Cafe Cala welcomes Caroline James

CAroline James IMG_1737

This morning I’m delighted to welcome Caroline James to Cafa Cala. Caroline is the author of five feel-good novels

Caroline is offering a giveaway of her first novel Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me which is the first novel featuring characters from all the books. To be in the draw, just comment below. The winner will be drawn Thursday April 5th. 

Welcome to Café Cala, Caroline. I really enjoyed The Best Boomerville Hotel and the fact that, like me, you choose to write about mature characters.

What made you decide to feature older characters in your books?

Characters in my books tend to pop up as I write and the older characters who
feature in The Best Boomerville Hotel, had aged naturally from previous
stories. I believe that there is a growing trend to feature older protagonists both
in literature and in films and TV and their popularity appears to be on the up.
You self-published your earlier books. What made you decide to sign with
a publisher for this book?

My debut book, Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me, was self-published through
necessity not choice. I couldn’t find a publisher when I first started writing and
had to work hard to build my profile and content. Self-publishing was the best
thing I ever did as it gave me such an insight into what it takes to get a book out
there and this knowledge has become invaluable. It was thrilling to see this
book go straight to #3 in Women’s Fiction on Amazon – something I never
dreamed of when I started writing.

This is the third of your books featuring Hattie and Jo. What do you like
most about them?

I think this question should go to the readers as it is reader demand that keeps
them in the plots. I long to kill one of them off but I don’t think the time has
come yet. Readers seem to love or hate Hattie, who is a larger than life
character and never ceases to amaze me by her antics. Jo can be frustrating and
see the world through rose tinted glasses but I’m working on that.

You clearly have a gift for humour. Do you deliberately set out for your
books to be humorous?

Thank you. I want readers to escape with my books and feel that they have been
entertained in the time they spend reading. I set out with a story and let the
characters speak for themselves. Away from the page, I see humour in most
situations and love a good laugh.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to see star in it?

Bill Nighy would be Sir Henry Mulberry, a humorous old boy with a twinkle
in his eye. Celia Imrie would be Lucinda Brown, an eccentric artist who
enjoys getting stoned. Hattie is a difficult choice – she might be played by
Lisa Riley, a brilliant actress who could bring Hattie to life.

The Best Boomerville Hotel has been described as the English Marigold
Hotel. Did you have that in mind when you wrote it?

Not at all. Hotel Boomerville is based on a real country house hotel in
Cumbria, that I used to own. A hotel is a revolving door and so many
eccentric and wonderful characters’ step over the threshold each day. I had
this story in my head many years ago but it has taken until now to write it in
a novel.

How heavily do you draw on your own experiences in your writing?

Probably too much. Many of the antics in my books are based on situations I
have found myself in and I’ve toned a lot of it down! I was a media agent for
several celebrity chefs for many years, and travelled all over the world for a
vast variety of events. What went on beneath the celebrity pinny gave me all
the ingredients I needed for stories and out of this, ideas grew and soon set
my fingers typing.

Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I love anything by Rosie Thomas. I think her writing is wonderful. I’ve just
finished Iris & Ruby and loved it. My TBR pile includes books by Chloe
Benjamin, Clare Mackintosh and Joanna Cannon.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

The late Maeve Binchy was always a favourite, as is Mary Wesley. I love
how they weave characters in and out of their books so that they pop up
when you least expect it and it is like meeting an old friend again. Maeve
Binchy wrote with such warmth and for me, reading her novels was like
getting a hug from my mum.

Do you plot your books out carefully?

Yes, I do, but it always goes horribly wrong and the story nearly always goes
off track. I plan an outline very carefully before I start to write. James
Patterson is a great believer in this and says it makes writing the book much
easier. I guess it would if you stick to your outline but my characters seem to
have a life of their own once I start writing.

What is your writing routine?

Early mornings are best. I seem most focused then. I must have absolute
quiet and everything in place before I start. I wish I could write on the hoof,
perhaps in a café or while family life buzzes all around, but I can’t.

Which part of producing a book do you enjoy most? And which do you
most dislike?

I enjoy typing THE END most. The feeling of relief when the first draft is
done is huge. But of course, if doesn’t last as the editing begins and I am not
keen on the publicity work that must take place to launch a book. I’d sooner
be writing.

What are you working on now?

