Café Cala welcomes Amanda Prowse

Hi Amanda, welcome to Café Cala,

Amanda PRowseI’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’ve recently discovered your books and love your writing. I’m looking forward to this next one. I’ve been making a raspberry and yoghurt loaf this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Coffee every time. Unbearably strong without milk.


1 Where did you get the idea for My Husband’s Wife?

The seaside town of Woolacombe, where the My Husband’s Wife is set, has a special place in my heart.  My parents who are now in their seventies, spent their very first holiday there by the sea in the nineteen sixties and it was an epic journey from London in those days by all accounts.

It was while we were visiting for a week in the summer of 2015, sitting on the sand by day, strolling the town by night and wandering the coastal paths before stopping for fish and chips to be eaten al fresco, that I felt compelled to write about the magical place where the views and the sunsets rival any in the world!

I was sitting alone on a bench up on the Esplanade, watching the surfers claim the last of the day as their own, bobbing about on the waves like slick, black, inquisitive seals that I reflected on the glorious day we had spent.  I felt a surge of happiness, recalling the simple joy I had felt to be laughing and happy in the sunshine with those I love.

I started to think about what was important in my life and it was very simple, my family, my children, my friends; these are the things I hold dear, the things that make me happy.  Then I started to wonder, what it would feel like if I were to lose one of these things, or worse still, lose them all…  My mind began to whirr, as it often does and ‘My Husband’s Wife’ was born.  I placed my hand on the worn slats of the bench I was sitting on and imagined being Rosie Tipcott, coming up here for a chat to the world and a good old think during good times and bad.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I receive a LOT of messages via Social Media from ordinary women like me who have found their lives turned upside down one of the issues that are covered in my novels.  The best bit of my job is hearing from readers how my stories have helped them deal with their own real life problems as a result, or that they realise while they may not be fantastically rich, that they do have a lot to be thankful for in their own lives.

One of my novels ‘Three and a Half Heartbeats’ is a story about a condition called Sepsis (formerly referred to as Septicaemia) which is one of those diseases which kills thousands of people every year, but is perfectly treatable if detected early enough (like Meningitis).  Some readers have written to me to tell me that having read the book, they learned the symptoms and recognised them in loved ones, voiced their suspicions to medical staff and having been correct, saved the lives of family members.  Those were very special letters.

I also think that sometimes it might to be difficult to talk about how you feel about a situation, so I choose gritty, relatable topics that a lot of people find difficult to talk about and the write a book that explores an extreme case of it using an unlikely heroine and how she reacts to the challenges that she confronts.  All of my stories are uplifting, no matter how tough the subject matter and I think that this makes it somehow easier to talk about the issue with your friends and to realise that we all share the same fears, hopes and dreams.

3 How did you start writing?

I read English at University many years ago and always wanted to be an author but although I had always written for my own pleasure, didn’t have the confidence to put my work out there for criticism.  Then my husband who is a soldier returned from being away on an active duty deployment and was complaining about a book that he had read that hadn’t matched up to his expectations, he encouraged me to write my first novel ‘Poppy Day’ based on what it felt like for me to be a military wife while he was away and what it felt like.

I chose an extreme angle for the story – my nightmare would be what it would be like if the man I loved was taken hostage, so I wrote the story about that and after a long hard struggle to get it published, it went on to be a cult bestseller.  After I appeared on a lot of popular TV shows in the UK talking about it I was fortunate enough to be offered a global publishing deal and now I’m working on my fifteenth novel.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

I am fortunate in that I have had a lot of different jobs where I have met thousands of people, all of which can contribute to my list of characters!.  I’ve worked as a cleaner, a management consultant and everything in between; I’m a mum, a cancer survivor and I’ve known what is feels like to lose close family members so I have a lot of human experience and emotion to draw on which I think has helped me to makes my books realistic and believable.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished a book called ‘The Food of Love’ about a happy couple with two lovely daughters who have a pretty perfect life.  Then suddenly they realise that one of their girls in her teens has a problem; she has an eating disorder that she has been hiding for some time.  Caught in the grip of Anorexia, the family have their work cut out trying to save their precious daughter, a difficult task as the condition is not widely understood and the cure, eating, is the very thing that the sufferer will go to any lengths to avoid.

It is an uplifting read despite the deadly serious subject matter and it raises awareness of a condition that increasing numbers of young women (and men to some extent) are falling prey to, in order to conform to social pressure.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Just do it.  Just start writing.  It doesn’t matter if it is in the middle of your story or near the end, just put pen to paper and start the process.  Don’t be too critical early on either – you might go back and change the whole thing, but get a decent amount of text down first and see where it takes you – you never know, it might be pretty good at the first draft if you give yourself a chance…

 7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I am probably the most prolific writer in the UK today and the problem that comes with that is that it eats into my reading time.  I love the classics like Thomas Hardy and could re-read those at any time and am a big fan of Jodi Piquolt, which I think comes through in my work.  I also love novels like ‘The Book Thief’ by Marcus Zusak and  ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger.


My husband's wife.gifOnce a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.

She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.

But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?


What people are saying about MY HUSBAND’S WIFE:

‘My Husband’s Wife is a gripping book that kept me glued to my seatfrom the start, I couldn’t put it down … Another brilliant Amanda Prowse story.’

‘Her writing will make you laugh, cry, shout and scream and you will be left more often than not an emotional wreck but yet deeply satisfied that you have read such an outstanding book.’

‘My Husband’s Wife was utterly captivating and brilliant!.

‘Emotionally gripping!’

‘My Husband’s Wife is emotional, amusing, heart-warming and entertaining … It is another Amanda Prowse triumph.’

‘Absolute gem of a book’

‘Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, does domestic drama like Amanda Prowse.


Amanda Prowse is the bestselling author of contemporary family fiction and has written twelve books and six novellas that have been translated into dozens of languages all around the world.

Her titles include ‘What Have I Done?’ which was voted an Amazon Kindle editor’s book of 2013 and ‘A Mother’s Story’ that received the accolade of being the best family fiction novel by the Daily Mail. It also won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the Year 2015.

Her summer book of last year ‘Perfect Daughter’ earned a place in the Amazon hall of fame and was also selected as a prestigious World Book Night title 2016 by The Reading Agency who promote and manage the nation’s libraries.

Amanda is a regular panellist on the popular daytime TV show ‘The Wright Stuff’ and co-hosts the BBC Radio book club in Bristol in addition to narrating most of her own audio books. Amanda lives with her husband and two sons in the West Country, where she writes full-time.

