Café Cala welcomes Alison Stuart

Hi Alison, Welcome to Café Cala.

Alison Stuart

It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I can’t wait to read Lord Somerton’s Heir. You write about a fascinating period of history. On this cool morning I’ve been trying out a new recipe for rhubarb, apple and raspberry pie. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

I like a good honest black tea (Twinings Australian Afternoon Tea) with a dash of milk. Do not on any account try to foist Early Grey on to me. I loathe it with a passion. And a very large slice of that delicious pie with a good dollop of cream please ?

Done – I just happen to have some Twinings Austalian Afternoon Tea in the pantry – must have known you’d drop by!

1 Where did you get the idea for Lord Somerton’s Heir?

The story went through a number of iterations. At one point poor Sebastian was a society landscape gardener so for most of its writing the book was simply called “The Gardener” but he sat me down one day and explained he was not gardener material at all. He was a hard working career army officer who had no idea he was “Lord Somerton’s Heir”.

I love this. Isn’t it wonderful how our characters talk to us?

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I have always been a dreamer with hundreds of stories running around in my head so on one level it is the deeply personal satisfaction of being able to write the stories down and create the worlds of my imagination, but my far the most rewarding aspect of “being a writer” is when your writing touches a reader (particularly a total stranger on the other side of the world). If I have kept people awake until 2.00am because they couldn’t put the book down, then my work here is done

3 How did you start writing?

I scrawled frantically as a teenager (the evidence is still in a collection of short hand notebooks in a trunk in my loft… shudder!). I only started started writing seriously about 15 years ago on a ski holiday when I dislocated my shoulder and found myself stuck in the ski lodge all alone. That story became my first book, the award winning BY THE SWORD.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

I think joining Romance Writers of Australia was the best decision I ever made. I didn’t even know I had written a romance novel until I attended my first conference (Sydney 1997!). I spent the whole weekend with my jaw hanging open as this world opened up to me. Apart from the friendships, the generosity of spirit and the incredible professionalism of the people I have met through RWA, membership of this amazing organisation made me believe my dream was possible.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

Ummm… I am a scatty writer and I generally have a couple of projects on the go. My “go to” project of the moment is the first in a cosy mystery series set in Singapore in 1910 which I am loving. I was playing around with a sequel to Lord Somerton’s Heir but an email yesterday may have temporarily caused me to change direction. Can’t say any more….

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Join Romance Writers of Australia (or your local equivalent) and be prepared to learn the craft. There will be countless disappointments along the way but take them as learning experiences and keep your goal in sight!

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I change with the wind, Maggie! I am currently revelling in the late Elizabeth Peters, “Peabody” series at the moment. They are more cosy mystery than romance, but I am so desperately in love with Ramses I can’t put them down. He is a true romantic hero – completely improbable but tall, dark and handsome and so in love with his wife that he will never look at me!

Lord Somerton's Heir 1

Brantstone Hall
December 11, 1814

The tea, in its delicate porcelain cup, sat undrunk and cold, the bread curled and dried as the little clock on the mantelpiece ticked away the minutes. Isabel sat unmoving, staring out at the winter landscape of the Brantstone Park as if she expected Anthony to come galloping down the carriage way. She knew even before Thompson knocked on the door and stood shifting from one foot to the other, his shapeless felt hat clutched in his hand, that Anthony was dead.
She followed the head groom out into the stable yard again, where a farmer’s cart now stood. She looked at the cart and with her head held high; she walked across it. Thompson interposed himself between her and the inanimate object that lay in the filthy dray.
‘Are you sure, my lady?’ he asked.
She nodded and Thompson flicked back the sacking that covered the shapeless lump in the back of the cart. Isabel stared down into her husband’s face, into his open, staring eyes, already opaque in death. Anthony lay, stiff with rigor mortis, in the filth of a cart that had last been used to shift manure, from the smell. An ignominious end to his life, she thought.
‘We found him over by Lovett’s Bridge. He’d taken the hedge intending the shortcut across the Home Farm fields,’ Thompson was saying. He jerked his head at the saddle, the beautiful, hand tooled saddle that had been tossed into the cart with its owner. ‘Looks like the girth strap broke and he came off. Broke his neck in the fall. He’d not have known anything about it, my lady.’
Aware of the anxious faces that surrounded her, Isabel swallowed. They expected her to break down. They wanted her tears but she had none to give. She had expended too many tears over Anthony, Lord Somerton, while he lived to spare any for him now that he was dead.
Her gaze rested on the saddle. It had been her gift to Anthony on his birthday only a few months earlier. Now it was the cause of his death. It stood as a symbol of everything that had gone wrong between herself and her husband.
She turned on her heel and walked back to the house with her head held high. With every step, the enormity of Anthony’s death sank in.
She was free, but at what price came that freedom?
Her back straightened and her lips tightened.
To attain freedom, first she had to find Lord Somerton’s heir.

Buy Links: LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is available from AMAZON and all reputable ebook stores (for a complete list visit Escape Publishing)


Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, with an obvious obsession for men in uniform, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes. She lives in Williamstown with her own personal hero (and yes, he was wearing a uniform when they met!), two pathetically needy cats and subsists on a diet of gin and tonic.
Connect with Alison on her website, facebook, twitter and Goodreads

Café Cala welcomes Jan Ruth

Hi Jan, Welcome to Café Cala.


