Welcome to my blog. I am not a very regular blogger, but I try to keep this site updated with news and information. If there's none of the above I may just share my random ruminations.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Everyone Loves Skating, Don't They?

 Skating at Somerset House by Nikki Moore
Out on 4th December Book 1, #LoveLondon Series

There’s nothing Holly Winterlake loves more than Christmas and skating, so working as an Ice Marshall at London's Somerset House is a dream come true.

Noel Summerford hates the festive season and is a disaster on the ice, so taking his godson to Somerset House is his idea of the nightmare before Christmas!

Things are bound to get interesting when these two collide…

With a forty foot Christmas tree, an assortment of well meaning friends and relatives, and a mad chocolate Labrador, will this festive season be one to remember … or forget?


More books in the #LoveLondon series coming soon!

Released December 14 - May 15 by HarperImpulse;

Bk 2 New Year at The Ritz (Short Story)
Bk 3 Valentine's on Primrose Hill (Short Story)
Bk 4 Cocktails in Chelsea (Short Story)
Bk 5 Strawberries at Wimbledon (Short Story)
Bk 6 Picnics in Hyde Park (Novel)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Close Encounter with Fame in Paxos

Though we'd visited on a day trip from Parga in 2002, this was out first holiday in the Greek island of Paxos.  I've talked about it already, but what I haven't mentioned previously was our brush with celebrity. My husband, Geoff, is very into music and the previous day, while we were walking through the tiny harbour village of Loggos, he suddenly span round and eyes on a retreating figure, said, "I'm sure that was.... I saw him on Jools Holland only a few weeks ago."

Though I knew of him, I wouldn't have recognised the singer/songwriter he mentioned and I thought no more about it until Spiros Anemogiannis, owner of the bar we frequented for breakfast and late night Metaxxa, told us there was going to be a jam session in the bar that night. The man Geoff had spotted had a villa nearby and wanted to play. We were instructed, very seriously, that we were NOT to spread the word. We were thrilled and honoured, feeling that we'd been picked out as 'cool'.















Neil Finn on guitar, Spiros on accordion, plus a bazouki player.

We had a fabulous evening.  Though he's the front man from Crowded House, the bar was far from crowded, and NewZealander, Neil Finn put on a great performance. And yes, he did play and sing, Weather with You.


It was early in the holiday when this happened, and we rather assumed it would go on like this. We had a wonderful time but Neil Finn - or any other passing sleb - failed to put in any further appearances.  Ah well, you mustn't be greedy.
                                                    I'm definitely looking over-excited

Friday, August 15, 2014

August - The centenary of the start of the Great War


My grandpas both fought in and survived WW1.
My dad’s father, John Jamie Allan, (stage name Jamie Dallas) was a music hall and variety performer - ‘a song and dance’ man. During the early days of the war he wanted to do his bit and repeatedly volunteered, but was repeatedly turned down, probably because he was asthmatic and was considered too old.  But the very poignant aspect to his story is that minds changed.  On the same day the papers arrived accepting him into the London Scottish (he was by then 36 and still had asthma, but presumably the losses were so great that they’d lowered the bar to entry and would take almost anyone), sod’s law decreed that he should also receive the offer of a contract to perform at the Drury Lane theatre. It was the biggest break of his career but he was unable to take it up.

Pictured right, John Jamie Allan is shown here in costume - possibly a Doyley Carte Opera, a pantomime, or comedy sketch.  Date unknown. 
He suffered injuries during the war which, despite his best efforts when he’d recovered and the war was over, prevented him from fully resuming his former career.  He could still sing but was no longer able to dance and do the 'prat falls' required in his type of slapstick. It was a double whammy because his disability coincided with the decline of variety theatre, and though there were still opportunities, they were fewer and further between.
The only memory I have of him is visiting him after he’d been confined to bed with severe chest problems - asthma, bronchitis or emphysema (he may even have been exposed to mustard gas). I was not yet 4 but apparently I danced for him, which made him laugh. He died not long afterwards. From 1918 until his death in 1952, Granddad had lived an increasingly limited, financially straitened and disappointed life. 
Pictured right, John Jamie Allan in uniform. Possibly around 1916.


