By Bookworm 1977

Books Reviews And More

By Bookworm 1977

Today I'am taking to Janis Wilson author of Goulston Street: The Quest for Jack the Ripper

Hi Janis and thank you for taking part, to start with by telling us about yourself please.

I was a newspaper reporter for many years. I loved the job because I got to stir up trouble while meeting many interesting people. The greatest joy from my newspaper days was marrying the city editor at my last post. From newspapers, I went to law school and practiced in Philadelphia, where I tried cases. After retirement, I decided to cross “writing a novel” off my bucket list. I attended the 125th anniversary Ripper conference and loved the people. I was even more fascinated by the story and it became the basis of Goulston Street. I’m still married to the city editor and live with him and two black and white cats on the east coast of the United States.

Could you tell us a little bit about your book ?

Goulston Street is about an aristocrat who disgraces her family by marrying a mere footman and is thrown out of the house. The young couple, strapped for cash, manage to buy a home in Whitechapel.  The husband is killed in an accident and Lady Sarah is forced to “go into trade.” She opens a boarding house and rents beds to prostitutes. One is an old friend from her father's estate. Her name is Polly Nichols.  When Polly dies, Sarah is angry at Scotland Yard for not caring enough about the murders of these women and undertakes to solve the crimes herself.

What were your goals and intentions for the book, and do you feel you achieved them?

Iwanted it understood that the victims weren’t prostitutes because they were callow women but because the had to survive.  I wanted to shine a light on how much poor people suffer and how the government turns a blind eye on that suffering. I also wanted to demonstrate that the wealthy aren’t necessarily uncaring but ignorant of the suffering that takes place outside their view. And, finally, I wanted to show how badly women are burdened when unable to take advantage of the same opportunities, such as work, that men enjoy. It is for others to ascertain whether I met those goals.

I started out as a newspaper reporter.  That writing is a “just the facts, ma’am” process.  No personal views or descriptive adjectives were allowed. I just sat at the typewriter and the facts flowed through my fingers and onto the page.  Now, when I sit at the laptop, no one has done anything for me to talk about. I have to create who is speaking, where they are, what they’re wearing and, most of all, why anyone should care.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

They either fall in love with their first draft or they fall into despair after reading it.  As Anne Lamott advised, “Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft.” I was surprised how helpful it was to have a draft in hand. For me, my work only begins to take shape once I’ve read through it.  It is like a skeleton with a bit of flesh. I could see where it needed lipstick.

Why did you start writing?  

It is cliché, but I’ve always loved words.  Also, I love communicating with others, no matter whether by writing or chatting over dinner. After I retired from my law practice, I had time on my hands.  My husband always found it remarkable than when we were on vacation and I wasn’t writing briefs, story ideas flooded into my brain. All at once, I had time now and decided to hit the laptop. After retiring and seeking something to do with my time, I discovered the Jack the Ripper 125th anniversary conference was being offered in Whitechapel and took a plane.  I became fully immersed in the story and, after making lots of great friends, returned and started writing Goulston Street.  Now I have characters I love to spend time with and real purpose to my work.  The ten-step commute to my office doesn’t hurt either.

Do you regret writing any of the books you have written? 

I don’t regret any creative activity.If my effort fizzles, I’ll have learned something. If it works, I’ll have learned something.  

How did you begin writing?

For some reason, I’d always wanted to write a novel.  I pictured myself typing “Chapter One,” adding thousands of words and, finally, writing “The End.”  I took the advice to write what one cares about so I undertook to write about drugs and guns and the violence they do to communities where they are openly sold. I’d been a newspaper reporter for years so gathering information was no trouble at all.  I did my research, then I talked to homicide detectives and the ATF. The problem is, I’m the second straightest woman in the world, following closely on Queen Elizabeth’s low heels. I simply wasn’t the right person to write about the seedy life After a few thousand heartfelt words about what a pity it all was, I had nowhere to go.  

Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing your book?

My authorship was entirely intentional.

How did you become interested in the case of Jack the Ripper?  

I was born interested in mysteries. As a young girl, I heard someone on television mention Victorian era murders of women that were never solved even though the police arrived literally minutes after the attacks. I wasn’t permitted to watch the rest of the show but was curious as to why the police couldn’t find someone who had just two minutes head start. It really bothered me.   My interest deepened when I fell in love with London. On a visit there, my husband and I took the Ripper walking tour and all the pieces immediately fit.  I was startled by how deeply dark Whitechapel was and I knew it would have been even darker in 1888. Also, the streets were narrow, twisty and as interwoven as an Oriental rug.  Finally, I understood how the killer could have escaped. Rather than being satisfied with that information, I was suddenly driven to find out whodunnit.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?  

