. Follow @summerwriter

The GoodLuck Camera by Kimberly Christensen – A resident of the Pacific Northwest, Kimberley Christensen writes about all things sustainable-from organic gardening to breastfeeding to waste reduction. After a number of years working for CoolMom, Seattle’s first climate nonprofit focused on women and families, she recently left her position to write in climate fiction. She hopes to introduce readers to the personal side of climate change.

The Other Side of Me by Norman Coburn – Norman Coburn is a novelist and short story writer based on the East coast of Scotland. Steering clear of crime fiction, he writes mystery stories anchored in nature and Scotland’s rich mythology. Living and working by the sea he’s watching the gradual affects of climate change through changing patterns of bird and fish migration. He likes his stories to be gritty but seasoned with hope.

Bottleneck 2048 by Neil MacDonald – Neil MacDonald has published short stories in Structo, Gold Dust, and other magazines, and articles about writing in Writer’s Forums. His historical fantasy novel A Prize of Sovereigns was serialised by an online publisher. He won the 2017 Plot of Gold competition and was awarded a Cinnamon Press mentorship in 2018 for his novel The Tears of Boabdil. He is the creator and administrator of the Farnham Short Story Competition. Drawing on experiences working in international aid, he has also published six non-fiction books. Born in Scotland, he was raised in Jamaica, and has lived and worked in England, The US and South Africa. He now lives in a cottage in Surrey, England together with his wife and the obligatory cat and dog. Visit neilmacdonaldauthor.wordpress.com

Nothing Is As It Was by Nick Ryle Wright – Nick Ryle Wright is a writer of short fiction, currently based in the New Forest, Hampshire. He has had stories published in various magazines and journals, both online and in print, and is a first reader for The Nottingham Review. Follow @nickrylew

Healng AthaBasca by Keygan Sands – Keygan Sands is an MFA candidate at the Iowa State UNiversity’s Creative Writing and Environment Program. Prior to that, she earned a B.S. in marine science and was a naturalist at a cave. Her writing explores the reciprocity that exists between human and natural systems. She has previously been published in Cold Mountain Review. Follow @dracoaestas

The Arctic Commandments by Cath Barton – Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmericCymru Prize for the novella 2017 for Th Plankton Collector, which will be published in September 2018 by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. She has been awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme and is currently working on a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the online flash fiction community, she is also a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review. Follow @CathBarton1 Visit cathbarton.com

I am Stealthy, I am Swift by CJ Conrad – CJ Conrad is a deaf, overweight forty-something who believes he will be forever seventeen. He likes dogs, food and welding but not in combination! C also believes that tea is the greatest drink in the world, and that the world would be a far more peaceful place if everyone made room for a brew and a biccy!

New Moon by Dave Murray – Dave Murray is a Manchester based writer of plays , poems and short stories.

Like a Captain of Old, Going Down with the Ship by Fiona Morgan – Fiona Morgan is a reluctant lawyer by day, n enthusiastic writer by night. She loves common sense, history, and bee. She doesn’t like anchovies or climate change deniers. She is currently working on her first novel about a woman who becomes a pilot for the Air Transport Auxilary in WW2. Follow @gosquatkey

Blue Planet Collection by Jane Roberts – Jane Roberts is a freelance writer living in Shropshire, UK. Her fiction is published  in a variety of anthologies and journals including; Litro, Bare Fiction Magazine, The Lonely Crowd, Wales Arts Review, LossLit Magazine, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, NFFD Anthologies, 100 Stories for Haiti, Stories for Homes, Refugees Welcome Anthology, and Unthology 9 (2017); Bridport Prize Flash Fiction (2013/2016), Fish Short Story Prize (2015/2016) and Flash Prize (2016). She is one third of Literary Salmon (Saboteur Awards Longlisted, “Best Anthology” 2016) and is a participant in the Writing West Midlands’ Room 204 Writer Development Programme 2017/2018.