Currently, a follow-up to The Best Boomerville Hotel. This is set in
Southern Ireland where Jo has opened a new Boomerville. I am enjoying
myself with a virtual stay in the lovely old manor house, partaking in plenty
of craic and wonderful Irish hospitality.

Maggie, thank you so much for hosting me and The Best Boomerville Hotel
on your wonderful blog. I so enjoyed answering your interesting questions.

Warmest wishes to you and your lovely readers,

Caroline xx

The Best Boomerville Hotel is a rollicking tale featuring a motley of larger than life characters thrown together in a hotel catering for lonely people in midlife.It;s full of feel good, down to earth characters and English humour and has been described as described as Britain’s answer to The Marigold Hotel.TBBH high res cover

Let the shenanigans begin at the Best Boomerville Hotel
Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences. One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business!

Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than its fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun-loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself.

With such an array of colourful individuals there’s bound to be laughs aplenty, but could there be tears and heartbreak too and will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?

The Best Boomerville Hotel Links:

You can connect with Caroline here:






Cafe Cala welcomes Claire Baldry

This morning I’m delighted to welcome Claire  Baldry to Cafe Cala. I first met Claire when she set  up her facebook page and website Books for Older Readers, a wonderful initiative to collect those books which, as the name suggests, would appeal to older readers. You can access the Facebook page here and the website here.

Claire is offering a giveaway of a signed copy of her book Different Genes – to be in the draw all you need to do is sign up for her newsletter here.

Claire B

Welcome to Café Cala, Claire. I loved reading Different Genes and the fact that, like me, you choose to write about mature characters. First let me congratulate you on your push to promote writing for Older Readers through your website and facebook page


Thank you, Maggie. I was delighted when you invited me to be interviewed in your Café Cala series.

What made you decide to feature older characters in your books?

This was my first novel and I wanted to write about something familiar. It just made sense to create main characters of a similar age to myself. It was only when I started marketing the book that I realized there wasn’t really an established genre where books with romantic interest between older characters would fit. After discussing this with other authors, I started the Facebook group and website ‘Books for Older Readers’.

Like me, you began to focus on your writing when you retired. Was it something you always wanted to do?

When I was a teacher, I used to write plays and songs for the children I taught, and I’ve always written poems for family celebrations. However, I never really perceived myself as a writer. My husband has Type 1 Diabetes, and shortly after I retired, he became very poorly for several months. It wasn’t possible to leave him alone, so for the first time in my life I found myself at home with time on my hands. I began to write (mostly) lighthearted poetry, and I just couldn’t stop. Within a year I had published two booklets of poetry and begun to establish myself on the speaker circuit as a performance poet. I donated the fees to Diabetes UK.

What moved you to make the transition from poetry to writing fiction?  Writing and performing poetry is still a big part of my life. However, after four years, I wanted to challenge myself with something different. I wrote 50,000 words in National Novel Writing month in November 2016, and that formed the basis for my debut novel ‘Different Genes’. I found the whole process very liberating. When I write poetry, I tend to repeatedly edit as I write. With the novel, I produced great chunks of text, before going back to edit. It was much easier to become immersed in the plot and characters.

You write from both the male and female point of view. Do you find it easier to write one or the other? I thought I would find it harder to write from a male point of view, but I rather enjoyed it. The differences between the way men and women perceive themselves and the world has always fascinated me. I think writing from both points of view has contributed to my own understanding and emotional development.

You write about the discovery in later years of adoption. Is this an issue close to your heart? Not especially, but having worked in education for so many years, I have watched the way parenting and heritage impact on children’s self esteem and development. Shortly before I started ‘Different Genes’ I heard a radio interview with a woman who only discovered she was adopted when she was in her sixties. She was very angry, because her heath records and treatment had taken account of her adopted mother’s medical history. I wondered a lot about the adopted mother’s motivation for keeping the adoption secret, and wanted to try and unpack the possibilities when I wrote my novel

How heavily do you draw on your own experiences in your writing?

Massively, I think I do. I feel most comfortable writing about what I know or the experiences of people close to me. I have visited all the places in my book, and lived through most of the eras. The main female character, Louise, was born in the same year as me.

Which authors do you enjoy reading??

I love the romantic classics authors such as Charlotte Bronte and George Elliot. I also particularly enjoy Joanna Trollope and Anita Shreve. Working on the ‘Books for Older Readers’ website has motivated me to read much more widely, and I have discovered many new and exciting authors, including you, Maggie.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

Undoubtedly, Jane Austen. The poet in me loves the way her stories are so finely crafted and structured. Also, strangely, Jilly Cooper, because I admire the way she weaves humour throughout her books. If only I could write half as well as either of them!