This is hard to say since all writers are quirky.  Some of us have a certain number of rituals they must honor before writing like making sure their coffee is in the right mug and situated in the proper place on the desk..  The only consistency in my writing space is a pair of cats with sit either on my chair, in my lap or on my desk. Stroking their fur calms me when I’m stressed about a scene. As for the writing itself, I always write the dialog first and then enhance the scene.  Maybe that comes from my reporting days when I took down quotes and never bothered about what the speaker was wearing or the weather outside at the time of the interview.

What is the hardest thing you find about writing?  

The hardest thing about writing in general is the solitude.  If you don’t like people, sign up to be an author. As a lawyer, I loved getting someone else’s take on whether one of my legal arguments would fly.  I get that feedback now through critiques, but they’re monthly occurrences that isn’t enough. As to what is hard about my own writing, I’m hampered by not being a criminal.  When I sit down to think how to commit a crime, I readily see how the plan will fail.  Real criminals don’t foresee failure. That’s why there are so many stupid criminal stories.  When I do think of a clever way to commit murder, I worry it won’t be believed but I take comfort in how many people get away with it all the time. The same thing is true of the government. I’ll hear of someone trying something outrageous and tell myself, “That will never fly.”  The next thing I know, it is the law of the land.

What is the easiest thing you find about writing?

I love spending time with my characters.  I hate having to put them through torment but I like planning their escape.  There’s a wonderful play, “You Can’t Take It With You,” in which a talentless playwright has written a female character into a monastery but “I can’t get her out.”  I haven’t put Lady Sarah in a monastery, but I have had to get her out of some serious scrapes.

And finally if you don't mind me asking, are you at present working on your next book.

I’m very excited about my work in progress.   In this book, Lady Sarah and Lady Millie team up to probe the death of a prominent socialist. They’re dodging bombs and trying to prevent Sarah’s uptight brother from discovering they’re investigating yet another murder.

Thank you it's been a pleasure to have you talk you.

Afternoon ladies and gentlemen it's my pleasure to bring you an interview with Tony Thorne MBE

Member of FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn (Tony Thorne MBE )

Tony Thorne MBE is the author of many books including the Points of View series of near future Scifi espionage novels. and he has kindly agreed to be interviewed for our site.

Hi Tony and thank you for taking part, to start with would you tell us a little about yourself and your background please.  

I’ve had a very full and interesting life as an entrepreneur and at 92 I'm still working on it..! Back in the 50’s I was educated as a Design  Engineer in London,  have traveled a fair amount of the world since, flown around it twice, visited America many times, once back to England via Concorde, patented several inventions, created a successful R&D company specializing in Applied Physics (Nuclear and Medical) products, presented several technical papers at conferences in various countries, had a medal pinned on me by the Queen in 1968, set up the European Group of an American company specializing in Medical products in the 70s. I also set up a computer training school, pioneered the development of intelligent software and animated graphics set to music in the 80s. On the other hand I ran a military radio station in the 40’s with the British Army, sailed my own boat single handed from Finland to England in the 60s,  had my first stories, and some poetry, published in the 50’s, made a couple of bad financial decisions in the 90's, and have since written and had published over 100 short speculative stories in various collections, magazines and anthologies, plus 4 novels  since retiring(!) in the late 90s, when I was 75.  

Could you tell us a little bit about your books?  

I mostly write near future science fiction, both short stories and novels. Quite a few based in  Tenerife, where I try to spend most of the winters, because it’s a lot warmer than Austria.

What were your goals and intentions for the books and do you feel you achieved them? 

I craved to be recognized as a good writer, and still do. The ideas have just poured out, so I wrote the stories, leaving no time to promote the results properly.

Mostly what about?

Well, with my scientific background I am aware of the future risks we face from smart technology and this shows in my writing, as several reviewers have said. Especially when I wrote my best selling THE SINGULARITY IS COMING; a fact to fiction item about the dangers of the Artificial Intelligence explosion. It is now my best seller and a new edition is ready.

How did you begin writing? 

As a boy, making up stories to relate to my younger sister and two brothers in the evenings. My parents were very happy to let me do it.

Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing your books?

Not originally, I was educated as a Mechanical Design Engineer, the writing was secondary back then, now it’s number one!

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

 I like adding quirky dialogue between my good characters, giving them good relationships with each other.

What is the hardest thing you find about writing?

Promoting it, as an elderly author with limited resources… the writing is much easier. There are too many people hovering around now trying to trap you into parting with your money in return for big promotions, such as making you a Book of the Day, Week, Month, or even Year.  The prices these smart operators demand make a writer’s eyes water, but when they have over a million members in their book clubs, they can virtually guarantee your success, if the book passes their reviewers, for which qualification you must pay a high price. Their club members are delighted to get everything free, because the poor author pays for everything, being encouraged to offer his books for free or discounted. I don’t like the way things are going and regret I can foresee a future now where only rich aspiring writers will get anywhere.

What is the easiest thing you find about writing?

Finding something new to write about. It’s never a problem.  

And finally if you don't mind me asking, are you at present working on your next book?

Always! Occasionally two at a time. At the moment it’s with volume 5 in my Points of View series, and a new Macabre Tale based in that magical Canary Island of Tenerife.

Thank you Tony


Alan M Clark

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Alan M Clark author of the Victims of Jack the Ripper series.

Hi Alan, thank you for agreeing to this interview.    

A pleasure—thanks for the opportunity. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?     I was born in the U.S. in Tennessee—1957. I’ve lived in Arlington, VA, Mahattan in New York City, NY, Nashville, TN, San Francisco, CA, and I currently I live in Eugene, OR. I am most known for my illustrations work, paintings and drawings for books of fiction primarily, and particularly the horror-related images. I have been a freelance illustrator for 34 years, a professional author for 24 years. I love history, I love discovery in creative process, and I have collaborated with many authors and artists over the years.

Do you aim for a set amount of words \ pages per day?    

No. Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?     Computer or Ipad. In the old days, a typewriter, of course, both manual and electric—I do not miss them, although I truly enjoyed examining the mechanism of the manual one I had.

Where do the your ideas come from ?    

Starting when I was very young, I practiced forming ideas until it came quite naturally. That took many years, and it’s an ongoing effort. I thinks it’s a bit like a muscle—the more you work it, the stronger and more reliable it is. The ideas themselves are formed by my interests and are a product of my way of thinking, I suppose.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?    

From inside the evolution, perhaps I’m not the one to see it well. When I started in illustration, I was going for work in the science fiction genre. Over time, I found, as did publishers, that I was best at creating images for fiction in the horror genre. In writing, I started out in fantasy and horror, and found over time that I was best at historical fiction. I do combine my interest in dark fiction with historical fiction by writing what I call “Historical Terror: Horror that Happened,” short fiction and novels that involve crimes from history.    

What is the hardest thing about writing ?        

Willingness to spend the time to do it well.  The hardest thing I’ve tried to do in writing is to write about myself, to depict my own experience. My novel, The Surgeon’s Mate: A Dismemoir, is a strange hybrid between horror fiction and memoir, concerning my relationship with a dark presence that emerged from temporal lobe hallucinations I had while in the hospital with brain abscesses in 1989, an episode in my life that is in part inspiration for my Jack the Ripper Victims Series. The difficulty arose from the fact that the memories I was dealing with were so vivid that I didn’t at first question what I put down on the page. If one knows the story that’s to be told too well, one can easily make the mistake of skipping some of the mechanics of conveying the sensory aspects of the characters’ experiences. I had to take more care to give readers a sense of what the POV character experienced.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

If you do, are there any tips that you use which could help others through their dreaded writer’s block? Creative blocks like that seem to be a product of insecurity and belief. Working on a project despite the feelings that go with a block, even when the product of that work is crap, helps break through the problem, if only because new Ideas arise. With that, of course, a writer must not be too stuck on assumptions about the work, and should be open to discovery in creative process. Can you tell us about the covers of your books and how they come about.

Who designs your book covers ?  Depends on the publisher. Some hire me to do the covers of my own novels, the layouts and the interior illustrations, some hire other illustrators or designers to do them. One of my publishers released all the rights to earlier editions of certain novels of mine. I did the covers for the new editions and released them through IFD Publishing, a press of which I am a partner. When I do the cover illustrations, they are images meant to suggest the narrative without pinning it down too much. I try to create something that invites the audience to take the narrative beyond what is depicted in the cover image.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?    

I give books away in exchange for reviews.The reviews help some with sales. What is your favourite positive saying?     In creative endeavor, what I believe is possible has everything to do with what is possible for me.

Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?    

Who knows?

What advice would you give to your younger self?    

Develop tenacity and patience.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?    

Perfume by Patrick Suskind, because it puts the reader into a POV so particularly built of the historical setting within the novel—essentially the time and circumstances of the character—as to be magical. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?         Do the work of learning how to write well. Develop tenacity and patience.

Where do you see publishing going in the future?    

I would like to think we’ll find our way to systems that allow the cream to rise to the top. Making books cheap and easy to publish isn’t the way to go about it, but today most of the systems for publishing and distribution of books promote a race to the bottom in pricing. Quality suffers as it’s not necessary to invest much in the work that’s being published.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?    

My web page:

My Amazon author page:

My GoodReads author page:

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.    

Again, thanks for the opportunity.

Today I have the pleasure of bringing you an interview with the lovely Robert Southworth

Today I am very lucky to be interviewing Robert Southworth.