I loved White Horizon and am looking forward to reading more of your books. I’ve been making some Welsh cakes in your honour this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Bore Da! (Good morning in Welsh) Thank you for having me and I’d love Welsh cakes with my coffee, how can I refuse? I’m so pleased you enjoyed WHITE HORIZON. All my books are set very locally and this one, centred around Lake Crafnant was no exception

1 Where did you get the idea for White Horizon?

The location re WHITE HORIZON is certainly both romantic, and dramatic. Crafnant, is far more accessible than it looks in the pictures. I say accessible, but to be fair the single track road is not built for the modern car, and if someone needs to pass, don’t look down. Llyn Crafnant is a 3/4 mile-long lake (well, reservoir actually) that lies in a beautiful valley where the northern edge of Gwydyr Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains and, more specifically, the ridge of Cefn Cyfarwydd. The head of the lake offers what could be regarded as one of the finest views, across the lake to the mountains above, in North Wales. Crafnant takes its name from “craf”, an old Welsh word for garlic, and “nant”, a stream or valley. Even today the valley of Afon Crafnant smells of wild garlic when it flowers.

It’s a popular location for a Sunday stroll, a family walk on mostly level paths and the whole circuit only takes 40-60 minutes depending on your pace. There’s a tea shop selling Welsh ice cream on the left bank and in bad weather the mountain ponies come down to graze, often with young at foot. On one such amble, I said to husband, wouldn’t this make a great location for a hotel? Maybe with a huge decked area jutting over the head of the lake. What a wonderful vista to have a restaurant overlooking the water, imagine the sunsets! Oh, the romance of it all.
‘Why don’t you use it for a book location? Then you can build a hotel in your head,’ he said. Our imagination ran riot, well, mostly mine, although we soon became bored with just the hotel and began to spice it up, adding a character hell-bent on destruction, manslaughter, domestic violence and eventually, running out of sensible plans, we set it all on fire! What a story… we turned a pleasant picnic area into a scene of death and devastation! (I’ll have to keep my eye on that idea of his though, the one about building things in my imagination. I can see how it might become used and abused beyond its original motive).
But, I did keep the fire, the manslaughter and the domestic violence. But it is romantic as well, trust me.
PS: If you like the sound of all this drama, I’m currently promoting this book at the special price of 99c/77p
Sounds like a beautiful spot. I’m ashamed to say that, although I grew up in Scotland, I’ve never been to Wales – was too intent on going to the Continent in my teens and early twenties, then I came to Australia!

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

The most rewarding aspect of writing fiction has to be the connection with the reader. When someone across the world can connect with your story and is entertained by it enough to write a review or to come and say thank you, I really enjoyed reading it, it’s a job well done and the ultimate satisfaction.

3 How did you start writing?

The most rewarding aspect of writing fiction has to be the connection with the reader. When someone across the world can connect with your story and is entertained by it enough to write a review or to come and say thank you, I really enjoyed reading it, it’s a job well done and the ultimate satisfaction.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

What has helped me most? Learning to accept criticism, because although passion is vital, writing well is a craft which has to be learnt. Connecting with the right people who can nurture this skill in you will differ for each individual.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a part two to WILD WATER. This was my first title. Looking back now, it isn’t my best writing from a technical point of view but the characters have been so popular and there was so much in the story left to give. It was easy to fall back into their world. It’s been my popular book, which proves that character and story comes first.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Advice to aspiring writers? Read a lot! And practise, practise. Writing groups, reading groups. If you choose to go the self-published route, you WILL need an editor. Trust me, this is a different skill.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Deborah Moggach, Julia Crouch, Christina McKenna, Mary Fitzgerald, Dick Francis.

white horizon2
WHITE HORIZON, an excerpt.

Victoria told herself she wasn’t remotely interested in Daniel and Tina’s wedding. Even so, she found herself drawn to the article in the local press with a slightly cynical smile. The smile was down to an old blurry photograph of the happy couple, speeding across the local school field on a motorbike, and just out of shot, an enraged headmaster.
The Welsh Coast Weekly made their subsequent life story sound like a low budget film. There was mention of some kind of controversial inheritance, how it had sealed their fate to return to their home town after some twenty years, to be married in the local church. Given their Bonnie and Clyde style status at school, Victoria had always imagined they would get hitched somewhere like Las Vegas, or John o’ Groats. Oh, and his proposal was the result of a drunken pact! Great basis for a marriage! But who was she to judge. She’d married Max, and a fine upstanding pillar of society he’d turned out to be.
She shivered involuntarily at the thought of Max. How weird that the sensation of fear in her gut was physically almost the same as sexual anticipation. The idea of that, the sudden connection of it, both frightened and revolted Victoria, but she expertly pushed it to one side and crossed to the French windows to stare at the delicately frosted garden. The ancient trees and the stark vision of Aphrodite holding out her hands to catch the winter sun, filled her with calm. After all, the statue represented the goddess of love, despite the frozen tendrils of ivy clutching her stone heart.


Buy links to WHITE HORIZON:

Kindle UK:
Kindle US: