Sunday 9 June 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Author Kathy Shuker of Great Britain.


This week we're catching up with Kathy who has been a welcome guest before. 


She is kindly sharing the SBTS of her newest novel.

We are pleased to have her back and if you missed her first visit, take a peek Here.

Read on my friends.



Meet Kathy.

I trained as a physiotherapist but a back injury soon forced me to change career. After studying design I worked as a freelance artist, supplying galleries and teaching. I began writing several years ago and published my first novel, Deep Water, Thin Ice, in 2014. Writing novels quickly became a passion, satisfying my creative itch even more than my painting did. I love to get into the heads of my characters and see where they take me. The journey is always intriguing, sometimes poignant, occasionally even funny. I have since published six more novels – multi-layered character-driven mysteries with a strong sense of place. The most recent book is the third in a series of stand-alone stories, the Dechansay Bright Mysteries, all linked by the central characters and set in the world of art and art restoration.

When not writing, I am a keen amateur singer and musician, playing acoustic guitar, fiddle and piano, and I enjoy learning foreign languages and read widely. I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful area near the sea in southwest England.


Title: The Angel Downstairs


Synopsis: Some people never tell the truth. They daren’t.

Eric Dechansay is a successful artist with a popular studio in Paris, the life and soul of every party. Then the threatening letters start. Eric’s past - and someone he thought was dead - have come back to haunt him.

Hannah Dechansay knows nothing of her father’s past but a phone call from her half-sister has her leaving Oxford and on a plane to Paris. She won’t be welcome. Eric’s carefully constructed life is crashing around his ears and Hannah’s determination to find out why will only make things worse. Her father’s clearly frightened and he’s lying. And then there’s the piano player. Who is he anyway?

As the stakes rise inexorably higher, who can Hannah trust?


The Story Behind the Story: I started the Dechansay Bright Mystery series in the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic. They were difficult times for everyone with bad news all around us and nerve-racking uncertainty. I had an idea that two itinerant art restorers, working for a firm which specialized in on-site conservation, offered the possibility of interesting mysteries to be solved. It gave scope for a different setting each time as well as the potential to delve into the sometimes dubious dealings in the dark corners of the art market. Above all I wanted to make the series entertaining as well as mysterious, an antidote to the news reports. Since the two restorers, Hannah and Nathan, don’t get on but are often obliged to work together, there was immediately scope for light-hearted antagonism. I set the first book of the series back in 1990, partly to clear my head of the pandemic and partly to write in a world which hadn’t yet become dependent on technology.

The first book, A Crack in the Varnish, is set in Provence in an idyllic location but with all sorts of buried secrets. The second, By a Hand Unknown, is set in the east of England in a beautiful watery region called the Norfolk Broads. Since Hannah is half French and her semi-estranged artist father lives in Paris, I always planned to set a story there and The Angel Downstairs is that story. I have been lucky to visit Paris many times and it always charms me. I wanted to communicate that charm, especially to anyone who has never had the opportunity to go there.

How the story developed from there, I would struggle to explain. Once I finish a story it almost feels as if someone else has written it. The creative process is a strange beast and perhaps it is unwise to try to analyse it too far. But my novels, for all the mystery and intrigue, are always about the people – how they react, how they cope, how they get hold of their lives and try to do something with them. Some of the nicest compliments I’ve had on my writing have been from people who’ve said that the characters felt real, that they, the reader, felt like they were following the characters round, living their lives vicariously. That pleases me. Although each book is a standalone story, since the same two main characters appear in each novel, there is an arc in the development of their relationship and their behaviour as the series progresses.



Website – Please go HERE.  



A question before you go, Kathy:

Scribbler: What is the ideal spot for you when you write your stories? Music in the background or quiet. Coffee or tequila? Messy or neat?

 Quiet if possible. I live in a small village where usually all I can hear are tractors passing and birdsong. That’s perfect: I can disappear into my own world. I punctuate the day with several mugs of tea and coffee and I live by notebooks. Every novel had its own large notebook with research notes and plans etc, plus there’ll be a small, jot-down-ideas notebook for carrying around so my work area has these plus maps and a calendar for the setting and anything else that might either jog my creativity or provide valuable information. It’s not tidy. I do write on a laptop though. It makes it so much easier to delete and rewrite!!

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to tell you about my latest work.

You are most welcome, Kathy.
The Angel Downstairs sounds delightful and entertaining.
Thanks to you for being our guest. We wish you continued success with your stories.

 A special thanks to all our visitors and readers.

Sunday 2 June 2024

The Story Behind the Story with author Joe Mahoney of Riverview, NB, Canada.


Let’s welcome Joe to the Scribbler.

I had the opportunity to meet Joe at a book signing and discovered he wrote a book sharing his many years with CBC.
I’ve also had the pleasure of reading his memoir and I enjoyed it immensely.
We are most fortunate to have him share the SBTS with us.
Read on my friends.