Hi, thank you for agreeing to this interview, and congratulations on the publication of your seventh novel The Reaper’s Kiss.

To begin with tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Hello Susie.

To begin with I was born at a very early age. I herald from a poor family, 18 of us lived in a shoe box. With little to eat we used to get up early to lick the tar off the road. My mother used to squeeze a rasher of bacon between two slices of bread and then remove the bacon. I was 25 before I tasted more than just an impression of a bacon sarnie.

In truth … I am 47 years of age, English and herald from a region called the Midlands. I am fortunate enough to have a wife who is out of my league but thankfully her eyesight is pretty poor. I have four children, 3 girls and the youngest is a boy. My first love is writing, followed by a football team called Aston Villa. Thankfully my writing is better than my football team because they’re hopeless.

What inspired you to become a writer ?

I have always been a scribbler with the dream of writing. However, about 7 years ago I was made redundant from a job that I thought I would be doing until the day of retirement. I sat down with my Mrs and she saw the sadness on my face. She held my hand and asked me what I really wanted to do. I thought long and hard and came up with two suggestions. International sex symbol or writer. After three hours of laughter – she asked me what book I was going to write.

Could you tell us a little bit about your book ?

My latest book is the third in a series. I have taken the Jack the Ripper case and told a story that takes place after the death of the Ripper’s final victim. It is the way I work. I like to take subjects that are well known to the public but have very little actual facts, which allows me to weave a tale.

What were your goals and intentions for the book, and do you feel you achieved them?

Well a speed boat and scantily dressed women would be nice. Honestly the only goal I had for this final book was to have the readers that have followed the series, feel content that the destination was worth the journey. From the reviews I have received it seems I have achieved that… so I’m happy. What was the hardest part of writing the book ? With a young family and a full-time caring job, time is always my enemy. I never think that it is a good idea to keep readers waiting too long before the release of a new book.

What was the easiest part of writing the book ?

When writing a sequel, many of the characters are already in place. It helps having their backstory to build a new storyline.

What did you enjoy most about writing the book ?

Completing a 3 book series is a triumph for me, because I am always keen to move onto the next project. So just completing the third book was the most enjoyable thing.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Mainly my approach. The way I like to take known subjects on a totally different path.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

My family is fairly young and when I’m not working, I am with them – suits me fine. When I’m not being an international sex symbol that is…

Thank you Robert for you insightful replys

Today I have the pleasure of being you an interview with new author Angie Mackrell

Hi, thank you for agreeing to this interview, and congratulations on the forthcoming publication of your first novel ‘American Teabag’ which is out on the on the 28th of this month, so ladies and gentlemen don't forget to mark that date in your calendars.

To begin with, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born in Culver City in America 36 years ago and lived there till I was 5. Then with my brand new baby brother, we moved to England, where my dad was from, and happily lived here till I was 17 and then did the big move again back to California. On the 10th of this month I celebrated 11 years since I moved back here on my own. I have a husband, one stepson and two children of my own who I adore. I have always been interested in writing, but never thought it would ever be anything more than a hobby as I loved teaching. It has been a long time dream of mine to have a novel published of mine and because of determination and hard work, I am finally going to see that dream come true.

What inspired you to become a writer ?

I've always kept a diary and felt the benefits of writing my emotions out to overcome things, but I think after I read ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ I was really inspired to write a book that people would love. My dad used to write all the time but never got published although always wanted to, so I feel now that I will be on the 28th, I feel so proud as well as encouraged to keep writing.

Could you tell us a little bit about your book ? My book is a memoir of my life during 2016 - 2018, in which I deal with my dad being diagnosed with cancer. ..a cancer that turns out to be one hundred percent preventable.

What are your goals and intentions for the book, and do you feel you can achieved them?

One of my goals is to create awareness of this horrible but rare cancer, and to be a success story for people to be inspired by when they are going through something very difficult. I am writing two follow up books as well to further inspire others. I'd absolutely love to have my book on the shelf of Barnes and Noble (especially the one in Valencia, California where I used to live) and Waterstones (in Worthing where I live now).

What was the hardest part of writing the book ?

Definitely ‘Part 2’. Lots of hard emotions and it took me the longest to finish.

What was the easiest part of writing the book?

The part where I visit Little Tokyo. One of my favourite short stories within the story that i will read over and over again and still laugh.

What did you enjoy most about writing the book?

Writing about all the food adventures I took, and all the delicious things I got to try with my brother. Everybody has food in common with each other and I feel those were the times I bonded with my brother the most.

And one last question what do you like to do when you are not writing?

Running! I love new running challenges. I also love to travel. I love to cook and obviously read lots and lots of books!

Thank you talking to me today ,we wish you all the best with your book and a long sucessful writing career.

Don't forget ladies and gentlemen Angie's book will be available from the 28th