Saturday 28 August 2021

Branching out with Award-winning Author Anna J. Walner of The Uluru Legacy


The Scribbler has the pleasure of working with Creative Edge publicity firm of Saskatoon and this week we bring you news of author Anna J. Walner.

Anna is the International Bestselling Author of the Award-Winning debut novel – Garkain. Book one of The Uluru Legacy series. Reading her latest press release it was interesting to read a few of the reviews the story has received. This one sticks out the most –

"Defying expectations, this award-winning debut novel by Anna J Walner, begins the Uluru Legacy Series, and leaves you craving more. A remarkably new experience, that doesn't disappoint." - Book Trib


Anna has agreed to a Branching Out Interview and sharing the synopsis of the story.



A girl in search of her family finds more than she ever dreamed possible. Blending myth with reality, this award-winning debut provides a truly unique and realistic spin on the genre you love.
Enter a world hidden to human eyes for over three centurie . A safe haven for both Vampire and Werewolf. She'll become something she never thought existed, agree to things she never thought she would, and find a life worth dying for. 


Let’s chat with Anna.



Allan: Welcome to the Scribbler, Anna. Before we chat about books and writing, please tell our readers a bit about yourself, home & family.


Anna: I began my journey to becoming an Author at a young age, escaping into the world of books. Visiting faraway places and going on thrilling adventures, while dealing with Social Anxiety. 

Over time my own voice as an Author began to take shape. The Enrovia Series was my first series, establishing my own company, Silver Dawn Publishing, and venturing out for the first time. 

I am now an International Bestselling Author of The Uluru Legacy Series, “Garkain”. My journey as an Author is only just beginning, with three more books in the series, and a new work in progress always at the ready.




Allan: There is an interesting comment in your bio. “She began this quest for her daughter.”  Tell us more about this.


Anna: The Enrovia Series was written for her, with her in mind. I wanted to give her the kind of young girl I enjoyed reading growing up, strong and fearless, even when tested by impossible odds. I wanted to give her a series and a main character that was an inspiration.




Allan: Please tell our readers what to expect when they pick up their copy of Garkain.


Anna: Something entirely new when it comes to Vampires and Lycanthropes. An enjoyable read that is focused on the character and not the scenery. You truly get to know Amelia, Roan, Anatole, and Ambrose. It’s immersive and blended with a bit of factual science and history to weave a tapestry of believability into the world of The Colony.




Allan: The novel has garnered many positive reviews but even more exciting is the Literary Titan award it received. How did that feel?


Anna: Like I was on the path to something special. That what others kept telling me, might in fact be true. The book, the series, the idea was good. Unique, and different. Exciting and enjoyable.




Synopsis for Garkain.

Amelia was dropped at a hospital in Houston 25 years ago. After searching for her biological family for years she receives a vague text: “It’s time for you to come home, we need you, the Colony needs you.”

The Colony is a secret society in the Outback of Australia, driven from Europe in 1788 to the prison colony of New Holland to begin anew. Her mother is Garkain, her father Larougo. Two different bloodlines, two different societies. One Vampire, one Werewolf. Given away instead of killed, she’s being called home for a purpose.

She’ll agree to things she thought she never would, become things she never thought existed, and agree to a bargain that will change the Colony forever.
The vampire rule book has changed in this imaginative series that defies expectations. Blending worlds together as a delicious escape in a new and unique way.

Welcome to your new obsession.

 Watch for Book two of the series.



Thank you, Anna, for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your stories.

Please follow these links to discover more about Anna and her writing: - - -

Sunday 22 August 2021

Branching Out with Author Anna Dowdall of Montreal, QC.


I was given the opportunity to read and review Anna’s latest novel – April on Paris Street. I’m glad I did. It is a compelling and entertaining story. Read my review HERE.

When I visited Anna’s eye-catching web site - Anna - I discovered it is full of fun facts about her and great reviews for her writing and lots of positive comments from her fans.

It is an absolute delight to have such an accomplished author as our guest this week. She has kindly agreed to a Branching Out Interview and an excerpt from April on Paris Street.


Let’s chat with Anna.