Book Link:

Twitter: @MrsAmandaProwse

Café Cala welcomes Tess Woods

Hi Tess, welcome to Café Cala,

Tess Woods Author photo


I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’m looking forward to reading Love at First Flight. I’ve been making chocolate brownies this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

I’m a green tea addict thanks, Maggie, so I’d love a cuppa to go with your yummy-scrummy brownies.



1 Where did you get the idea for Love at First Flight?

It actually came to me out of nowhere in an almost dream-like sequence – quite the eerie experience! I hadn’t considered the idea of ever writing but suddenly felt compelled to write the scene that revealed itself to me and the whole book came from there.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

The connection with readers who my story has resonated with has been incredibly special. It’s been an unexpected but magical part of the experience and I cherish those connections.

3 How did you start writing?

I literally sat with pen and paper and wrote a book!  I hadn’t written a single thing before then.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

As far as my writing goes, I think the people who had input into the story were the ones who helped me grow the most and shape my story-telling. Meredith Whitford my manuscript assessor, Jacinta di Mase my literary agent, Di Blacklock my structural editor and Maddie James my copy editor. I learnt so much from each of these amazing ladies.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve actually just finished my second novel, Beautiful Messy Love, which is the sequel to Love at First Flight.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

My advice is forget everything you’ve been told by anyone and write the story you want to write the way you want to write it. There is WAY too much readily consumed information for writers these days and I think a true writer writes from the soul, not from stuff they read on Google or Facebook so shut it all down, lock yourself away and write!

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

My favourite authors are Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Rosamunde Pilcher, Adriana Trigiani – all write warm stories of the heart that aren’t predictable and I love that. Lately I’m enjoying Aussie authors like the brilliant Jenn J McLeod,  Deborah Disney,  Sara Foster, Kylie Kaden and Lily Malone to name a few.

Thanks so much Maggie for a lovely interview xx

Love at First Flight:

Love at First Flight Print CoverWhat if you met the love of your life and he wasn’t your husband? An AusRom Today People’s Choice Award winner that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, viewers of Offspring, The Good Wife and movies like Up in the Air.

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love.

What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of facing. As the fallout touches friends and family, Mel’s dream romance turns into a nightmare. She learns that there are some wounds that never heal and some scars that you wouldn’t do without.

LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

You can find Tess at:


Facebook  – Great giveaways every month!

Booktopia buy link and it can also be found in all bookstores and wherever eBooks are sold online


Café Cala welcomes Louise Guy

Hi Louise, welcome to Café Cala,

Louise Guy HeadshotI’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. You are making such a splash with your Crafters’ Club Series and I know my grandchildren love them. I’ve been making a raspberry and yoghurt loaf this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Hi Maggie, thanks so much for having me. I’m delighted to hear your grandchildren are enjoying the books. Your baking sounds delicious! I’ll have a green tea, thank you.


1 Where did you get the idea for The Crafters’ Club books?

The idea for the Crafters’ Club formulated when I was trying to get my eldest child interested in fiction. Whilst he could read well, he was reluctant to read fiction and I was frustrated, thinking he was missing out on such a magical world. So I decided to put my women’s fiction on hold and write a book for him. At the time his two interests were Minecraft and aviation and I thought Minecraft would be an interesting place to set an advenCrafters club SocialMediaBookCover7ture. I wasn’t aware at that stage that 100 million people play the game and that my readership could span so far beyond my own son.

One book led to another and so far seven books are available in the series. Book Seven, The Secret, has just been released and books eight and nine are in production and planned for release later this year.



2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

In addition to seeing my eldest child now devouring The Wimpy Kid series, Andy Griffith and a number of other fiction titles is certainly a highlight. However the most rewarding are the messages I have been receiving from parents of reluctant readers. For many, the Crafters’ Club have been the first books they’ve read by choice, and they are re-reading them!

3 How did you start writing?

I started writing in 2003 when my husband and I paused for a break on a trip around Australia. I’d always wanted to write fiction and had dabbled a bit, but it was during that trip I formulated my first full length novel. It was romantic suspense and is now buried at the bottom of a very deep drawer!

4 What would you say has helped you most?

The writing community and writers I’ve been lucky enough to meet on the Sunshine Coast have definitely been a huge help.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently finalising book 8 of The Crafters’ Club, The Promise and have just sent the first book of my new series, The Secret World of Curly Jones, to beta readers. Curly Jones is aimed at 6-10 year olds. I’m also trying to do final edits of my second women’s fiction novel, Rainbow Bay.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

To write, write, write! And surround yourself with other people who write. Online and in-real life writer friends make a huge difference. They are supportive, interesting and I think a must.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I have a huge list of favourite authors. I’ve just had a few days to myself in Fiji where I devoured two Kristin Hannah novels which were excellent. I also loves anything by Erica James, Liane Moriarty, Diane Blacklock, Sarah Belle, Kylie Kaden, and of course your own stories. Writing for children, and having children, also has me reading Roald Dahl, Andy Griffiths, Jeff Kinney, Brian Falkner, James Phelan and many others.

Crafters club BookCovers

You can purchase the Crafters’ Club books at most bookstores, or via – links to Amazon and other online purchases are available at the Crafters’ Club website.


You can also contact Louise on



Café Cala welcomes Liz Byrski

Hi Liz, welcome to Café Cala,

liz byrski


I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I have all of your books and love your writing. I’m looking forward to this next one. I’ve been making a banana and pecan loaf this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

I’ll have tea thanks Maggie.


1 Where did you get the idea for The Woman Next Door?

All my story ideas come from life, from watching and listening, from reading and asking myself questions about life and people and trying to find answers. In this book I was thinking about neighbours and extended family, and about issues around retirement and planning for old age.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

The whole process of writing is rewarding for me.  It’s how I learn and how I work things out, so it’s a satisfying occupation, and a great job.  It’s also often hard, frustrating and infuriating.  It’s always especially rewarding to hear from readers about what they enjoy in the books, especially if something either relates directly to their experience, or helps them to think through something in their own lives.