We, his grandchildren, called my mum’s father, Popsy. We called her mother, Nanny. Nanny and Popsy - real name James (Jim) and Louisa Jane Kelsey - were cockneys.  Jim had volunteered at the start of war, when he was still a teenager aged 17 or 18.  He was wounded in the knee at the battle of the Somme and invalided home to recover.  When he was fit again he was posted to Ireland, where there was considerable unrest at the time. Even though he felt unwelcome and uncomfortable there - he recalled being spat at in the street - it was a mercy he wasn’t sent back to the front and like so many who served, he never spoke about his WW1 experiences.
Pictured right - Jim Kelsey poses here with his mother. It is probably 1914, just before he left for the war, aged 17 or 18.  
He went on to live a happy, modest but fulfilled life. An abiding memory from my childhood is of crowding around the piano with all the family, in my grandparents front room, while Popsy played ‘pub style’ and sang all the popular songs of his youth. We all joined in. I still have a love of the songs of Al Johnson and all those songs inextricably linked with the Great War.  
Pictured left, Jim with Louisa Jane and between them, my mother, Irene. 1922 or 23
Popsy died, aged 72, in 1969. Shortly after his death I spent a night in my grandparents’ house to keep Nanny company.  I woke up with a song running through my head.  It was almost like a message from Popsy, telling me not to be downhearted, that everything would be all right. It still brings a lump to my throat whenever I hear it.  Keep the Home Fires Burning.


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Monday, June 2, 2014

My Visit to The Hay Literary Festival





I have thought of myself as a writer since..... 
Well, it’s been a long time since 'Just Before Dawn' was published. The prospect that I would  one day go to the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival as a featured author was a fervent ambition. I was still deluded enough to believe that it was within the bounds of possibility.

But it was our son’s literary efforts, not mine, that took me there.  




On the first Saturday of the Hay Festival, Thomas J T Williams was billed to appear on the Starlight Stage to speak to an audience of parents and children about his book, 'The Tale of King Harald’. The book details the life and exploits of Harald ‘Hardrada’ (hard ruler) Sigurdsson, the Viking King defeated by our own King Harold Godwinson, at Stamford Bridge in 1066, just before the Norman Invasion. 
The night before we were due to go, the weather forecast could not have been much worse.  I abandoned my initial intention to wear high-heeled ankle boots for flat shoes. Wellingtons would have been more appropriate - that’s what the experienced were wearing on their feet.  But then, why wouldn’t an open air festival, situated in a field, and housed in tents, not be subject to the conditions so often seen at Glastonbury? This is England, after all.
We’d been forward thinking enough to make for the wet weather car park, but it was overflowing and we had to park in the driveway leading to it.  We didn’t get out of paying the £5 charge though.  Then the interminable wait for the shuttle bus. After 20 minutes standing in a long queue, the rain pounding down on our umbrellas, vehicles splashing tidal waves of muddy rainwater up our legs as they passed, we first began to wonder if there was only one shuttle bus. And then we began to wonder what on earth we were doing here! 
When the bus eventually arrived it
was too small to take us all.  Fortunately shuttle buses then 
turned up mob-handed. Hay is a small town, with narrow streets.  The journey was tortuous and slow. Eventually we arrived at the site and, thankfully, there were walkways laid out across the sodden ground to the various tents, but by now they too were wet, muddy and slimy. 

We knew we had to make our way to the box office where our tickets were being held for us. But the tickets weren't all that was waiting for us and the day suddenly became radiant again.  Our son, Tom, and daughter-in-law, Zee, were there and the tickets, which we’d expected to pay for, were complementary. Not only that, seats in the front row of the sell-out event, had been reserved for us. We were so proud to be there, enhanced by my own claim to be taking part in the event. I was not just Tom's mum, I was the illustrator of his book. (To find out how and why see the previous post on How the Vikings Invaded my Life.)

Our son has performed in front of audiences since he was a teenager. But the only time we’d seen him was at his school, where he and his friends had improvised some surreal sketches for an end of year show. Through university and later, he played and sang in several heavy metal bands which gigged around the country and abroad. And since those days he has become a regular speaker at conferences, on subjects connected to the early Medieval period, the focus of his PhD. But we had never seen him perform and didn’t know what to expect, until the first Saturday of the Hay Festival. 
Had I been an X Factor judge I would have said “He owned the stage”! As the project curator of the Vikings-Life and Legend exhibition at the British Museum, Tom needed to balance his talk between his own book, and Vikings in general, and he did so brilliantly, even though I am hardly an objective commentator. Throughout he used images from the exhibition, plus illustrations from the book to make his points. The audience was largely children, but he didn't talk down to them and neither did he talk over their heads. He was witty and informative and answered the clamour of questions with grace and good humour. Afterwards, in the book tent, we had a queue of people who wanted their books signed. It was great fun.

But that wasn’t the end of feeling like a real celebrity.  We lunched for free in the “authors” tent where we hobnobbed (or, more accurately, spotted)  Peter Snow, and then Jennifer Saunders and Ade Edmondson (who, by the way, were wearing wellingtons).







It was a long drive home to London for Tom and Zee, so we went our separate ways shortly after lunch.  As my husband and I crossed the river Severn, on our way home, the sun came out.  We didn’t need it.  We already had a warm glow.



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How The Vikings Invaded My Life

Many years ago I worked as an illustrator in advertising. Over the years I’ve continued to design our annual family Christmas cards and have taken on a few small private jobs; but, to all intents and purposes, I gave up commercial art when I was first published as a novelist.

Christmas following the election of the coalition Government
copyright Gilli Allan

Scroll forward many years to January 2013, when my son, Tom Williams, started a contract with the British Museum, as Project Curator for the ‘Vikings - Life and Legend’ exhibition, scheduled to open in the spring of 2014.  My husband, Geoff Williams, and I were thrilled.  It was a great opportunity for our son and I had no inkling at that time that the ‘Vikings’ would involve me in any way, other than as Tom’s supporter and cheer-leader. 

It wasn’t long, however, before Tom conceived the idea that the British Museum should produce a children’s book to accompany the exhibition, which he would write. He proposed to base a story on the life of Harald ‘Hardrada’ Sigurdsson, the Viking king who was beaten and killed by our own King Harold Godwinson at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, just before the battle of Hastings. Tom asked me if I was interested in illustrating the book. His vision was an ornamented ‘arts and crafts’ style, in black and white, with borders and decorative panels.  How could I say no? For one thing I wanted to support my son in this venture. His idea was far more likely to be given a hearing if he already had an illustrator on board. It was also a wonderful and totally unexpected opportunity for me, and the style of illustration he envisaged was one I was comfortable with.  I might be scared stiff, having never done any book illustration, but I sensed it was a once in a lifetime chance which, if it came to fruition, I would forever regret turning down.

I managed to push the idea to the back of my mind; it was still a purely theoretical concept, but when Tom pitched the idea to the British Museum in the early summer of 2013, they were immediately interested. What had I let myself in for? Time went by and it was the end of August before the decision was made to give Tom and me the go ahead to produce a sample first chapter.  At this point there were no still guarantees but, if the project was agreed, the timetable was looking increasingly tight. The deadline was the end of October. 

Tom sent me the opening passage of chapter one, with the brief for an illuminated capital letter, two illustrations and a panel. Instead of allowing myself to worry about whether or not I was capable of doing it, I just launched myself into the job. There wasn’t time to fret and to get tense.

"Long ago, in the days when dragons could still be found, there lived a Viking king. He was fierce and warlike, brave and strong, cunning and cruel. He was called Harald Hard-ruler, and his name was feared wherever it was heard. But it was not always so….

This tale begins when Harald was still a boy. Fifteen years old, he had awoken alone, deep in the dark forest, and wounded near to death. The forest was full of terrors: there were wolves and bears, and more dreadful things too it was said. Harald had listened as a child to the stories told by the skalds, the poets who recited ancient tales in the halls of wealthy chiefs. They sung of dreadful magics and the wakeful dead, of giants and trolls and foul dwellers in inky bogs.

Harald had never thought much about such things. But now, as he looked into the black spaces between the trunks of the silent trees, wounded and afraid, those tales came back to him and filled him up with fear. He reached for the cross around his neck and wondered whether God would protect him, the God his half-brother had fought and died for."

When the commissioning editors at British Museum
Press approved the project, I was thrilled ... 
and terrified. We had the go-ahead, but they didn’t
want the kind of stylised and decorative illustrations
that I felt most comfortable with. I was also informed
that I couldn’t just make things up! Although my
drawing of the rock and the crow was liked, 
(see right margin illustration) the short, wide-bladed 
sword and rustic shield I'd dreamt up were completely
wrong, apparently. Artistic license could only be 
stretched so far. Any Viking artefact about which there
is existing information, or of which there are examples
in the exhibition, had to be depicted as accurately as
possible. 