Do you plot your books out carefully?

Yes and no. When I wrote ‘Different Genes’ I had a pretty good idea of what the plot would look like, but once I started writing, the storyline began to take on a life of its own and turned in directions I had not intended. Exactly the same thing happens when I write my longer narrative poems. Once the characters start to feel ‘real’, they take charge of the plot.

What is your writing routine?

With poetry I have to wait for inspiration and write wherever and whenever it comes. I always keep pens and paper with me. Writing a novel requires substantial and prolonged amounts of time which I actually timetable for myself. I will often get up very early and write until breakfast. However, my main writing time is during the afternoon when my husband sleeps.

Which part of producing a book do you enjoy most? And which do you most dislike?

I love it when a new idea becomes real and I can write great wads of text, especially if I can produce some humour or edgy emotion. I really enjoyed writing the later chapter in ‘Different Genes’ with Ruby in the care home. I would like to say more, but it would give the plot away. As regards the thing I most dislike, it has to be the final stages of editing. You think you’ve got it right and then you notice an error. You have to plough through the whole book to see if recurs elsewhere.

What are you working on now?

My fifth poetry booklet called ‘Simply Modern Life’ is almost ready for publication, and I am working with a brilliant young illustrator to bring the poems alive. I also have two novels in embryo stages, ‘Ladies Who Swim’ and ‘My Daughter’s Wedding’. The latter is about all those family relationships which make life a challenge in the run up to a wedding. It will also include a bit of a quirky mystery, similar to the one in ‘Different Genes’. As my own daughter is getting married this Summer, I suspect that the wedding novel will really get going in the Autumn.  I am very involved in my local community and time (or lack of it) can be a bit of an issue, but I will manage somehow!

Different Genes is an enthralling tale of love at an older age combined with the challenge of discovering a secret about the heroine’s birth. Baldry’s characters are well drawn and synpathetic, and the plot believable, making this a delightful read.

Different GenesSixty-one year old Louise finaly learns she is adopted after the death of her mother. She embarks on a quest to reveal the secrets of her past, helped by new companion and lover, Simon, whom she meets after joining an Internet dating site. 

In her first full-length novel, author Claire Baldry sensitively explores the growing closeness between the newly retired couple as they develop their mutual understanding and physical relationship. 

The reader is reminded of the changing values of the postwar years, while Simon and Louise visit places from Louise’s past and meet people who knew her mother and grandmother. Together, they begin to unlock the forgotten secrets of Louise’s past – but in the face of so much change and uncertainty, can Louise let her relationship flourish? 

The story is set mainly in the author’s home county of East Sussex, but finishes in Kent, when Louise and Simon finally visit her birth mother’s grave at a convent in Chatham. This immensely readable journey of discovery is a charming and bittersweet mixture of romance, sadness and genuine suspense.

You can buy it here

You can fiind Claire at



Cafe Cala welcomes Christine Webber

Welcome to Cafe Cala. This year I plan to interview authors who have chosen, like me, to write about older characters and I’m delighted to start the year by wecoming back Christine Webber who  first appeared on my blog in 2016 with her first novel Who’d Have Thought It?

Christine is offering a giveaway of her new novel, It’s Who We Are. To be in the draw, just comment below. The winner will be drawn Thursday Feb 1st. 

christine webber



Welcome back to Café Cala, Christine. I love your writing and the fact that, like me, you choose to write about mature characters. I feel honoured to have been permitted to read an early copy of It’s Who We Are which I loved.



What made you decide to feature older characters in your books?

I’ve had my fill of writing for – and about – 35-year olds. My first novel, way back in 1987, had a lead character of that age. And most of my non-fiction books – self-help titles in the main – were pitched at that age group. Then, in my psychotherapy practice, the bulk of the patients were in their mid-thirties. But nowadays because – like you – I feel that older people as lead characters are very much under-represented in literature, I just want to write about individuals in mid-life and beyond.

 It’s Who We Are is an ensemble piece which follows five characters. What were the challenges you experienced writing it?