3 How did you start writing?

I started my working life as a very inefficient and bored secretary at 16 and then managed to get a job as a reporter on a local newspaper at the age of 21.  I always wanted to be a writer and journalism seemed to be a way of getting there.  Writing has been my job, or part of it, in a variety of ways ever since then.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Journalism is a great discipline for anyone who wants to write.  It teaches  focus and economy of words, and involves the essential experience of being edited, sometimes ruthlessly, so one learns to self-edit too.  It also gets rid of the pretentiousness that most of us suffer from at the start.  There is no space or time for being precious about one’s writing or the feedback you get on it. It teaches hard work and attention to the discipline of writing, and the fact that whatever gets published is not only the work of the writer but of all the other people who are essential to getting a newspaper or a book out to the readers.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on another novel, a non fiction book on women and reading, and an essay about ageing.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Keep writing.  Don’t take advice about or feedback on your writing from your family and friends, or anyone who is not a writer, teacher of writer, or an editor.  Your family and friends may like what you do and encourage you but unless they know writing and publishing their advice may completely de-rail your work or lead to unreasonable expectations.  Don’t expect it to be easy.Re-write, re-write, rewrite, edit, edit, edit –  learn to read like a writer which means looking closely at the work of writers you admire and  working out how they do it and why it works.  Don’t believe it when people tell you that ‘everyone has a book in them’. They may indeed have a book inside them but the process of being a writer is get the book out of the self and onto the page.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Ian McEwan, William Boyd, Penelope Lively, Sarah Waters, David Lodge, Craig Sherbourne, Ashley Hay, Carol Shields, Margaret Forster, Pat Barker, Kate Atkinson.

The Woman Next Door 

Available in all good bookshops on June 28th.

The Woman Next Door book cover - medium

Over the years, the residents of Emerald Street have become more than just neighbours, they have built lasting friendships over a drink and chat on their back verandahs.

Now a new chapter begins with the children having left home. Helen and Dennis have moved from their high maintenance family property to an apartment by the river with all the mod cons. For Joyce and Mac, the empty nest has Joyce craving a new challenge, while Mac fancies retirement on the south coast.

Meanwhile Polly embarks on a surprising long-distance relationship. But she worries about her friend next door. Stella’s erratic behaviour is starting to resemble something much more serious than endearing eccentricity…

With her trademark warmth and wisdom, Liz Byrski involves us in the lives and loves of Emerald Street, and reminds us what it is to be truly neighbourly.

“Liz Byrski has a guaranteed cheer squad for her novels which champion…women taking charge of their life and growing old creatively.” Daily Telegraph

“The doyenne of women’s fiction.” West Australia

You can find Liz at:


or on her Website


Café Cala welcomes Pamela Hart

Hi Pamela, welcome to Café Cala,

Pamela Tree 1 - Version 2 copy


I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’ve loved both The Soldier’s Wife and The War Bride. The latter kept me up late as I had to finish it. Loved the characters. I’ve been making savoury zuccini and feta muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Tea, please! Weak black, no sugar.



1 Where did you get the idea for The War Bride?

When I was doing the research for The Soldier’s Wife, I read a book called Bride of an ANZAC, which is the autobiography of Queenie Sunderland (remember Margaret’s friend Queenie from Reading Station?).  Queenie was such a great woman.  She wrote the book when she was 95, and died at 103!  She told the story of coming in to Sydney Harbour on a war bride ship in January 1919, and her friend Margaret finding out that her husband had lied to her and abandoned her. As soon as I read that story, I knew I had found the heart of my next book – a young English girl, excited about starting a new life with her husband, finds out that she’s been betrayed and abandoned.

But then I started thinking… and decided it would be a better story if that situation was a mix-up, rather than a straight deception. And I remembered that the last war brides had been swapped from one ship to another (from the Waimana to the Borda).  And I thought… what if the husband hadn’t got the letter about the switch…

This isn’t spoilers, as you find all this out in the first two chapters!  Margaret, my main character, has to make a new life for herself in Sydney, while Frank, her husband, believes that she has abandoned him.

What I was interested in this book is the aftermath of World War I, when people are coming home and trying to fit back into a world which has radically changed – and they have changed, as well, because of their war experiences.  And I was also interested in the sense of hope and energy which was typical of the early 1920s; and the fun!

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

Without a doubt, it’s hearing from readers!  I love to hear from people who have read my books. Obviously, it’s nice if they have liked the work, but in any case it’s interesting.  The books go out and you never really know what’s happened to them, so getting emails from readers is always lovely.  I have a Contact Pamela page on my website, to encourage people to write.

And with these books, I came back to my second love, which is research.  I think I’m a tiny bit addicted to research!

3 How did you start writing?

I was a children’s writer (as Pamela Freeman, my maiden name) before I wrote for adults, and I started writing children’s stories when I was a scriptwriter and researcher at ABC Kids.  One of the shows I was working on needed some told-to-camera stories, and I ended up writing five of the ten we needed.  I had not published any stories, but I sent these to the NSW School Magazine, and they rejected four of the five – but they took the very first story for children I wrote.  Anna Fienberg (author of the Tashi books) was the editor at the Magazine then, and I blame her for my writing career – if she’d rejected five out of five, I’d probably still be a scriptwriter!

4 What would you say has helped you most?

My husband!  I used to be a consultant in organisational communication, but when we had our son I stopped working outside the home and concentrated on writing – and that was only possible because my husband does the hard yards of going to work every day.

His support has meant that I have published far more than I would have done otherwise, and when I started writing historical novels, which was a real departure for me, he encouraged me and supported me through all my self-doubt.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m writing a novel set in 1917, about an Australian woman war correspondent who is in Italy to report on the Australian navy’s blockade of the Adriatic Sea.  This operation was called the Otranto Barrage, and hardly anyone has heard of it, but it was a crucial part of the war in the Mediterranean.

Of course, there’s a young man that she meets there, an Italian American who wants to be a war photographer.  They become a team and… well, you’ve probably figured out by now that I like a bit of romance in my stories!

Most people don’t know, but pretty much the first woman war correspondent was Australian, Louise Mack, who reported on the German invasion of Belgium early in World War I.  She went behind enemy lines and everything!  She was the inspiration for this story.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

I teach writing at the Australian Writers’ Centre, and on behalf of my students I’ve asked a lot of editors this question.  And the answer I keep getting is: don’t submit your work too soon.  Publishers talk about books being ‘half-baked’ – that is, submitted too early in the editing process.  Very often, a book will be rejected because it’s got good ideas and some good writing, but if the author had done just a couple more drafts, it would have been terrific instead of just good.

So my advice is: draft and redraft! Mostly, the difference between a professional writer and an amateur is the number of drafts they’re prepared to do!

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Oh, so many!  It’s so hard to make a short list.  I read very widely – and of course, once you’ve been a writer as long as I have, you make friends with other writers, so you have to like your friends’ books!

Australian women writers I like include Kimberly Freeman, Anita Heiss, Bronwyn Parry, Pamela Cook, and Kate Forsyth.  Others: Hilary Mantel, Val McDiarmid, Mindy Klasky… this is a really hard question!

I also read very widely in genre fiction, including crime and science fiction and fantasy.  If I started listing my favourite authors in these genres we’d be here all day!