Allan: Thank you for taking the time to be our guest, Anna. Before we discuss your novels and writing, can you please share some personal details with our readers? Where you reside, family & friends or pets.


Anna: Hi Allan!  Just as Ashley Smeeton must travel to the mysterious east end of Montreal, there to make all manner of discoveries, I’ve chosen to live a fully francophone life in east end Montreal.  I share a 115-year-old renovated coach house on one of the city’s picturesque green lanes with my part-time editor and full-time cat, Charlie.



Allan: Your website has a neat review – A Lush, Gripping and Satisfying read. – Iona Whishaw. It doesn’t get much better than that. Tell our readers what to expect when they pick up their copy of April on Paris Street.


Anna: I wanted April on Paris Street to be a suspenseful detective story, first of all, with a relatable PI, but it’s also a mystery that operates on other levels.  It’s a sometimes humorous Thelma and Louise “romp,” a sensory experience involving two cities I love, a narrative that invites the reader to contemplate sturdily alternate forms of family, and a revenge fable.  But wait, there’s more.  It’s a compendium of every form of doubling, fracturing, splitting and replication I was able to think of, suitably encompassed within labyrinthine twin cities.  This dédoublement is intended to be decorative, and also intersects with the themes of social fractures, social disguise and competing truths.  In a playful but slightly uneasy way, it invites the reader to consider Mirabel’s question, the snowy night when Mireille shows up at their door:  how many Miras (or Belles) would in fact be too many?



 Allan: When was the defining moment you decided to write stories and seek to be a published author?


Anna: When my mother read me all of Andrew Lang’s fairy tales.  The Pink Fairy Book, unless it was The Violet Fairy Book, was like a two by four on the side of my little head.



Allan: The Au Pair is your second novel but the first in which we meet your MC Ashley Smeeton as an adult and a private investigator. It has garnered many positive reviews. What can our readers expect?


Anna: The Au Pair was my effort to write a Canadian “classic mystery,” with a mixture of cozy and noir elements and strong female characters.  It has my signature obsession with setting and atmosphere.  The reader will find in it elements of the Gothic, but without the claustrophobia and fainting heroines.  Gothic conventions are subsumed into a parable of a dysfunctional family’s multi-generational suffering, but the book offers a sense of resolution.  All three of my books, in fact, bring the reader to the sunny side of the street.  Female victimhood is a chimera, a misdirection of the mystery plot:  the resolution reveals underestimated and misunderstood women playing a long game.



Allan: Where did the inspiration come from for your series and your MC?


Anna: My first book, After the Winter, is vintage-flavoured romantic suspense with that subtle feminist twist I like.  It’s a tribute to a midcentury genre not much read anymore but with some fabulous neglected books.  The Au Pair, with its Laurentian version of an English country house filled with privileged people, probably owes quite a bit to what is called Golden Age fiction, e.g., Agatha Christie.  April on Paris Street has those influences, but also others:  in my piling on of meaning around the doubles, there’s a playful invocation of high literature, everything from A Tale of Two Cities to Two Solitudes.

Ashley has been dear to my heart, as she evolves throughout.  She is a pigtailed nine-year-old in After the Winter, a secondary character who somehow insinuates her way into the protagonist role in books 2 and 3.  For my PI I wanted a working class heroine, a young woman of the people, quintessentially Canadian in her multiple identities, and with an oddness about her that sets her apart.  My background is neither middle class nor unicultural, and I’m sure there is something of me in her.



Allan: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.


Anna: One summer I wrote a “book” on some waste paper my dad brought home from the paper mill where he worked.  The heroines were called Gwendolyn and Marigold.  They had eyes like twin sapphire pools and, like Thelma and Louise, they were preoccupied with breaking free.  Their exotic adventures came to an abrupt conclusion when I went back to school in September.



Allan: From reading your bio - Bio – Anna Dowdall - you’ve lived an interesting life (even as a Maritimer while teaching at Dalhousie University) and have returned to Montreal to write full time. How much of your past adventures find their way into your stories? How many of Anna’s personality is evidenced in your characters?