And British Museum Press required far more images
than I’d envisaged providing. I signed a contract to 
produce an illuminated capital, as well as four 
illustrations, including at least one full-colour plate,
for each chapter of a five chapter book, to be called
'THE TALE OF KING HARALD - The Last Viking
Adventure'.  

From then on a huge number of emails flew back 
and forth between my son and I.  Mine with pleas for 
information “What did eleventh century Novgorod look
like?” or “what did Vikings wear on their feet?” and his
with many references attached. I used loads of ink
printing them all out. 






Until all of this happened I knew nothing about Harald Hardradaother than that his life intersected with English history at Stamford Bridge, in 1066. 
His exploits appear in the Icelandic Sagas and, although some of the more extraordinary detail may be fanciful, the majority of this story is based on historicafact. Independent evidence confirms the vast range of his travels through Europe and into the Middle East, his battles, his influence and his ruthlessness. He wasn't awarded the nickname Hard Ruler - for nothing.  


Never did I expect that at this time in my life I’d be illustrating an elaborate map detailing Harald’s travels, Viking long-ships, eleventh century Constantinople, the aftermath of battle, and a burning village not to mention a polar bear arriving at the court of King Harald (and many more in a similar vein).  

As it turned out, it was easy working with Tom, as we are so in tune and know immediately what the other means. This was essential, as we did not see one another, face to face, throughout the whole project. Thank goodness for the Internet. Doing the illustrations in batches, chapter by chapter, and getting them agreed before knowing what was next, meant I was never overawed by the amount of work still ahead of me.  This approach also meant that British Museum Press could see that the project was on track, and when Tom had not finished writing the book by the end of October (the day job - curating a block-buster exhibition - was making huge demands on his time) the deadline was extended.  It was all wrapped up by the middle of December.

One of the very welcome bonuses of the whole project was that it gave me the idea for our 2013 Christmas card!

The Vikings DID NOT wear horned helmets
copy-right Gilli Allan 

‘THE TALE OF KING HARALD - The last Viking Adventure’ was published in March. 

The book contains not only the story of King Harald Sigurdsson and his adventures. There are factual sections interleaved between the chapters, which describe the culture, beliefs, achievements and conquests of the Vikings, with very accurate drawings of the artefacts, weapons and jewellery seen in the exhibition. Also written by Tom Williams, these passages were illustrated in-house, by William Webb.

The British Museum's  'Vikings - Life and Legend' exhibition  finishes on June 22.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Truly Madly Deeply


It was Katie Fforde who badgered me into writing a short story and submitting it for possible inclusion in the 2014 RNA anthology - Truly, Madly, Deeply.  
In fact, “Why don’t you try writing a short story?”, had been a constant refrain over the years, as rejection after rejection landed on my doormat, and Katie’s shoulder became increasingly soggy. 
But I’m nothing if not stubborn, and I did not want to write short stories!  I don’t believe I have the right instincts; I prefer the large canvas that offers the space and time to ramble and to find my story.  

And then.... On our drive back to Gloucestershire from an RNA conference in Caerleon (which very nearly involved a diversion via Port Talbot because we were too busy chatting), the gauntlet was more forcefully laid down. Holiday Romance was the result.

I was amazed and thrilled to have Holiday Romance accepted for the anthology. The fact that my story is not in the paperback, but only appears among the bonus eleven in the extended, digital version, did not blunt my delight.  How could I be anything but delighted? After all, Holiday Romance is the first short story I’ve written since I was a sixteen year old school girl. 








http://www.amazon.co.uk/Truly-Madly-Deeply-Adele-Parks-ebook/dp/B00FBFJX52/



My story - Holiday Romance - is also available in one of the shorter digital versions. Part 9.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Truly-Madly-Deeply-Part-Catherine-ebook/dp/B00I5R06MW/

All you need is LOVE
Published 21st February 2014, RRP £7.99
Truly, Madly, Deeply, published by Mills & Boon, in association with the Romantic Novelists’ Association, is packed with brand new stories from the UK’s best-loved writers.
Truly Madly Deeply is a charming and compulsive read for women of all ages. From wedding days to special anniversaries, steamy one-night encounters to everlasting love, it takes readers on an exciting romantic adventure where love really is all you need.
The collection brings together 24 specially-selected short stories from best-selling authors including Adele Parks, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Miranda Dickinson, as well as a selection of rising stars of contemporary women’s fiction.  
Truly, Madly, Deeply, available in paperback and eBook, is the ultimate collection of romantic shorts, making it a perfect indulgent treat this Mother’s Day.
Mills & Boon will also be publishing the stories in Truly Madly Deeply as eBook bundles. These will comprise three to four stories each and will include an additional ten exclusive stories. Available from spring 2014 at Millsandboon.co.uk and all good eBook retailers, they make the perfect bite-sized romantic treat.
Truly Madly Deeply is published on 21st February and will be available in all good paperback and eBook retailers RRP £7.99, and at www.millsandboon.co.uk