Follow @JaneEHRoberts Visit janeehroberts.wordpress.com

Come and Gone by Angelita Bradley – Angelita Bradney is the winner of the 2017 National Memory Day story competition. Her short fiction has been published by Litro, Stories for Homes, Retreat West, Ellipsis Zine and The Occulum, and has also been shortlisted in several competitions including the Fish Prize. She lives in south east London and is currently writing a novel at the Faber Academy. Follow @AngelBradn

The Warming by Karen Morrow – Karen Morrow is a writer from the South Coast of NSW, Australia. Along with essays and articles, her short fiction has been published in a number of literary journals including Vine Leaves, Kindling Vols 1 and 2 (Writers Edit), Great Ocean Quarterly and Kids Book Review. She has appeared on several literary award short lists including: Launceston Tasmania Literary Award (2014), Shoalhaven Literary Award (2013), Cowley Literary Award (2013) and Writer’s Web Literary Award (2013). Karen has a degree in Social Science, is a member of the Shoalhaven City Council Arts Board and Director of the Shoalhaven Writer’s Festival. Visit karenmorrowwriter.com

Plenty More Fish in the Sea by Luke Strachan – Originally from the highlands of Scotland, Luke Strachan is a London-based illustrator, artist and author. Luke has a deep love of nature and wildlife, enjoying trekking, scuba diving and anything else that immerses him in the natural environment. A keen traveller, Luke has spent time working and living in Tibetan Monasteries in India and the remote coral atolls of the Marshall Islands. Since moving to London, Luke has published his first graphic novel as well as founding an art and design business. Follow @lucasstrachan Visit rooftopfox.com

Hasta La Vista, Babsy by Fee Johnstone – Fee Johnstone is managing editor of a medical journal and lives in Scotland. She enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction and came third in the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, ‘the greenest writing competition on the planet’ in 2016 but is still convinced this was an admin error. She has a few pieces scheduled for publication in some awesome zines (Paper and Ink, Razur Cuts, Ellipsis and Ghostland). To combine her love for cats and craft beer, she’s working on teaching her feline friends to pour the perfect stout.

Walking with the Weatherby Rob Walton – Rob Walton grew up in Scunthorpe, and now lives in North Shields. His short fiction and poetry for adults and children appears in various magazines and anthologies. His flashes have been published by 101 words (US), Bangor Literary Journal, Flash Frontier (NZ) Ham, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Number Eleven, Paper Swans, Popshot, Pygmy Giant, Reflex, Spelk and others. He is a past winner and current judge of the UK’s National Flash Fiction Day micro-fiction competition.

Too Late by Ros Collins – After twenty-five years of teaching, Ros retired to the seaside town of Felixstowe with her husband, where she enjoys her hobbies of writing, reading, tennis and blustery walks. She as been short listed in several competitions and came second in the inaugural Reflex Fiction competition. The subject of climate change holds both a fascination and a horror for her.

Where Lies the Line by Taria Karillion – Taria Karillion grew up in a tiny cottage in the grounds of a castle, and is supposedly descended from an infamous pirate ( much to the amusement of her fencing coach at the time of discovery). Despite her historical background, however, and thanks to an accident involving the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a staircase and a nasty attack of gravity, she became a thoroughly addicted fan of science fiction. Her work has won a Hagrid-sized handful of awards and enough publications to fill his other hand. Her future plans include a solo collection and a quest for World Peace and a calorie-free chocolate. Not much to ask, really…

Airpocalypse by Rachel Rivett – Author of three picture books, Little Grey and the great Mystery, Are You Sad, Little Bear? and I Imagine, and shortlisted for SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices 2014, Rachel Rivett has an MA in Writing for Children. Her short stories appear in the Mother’s Milk anthologies, The Forgotten and the Fantastical and she is currently working on several projects – in snatched and borrowed moments – while she home-educates her children. Visit writewild.weebly.com