Read an excerpt form The War Bride

PROLOGUE 13 January 1920
There didn’t seem to be a band playing. And only a few people on the wharf at Dawes Point. A handful of Army types, a man in a suit waiting with a taxi, and the normal number of stevedores lounging around, grabbing a smoko while they waited for their cargo to arrive. Frank was surprised. The last time a war-bride ship had docked – wthe war bride coverhen his mate Smitty’s girl came out – there had been crowds, an Army brass band, streamers and shouting and crying – even a man with a placard saying, ‘Welcome to your new home, Mavis’. He’d thought about making one of those for Margaret, but now he was glad he hadn’t. He felt silly enough, clutching a bunch of roses in a sweaty hand. He hoped he’d still recognise her. Two years and four months was a long time, and women did things with their hairstyles. Clothes were different. But surely Margaret’s tall, slender form would stand out the way it had at Reading train station, when they’d said goodbye. Surely he couldn’t mistake that lovely, soft smile of hers for anyone else?

It was hot already, and humid, as Sydney summers always were, but he was ruefully aware that the sweat running down his back wasn’t only from the heat. Wound tighter than a watch spring, he was. Two years and four months and no giving in to temptation, no matter what. A married man, and he’d stuck to it, and God hadn’t it been hard! But today . . . the house he’d found for them was all ready, the bed made with brand-new sheets. A thorn pricked his thumb and he loosened his grip; not long now. The SS Waimana loomed closer; still painted in its camouflage colours, even now, fourteen months after the war had ended. Frank blinked, confused. There weren’t any passengers lining the rails – no, wait, there were a couple on the top deck, holding up some kiddies to see. Where were the women? This was supposed to be a war-bride ship. It should have been packed to the gunnels. The ship was tied up and the gangplank put across the gap. A trickle of passengers came down, but the only young woman who emerged was a redhead. She winked at him as she went past, her hand tucked into a corporal’s arm. That was all – the others were a family group and a couple of men in suits. Where was Margaret? He checked the letter from the Repatriation Committee again, for the tenth time; yes, the Waimana, arriving January 1920, check shipping news for arrival date. Which he had. Surely she hadn’t got off at Fremantle or Melbourne? Maybe most of the women had been going to Melbourne, and that was why the ship was nearly empty. That would be it. But where was Margaret? Who could he ask? An Army sergeant was checking off the corporal and his redhead from a list. With the enlisted man’s instinctive avoidance of authority, Frank went instead to a sailor who was securing the mooring ropes at the bow of the ship. ‘My wife was supposed to be on this ship,’ he began. The sailor hawked and spat into the greasy Harbour water. ‘Soddin’ women.’ Frank ignored his comment. ‘Margaret Dalton?’ he asked. The sailor looked at the sky and sucked his teeth, thinking. ‘Brown hair? Good looker? About so high?’ He measured against himself. Frank nodded. ‘Yerse, I remember her. There were only a couple without their blokes. She came on board, but she took herself off again. Women – always changing their bluidy minds.’ He’d felt cold like this when he’d been shot, at Passchendaele, in the streaming mud, trying to crawl under barbed wire. The shock had gone through him the same way, exactly. ‘Took herself off . . .’ he managed. The sailor shrugged and made fast, then circled him to get back on board. ‘Life’s a shit, eh?’ he said as he climbed the gangplank. • Frank threw the roses into the gutter as he walked away. Walked and walked, hot in his good suit (his only suit) and his shiny shoes. Part of him wasn’t surprised. He’d always known that Margaret was too good for him. Too beautiful, too kind, too loving. He wasn’t worth that kind of girl; a nameless orphan with nothing more than what his two hands could make. But she hadn’t seemed to realise that. Had seemed to think they were on a par, that she was making a good bargain. Had seemed to look forward to a life in Australia.

When she’d walked with him to the station to see him off to the front, she’d cried silently, surreptitiously rubbing the tears away from her face, not wanting to make him feel any worse. They’d only been married a month, then, and parting had been so hard. When they’d kissed goodbye, her soft mouth had been salty with tears. She’d loved him then, he was certain. Two years and four months was a long time. Long enough, it seemed, for her to change her mind, even if it was at the last moment. He’d had letters; but not for a while, now he thought about it. A few months. Maybe that should have made him realise. Made him prepare himself, instead of being side-swiped like this. She should have warned him. Told him she’d had doubts. He could have reassured her. Hell, he would have gone to England to fetch her if he’d had to. Unless someone else had changed her mind for her. The thought of Margaret with another man hit him low and hard, and left him gasping. He needed a drink. There was a pub on the corner. Not one he’d been in before, but it was open. He went in and hesitated, then ordered a whisky. Beer wouldn’t chase away this shaking feeling inside him; wouldn’t put him solidly on his feet again. One whisky didn’t, either. He had another, and another. A vague sense that he was spending too much money sent him out the door, jingling the coins in his pocket, along with the key to the house he’d prepared so carefully for Margaret. It made him sick to think of living there alone. Made him walk faster, as if to outdistance the thought. He stopped for breath and realised that he’d walked a long way; had taken a familiar path, to Stanmore, and Gladys.

Well, why not? Hell, he’d been faithful the whole time, and what did he have to show for it? Anger rose up in him, finally chasing away the cold, sick dread. If Margaret didn’t want him, there was one who did. Who always had. And there was no reason now that his daughter couldn’t have a proper father. That thought was the first good one he’d had. It would be wonderful to see more of Violet. He turned into Cavendish Street and walked up to number 64, Mrs Leydin’s boarding house, where Glad had a room for her and Violet. For a moment, before he knocked, he was afraid that she wouldn’t want him, either. That she’d throw him off because he hadn’t chosen her over Margaret, despite the fact that Margaret was his lawful wedded wife. He was frozen with that fear, for a moment; that he’d be back to being alone in the world, as he always had been until that miraculous day that Margaret had said she would marry him. Alone and forsaken. But he wasn’t alone. Violet would always be his. His knock would have woken the dead. It was still early; Glad was on second shift at the biscuit factory, and she hadn’t left for work yet. She answered the door and put her hand to her heart as she saw him; did he look that bad? ‘She didn’t come,’ he said. Her pale little face flushed and she took his hand almost shyly. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. That was Gladys. She was sorry, always, at anything that caused him pain. She really loved him. Tears came to his eyes but he didn’t want her to see, so he pulled her into his arms and hugged her. Violet came running out of their room and crowed with delight to see him. ‘Papa!’ she yelled. She barrelled into his legs and he swept her up with one arm, still holding Gladys tightly with the other.

He kissed Vi’s cheek and she threw her little arms around his neck. There was nothing like that feeling. Gladys leaned her head against his shoulder; her love and acceptance soothed the raw wound of Margaret’s rejection. ‘You and Vi should move in with me,’ he said. ‘We’ll be a proper family.’ ‘Yes,’ Glad said. She smoothed his hair back and smiled at him. There was a hint of sadness at the back of her eyes, but he concentrated on the smile, mirroring it until the sadness disappeared. ‘A proper family.’

The War Bride is available in Australia in all bookstores, Target, K-Mart, etc., as well as all online bookstores, both in hardcover and e-book.   It will be coming out in September in the UK.

You can follow Pamela on:








Café Cala welcomes Tricia Stringer

Hi Tricia, welcome to Café Cala,

Tricia Stringer


I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’m looking forward to reading Dust on the Horizon. I’ve been making raspberry and yoghurt muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Maggie it’s great to be here and those muffins smell divine. I’d love a long black coffee please with just a drip of milk to make it muddy.


1 Where did you get the idea for Dust on the Horizon?

The idea for this story has developed over many years of visiting the magnificent Flinders Ranges country in the north of South Australia. It’s such a beautiful, rugged, fascinating and demanding landscape I began to wonder how the first European settlers survived there and that sowed the seeds for the story. I had originally intended to begin with this story but went back and wrote the arrival of previous generation in Heart of the Country. Both books standalone but Dust is about the next generation.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

Discovering places I’ve never seen and finding out things about my country I didn’t know and then being able to weave them into a story to share with others.

3 How did you start writing?

I started writing stories for the children in my class to get an understanding of our local history celebrations. That taught me how little I knew about what it took to be a writer so I did a children’s writing course and I was hooked.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Studying, belonging to writing groups and organisations and fellow writers, so many have been so willing to support and share their knowledge of the industry. I am particularly grateful to Monica McInerney and Fiona McIntosh who were very supportive when I was still trying to find my way.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on Jewel in the North which centres around the third generation of the Baker and Wiltshire families I introduced in Heart of the Country and continued in Dust on the Horizon. It’s wonderful to write about the characters who were only children in the previous book and are now adults making their way in the world. I love still having the older generation in the story as well. It’s like being with good friends.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Write every day. I’ve had to teach myself to write every day. It’s not always the best writing but the words are on the page. You can’t edit a blank page so the trick is to write every day and get the story down, even if it’s only a couple of hundred words you will eventually finish it. Then you can edit. Attend workshops, join a writers’ group, be with other writers. Read for enjoyment but also to learn more about the craft of writing. Write down your writing goals. Be realistic and keep on keeping on.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I read widely across all kinds of genres and naming favourites is very tricky.  I’ll list Monica McInerney, Fiona McIntosh, Bryce Courtney, Rachael Johns, TM Clark, Kate Morton and Tony Park just to get the ball rolling but there are many more.

Dust on the Horizon

Dust on the Horizon FC (670x1024)1881  Joseph Baker works hard on his pastoral lease at Smith’s Ridge, in the beautiful but harsh land of the Flinders Ranges. For Joseph this lease, lost to his family in the early days of settlement, offers a future for his young family and that of his Aboriginal friend, the loyal and courageous Binda. Joseph is a clever man, but it is a hard land to work and drought is once more upon the country.

New arrivals to the small rural town of Hawker, Henry Wiltshire and young wife Catherine, open a general store and commission business. Unscrupulous but clever, Henry has plans to prosper from the locals’ fortunes, and quickly makes powerful friends, but when he throws Binda’s family out of his shop, his bigotry makes an immediate enemy of Joseph and a die is cast…

Then the dark force of Jack Aldridge, a man torn between two worlds, crosses their path. Outcast and resentful, he wants what Henry and Joseph have and will stop at nothing to take it.

As the drought widens and the burning heat exhausts the land, Joseph, Henry and Jack’s lives become intertwined in a way that none could have predicted. In their final confrontation not all will survive.

This sweeping historical saga takes us into the beautiful and brutal landscape of the Flinders Ranges and through the gold rush, following the fate of three men and the women they love. Men and women whose lives become intertwined by love and deceit until nature itself takes control and changes their destinies forever.

Available from most book outlets and as an ebook. More details at




Café Cala welcomes Fiona McArthur

Hi Fiona, welcome to Café Cala,

Fi at CI’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’m really looking forward to reading Aussie Midwives. I’ve been making strawberry and pecan muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?
Hi Maggie, it’s great to be here. Thanks so much for asking me. I’m an Earl Grey fan, no milk, thanks.

1 Where did you get the idea for Aussie Midwives?

The idea was suggested a couple of years ago. At the time I was a little daunted to ask my peers for their stories but I was told because of my background and love of my work I’d be able to give the reader a great window into the world of the midwife. Two fiction books for Penguin later I finally found the courage to ask for volunteers.  Because of the generosity of the midwives in the book I think we have provided great insight and a real diversity across Australia. The readers are certainly appreciating the honesty and passion all the midwives have shared.  I’m very proud of the end result and it really is a heart warming read.

aussie midwives‘Being present as the midwife at a baby’s birth is one of life’s glorious adventures.’

Nineteen Australian midwives share their incredible stories with passionate midwife and bestselling author Fiona McArthur.

Midwives play a vital role in supporting women through some of the most challenging and rewarding moments of their lives.  These remarkable professionals watch over births across Australia from the remote outback to busy urban hospitals.

Meet Annie, working on the tiny island of Saibai where mothers arrive by dinghy; Kate, a clinical midwifery consultant, who sees women with high-risk pregnancies; Priscilla and Jillian who fly thousands of miles to get mothers and babies to hospital safely with the Royal Flying Doctor Service; and Louise, who gives impromptu consultations in the aisles of the local supermarket.

Funny one minute and heartbreaking the next, Aussie Midwives explores the joys, emotion and drama of childbirth and the lasting effect it has on the people who work in this extraordinary profession.

 2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I love helping readers marvel at how amazing ordinary women and men are. How they stand by each other, put themselves at risk or under stress to help others, how the Australian environment presents challenges like those faced by the flying doctor flight nurses, or the high tech city hospital. And of course I love writing about maternity scenes with the idea of a mother-to-be, reading it, and remembering something that will help her on her journey. It is lovely to hold the end book baby or when someone sends you a photo of your book in a distant bookshop

3 How did you start writing?

I was always going to write a book but it took me until I was thirty, with four little boys, and another on the way, before I started. Then I wrote lots of book beginnings, no endings, and ten years later I finished my first full book. That’s the one I sold and I’ve sold more than 30 since then – fiction, non-fiction, romance, textbook.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

What helped the most …

To write – when someone told me anyone can do it –just be professional – it’s amazing how something small like that sticks in your brain and giuves you permission to dare yourself. And of course Emma Darcy’s “finish the damn book”.