Sunday, January 12, 2014

MY WRITING PROCESS

My Writing Process

On the shelf above the computer, something to keep me motivated and inspired



My thanks to Jenny Harper for inviting me to take part in the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour. I will be trying to answer the following 4 questions: What am I working on? How does my work differ from others of its genre? Why do I write what I do? How does my writing process work?  
On the 20th January, 3 other writers will be taking on the challenge and offering their own take on the same questions. Details at the bottom of this post.   
 At first sight of the questions, I admit I almost turned down the opportunity. I know I won’t be able to give concise or comprehensive answers.  So I will probably veer away from the point and try to distract you. Marks out of ten for how well you think I’ve done. 

Here we go:

1)  What am I working on?

If only I knew.  For me, plots reveal themselves gradually, while I am actually in the process of writing a book. (The resolution to TORN came to me in a sudden flash, when I was within two chapters of the end.) Before I start I will have established the main characters, but only up to a point. I’ll have their sketchy back-stories, as well as the initial scenario in which they come together, but that’s all.  The only book I planned has never been published. Typically, I have to commit to writing a book while I still have only the faintest notion of where it’s going and how it’s all going to turn out.
This little trot around the houses is a diversion. I am not going to give you an overview of the untitled book I am due to start writing any minute, because I can’t. All I can tell you is that I am planning to write a culture clash novel.  In brief, Academia meets TOWIE or perhaps Time Team meets EducatingRita

2)  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It’s hard to be objective about your own work, isn’t it? Had I done Eng Lit at A level or University, I might be better able to deconstruct my books.  All I know is that the style of my writing IS different from that of other writers of ‘relationship/romantic’ fiction. I wish it wasn’t. I have always wanted to find another author I can compare myself to. It would have made life easier over the years.  Any suggestions welcome!  
It is far simpler to tell you what my stories are not. They’re not comedies, though they have their light-hearted and humorous moments. They’re not chick-lit, although they are contemporary and typically about characters in their thirties. They’re not sagas; they don’t have large casts of characters, although family dynamics and parenthood often inform the plot.  And they are not ‘romance’ in a conventional sense, though I think they are ultimately, deeply romantic.  But I have taken on this challenge so I’ve got to try and describe what they ARE!
I’ve sometimes called my books ‘love stories for grown-ups’.  They face up to the complexities, messiness and absurdities in modern relationships.  Everybody has hopes, fears and disappointments. Everybody has a past, many have baggage.  I write about believable and complex people with flaws, preoccupations, problems and difficult relationships, who have to negotiate their way through a recognisable and sometimes uncomfortable world.  Life isn’t a fairy tale and love has consequences. 
I am grateful to Lynnette Sofras (Manic Scribbler) for the following quote from her review of LIFE CLASS.
 “What makes Gilli Allan's stories unique is their sense of honesty, of gritty realism mixed with a little twist of magic. They take me out of my comfort zone and make me face up to aspects of life it's usually easier to ignore.” 

3)  Why do I write what I do?

This is probably the hardest of all the questions to answer. There are writers who can turn their hand to any genre with equal enthusiasm and success.  But most of us, I suspect, have a particular bee in our bonnet that drives us to write what we write. Can you imagine KatieFforde suddenly inspired to write sci fi, or Anna Jacobs to write blood and guts urban thrillers?  But recognising this truth does not help me isolate why we are impelled to set off in the individual direction we choose.
Though I loved the Brontës, Austen and Heyer I’ve never felt the urge to write historicals. Though I now read thrillers and murder mysteries, I’ve not been tempted to delve into forensics or police procedures.  I used to enjoy J G Ballard’s early science fiction, but I’ve never been inspired to create my own dystopia. Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy is a favourite all-time read, but his fantasy world is so perfectly realised, anything I could dream up would only ever be a pale imitation.
When I was young it was the damaged hero who engaged me most powerfully. At some point, in every favourite TV programme or novel, the hero would be wounded. The handsome prince, the cowboy, the ‘Red Indian’ brave, the knight in armour brought low by their injuries, was a very intense and moving image for the pre-pubescent Gilli. 
The heroine’s role in the story was always to minister to his wounds and ultimately to ‘save’ him.  When I started to write my own stories, they centred on wounded war heroes, leather-clad motor-cyclists injured in horrific accidents and drug-addicted pop-stars. As I grew older, I no longer needed a physically damaged hero; psychological torture was sufficient (which possibly explains my love for Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’, first read when I was fifteen). 