Previously, I’d only tackled fiction from one person’s perspective. It’s Who We Are proved to be much more complicated! I started by allocating one chapter to each character for the first five chapters. Then I opted to repeat that process for Chapters Six to Ten. I felt that this was the best way to establish each of the five protagonists – who they were, what they were going through and how their minds worked. But from Chapter Eleven, I switched to writing from a less specific angle. By that part of the book, the characters have all met each other, and they become a group of close friends as the story unfolds. However, there’s no doubt that an ensemble piece is very challenging. I think it’s a bit like a fugue in classical music, where every part must have equal prominence and retain its own melodic line, while combining with others to form a rich harmonious whole. I really had to battle with it at times. And I regard myself as very much a novice in this area. But I felt compelled to write the novel in this way – so I learned as I went along!

 You have both male and female main characters Do you find it easier to write one or the other?

Funnily enough, I didn’t think about this very much. I attribute this in part to my years as a psychotherapist where I have seen a lot of men going through big changes in their lives – usually involving heartbreak or a bad relationship or the inability to form one – and so I suppose I know a fair bit about how guys tend to respond to their feelings. I found it quite liberating actually to be writing from a non-female point of view for a change!

You have worked with Anglia Television and as a therapist as have two of your characters. How heavily do you draw on your own experiences in your writing?

Well, it’s true that I know what it is like to be part of the big family that forms a television company and I’m sure that that sense of a supportive network is in the book and colours the experience of two of my characters. I also, as you say, know what it’s like to be a therapist, and – like one of my protagonists – to feel uneasy when treating patients whose behavior is unpleasant, even though it’s your job to offer them unconditional respect and regard as people. I also have a Catholic priest in the story, so it is probably no surprise that I am a Catholic myself. And I have a freelance singer among the characters too, and I know very well what a precarious life that can be as I started off with a career as a classical musician myself. So, I think mostly I write about what I know. And I certainly locate the narrative in places I’m familiar with, and love.

This book appears to make a number of political statements. Was that your intention when you began to write it?

No, not at all. I began sketching it out before my last novel was actually published but then we had the EU referendum in this country and that changed everything. I felt I could hardly write a contemporary novel if I ignored such a huge happening. And my characters clearly agreed with that. I feel we’re living in a different world from the one in which I brought out my ‘romantic comedy’ novel in early June 2016.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

 I’m really not sure about this. Maybe readers can spot influences that I’m unaware of. But there are writers I admire whose new titles I never miss. I would love to think some of their magic dust might rub off on me, just a tiny, tiny bit. The first author I must mention is Helen Dunmore because – as many of you will know – she died recently. I feel overwhelmed with sadness that she has gone at such a young age and with plenty of books left to write. Other great favourites are: Kate Atkinson, Elizabeth Buchan, Robert Harris, William Boyd, Patrick Gale, Julian Barnes and John le Carré.

Do you plot your books out carefully?

Increasingly, I am inclined to let the characters take over – they certainly have in It’s Who We Are. I had, for example, planned that one of them should die, but when it came to it, the story went off in an entirely different direction. What I do plan meticulously is a time line – so I am absolutely sure what happens on what day, even if I don’t spell this out in the story. Also, I go through loads of images till I find pictures that seem to me to represent my main characters. This fixes my vision of them in my mind. And I write an extensive back story for them too.

 What is your writing routine?

I wish I could tell you! There’s a lot going on in my family life at the moment, which has cut down the amount of hours I can allocate to my own work. So, I just grab time when I can. Essentially, I do social media and emails and marketing first thing. Mostly then, I go out to an exercise class of some kind. I write in the afternoons almost every day – and sometimes manage to carry on for a while in the evening too.

 Which part of producing a book do you enjoy most? And which do you most dislike?

 I absolutely love editing. Once that first draft is done, and I can really get on with making it as good as I can, then I am in my element. I find the initial laying down of the story difficult – though I don’t hate it. After all, I’ve chosen to do this!

 What are you working on now?

Well, as you undoubtedly know, the lead up to a publication date is quite frenetic, no matter how much thinking you’ve done about your promotion and so on beforehand. I had promised myself that as soon as we were into 2018, I would carve out time to start my new book. It’s the 5th January as I write this, and I have not had a moment to even think about the new novel I’m planning, because I’ve been working solidly on trying to get the word out about It’s Who We Are.

But I can tell you that I plan to re-issue my very first novel, In Honour Bound, this summer. I need to get on with that. And my new book is going to be about three characters, all in mid-life (there’s a surprise!) and all female. I think that’s all I can tell you for sure.