To sell – Romance Writers of Australia and the people I met there who shared so much. My agent Clare Forster for the single titles and non-fiction.

To keep going – the support of my husband who is very proud of me and the fact that he believes the money I make is mine for travelling which I love. But I also keep writing because if I don’t I get twitchy, my head fills up with ideas, and nobody can live with me. I think a lot of writers are like that.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished my third single title medical/rural women’s fiction for Penguin. The release of that has been put back because we all (me and Penguin) got snowed with the AUSSIE MIDWIVES when my my previous editor left. But it will be out late this year or early next year.

I’m also editing a non-fiction birth book I bought-back (copyright) from Penguin so I could update it and I’m really looking forward to getting that back out there for new mums (and experienced mums and dads who would like a quick refresh). I couldn’t do all that technical on-line stuff without the help of Annie Seaton who’s making it into a POD e-book for me. I wanted to be able to update it and while it sold well, it didn’t sell well enough for a re-print from Penguin so we’re making that happen via e-books. A midwife I met when she was a student has done all my illustrations. Its called THE DON’T PANIC GUIDE TO BIRTH on Amazon. It won’t make a fortune but when I’m gone there will be a little midwife voice telling mums ‘You can do it.”that they can download to their phone and read in 2 hours.

I’m also halfway through a medical romance for M&B and it’s just lovely to let the characters run. That’s something I’ve discovered isn’t quite as easy in a single title book.  So a change is as good as a holiday and I do believe you get rusty if you don’t write stories just like any other exercise.

I’ve also started planning the next Penguin fiction because this fabulous backstory idea fell into my lap at a lecture I attended the other day and I can’t wait for my heroine, Sienna, to try to solve that medical dilemma. I’m busy plotting that out this month while I wait for the proofs from HEART OF THE SKY.

But at the minute I’m doing lots of promo stuff for AUSSIE MIDWIVES and working 3 days a week as a midwifery educator and playing with grandkids. So I guess I’m busy. J That’s why I listen to a lot of audiobooks as I drive to work or I wouldn’t have time to read.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Join a writing group. Write every day even if it’s just a couple of hundred words. Writing gets better with practice. Write until you get to the end of the book. Don’t wait for ten years like I did to finish your first book. Keep reading.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Jojo Moyes is my new fave. Diana Gabaldon and her Cross Stitch – I couldn’t put it down and even took it on a kayak trip to read between paddling. Iona Andrews and the Kate Daniels Series – these were all in audiobooks and I still keep hoping she’ll write another one. I grew up on Modesty Blaise and have just found a novel I didn’t know was available from Peter O’Donnell who died in 2010. So that’s for after the M&B is finished.

So that’s me, thanks so much for having me, Maggie, my webpage is and my books can be found from the buy links on the home page. Waving to readers and writers, and wishing you all joy in your next book. xxFi

Café Cala welcomes Kerrie Paterson

Hi Kerrie, welcome to Café Cala,
kerrie paterson-1000x1500


I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’m really looking forward to reading Chasing Dreams. I’ve been making a banana and blueberry loaf this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Thanks for having me, Maggie! Banana and blueberry loaf sounds yummy. I’ll have a tea, thanks.



1 Where did you get the idea for Chasing Dreams?

Chasing Dream’s heroine, Bel, started as a secondary character in the first Hope Creek book, Letting Go. Bel brought Helen to Hope Creek to give her road safety presentation to the high school – she believed in its importance because she’d been injured as a teen by skylarking in a vehicle. So I had a character with a snippet of backstory and delved into her character from there. And I’m a sucker for a reunion story, so what better person to bring back than her old boyfriend who was driving when she had her accident.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

The most rewarding thing about my writing has been having some people say my books have touched them or helped them through a bad time. That’s an amazing feeling!

3 How did you start writing?

When I was quite young I wanted to be a writer, but never thought that was something “real” people could do. So despite writing stories as I grew up (which I never showed to anyone!), being an author wasn’t really a consideration. Having an aptitude for maths, I ended up in IT instead, primarily as a computer programmer! Writing a book remained on my bucket list though.

As I approached my 40th birthday and went through a mid-life ‘what do I want to do when I grow up’ crisis, I decided to stop putting it off and to write the damn book! I enrolled in several online courses, and luckily for me, found my way quite soon to Romance Writers of Australia and my local writing group, Hunter Romance Writers.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

I think being a part of the RWA and the HRW has helped me the most. I honestly would have given up in the first six months if not for the support of like-minded people. The RWA contests, the conferences, the camaraderie – all of it has been equally as important!

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a second story in the Jacaranda Avenue series, working title Secrets of Jacaranda Avenue. The first (Return to Jacaranda Avenue) will be published by Escape Publishing on 15th May. It’s another second chance at love story with a tad more action than my Hope Creek books. Like all of my books, Toria’s Secret has an older hero and heroine (in their 40s) – but this one also has a stalker J

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Find your tribe. Find a group that gets you when you talk about the voices in your head, who loves a Happy Ever After (or even a Happy For Now) and who are actually writing – not just talking about writing. Don’t be too quick to jump on the self-publishing roller coaster when you’re first starting out. It’s far nicer to make your mistakes out of the public eye! There is so much you don’t know about writing when you first start out (or at least that was true for me) – take the time to learn, enter contests for the feedback and be patient.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Too many to name! My favourite is Nora Roberts, particularly her contemporary trilogies and suspense. Other favourites are Dianne Blacklock, Cathy Kelly, Liane Moriarty and Jackie French. I have a huge list of RWA friends who are also must-buys for me but I’m scared I’ll leave someone out if I start listing names! But generally if it’s rural romance, romantic suspense or women’s fiction, I’ll read it.

Chasing Dreams (Hope Creek Series #2)

Chasing DreamsCan they score a love match the second time around?

Almost twenty years ago, Belinda Morrison’s teenage dreams of playing top level cricket were shattered after a night of fun went wrong. While she lay in a hospital bed, the ute’s driver, her boyfriend Marc, left town.

Now Marc Orsini’s a cop, and he’s been sent back to Hope Creek as a temporary posting.

The sparks are still there, stronger than ever, and after a shaky start, their relationship ignites again.

With many ties to the community, the town is Bel’s life, but Marc has responsibilities elsewhere. She can’t risk a short-term romance, but how can she let him walk out of her life for a second time?

Chasing Dreams follows on from Letting Go but can also be read as a stand-alone.

You can buy it from AmazoniTunesSmashwords or most ebook retailers.


Body relaxed, Bel laid her head over his heart and splayed her hand over his chest, slipping a finger inside the gap between the buttons as she used to do. His body sprang to life and he sucked in a quick breath. She wasn’t drunk. Maybe a little more relaxed than he’d seen her, but it wasn’t like he was taking advantage of her. More like the other way around at the moment.