New Shoes by Charlie Hill – Charlie Hill is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, a pamphlet of short stories and a novella, about which Nicholas Royle – writing in his introduction to Best British Short Stories 2017 – said: ‘An engrossing piece that…were the author French and his readers all French, might well have been regarded as a worthy late edition to the school of existentialist literature.’ Visit charliehill.org.uk/about/

Visit wordsforthewild.co.uk/?page_id=935

Thirst by Lorraine Wilson – Having spent many years working in remote corners of the world, Loraine Wilson now lives by the sea n Scotland and writes stories that are touched by folklore and the wilderness. She has had her short stories published in magazines and anthologies, and tweets about science, writing, cats and weirdnesses. Follow @raine_clouds

Deluge by Susmita Bhattacharya – Susmita Bhattacharya was born in Mumbai. She teaches creative writing at Winchester University and leads the SO: Write Young Writers project in Southampton. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian), was published in 2015. Her short stories, essays and poems have been widely published and also broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She won the Winchester Writers Festival Memoir prize in 2016. She lives in Winchester with her family. Follow @Susmitatweets

Visit susmita-bhattacharya.blogspot.co.uk

Fireworks by David Barker – David was born in Cheshire but now lives i Berkshire. he is married to an author of children’s picture books and they have a daughter who loves stories. David spent 26 years working in the City as an economist, trying to predict the future. His first novel, Blue Gold, was published by Urbane last year and the sequel, Rose Gold, comes out in May. the final part of the trilogy is due in 2019.

David appears on Radio Berkshire’s monthly show, Radio Reads, discussing books with host Bill Buckley and author Claire Dyer. He loves reading, especially adventure stories, sci-fi and military history. Outside of family life, his other interests include tennis, golf, surfing and board games. Follow @BlueGold201 Visit davidbarkerauthor.co.uk

Ophelia Rising by Elaine Desmond – Elaine Desmond is a full-time author based in Ireland. She holds a degree in Psychology and Business, as well as a PhD in Sociology. Elaine is the author of a number of academic articles on risk and democracy and, in 2017, published a non-fiction book with Palgrave Macmillan. Legitimation in a World at Risk: The Case of Genetically Modified Crops in India is based upon a year’s research in the politically volatile and economically vulnerable region of Telangana. She lectures on Environmental Sociology and Globalisation and Development at University College Cork, and is affiliated with the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge University. Details of her academic work can be found at cambridge.academia.edu/ElaineDesmond

Elaine has a Certificate  in Creative Writing from the Writers Bureau in the Uk and has had articles published in newspapers and magazines. Her short stories and poems have been runners-up in a number of literary awards. In 2008, she wrote a one-act play entitled A Footprint of Roses about WOZA, a women’s civil movement in Zimbabwe. This was produced throughout Europe and the United States and is available online. Elaine is a member of the Virgin Slate Writers Group and the Corccodorca Theatre Development Company, both in Cork.

The Window Box by Stephen Connolly – Stephen Connolly grew up in Canada, Scotland and the Republic of South Africa. He has published a number of short stories and his pays have been performed in Bath, Brighton, London and Salisbury. In 2015 he graduated with an MA in Scriptwriting from Bath Spa University. Off The Rock Productions will record his radio play ‘The Destiny of Shoes’ in 2018. He was at school with the Proclaimers who probably don’t remember him. His story The Window Box is a chapter from his current novel-in-progress. Visit stephenconnollywriter.com

Up Above the World so High by Rose McGinty – Rose McGinty is the author of Electric Souk, published in 2017 by Urbane Publications. Rose lives in Kent and works for the NHS in East London, and has worked overseas, including the Middle East. She is an alumni of Trinity College, Dublin, and the Faber Academy. Rose has won several writing competitions and had short stories selected for anthologies. Se’s now working on he second novel, a thriller that has taken her to some rather gothic hospital  corridors. Follow @rosemcginty

edited by Amanda Saint Follow @saintlywriter and Gillian Baker