Even though the books I’ve written as an adult far more closely reflect episodes I’ve witnessed, my own reflections on life and  personal experience (none more so than in FLY OR FALL), I can perceive this dark thread still running through the weave of my stories. I’m not interested in the good, the successful and the deserving.  My characters, male and female, need to be flawed, carrying with them the damage and burdens of past mistakes. And before the end of the story I’ll give them a bit more of the same. I’ve obviously got a sadistic streak!

4)   How does my writing process work?

My work place
At last an easy-peasy question!  Two word answer. It doesn’t.
Perhaps I should explain.  I have no routine. No discipline.  I write when I am in the mood, until......
Beginning a new book is ghastly. There is always something else that is more urgent. Emails need answering, there’s shopping, ironing, cooking or gardening to do.  For me, being a ‘seat of the pants’ style of writer, the opening chapters of a new book compare unfavourably to a weary trudge through an impenetrable forest, in deep fog, with a sucking bog underfoot, but that is until.......
.......the story begins to come alive.  Once that has happened, writing down the story which is now unfolding rapidly in my imagination is totally compulsive. It is all I want to do. I have to find some routine and discipline for the rest of my life, otherwise there’d be nothing to eat and we’d be living in squalor.
I was once told that to be a writer you have to have an obsessive personality. I’m not sure if it’s true of everyone, but it’s certainly true of me. 

I am grateful to Jenny Harper for this opportunity to waffle on about myself. I pass on the baton to three very different writers. Jo Lambert, Sandra Nachlinger and JennyTwist who will be answering the 4 questions in their own way, on the 20th of January.

Jo Lambert

Born and raised in rural Wiltshire, Jo has always been a country girl at heart.  Currently she lives on the eastern edge of Bath in a beautiful village set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here she has the best of both worlds - there is the city with its fabulous history and architecture and then there is her village where within minutes she can be walking in open countryside with fabulous views.  Landscape does inspire Jo and she tends to set her novels in villages, although her books are in no way cosy reads.  As a child she loved books and always wanted to write.  She started at an early age but only settled down to writing commercially ten years ago. 
Jo is married, owns one small grey female feline called Mollie (although Jo rather thinks Mollie owns her!) and lives with her husband and Bridget his other woman, a 47 year old white MG Midget - a fairly happy ménage a trois!

Sandra Nachlinger 

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Sandra has been writing one thing or another since childhood. She still has diaries from her school days, one of which inspired her first book I.O.U. SEX
Besides Dallas, Sandra has lived in Irving and Beaumont, Texas; Miami, Florida; and now Washington State. She loves to travel and keep journals (written and photographic) of each trip. The most exciting and memorable place she’s been was the walk from Leon to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, with her daughter-in-law and her mother. A once-in-a-lifetime experience she will treasure always.
When not writing, Sandra  likes to make quilts, sew, garden, take photos, lunch with friends, do crafty things with her glue gun, and (like Granny in her upcoming release, BLUEBONNETS FOR ELLY) spend as much time as possible with her granddaughter.

Jenny Twist

Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family. 
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant (she was The Lovely Tanya), she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford. She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic. In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat.
Besides writing, she enjoys reading, knitting and attempting to do fiendishly difficult logic puzzles. She has written two novels -  Domingo’s Angel – a love story set in Franco’s Spain and harking back to the Spanish Civil War and beyond -  and  All in the Mind – a contemporary novel about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger.
She has also written an anthology of short stories - Take One At Bedtime – and co-written the anthology  Bedtime Shadows – with the inimitable Tara Fox Hall.  She has contributed short stories to many other anthologies, of which two – Doppelganger  and Uncle Vernon have recently been released as short ebooks.
Her first self-published ebook, Away With the Fairies was released in September 2012. Her second, Mantequero, was originally published in Winter Wonders by Whimsical Publishing and has just been released as a short ebook.