Free & Bargain Books – your reading for the next week!

Calling all readers!

This post is short and sweet. I’m currently researching my fourth novel, and ‘wandering around’ old houses, which is great fun, but I’ve taken a break to tell you about my current sale.

The Floozy in the Park by Ellie StevensonMy third novel, The Floozy in the Park is currently on sale until Thursday October 19th – a mere snip at 99p/99c: or

More about The Floozy below.

Too many people have something to lose if the truth comes out…
Journalist Jon visits an island, searching for his ex-lover, whose father was murdered. The killer is still out there. Nobody likes him asking questions.

Meanwhile, Megan, Jon’s partner, is busy building a retail empire. She discovers an Edwardian mystery, connected to her. She barely notices Jon has gone.

But when she finds the sketch he drew of his ex-lover, Megan knows Jon is in trouble. Serious trouble.

Can she uncover the truth in time?

What’s more, Shadows of the Lost Child is FREE until Monday October 16th – a bargain. Here’s what Shadows is all about.

Would children crying keep you awake?
Especially if the children were dead?

A haunted house, a man with a past and a girl called Alice who can cross time.

Then Alice meets Tom who lives in the past and the past and the present begin to collide… with fatal consequences.

This is a ghost story and a tragedy that happened over a century ago. And a mystery. Can you solve it?
Inspired by the legends of York

Get your free copy of Shadows here: or

Get your next week’s reading now, and curl up with a book!


My Counterfeit Self: an interview with Jane Davis on her latest novel

Today, I’d like to welcome Jane Davis. Jane Davis is the author of seven novels. Her debut, Half-truths and White Lies, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award and was described by Joanne Harris as ‘A story of secrets, lies, grief and, ultimately, redemption, charmingly handled by this very promising new writer.’

Six further novels have earned her a loyal fan base and widespread praise. Her 2016 novel, An Unknown Woman won Writing Magazine’s Self-Published Book of the Year Award. Her favourite description of fiction is ‘made-up truth’.

Her latest book, My Counterfeit Selfis launched tomorrow (£2.99/$3.99) but get it today at a special pre-order price of £99p/$99c!

Completely gripping, excellently written and so skilfully put together, I can’t recommend My Counterfeit Self highly enough. Isabel Wolff, author of Ghostwritten.

For more on the novel and links to her work, please see the end of this post.

Now, Jane answers some questions.

What’s your writing style and how do you differentiate your writing from other fellow writers?
I love this question. It gives the impression that the writing arrives fully formed, when in fact the version the reader sees is an illusion.

I have only three rules. Whatever my subject-matter, the end-product must be honest, credible and authentic. The hallmarks of my books are multiple points of view and non-linear timelines. I’m excited by cause and effect and unconventionality in all its forms. I like to write about big subjects and give my characters almost impossible moral dilemmas.

Which of your personal qualities lend themselves to writing?
I come from a large family where the rule was that it was rude to interrupt, so I guess I’ve become a listener and a keen observer. As someone who never has the right words to say at the right time and who plays conversations over and over in her mind (sometime months after they take place), it’s deeply satisfying to be able to put words into characters’ mouths.

How do you go about writing scenes which you know will be particularly challenging?
I’m sure every book or screenplay contains a scene that the author has approached with dread. I know I do! I remember reading that for Anthony McCarten, who wrote the script of The Theory of Everything, it was the one in which Stephen and Jane Hawking acknowledged that their marriage had come to an end. Since Stephen could say very little, he didn’t think it was fair to allow Jane to use words as weapons. McCarten spoke about the need to convey great emotion in very few words. That’s really my first rule of thumb: keep it simple.

Let me be totally upfront: I hate writing sex scenes. There are so many holes you can fall down. This article explains just some of them. And if a writer as experienced as Ben Okri can win the bad sex in fiction award, then what chance do I have? But An Unchoreographed Life tells the story of a ballerina who turns to prostitution when she becomes a single mother, so I do like to set myself challenges.

In the case of These Fragile Things, I chose to write about near-death experience and religious visions. My sister’s advice was that no one but Graham Greene should attempt to write about religion, but it was the book I didn’t seem to be able to avoid writing. It was part of my DNA. My grandfather’s conversion to the Catholic faith shaped my father’s childhood and my own. It was important to me to tackle everything with sensitivity and I chose to have each character representing a distinct point of view, and each believing absolutely in his or her stand-point.

Often, I have to step outside my own experience. I hope that by the time the need arises, I will know my character well enough that he or she can show me the way. In A Funeral for an Owl, I had my character Shamayal, a fourteen-year-old mixed race boy, face the gang members he’s desperately been trying to avoid. To find out how well I did writing my first fight scene, I had it analysed.

Your novels are all very different – which readers like, but publishers are rather dubious about. Have you ever been asked to write something ‘similar’ to your award-winning debut?
Readers often write to me wanting to know what happens next. They seem particularly interested in my secondary characters. With These Fragile Things, they fell in love with Miranda, my main character’s school-friend who is expelled for challenging her head mistress. With An Unchoreographed Life, readers already want to know more about Jean-Francois, one of Alison’s former dance partners. My philosophy is to ‘arrive late, get out early’. If I don’t leave the reader wanting more, I haven’t done my job.

What’s the story behind your latest release?
It’s the story of a radical poet and political activist called Lucy Forrester, who’s a cross between Edith Sitwell and Vivienne Westwood. Having been anti-establishment all of her life, she’s horrified to find that she’s been featured on the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. To be honest, the idea of writing about the life of a poet came directly from reader reviews. Several comments that my prose was like poetry. I had no idea if I could actually write poetry but this gave me confidence that I might be able to convince readers that I could see the world as a poet does.

How do you manage time within a novel that spans sixty years?Jane Davis author
When I was writing I Stopped Time, I set up timelines for the twentieth century. I added everything from news stories to the books people were reading to the weather. Now, whenever I write a book, I grab the data from the decades it covers and slot my tailored research into place. For My Counterfeit Self, that included details from biographies of poets, literary critics, even a dress designer. Then, because I like cause and effect to show throughout the book, I tend to deconstruct the timeline. Memories don’t arrive in chronological order. They might show up like photographs or postcards, or sometimes even like unwelcome guests. This way, the reader builds a gradual picture of who the angry old lady we meet in the first chapter is, and what made her that way. The story comes together like a mosaic.

You confess to loving biographies. How much has this influenced your fiction?
The novel is such an ideal medium for ‘big subjects’ because it’s the only narrative form that transports the reader directly inside characters’ heads. By exploring an issue from the standpoint of one or two individuals, giving it context, providing motive, showing cause and effect, we humanise it. Biography also does that, but a biographer has a responsibility to his subjects in a way that a novelist doesn’t. I think it’s fair to say that you can be freer with the truth in fiction. At the same time, I want my fiction to feel real. I want readers to believe that Lucy Forrester exists!

In the book, you talk about success coming at a price, as if another kind of bargain has been struck. Is this a reflection of how you feel about your experience of winning the Daily Mail First Novel Award?
Obviously, it’s unavoidable for a writer to draw on their own experience. I received several reviews that suggested Half-truths and White Lies didn’t deserve to win, that the result was a fix, or that I must have been related to the judges. I wanted to say to those people, ‘I didn’t enter with any expectation of winning.’ You see, I entered out of sheer frustration. I had an agent but my manuscript had been sitting in her in-tray for six months.

While I was writing My Counterfeit Self, I saw the reaction to Sarah Howes’ win of the TS Eliot Award for her debut collection, Loop of Jade. Even at the awards ceremony, a journalist overheard the comment, “I wonder how long it will be before everyone begins to hate her.” As it turned out, the answer was ‘Not Long’. Private Eye questioned the judging, asking if the award was given “for extra-poetic reasons?” Was it because she was a “young woman with a dual Anglo-Chinese heritage” and could be seen as “a more presentable ambassador for poetry than the distinguished grumpy old men she saw off”.

There’s always a sense of giving with one hand and taking away with the other, ignoring the fact that at the centre of the controversy is someone vulnerable and real.

My Counterfeit Self is an intriguing title. What does it mean to you?
Lucy’s parents behave appallingly and in such a way that she is freed from any feeling of obligation to live up to their expectations. She moves out of the family home and decamps to bohemian Soho. In distancing herself from her parents she adopts a new personality that she hides behind. Although she insists that she lays herself bare in her poetry, it’s keeping secrets from those who love her most that is her undoing.

My Counterfeit Self: from the award-winning author of Half-truths and White Lies, an emotional story of hidden identities, complicated passions and tangled truths.


A compelling portrayal of the bohemian life of an activist poet, the men she loves, and the issues she fights for. Eleanor Steele

A rose garden. A woman with white hair. An embossed envelope from the palace.

Lucy Forrester, for services to literature, you are nominated for a New Year’s Honour.

Her hands shake. But it’s not excitement. It’s rage.

For five decades, she’s performed angry poems, attacked government policy on everything from Suez to Trident, chained herself to embassy railings, marched, chanted and held placards high.

Lucy knows who she is. Rebel, activist, word-wielder, thorn in the side of the establishment. Not a national bloody treasure.

Whatever this is – a parting gesture, a final act of revenge, or the cruellest of jokes – it can only be the work of one man. Dominic Marchmont, outspoken literary critic and her on/off lover of fifty years, whose funeral begins in under an hour.

Perhaps, suggests husband Ralph, the invitation isn’t the insult it seems? What if Dominic – the man they both loved – has left her an opportunity?

Jane lives with her Formula 1 obsessed, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos. When she is not writing, you may spot Jane disappearing up the side of a mountain with a camera in hand.


Sign up to Jane’s newsletter for a free copy of I Stopped Time.

Virtual Book Club Interview: Shadows of the Lost Child

Author Jane Davis BlogThis is just a quick post to say thanks to author Jane Davis for hosting me on the Virtual Book Club pages of her blog.

Here I get the chance to talk a bit about my writing but particularly about my second novel, Shadows of the Lost Child.

The book is a partly historical mystery set in a town loosely based on historic York, with a time travel angle.

The historical aspect explores the dark parts of Edwardian England, with poverty, prostitution and the pawn shop featuring; not to mention The Keepsake Arms, the local pub, where Miranda works.

We also meet Tom, a local boy, and one of the key characters, who comes from a tough part of town but is plucky, resourceful and loyal to his friends.

Then he meets Alice, and is wary but entranced.

Alice comes from the present day, but Tom doesn’t know that…

To find out more about Shadows and my writing, see the post  on Jane’s blog.

And while you’re there, you might also want to check out Jane’s books – they look very intriguing…


Finally, find out more about Shadows of the Lost Child on Pinterest

Or on Amazon. (UK) (United States)


More Shadows (of the Lost Child)

Those of you who read the previous post will know that the early chapters of my next novel, Shadows of the Lost Child, is available on Wattpad.

Although Curdizan, where the story is set, is a fictional city, for some of its elements, I researched and drew on historic York (UK).

York-1 EllieStevenson

If you walk around York, you can visit several places which provided inspiration. York is ideal for inspiration because of its history and fascinating stories. For example:

Pavement, one of the main streets, refers to when it was the only street in the whole town which had a floor of cobbles. Beneath York streets lie many bones that were thrown out of people’s houses, acting as a road surface. In front of each house was a dung hill, these were cleared two or three times a year, usually when a celebrity visited. Often such houses had a piece of wood outside, so neighbours could sit and talk to each other. (Source: James Raine, York, 2nd ed. 1893)

This period was, naturally, a long time ago, and well before when my novel is set – the present and early 20th century.


Modern, refurbished, beautiful Curdizan, complete with an abbey, contrasts strongly with the town of the past, a darker world of poverty, pawn shops and prostitution. In the past we meet Tom and Miranda, and when Thomas of the past meets Alice of the present, everything changes and much of the dark has to come to the light. Then, of course, there are the ghosts.

More about the characters (and ghosts) next time.

Chapter Three is now available here.

Ellie Stevenson, authorArticle written by Ellie Stevenson, author. This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

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Shadows of the Lost Child, Ellie Stevenson’s 2nd novel w be here soon. Read the 1st 3 chapts w

More Information

Some images of York:

New Novel: Shadows of the Lost Child

Shadows of the Lost Child (by Ellie Stevenson) Available soon.

Shadows of the Lost Child (by Ellie Stevenson)
Available soon.

Last week, I mentioned some forthcoming news. Here it is!

My next novel, Shadows of the Lost Child, will be available on Amazon shortly, but before that happens, readers will have a chance to dip into the work.

You can read the first chapter NOW on Wattpad and more chapters will be coming soon.

Feel free to send me any comments and thoughts about the book.

There are ghosts, a supposedly haunted house and an element of time travel, so lots to enjoy!

You can read a short summary below.

In next week’s post, I’ll talk a little about some of the themes that inspired the novel.

In the meantime, enjoy the first chapter (and the good weather!).


The book is set in two time periods, the present and the past (early twentieth century).

The Present

Aleph Jones is running away but the house he ends up in turns out to be haunted. Or is it just him? For Aleph has a dark secret that’s changed his life.

Cressida Sewell needs Aleph’s help. Her daughter Alice refuses to speak and a team of specialists don’t know why. But Cressida has a hidden agenda and Alice knows more than she’s letting on. About Aleph.

Guinevere James is not what she seems. Disguised as Aleph’s business client, she really wants to solve a murder that happened over a century ago. But what about the children who vanished? Aleph and Alice can hear them scream.

The Past

Miranda and Thomas live in poverty. Miranda wants to protect her mother but when she seeks help from friends Ben and Thomas, they set on a path to even more trouble. Then Tom meets Alice and the past and the present begin to collide, with dangerous consequences.

Read the first chapter of Shadows of the Lost Child on Wattpad.

Article written by Ellie Stevenson, author. Ellie Stevenson, author
This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

Want to share this post on Twitter? Here’s a suggested tweet for your timeline:

Shadows of the Lost Child, Ellie Stevenson’s second novel will be available soon. Read the very first chapter now with #thehauntedhistorian –

A question of ghosts (and other things)

BooksI’ve recently answered some questions for The Omnivore (you can read the answers here) and that, along with the current book I’m reading (The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard) had me thinking about the questions readers like answered by authors. I’m a bit of a Robert Goddard fan and have read all of his books, and what I particularly like about them is the way he combines history with a puzzle, a bit of a mystery. And keeps readers guessing. I try to do that in my own work.

So here are a few of my answers to questions.

Is the novel you’re writing at the moment also set in the past?

Ship of Haunts was set in three time periods, 1912, 2012 and 1940s Australia. I’m fascinated by the past and always have been, and when I visit places with history, I enjoy tapping into that and learning about how life was then.

My present novel, like Ship of Haunts, is also set in the past and the present. That’s all I can say, at the moment…

Why do you write about ghosts so much?

Ghosts, like the past, have a sense of mystery for me, that idea of the unexplained, the unknown. History can never be known or fully understood, most history is subjective, and filtered through someone else’s eyes. Ghosts, whether they’re real or imaginary are a reflection of people’s perceptions (either our own or the ghost’s!).

Are there any murders in your forthcoming novel?


Would you ever consider writing a series, or more than one book about certain characters?

For writers, I think a series is a wonderful idea as it gives a chance to explore themes already developed, and build on them or take them down routes you didn’t have time for first time round. I personally doubt I’d ever write a series, but I do like the idea of using individual characters or places in new (book) settings. It lends a continuity to the work of the writer.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Urge to Kill (psychological thriller by JJ Franklin)I’ve already had a number of other careers, my main challenge is that there are so many things I’d like to do and not enough time to do all of them. For example, learn French, play the piano.

If I had my life again I’d like to be a pianist or a painter (I can’t draw for toffee).

In this life I’d run a bookshop – it’s one of the few (viable) career avenues I haven’t explored.

So, back to books… as well as historical fiction, I also enjoy crime writing.

And if you’re looking for a page-turning psychological thriller, Urge to Kill by JJ Franklin (also available in paperback) is on special offer for just £0.99 (kindle edition) for the next few days. Try it out!