Anna: I am in all of my characters, I swear!  Even, really, the awful ones.  As for the first part of your question—yes, adventure is the key word.  Why shouldn’t women have adventures?  Unlike Ashley, however, I’ve avoided tripping over dead bodies—or so I will maintain. 

Living in and travelling to different parts of this beautiful country of ours should be more common.  It’s been my privilege to visit many different parts of Canada.  I’ll never forget driving across the country, from Halifax to the Yukon.  Among many captivating places, for some reason the Qu’Appelle River Valley and the Saint John River Valley stick in my mind.  

In New Brunswick, we were driving along some narrow road at dusk and began to follow this river.  I wasn’t sure where we were, and then I saw the sign, St. John River.  It had been pouring all day but now there was a yellow light in the west, lighting up the surface of the water.  It was one of those moments in time.  I’ll save emoting about the Qu’Appelle Valley for another Q&A.  I grew up on the shores of the mighty Saint Lawrence and clearly, I have a thing for rivers.         



 Allan:  Favorite authors? Books? Movie? Dessert?


Anna: Writers:  Constance Beresford-Howe, Rebecca West, Mervyn Peake, Ursula Curtiss, Lucy Maud Montgomery.  But I love many more.

Movie:  Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears

Dessert:  homemade apple pie, made from scratch with Canadian fall apples


Allan: Anything else you’d like to share with us?


Anna:  Your questions are an ingenious mix of friendly and probing.  I think I’ve said more than enough.




An Excerpt from April on Paris Street.

(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)


    …This experience set Ashley to walking again. Without thinking about it, she headed in an easterly direction, away from the winter tourists and chi-chi shoppers. Soon she entered another type of district. It had the omnipresent five- and six-storey Second Empire buildings, here interspersed with different ones, of ochre brick with striking dark red accents. She could have been in some European mystery city. There were small unassuming parks and the shops were of the kind the lower middle class everywhere frequented: modest chains, local businesses and neighbourhood restaurants. This must be where the average Parisian lived, if there was such a thing. The streets were narrow but sidewalks were moderately busy, with neatly-dressed women carrying shopping bags, delivery men darting in and out of buildings, the odd lycée student or flâneur. She had no idea where she was.

    Under a bright sun, the area might have felt different. But the iron-grey day had robbed the quiet scene of any low-key charm it might have possessed. It was not without its own mood, however. In the thick cold air the edges of things were slightly blurred, and this gave the streets a dreamlike feel. Were they getting near the Seine, she wondered. It looked like mist—but mist on so cold a day? A single large snowflake pirouetted lazily before her eyes.

    She had come to a building on the far side of the street, whose Art Deco doors framed in pale green tile were like nothing else in the neighbourhood. A woman was exiting just then, a chic woman in a deep red coat that leapt out against the tile background. As she continued to look, a dreadful coldness seized Ashley’s heart. She recognized the woman: far from les Halles, and looking unlike herself yet unmistakable, Mirabel Saint Cyr was tripping along the sidewalk, her ankle boots making a tap-tapping sound on the pavement. Ashley stared open-mouthed. The street, rue des Capucins, was especially narrow here and she could see Mirabel clearly in every detail. The coat was a belted style, and the collar was up. On her coiffed fair hair, a pale green velvet cap was tilted at an angle. It had a veil that dropped down over the top part of Mirabel’s face —until Ashley realized she was in fact looking at clever Carnaval makeup to resemble a lace veil. Mirabel looked like she’d stepped out of some old movie; but as she stopped with a familiar look of mild annoyance to adjust one two-toned boot, she fairly burned with three-dimensional life.

    Ashley was paralyzed. What on earth would Mirabel be doing here? She had just exited this anonymous apartment building. What business could she possibly have in this neighbourhood? But even more disturbing, how could Mirabel even be here? It made no sense. It was in fact impossible. Mirabel had just texted Ashley, saying she and Mireille were at les Halles, staked out in a coffee shop of a bookstore—she even named it, Au Bonheur des Livres—and awaiting Raymond.