I was born in New Brunswick, raised in PEI, and educated in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and France. I worked full-time for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for 35 years where I spent about 19 years in production, working on all the major shows out of Toronto, including a decade making radio plays. In 2007, I left production to join the CBC management team, where I managed broadcast maintenance teams and, eventually, the eastern real estate portfolio. I spent my final year as both Operations Manager (Acting) for Nova Scotia and Regional Property Manager. I retired from the CBC in 2023 and now focus my attention on my family, my writing, and starting a little indie press, Donovan Street Press. I’ve also taken up karate again after a long hiatus and am trying to get back in shape.

My debut novel, A Time and a Place, was published on October 1st 2017 by Five Rivers Press. My memoir, a behind-the-scenes glimpse of working at CBC Radio, Adventures in the Radio Trade, was published on August 1st 2023 by my own indie press, mentioned above.

I’m a member of SF Canada, Canada’s National Association of Speculative Fiction Professionals, and SFWA, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association.

Title: Adventures in the Radio Trade


Synopsis: Adventures in the Radio Trade documents a life in radio, largely at Canada's public broadcaster. It's for people who love CBC Radio, those interested in the history of Canadian Broadcasting, and for those who want to hear about close encounters with numerous luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, J. Michael Straczynski, Stuart McLean, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gzowski and more. And it's for people who want to know how to make radio.

Crafted with gentle humour and thoughtfulness, this is more than just a glimpse into the internal workings of CBC Radio. It's also a prose ode to the people and shows that make CBC Radio great.


The Story Behind the Story: I’ve always been in the habit of writing down anything interesting that happens to me, and lots of interesting stuff has happened to me working at CBC Radio. At first it was all just private journaling, but then I started a blog, and a lot of the material wound up there. After many years of this, a friend of mine suggested I write a book about my experiences. I realized I had a good portion of the book already written, and that much of it just might be of interest to fans of CBC Radio. A glimpse behind the curtain, how the sausage gets made, that sort of thing. Although a memoir, it’s much less about me than about CBC Radio during that time period, between 1987 and 2007.  By that time I’d had experience self-publishing, and didn’t really want to give the rights to anyone else. Nor did I think a major publisher would be interested in a memoir by me, though to be fair I didn’t really try. So I turned it into a book myself, with the help of an expert editor, Arleane Ralph, and an expert book designer, Avery Olive of Bibliofic Designs.


Website – Please go HERE.


A question for you, Joe:

What is the ideal spot for you when you write your stories? Music in the background or quiet. Coffee or tequila? Messy or neat?

Joe: Having written from about the age of ten, I’m happy to write anywhere. It’s the only way to actually get any writing done. I don’t need to be in anything resembling the perfect spot. That said, if I COULD have the perfect spot, it would be anywhere I can have a little music on in the background, a hot coffee at my side with a fresh cinnamon bun just waiting to be eaten, a friendly pooch at my feet, and an open laptop. Neat, but not fanatically so.

An Excerpt from Adventures in the Radio Trade:


 I’ve met many well-known people during my time with CBC Radio. Sometimes I didn’t know they were “somebodies.”

“Did you know that was Joyce Carol Oates sitting beside you in the Media Library?” producer Ann Jansen asked me one day.

I’d had no idea. And that was fine with me. Most of the time meeting famous people I pretended that I didn’t know who they were anyway. It was just easier that way. It levelled the playing field. Even if I did happen to know who they were, I didn’t necessarily know much about them. We had jazz artist Diana Krall on the show Q one day. I hadn’t set up any microphones because she wasn’t supposed to perform. As we sat in the studio control room just before the interview, one of the show’s producers asked if she wanted to perform during the interview.

“Sure,” she said.

“Can you set her up?” the producer asked me.

I turned to Diana. “What instrument do you play?”

Everyone looked at me like I’d crawled out of a hole in the ground.

“Piano,” Diana said. “I play piano.”

I knew the name Diana Krall but I wasn’t knowledgeable about her career or music. For all I knew she could have played saxophone (and for all I know she does).

I already had mics on the piano, actually, so it was just a matter of adjusting them. The interview was delightful. Jian asked Diana what type of music she enjoyed in her downtime: “If you were to sit down, what’s your music?”

“Right now?”


Diana played a few nondescript notes on the piano. Her twin sons had been born the year before. “Millie the Elephant packed her trunk and sang goodbye to the circus,” she sang, and laughed. “That’s about where I’m at right now.”

What does meeting famous people get you? The ability to name drop (like I’m doing right now). Does anybody like a name dropper? I don’t mind writing about the occasional celebrity encounter, but I’ve rarely felt comfortable talking about them.

The thing is, whatever these people have accomplished, at the end of the day they’re human, just like the rest of us. And unless you work with them for a while (and maybe not even then), a brief encounter is not going to make you the best of pals. 

Still, all that said, I cannot deny that meeting and occasionally working with celebrities can be interesting and is often entertaining. Meeting artists takes on a special significance when you’re a fan of their work. Eric Idle may put his trousers on one leg at a time, but let’s face it: he’s Eric Idle of Monty Python. Like Diana Krall and so many others, he also appeared on the show Q, where he called us all “freeloading bastards” during the show’s credits and understood perfectly well just how much we’d all get a kick out of that. 

Thank you, Allan!

You are most welcome, Joe. Thank you for being our guest this week. We look forward to more of your stories and wish you continued success.

And a special thanks to all our visitors and readers. Feel free to leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you.