He turned his head, breathing in her perfume and grazed the top of her head with his lips. She tilted her head and gazed at him with big soft eyes, her lips parted slightly. Slowly, giving her time to reject him, he lowered his head until his lips hovered over hers. Then a centimetre more until his lips were on hers; the taste of her, the feel of their kiss instantly spinning him back twenty years.

Her lips parted with a soft sigh. He threaded his hands into her hair, cupping her head while he deepened the kiss. She met him kiss for kiss, as eager as he was. His heart threatened to burst from his chest. This was something he’d never expected in a million years — to be back in his teenage house, kissing the love of his life. And he’d realised she was. No-one had ever come close to his memory of Bella.

Thanks so much for having me today Maggie. You can find me on Facebook (far too often!) or sign up to my newsletter or blog at my website.



Author page


Café Cala welcomes Josephine Moon

Hi Josephine, welcome to Café Cala,

I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’m really looking forward to reading The Beekeeper’s Secret. I’ve been making chocolate brownies this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Josephine Moon

Why thank you so much for having me here. I’m a bit of a chai tragic. It’s a great thing you’re baking brownies because I often describe my books as being like brownies—sweet, indulgent, a treat for the senses, but with chunky nuts to chew on.

But, having said that, I have been describing The Beekeeper’s Secret as a chocolate with a dark, bitter centre, but covered in just enough sweetness to make the whole thing rich and enjoyable and leaving you wanting more.


1 Where did you get the idea for The Beekeepers Secret?

I was trying to write a family saga set on a coffee farm, that’s where it started. I did lots of research about coffee, really intellectually interested, but I had no passion for it. So I had to ask myself, what was I passionate about? And the answer was bees!

So I did research on bees and was really getting into that. I’d abandoned my family saga and was now trying to write a book about beekeeping and corporate sabotage, but there were these nuns in the background who were very strong and very insistent. I kept writing this book on corporate sabotage and I kept trying to write the nuns into the story until it became clear that they didn’t belong there at all.

So I had to ask them, what do you want?

And they wanted a whole book. Specifically, Maria, one of our main characters, wanted a whole book. And when something turns up that strongly and persistently, as a writer, I believe it’s my duty

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I’ve been so touched by the number of emails I’ve had from people who’ve contacted me to say that reading my book was the very thing they needed at that time in their life, or that it helped them through a really rough patch, or that they hadn’t read a novel in over 10 years and mine was the first one since then and now they wanted to keep reading. These things really affect me.

3 How did you start writing?

I wrote my first book when I was nine. It was called ‘Starlight the Brumby’. I acted it out in the backyard and then wrote it out. My dad took it to work and had his secretary type it up. He kept it and gave it to me at the time that The Tea Chest was published. I think it’s not bad, actually!

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Being part of the Queensland Writers Centre and attending dozens of courses in the craft of writing. Having good writing buddies along the way to get good feedback from but also moral support. And writing ten manuscripts on the way to publication.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I’m working on my fourth foodie fiction book, this one with a food theme of cheese and set in the UK. I’m not very far into it so I can’t share more than that, but I was inspired during my trip to the Cotswolds last year so I’ve set the book in a little village there and am really enjoying it.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Be curious. People often say to write what you know. But I think you need to write about what you want to know. Writing what you know will take you so far but writing what you want to know will take you so much further.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Monica McInerney, Liane Moriarty, Kimberley Freeman, Kate Morton, Danielle Hawkins, Hilary Spiers.

The Beekeeper’s Secret


Beekeepers secret


Maria Lindsey has secrets to hide. Living on top of a secluded mountain is a good way to hide from the world… until her past begins to track her down. 


‘Maria knew about guilt. It was a stubborn, pervasive and toxic emotion, and incredibly difficult to shake. Especially if really, deep down, you didn’t think you deserved to let it go.‘

Maria Lindsey is content. She spends her solitary days tending her bees and creating delicious honey products to fund orphaned children. A former nun, her life at Honeybee Haven has long been shaped by her self-imposed penance for terrible past events. But the arrival of two letters heralds the shattering of Maria’s peaceful existence.

Pushing aside the misgivings of her family and friends, Tansy Butterfield, on the eve of her marriage, made a serious deal with her adored husband, Dougal. A deal she’d intended to honour. But, seven years on, Tansy is finding her current feelings difficult to ignore. And on top of those not-really-there feelings, Dougal wants to move to Canada!

The surprising and intriguing new novel about the astounding secrets we keep from those we love from the bestselling author of The Tea Chest.

You can connect with Josephine on Facebook or her Website


Café Cala welcomes Sinead Moriarty

Hi Sinead, welcome to Café Cala,

Repro Free:Tuesday 1st September 2015. Picture Jason Clarke.

I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I really enjoyed The Way We Were  and now I’m looking forward to reading your other novels. I’ve been making some apple and walnut muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

I’m delighted to be invited to Café Cala, what a treat. Can I please have coffee and lots of muffins!!  I love apple and walnut….how fantastic!


1 Where did you get the idea for The Way We Were?

The idea for the Way We Were had been percolating in the back of my mind for years. I just couldn’t figure out a way to make the story work.

Back in the late 1980s Brian Keenan and John McCarthy, among others, were kidnapped and taken hostage in Beirut. They remained in captivity for over four years and when they were finally released the two men talked about this incredible friendship that had kept them sane. You could see the deep connection and love between them. To this day they are best friends and the bond between them remains. I was always fascinated by this and by the fact that John McCarthy’s girlfriend campaigned so tirelessly to get him released and then when he was released everyone presumed they’d end up together…but in fact they broke up and he married someone else.

I wanted to somehow write a book with some of these themes worked into the storyline.

The Way We Were is about a married couple, Ben and Alice, who have two teenage daughters and who love each other deeply but are going through a bump in their marriage.

Like all relationships theirs has got a bit stale. Ben is feeling restless. He’s having a mid-life crisis. Is this it? He wonders. He feels his life has become mundane and is slipping through his fingers. He wants to shake things up, to feel vibrant again. Ben craves adventure and when someone offers him the opportunity to have that adventure he jumps at the chance.

Ben’s fellow surgeon asks him to go to Africa, to Eritrea to operate with another colleague, Declan. Ben knows there is a risk involved as the country is very unstable, but he says yes.

He knows Alice will be worried about him, he knows it’s a dangerous place but he can’t wait to go and experience something new with a fellow surgeon.

Alice is furious and worried sick that something will happen to him. It turns out she was right and what happens next changes their lives forever.

The book is really about love and the power of memories. Alice needs to forget Ben to survive and be a good mother to their daughters, but he clings to her memory to keep himself alive.

What will happen to their lives? Can Ben survive? Will they ever see each other again? If they do, can they possibly get back to the way they were?

I wanted to explore the power of memory. I also wanted to look at how people change. What happens when the person you know so well is altered by life? When something happens to turn your life upside down and you have to change to survive, can you get back the way you were or are you permanently altered?

Is a happy ending possible for these two characters?

 2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I have found something that I love to do and managed to turn it from a hobby into a job. I think that is such a privilege and I never take it for granted. To do something you enjoy for a living is truly wonderful. I also find writing a great switch off. All my worries and woes disappear when I’m immersed in a new book.

3 How did you start writing?

I always wrote essays and kept a diary as a child but I only began writing creatively when I turned 30. I decided it was ‘now or never’ so I began writing a novel in my spare time – before, during and after work. My first two novels were turned down by everyone which was a bit demoralising! But I kept going and my third novel, The Baby Trail, which is about a couple struggling with infertility was picked up by Penguin and has now been translated into 25 languages.

 4 What would you say has helped you most?

Loving what I do and reader feedback. On bad writing days when nothing is coming out, I just sit and wait…and wait…something eventually comes. It may all end up being deleted but it helps to move the story along. On days when I’m feeling that the new book is not good enough, a message on Facebook or an e-mail from a reader will give me the incentive to keep going and remind me that I can do it. I really do value feedback from readers enormously.

 5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a new book. I’m at the 30,000 word mark when doubt always sets in. But I feel passionately about the story and I think it’s going to be OK. I’m due to have a meeting with my editor to discuss how it’s going, let’s hope she likes it so far!!

 6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Be passionate about your story, don’t let knock backs stop you and believe in yourself.

 7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I read everything from non-fiction to literary fiction to popular fiction, crime, biographies, historical novels….everything and anything I can get my hands on.

The Way We WereThe Way We Were

London, Holland Park, November 2014

Dan reached over and took two glasses of champagne from the waiter. Handing one to Alice, he smiled reassuringly at her, then tapped his to get everyone’s attention. He cleared his throat and made a toast: ‘I’m so happy that you, my closest friends, could be here tonight to meet Alice properly. You all know my story, and you also know from me that Alice has had a very difficult time. I feel very lucky to have met her. Second chances are hard to come by in life, and I’m grabbing this one with both hands. Here’s to new beginnings with the most wonderful woman in the world.’

He pulled her close and kissed her as his friends clapped and cheered.

Alice glanced over at Jools and Holly, who were standing in the corner with Dan’s daughter, Stella. Jools gave her mother a crooked smile, while Holly raised her hands in a double thumbs-up. Alice smiled back and allowed herself to breathe. Everything was going to be fine. She had made the right decision.

Alice leaned into Dan and said, ‘Thank you for … well, for everything. For saving me and for making me see that I could be happy again . . .’ She stopped as her voice quivered.

Dan kissed her hand. ‘You’re the one who’s made me happy. I want to tell them about the engagement.’ Alice tried to protest but before she could stop him, he bellowed, ‘One final thing. I’ve asked Alice to marry me.’

The room went silent. Clearly Dan’s friends had not been expecting this. But then someone began to clap and everyone joined in.

Alice frowned. ‘Dan, I told you I needed time for me and the girls to get used to the idea before announcing it.’

‘Relax, darling, I told the girls when they arrived that I was going to announce it tonight. They told me to go ahead.’ Dan beamed

Before Alice could say anything else, there was a quiet cough at Dan’s elbow and the event organizer shot him an apologetic smile. ‘Excuse me, so sorry to interrupt, but I’d just like to check when you wish the food to be served, Mr Penfold.’

Dan kissed Alice once more, then headed towards the kitchen. Alice’s brother, Kevin, came over to her. Squeezing her hand, he said, ‘Calm down, it was going to come out soon anyway.’

‘I know, but I don’t like surprises. I’m worried about the girls.’

‘They’re fine. They really like Dan. Alice, smile, you’re going to scare the guests.’

Alice laughed, letting go of the tension in her stomach. ‘You’re right. I guess I’m still getting used to the idea of marrying someone else.’

‘You deserve to be happy. He’s a good man. You have to look forward now.’

Alice’s eyes filled with tears. ‘Thanks, Kevin, you’ve been brilliant. I really do love Dan and, like he said, I’m going to take this second chance and embrace it.’

‘Good for you,’ he said. ‘If only his brother was gay – I could get seriously used to this.’ He waved his hand around at the plush furnishings and enormous chandeliers.

‘Your prince will come,’ Alice teased him.     ‘When? I’m not getting any younger. Older gay men are not in demand, especially the ones with no money!’

‘If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.’ Alice kissed her brother’s cheek.

‘By the way, you should probably say something, Alice. I overheard one of Dan’s friends mutter that he hoped Dan was doing the right thing. They all seem nice enough, but I’d say the idea of him taking on a widow and two kids has raised a few eyebrows.’

Alice sighed. She and Dan had kept to themselves during their whirlwind romance so she didn’t know his friends, but she did want them to like her. There were about twenty people gathered in the room, and she was doing her best to talk to each one. They seemed very nice, but it was all a bit intimidating. She decided her brother was right, that she needed to take the bull by the horns and say a few words.

Dan was walking towards her. As he came close she caught his hand and whispered, ‘I’d like to say something too, if that’s all right.’

He looked pleased. ‘Of course, darling.’

Alice tapped the side of her glass for silence. The chatter died down. ‘I’m sorry to string out the speeches, but I’d like to add something quickly. I never expected to be lucky enough to meet someone again, but then Dan came into my life and he’s made me see that there is such a thing as a second chance. I –’

Alice was interrupted by Mrs Jenkins, Dan’s housekeeper, who pressed her arm gently. She was holding a phone. ‘I’m sorry, Alice,’ she whispered, ‘but there’s a man on the phone who says he must talk to you urgently. An emergency. A Mr Jonathan Londis from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.’

Alice excused herself, took the phone and walked out into the vast reception area.

‘Hello?’ Alice said, her voice sounding odd in the emptiness of the large hallway.

‘Hello, Mrs Gregory, I’m calling you with some rather incredible news.’ He sounded breathless. ‘I have someone here who wants to say hello.’

Alice’s heart began to beat very fast. Her mouth went dry. What was going on? Her hands were trembling uncontrollably. ‘Hello – who is it?’

The Way We Were is available on Amazon and in bookshops and supermarkets.

You can contact Sinead on Facebook and Twitter or via her webpage.