    “Mirabel!” Ashley yelled as loudly as she could. Across the street, the woman turned—and gave Ashley an empty look. If this was Mirabel Saint Cyr, then it was Mirabel in a trance or a dream. The gaze was that of an indifferent stranger passing over Ashley. She took a step off the sidewalk, and provoked a blare of sound from an oncoming delivery truck. It swept by inches away, amid gesticulations of the driver. And was followed immediately by another truck that hit the brakes with massive inconvenience right in front of her. Ashley could now see nothing.

    She ran along the sidewalk, as the truck aggravatingly kept pace, and it was long moments before her view cleared. She was just able to catch sight of the flame-bright coat, the little bobbing hat, disappearing around a corner. Provoking more driver ire, she dodged among cars—how had the traffic become so busy?—and made it to the other sidewalk. She raced to the corner and looked down rue de la Charette, one of those dim alley-like sidestreets, where Mirabel had turned. The air was filled suddenly with snow. In the white blur of tumbling snowflakes, there wasn’t a soul to be seen…





Thank you, Anna, for taking the time to share your thoughts and your amusing answers. And for being our special guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your stories.


For all you fantastic visitors wanting to discover more about Anna and her writing and where to buy her novels, please follow these links:


Saturday 14 August 2021

Guest Author Jane Risdon of United Kingdom


I met Jane Risdon through a mutual author friend and invited her to be our guest this week. She has kindly agreed to tell us the good news of her latest novel, as well as sharing her bio and where you can find more information on her and her writing.

Thank you, Jane. Over to you.



Allan, thanks so much for inviting me to visit your wonderful blog and for enabling me to chat about my next novel. I really appreciate it and I hope your readers enjoy finding out about Ms. Lavinia Birdsong who is the star of my next novel.


Ms. Birdsong former Intelligence Officer, MI5

By Jane Risdon

Ms. Lavinia Birdsong is a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who has spent 20 years of her life working her way up the hierarchy in MI5, her eye firmly on the goal of becoming the third only, female Director General of the Security Services.

All that went out of the window when her last assignment, Operation Matryoshka, went horribly wrong and she and her MI6 partner, Michael Dante, were summoned back to London.

Lavinia Birdsong is invited to take ‘voluntary’ retirement or face losing her Pension, following the disputed — by Lavinia — botched joint MI5/MI6 operation in Moscow. Michael Dante is spared and returns to Moscow to carry on with the complex mission involving Russian Mafia people traffickers, and Ukrainian gun and drug traffickers.

The former MI5 officer decides to move to a village in rural Oxfordshire, in the Vale of the White Horse, so she can concentrate on devising a way to inveigle herself back into the Security Services. No way is she going to accept her fate.

Joining MI5 from university Lavinia garnered a wealth of experience over her 20 year career. She is fluent in several languages, including Russian and Mandarin, and is a martial arts black belt and a crack shot with most firearms; not someone to mess with.

Her work as an Intelligence Officer has taken her all over the world, and she has also spent time at the various ‘desks’ within MI5, such as being a Training Desk officer in Moscow, working in Counter-Espionage, based in London, being placed on secondment to the Metropolitan Police, again in London, and later working as an Agent Runner on the Organised Crime desk also based in London at Thames House, home of MI5.

She’s worked as an Agent Runner in Counter-terrorism, and as a Counter-Espionage Desk officer, also based in Thames House. She has been a Northern Ireland Desk officer and a Northern Ireland Section leader/Agent runner. Later she worked as a Moscow Section leader/Agent runner and a Middle Eastern desk leader/Agent runner.

At the time of her ‘retirement’ she was on secondment to MI6 – working on Operation Matryoshka which involved the investigation of links between certain Organised Crime gangs known as Bratva, and the Kremlin.

My novel, Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva, has been inspired by my various posts working for the British Government before my marriage to a professional musician, and prior to our career in the international music business, taking over my life.

So far there are three books in the series.

I spent some years working in Germany for the Ministry of Defence, on an Army base which had been in operation since the end of WW2, mostly employing German civilians overseen by MoD (Ministry of Defence) personnel. The building used by the Officer’s Mess was one where Herman Goering used to deliver many of his Nazi speeches.

From there I was posted to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, where my office was situated in what was once the New Scotland Yard building on the Victoria embankment. When New Scotland Yard moved out, the FCO moved into what was known as the Curtis Green Building. In 2016 when they moved back, the building was once again the HQ for New Scotland Yard. I had a fabulous view of the Houses of Parliament from my office when I worked in the Curtis Green building.

My time spent in the FCO was to light an already smouldering flame of ambition to become a crime/mystery author one day. I was there at the height of The Cold War, the ‘troubles,’ with the IRA, and an ever present, growing threat from terrorists and activists around the world, resulting in various hijackings and kidnappings. Groups included Black December, Al Qaeda, various Palestinian Terrorists, the Japanese Red Army, The Baader Meinhof (Red Army faction) Group, plus many others. Our Security Services and Secret Intelligence Services had their work cut out.

Our (British) Ambassador to Montevideo, Uruguay, Geoffrey Jackson, was kidnapped by the Tupamaros Guerrillas, in 1970. He endured 9 months in captivity before Prime Minister, Edward Heath, negotiated a payment of £42,000 for his release. It was an exciting time to work at the FCO.

Whilst I worked there our government expelled 100 Soviet diplomats, accused of being spies, and in retaliation the Russians expelled a similar number of British diplomats from Moscow. Suspicion and intrigue was everywhere.

Before I was accepted by the FCO I was positively vetted (P.V) which means that I was investigated thoroughly for my suitability to work with sensitive, classified, and possibly secret material. Not only was I investigated, but my family, going back generations was vetted as well as friends, teachers and anyone else who knew me or them. My then boyfriend — now husband — was not too happy to discover he and his family were also being vetted, not to mention his band members.

Once I started working at the FCO I was regularly vetted – they keep an eye on you – and had to meet with a Commander from Special Branch for these little ‘chats.’ He was fascinating to talk with. He was instrumental in bringing an end to the activities of the Portland Spy Ring – a ring of Soviet spies operating in Britain in the early 1960s. He was responsible for arresting the husband-and-wife Soviet spies, known as Helen and Peter Kroger — Americans by birth, whose real names were Morris and Lona Cohen. I loved our chats and of course, as a writer in the making, I couldn’t get enough from him; all subject to the Official Secrets Act of course.

I later went on to work for other government departments whilst my husband’s band progressed and until he decided to ‘retire,’ many years later when we went into the international music business managing recording artists, singer songwriters, and record producers and we facilitated the placement of music on to movie and television soundtracks, all over the world.

All this time I was storing my experiences away inside my head, waiting for the day when I would have time to do what I always wanted to do; write. In 2012, I got my chance when I was published in several anthologies, as well as being traditionally published — not with a crime novel, but a women’s fiction novel initially — Only One Woman, co-written with a lifelong friend, Christina Jones, who had once been fan-club secretary to my husband’s band.  

I later published Undercover: Crime Shorts.

Now, my agent is looking for a suitable home for my series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates, about the former MI5 Intelligence Officer, seeking her way back into the Security Services.

In Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva, she is finding her feet after ‘retirement,’ and when a local woman goes missing, she sees her chance to investigate her disappearance and perhaps find a way back to MI5. Little did she know, she would soon find herself in familiar territory.

So many readers are interested in Lavinia’s progress to her new publishers, they have joined her private Facebook Group —Ms. Birdsong Investigates — where she has photos, articles, and lots of information about her and her career — no spoilers, of course. Come and join her.

I look forward to sharing Lavinia Birdsong and her investigations with the world very soon.


Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies. She writes for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine, and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.

Undercover: Crime Shorts was the February Free Book of the Month on the virtual library and festival site,, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet radio shows such as, and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show.

Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers.  They also facilitated the placement of music in movies and television series.  Her earlier career was spent working in various British Government departments.

***All photo copyrights belong to Jane Risdon.

Breaking News – Jane Risdon

I am excited to learn that my book, Undercover: Crime Shorts, will be used this fall (2021), at Western Kentucky University (KT. USA), in an Into to Lit class, with 27 second year students.


Unrelated to that, I’ve also been asked to be the lead panellist next March 2022 for an online discussion of The Intersection of Literary Fiction and Women’s Literature at LitCon, an author’s conference based out of New York (USA). Details on how to watch will be available early 2022.

Jane’s Links:

You can find her on:

Ms. Birdsong Investigates:

Universal buy links:

Undercover: Crime Shorts

Only One Woman

All Jane’s publications:

Jane’s News:

In December 2020 Jane signed with Linda Langton of Langton’s International Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA. You can contact Jane via Linda at:



Saturday 7 August 2021

Branching out with Author C S O’Cinneide of Guelph, Ontario.


I had the good fortune of being asked to review O’Cinneide’s novel - Starr Sign - by The Miramichi Reader. I truly enjoyed the story and you can see my review HERE.

Praise for the Candace Starr series.

“A cold and gripping crime novel” – The Globe & Mail.

James Fisher of TMR was kind enough to introduce us and Carole has graciously accepted an invitation to be this week’s guest.


You can read her bio HERE.   


Let’s have a chat with Carole.



Allan: Thank you so much for being our featured guest this week, Carole. Before we chat about your novels and writing, perhaps you can tell us a bit about yourself, hometown, family or whatever you want to share.


Carole: Wow, that’s an open-ended question if ever I heard one. Let’s see, I’m a former IT analyst who had the crazy idea that she could write books. One day, I left my lucrative career to follow a dream and my bank account and pride suffered accordingly.  Luckily, I’m married to an Irish ex-pat with his own bank account and more belief in me than sense. We live in Guelph, Ontario, with only a dog and a cat, as our four children have moved on to pursue their own dreams.



Allan: You choose to write under the pseudonym of C S O’Cinneide (oh-kin-ay-da). Can you tell us more about the name and why you chose it?


Carole: O’Cinneide is “Kennedy” in Irish. It is the original spelling and pronunciation of the surname before it was anglicized. So, it’s my name, but also not my name. I chose to use it because there seemed to be a lot of Carole Kennedy’s writing books out there and I wanted to differentiate myself. Which I believe I have, since I am now known at the bookstore as that author that nobody can pronounce.  




Allan: Candace Starr is one sharp lady. Where did the inspiration for this character come from?


Carole: Candace is a full-blown avatar for any woman who has ever wanted to throw a bad guy up against a slushie machine at the 7-11. She’s mouthy and smart and violent and basically says and does all the cool things I’d like to say and do if I wasn’t such a scaredy-cat. Candace is also the kind of hard-boiled female character I’ve always longed to see in crime fiction --- not a femme fatale or an ingenue, but a fully developed anti-hero with flaws and depth and a keen interest in eyebrow threading.



Allan: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.


Carole: Hmm. When I was a child my friends and I used to have a fake band called the Mrs. Monkees. We were each married to one of the boys from the TV reruns we watched showcasing that group (a fake band themselves, but at least they had real guitars and drums and not push brooms and overturned garbage cans like we did). I was married to Peter Tork because he was the dumb one and that attracted me for some reason. This anecdote has absolutely nothing to do with writing or my work, but possibly exposes me as an early appreciator of mimbos. Luckily, I grew out of that.



Allan: Please tell our readers what to expect when they pick up their first Candace Starr story. The Starr Sting Scale and Starr Sign.


Carole: My description above of how badass Candace Starr is should give you a pretty good idea of what you can expect. These books definitely do not come with a PG-13 rating. But beyond that they are very witty and clever and provide a venue for me to discuss some fairly serious issues despite being “murderous fun” (Publisher’s Weekly).

In The Starr Sting Scale, Candace, a former hitwoman must help the cops solve a murder she just might have committed herself. She is teamed with an ambitious woman officer, Detective Chien-Shiung Malone and the two develop an unlikely friendship. Malone and Candace also work together a bit in the next novel, Starr Sign, but in that book, Candace is joined by a British hacker named Deep and a thirteen-year-old sister. With them, she attempts to infiltrate the Detroit mafia in search of her wayward mother.



Allan: Your debut novel – Petra’s Ghost – looks intriguing and I’ve added it to my TBR list. What can you tell us about this novel?


Carole: I’m so pleased to hear it is on your TBR! But prepare yourself, because in comparison to the Candace Starr crime series, Petra’s Ghost is on the whole other side of the library.

I wrote Petra’s Ghost after walking the Camino de Santiago, an 800 km pilgrimage across northern Spain. It took me a month to walk it and was one of the defining experiences of my life. But when I came back to Canada, I found you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a Camino memoir. Once again, I needed a way to differentiate myself. I decided to write a dark thriller set on the Camino. I didn’t think that had been done before, and I was right.

In Petra’s Ghost, a woman has just gone missing while walking the pilgrimage when we meet Daniel, a grieving Irish ex-pat who is hiking the trail after the death of his beloved wife, Petra. He meets Ginny, another pilgrim and unfortunate things start to happen to them. The book has been described as part evocative travelogue and part psychological thriller. I’d throw in part memoir, as so many of the landscapes, art and culture described in the book are from my own experience. And a woman did disappear when I was walking the trail.

My publisher marketed the book as literary, but it was a semi-finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards for Horror in 2019 (maybe because the word “ghost” is in the title). I lost that award to Stephen King, which to date is the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.



Allan: favorite authors? Novels?


Carole: East of Eden – John Steinbeck

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson

The Stand – Stephen King

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

Any book by Denise Mina, the Queen of Tartan Noir



Allan: Tell us about your writing habits?


Carole: When I am writing a novel, I force myself to sit in my writing chair on pain of death every weekday morning at 9 AM whether I feel inspired or not. I set a timer for one hour and only take breaks when it goes off. I do this until I hit my word count or tear all my hair out, whichever comes first.

I am plotter not a pantser, which means I develop a plot outline before I begin writing the book. I tried to write “by the seat of my pants” once but found with no outline I practically wet them. I tell you this because so many authors make writing sound like a fairy tale where they are so in love with the process, and ideas float out of them like puffy unicorns that dance across the page.  I try not to despise these people. Writing is hard work. At least it is for me.




Allan: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about? Maybe what’s next?


Carole: I have a book coming out next year entitled “Eve’s Rib.” It’s about mothers and daughters and possibly the devil. The style is more in line with Petra’s Ghost, as it is another literary thriller, but this one is set in Canada and there isn’t a Spanish monastery in every other scene.  Here’s some rough cover copy:

After Abbey’s younger brother dies in a fall, Eve fears the worst about her daughter. Her husband, Richard doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know the truth about Abbey. And besides, he has secrets of his own to keep. 

But when terrible things begin to happen to those who get in Abbey’s way, Eve must overcome her own pain and loss and find the strength to deal with the threat she fears the most --- a teenage daughter she can no longer control and a past that could come back to haunt her in the most monstrous of ways.


Sound good? I hope so. Because this one will knock your socks off with the twist at the end. Which most of my books do, but this one was particularly fun!



****Sounds very good, Carole.



An Excerpt from STARR SIGN.

(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.)




where you are. I know I’m not at home when I first hear

the birds chirping outside the window. In the one-room

apartment above the E-Zee Market where I’ve lived the

last few years, there are only shit-disturbing pigeons to

annoy you in the morning. They don’t chirp, just coo

and warble until you become convinced there’s a Jersey

girl on the roof faking her first orgasm.


But when you’re a woman who has made a career out

of binge drinking, waking up in places you don’t expect

is an occupational hazard. Don’t get the wrong impression. I’m not an alcoholic

in the traditional sense. Alcoholism is when your

drinking gets in the way of your job or personal life. I

don’t have a job, and my personal life suits me just fine.

Mostly because I am my own best company. My greatest

source of entertainment. You learn to rely only on yourself

when you spend the first half of your life growing

up with a hitman for a father, and the other half following

in his footsteps. I’ve been out of the game a few

years now, ever since I got out of prison and my dad

got whacked, but I make no excuses for the life I led

before that. It paid the rent. It fed my dog when I had

one. It kept me in copious bottles of Jägermeister in my

twenties. But you make a number of enemies and rack

up some pretty bad karma as a professional assassin. My

daily drinking is just a means to an end. I’m not sure

what that end is, but I intend not to be sober when I

meet it.


Thank you, Carole, for sharing your thoughts with us. Wishing you continued success with your stories.


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