I’m looking forward to it, Christine.

I found It’s Who We Are to be a lovely tale with an eclectic cast of characters who blend seamlessly together. Set in England, the aftermath of the Brexit vote, it explores the lives and loves of five very different characters linked together by an unusual thread of coincidence, and the challenges of aging. It’s a compelling story about real people facing real issues. I loved it!


Five friends in their fifties find themselves dealing with unforeseen upheaval as they uncover long-hidden and devastating family secrets. Meanwhile, the world around them seems to be spinning out of control.

The events of It’s Who We Are take place between October 2016 and June 2017, against a backdrop of all the political uncertainty and change in the UK, Europe and America.
The story is set in East Anglia, London and Ireland, and is about friendship, kindness and identity. Most importantly, it highlights how vital it is to reach for what enhances rather than depletes you.

You can buy a copy of Chritine’s book here.

You can  find Christine at:

Café Cala welcomes Rachel Amphlett

Hi Rachel, welcome back to Café Cala,



It’s great to have you visit Café Cala again. I’ve loved all your books and Scared to Death was no exception. It’s brilliant – what a great start to your new series. I couldn’t put it down! I’ve been making a pumpkin roll filled with cream cheese and pecans this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Thanks for having me over, Maggie – I’ll take tea please, nice and strong!


1 After your successful series of thrillers with Dan Taylor, plus three single titles– loved them all! – you’ve now started on a series with a female detective. What made you decide to change to crime?

It was as simple as the story idea popping into my head with the female detective already in tow. When I get an idea, it’s like remembering a scene from a film – I can see the whole thing in my head, so once I had that original idea back in March/April of this year, I started to jot down notes and get some very basic outlines down for stories for what turned out to be the start of a new series.

2 Where did you get the idea for Scared to Death?

Scared to Death was a bit of a surprise, because I had a whole other idea jotted down that I thought was going to be the first in series. Scared to Death originated from the family’s point of view – a slightly wayward teenage daughter, a mother with a successful business, and a father who adores his daughter no matter her faults. I’ve pulled out my notebook here to look at my original notes, and everything is character-based at that point. I began by working out what motivated every single one of them – once I had that, the plot developed very quickly.

3 What has given you the biggest thrill as an indie author?

Being asked to be on a panel with other indies at CrimeFest this year was an enormous thrill. It gave me the chance to return to the UK and hang out with a whole swathe of people who are really passionate about the genre, and they couldn’t care less whether I was indie or otherwise. It was a fantastic atmosphere, and gave me the chance to put faces to names of people I’d only known through social media at that point.  I’ve also had the opportunity to pass on what I’ve learned to date – I love teaching, and paying it forward is a big part of who I am as a person, so to bring that all together within my writing business is fantastic.

4 You’re a prolific writer. What’s your writing pattern?

Disciplined! Once I get that basic idea, I’ll use the corkboard feature in Scrivener or physical index cards spread out on the floor and start to build the outline of a novel. I use a five act structure, same as screenwriting, and ensure there’s what author Peter James calls a “gosh, wow” moment at the end of each of those acts to drive the story forward and keeps a reader turning pages.

I’ll have a couple of sentences jotted down about what happens in each of the scenes, and then I get stuck in – I rarely edit as I write the first draft. I’ve learned to keep up momentum and punch out these drafts in 9-12 weeks, it’s better if I just pepper them with notes to myself to review during the second draft, e.g. “Plot Note: when X does this, make sure he says X in Chapter 20” or something like that.

5 What would you say has helped you most?

I love to write, first and foremost. The publishing, marketing and networking is a huge part of my writing business, but if I wasn’t seeing the sort of success I’ve had these past 2 years since I got my butt into gear, I’d still be writing. That’s been a great help, because even if I’m feeling low about something that’s not going right with the marketing, I can still retreat within my imagination and daydream about other story ideas.

6 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m nearly at the end of the first draft of the second in the Kay Hunter series, and I’ve started outlining the third book. I’ve got the idea for the fifth in the Dan Taylor series going around in my head, but things need to settle down politically in the UK and USA first before I can commit to that – as you know, I make my books as accurate as possible, and the situation in Europe is simply too fluid at the moment to firm up the plot. He’ll wait – he’s not going anywhere!

7 How many books are you planning in this new series?

If readers keep reading, I’ll keep writing them – I have four of the books in the latter stages of outlining, and there are three more jotted down in a skeleton form already. Plus I want to explore the other characters, so there are ample opportunities for “spin off” series along the way.

8 What advice would you offer to other indie authors?

Join the Alliance of Independent Authors. There is so much bad advice out there, and too many unscrupulous people ready to take money from you. ALLi have a fantastic Facebook group, and a blog, and I’m happy to spruik them because they’re one of the most honest advocates out there for indies.

9 What are you reading right now and what was your favourite book this year?

I’m currently reading K L Slater’s Safe With Me which has had me reading late into the night, and my favourite book this year has been Robert Bryndza’s Night Stalker. It’s rare that a crime thriller will give me a sleepless night, but that one did – I highly recommend it!


SCARED TO DEATHscared-to-death-cover-ebook-large

By Rachel Amphlett

Copyright © 2016 Rachel Amphlett

Chapter 1

Yvonne Richards grasped the notepaper in her hands, the page creased within her grip. The writing had been scrawled in haste, slipping over the faint blue lines that intersected the sheet.

‘Tony? Hurry.

‘I’m going as fast as I can,’ he said, through gritted teeth.

The retort brought tears to her eyes as he cleared his throat.

‘What’s the name of the street again?’

She lifted her thumb off the paper, noticing the warmth from her skin had blurred the ink, and squinted at the handwriting.

‘Innovation Way.’

She lifted the notepaper from where her hand had been resting on her leg, and peered at it once more. Tony’s writing was appalling at the best of times, but now she struggled to read it. The writing had deteriorated because his hands had been shaking so much when he’d heard the caller’s voice.

‘East or West?’


He turned too early, the car hitting a dead end within a few yards.

He hit the brakes, both of them straining against the seatbelts across their chests.

‘No, no. The next one!’

‘You said it was this one.’

‘No – I said West. Innovation Way West.’

He swore under his breath, slammed the car into reverse, and swung it onto the main thoroughfare before turning at the next junction.

‘I’m sorry.’

‘No, it’s okay. It’s okay. I’m sorry.’

She let her hand drop to her lap, clutching the page for fear she would lose it before they could reach their destination, and stifled a sob.

A hand reached out for hers, and she wound her fingers around his, seeking strength.

She found none.

His hands were as clammy as hers, and he was still shaking.

‘Both hands on the wheel, Tony,’ she murmured, and squeezed his fingers.

She swallowed as her eyes swept across his tanned skin.

Even his hair had lightened in the glare of the Italian sun. Her own hair was frizzy from the humidity, her skin pale by comparison, and she’d envied him that healthy glow as they stepped off the plane three days ago.

Before they’d reached the house.

Before the phone call.

His hand retreated, and the car accelerated towards a mini-roundabout set into the road.

Yvonne tore her eyes away from the address written on the paper, and stared out the passenger window.

The industrial estate had never fully recovered from the recession, with only a few small businesses eking out a living on the outer fringes of the area. The glass and concrete superstructures of the bigger enterprises that had lined the inner sanctum of the centre of the estate lay dormant, while empty windows stared accusingly at the quiet roads that encircled them, and faded letting agency signs flapped forlornly against mesh fencing.

The ornamental landscaping that had been so carefully tended now resembled a hodgepodge of ill-placed tropical plants fighting off common weeds determined to reclaim their territory.

Yvonne shivered, and tore her eyes away, then cried out and wrapped her hand around the armrest.

Tony corrected the wheel as the rear tyre clipped a kerbstone before they exited the roundabout, then exhaled.

She relaxed her grip, and retrieved the notepaper from the foot well, smoothing it over her knee.


‘It’s okay.’

He’d never been a great driver, and Yvonne realised he’d probably never driven as fast as this in his entire life. Certainly not in the nearly twenty years they’d been together.

Melanie had already informed them she was taking over the organisation of the anniversary party.

‘It’ll be great,’ she’d said.

Yvonne blinked, and wiped a tear away.

‘It’ll be okay.’

She didn’t reply, and instead focused on the road in front of them.

‘What number?’


‘Are you sure?’

‘It could be thirty-six.’

Tony swore under his breath.

‘It’s thirty-five. I’m sure.’

The car slowed to a crawl, and she peered through the window.

‘I can’t see any numbers.’

‘Keep looking.’

Yvonne shaded her eyes from the sunlight cresting the buildings, and strained to find a clue to their whereabouts.

Here and there, kids had taken to the walls of the industrial spaces with spray cans, familiar graffiti tags dotted across doorways and signs that warned of CCTV cameras and security guards with dogs, which hadn’t been seen on the estate for over two years.

‘Fifteen,’ Tony called out.

She spun around to face him, but he was peering through his window as he kept the car at a steady pace, his knuckles white as he grasped the steering wheel.

As the derelict buildings passed by, her mouth ran dry while she tried to push away thoughts of Melanie held captive within the confines of one of them.

She’d only been wearing a thin vest top and jeans when Yvonne had last seen her five days ago.

Five days.

The phone had rung late last Friday night, four hours after they’d returned from the airport. Tony had been sitting on one of the barstools at the kitchen worktop, an open bottle of wine next to him, a glass of red between his fingers while he’d flicked through the free newspaper. She’d dropped her bag on the surface, and accepted the second glass he’d held out to her.

‘Where’s Mel?’

‘Not home yet.’

Yvonne had checked her watch. ‘She’d better hurry up, or she’ll get no dinner.’

Tony had grunted non-committedly, and topped up his own wine. ‘Probably hanging out with that Thomas girl.’

‘I wish she wouldn’t.’

‘Yeah, but you tell her that, and she’ll do it anyway.’

Then the phone had interrupted them, and their lives had changed forever.

Now, Yvonne leaned forward in her seat, resting her hand on the dashboard as the car eased past the next padlocked fence. ‘That’s it. That’s the one.’

Tony swerved the car over to the kerbside and cut the engine.

She heard his breathing, heavy on his lips, and wondered if she sounded the same to him. She couldn’t tell – her heartbeat was hammering so hard, the sound of her blood roared in her ears.

He reached for the door handle.

‘Wait.’ She grabbed his arm. ‘What if he’s still here?’

Tony glanced over his shoulder. ‘We just dropped a bag with twenty thousand pounds in it two miles away,’ he snapped. ‘Do you really think he’s going to hang around here to thank us?’

Yvonne pursed her lips, and shook her head.

‘Right, then.’

He shrugged her hand away, and she watched as he rocked his head from side to side, as if psyching himself up, before he placed his hand against the car door and pushed it open.

She launched herself out of the car after him.

When they approached the fence, Tony grasped the chain that looped through the wire openings.

It fell easily through his fingers.

‘It’s unlocked,’ said Yvonne.

‘He said it would be.’

She could hear it then, the fear crawling through his voice, replacing the brisk no-nonsense tone he’d tried to maintain since they’d left the house.

‘Did he say where—’

‘Yes. Follow me.’

Instinctively, she reached out for his hand, and he took hers between his fingers, gave it a squeeze, and then set off towards the side of the building.

She knew now how scared he really was. She couldn’t recall the last time they’d held hands. Lately all they’d done was bicker and snipe at each other over the smallest inconsequential things.

Melanie had always been a daddy’s girl, and Yvonne fought down the surge of jealousy that threatened.

She just wanted her back.


The building’s windows mirrored their reflection as they passed. A dark-coloured privacy sheen had been applied, preventing her seeing into the rooms beyond. She craned her neck, taking in the three-storey concrete monolith. Any corporate signage had been stripped away when the tenants had vacated the premises, and walls that had been stained an off-white tone when first built now resembled something closer to off-grey. Dirt and grime fought an equal battle with graffiti, and faded signs depicting evacuation zones and fire exits hung to the surface in places, the doors boarded up and unwelcoming.

‘How are we going to get in?’

‘He said one of these would be open.’

Sure enough, towards the rear of the building, they discovered a solid steel door. Although it was closed, a discarded padlock lay on the pockmarked asphalt of the perimeter.

Tony reached out for the handle.


He frowned. ‘What?’

She swallowed. ‘Shouldn’t you cover your hand? In case the police want to check it for fingerprints?’

‘I want my daughter back,’ he said, and twisted the handle.

She paused while he stepped over the threshold, then took a deep breath and followed him. She shared Melanie’s fear of enclosed spaces, and bile rose in her throat as she imagined the terror her daughter would feel at being held here.

She squinted as Tony pulled a torch from his pocket and switched it on, the beam blinding her before he lowered it, the light falling on discarded office furniture. She turned away, and blinked as she tried to adjust her eyes to the gloom beyond the torch beam once more. The pungent smell of rat droppings and damp from a leaking roof filled her senses, and she choked back the urge to vomit.

Tony had already begun to hurry towards the inner door, and she followed him through the derelict office into a narrow corridor that ran lengthways through the building.

Tony turned left, shining the torch ahead.

At the end of the corridor, a set of double doors blocked their path.

She leaned against them, and pushed.

They opened smoothly, and she breathed a sigh of relief before goose bumps prickled her skin as the door hissed shut behind them. She turned, touched the handle and pushed again, terrified that they wouldn’t be able to get out.

It swung open with ease.

‘It’s on an automatic closer,’ said Tony, and pointed to the upper framework. ‘Come on. Hurry.’

Yvonne bit her lower lip, but followed, her arms hugging her chest. ‘What was this place?’

‘A biosciences company was here. Remember the protestors always used to gather at the town hall?’

Confusion filled her, then dread. ‘The animal testing place?’

He didn’t reply, but simply nodded and shone the torch around the walls.

The European-headquartered animal testing company had moved in over a decade ago, despite a several-thousand-signature petition being delivered to the local council within weeks of the original planning application.

Aluminium sinks were bolted to one wall, white tiles grimy through neglect above each. Shelving units dotted another wall, the splintered remains of glass crunching under their feet as they progressed through the room.

Their footsteps echoed; the tiled floor at an angle that Yvonne found difficult to keep her balance in her heels.

‘What’s wrong with the floor?’ Her voice wavered.

‘It’s a soak away,’ said Tony, pointing at the large grille in the middle of the room. ‘All the water will wash towards that.’

He began to pace the room, his hands running over the tiles.

‘Where is she, Tony?’

Yvonne cringed as her voice bounced off the tiles, before the fear wrapped itself around her insides and squeezed.

‘He said she’d be here,’ he said. He continued to run his hands over the tiles. ‘Maybe there’s a hidden door?’

Yvonne sucked in a breath. ‘Did you hear that?’

‘What?’ He spun to face her. ‘What?’

‘Shhh,’ she urged, and held up a finger.

Melanie wasn’t a big girl; in fact, she was skinny for her age, with slender shoulders and hips. Yvonne had always marvelled that her daughter had never broken a bone – she looked so fragile, as if the slightest touch would shatter her.

‘Tony?’ She pointed at the grille in the tiled floor.

His skin paled as he followed her gaze, before he dropped to his knees, his fingers pushing through the grille. ‘I can’t see anything.’

Yvonne crouched, threaded her fingers around the grille, and met his gaze. ‘On three.’

The steelwork groaned under their touch, and then lifted a little, its right-hand edge tantalisingly higher than the left.

Tony worked his fingers closer, and tightened his grip. ‘Now.’

The grille slid away, exposing the dark opening.

‘There’s a ladder,’ said Yvonne, and leaned closer.

When he shone the torch down the gaping maw of the hole, she frowned, unable to comprehend what she was seeing.

Then Tony began to scream, his terror echoing off the walls of the laboratory.

Places to find Rachel:





Café Cala welcomes Debbie Terranova

Hi Debbie, welcome to Café Cala,



I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’ve just finished reading The Scarlet Key and loved it as much as I did Baby Farm. Loved meeting Seth again. I’ve been making savoury muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Mmmm, the muffins smell great! A nice coffee would go down a treat.


1 Where did you get the idea for The Scarlet Key?

You’ll never believe it: a visit to Bunnings. I’m a bit of a the-scarlet-keyhardware junkie, so I love the chance to wander the aisles checking out the latest in paint, gadgets, and fertilizer. In the coffee shop was a woman whose skin was a garden of fresh tattoos. She would have been in her mid-fifties. Grey hair, rotund, dressed in baggy shorts and a t-shirt. This was a few years back, when the ink-art thing was in its infancy. A middle-aged woman with tattoos really stood out. One question kept playing on my mind. Why? A seed was planted. Over the next few years an imagined ‘biography’ for the tattooed lady expanded and evolved. Eventually it blossomed into a full-blown crime mystery called ‘The Scarlet Key’.

Wow! And, reading it, I’m impressed by the research you must have done on tattoos and tatooists!

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

The rush of adrenaline when the first carton of books arrives from the printers. The smell of cardboard as you cut it open, the rustle of bubble wrap, the pristine smoothness of the cover. This is something you have created, something that did not exist before and exists now. This is the moment you can truly savour the result of three years labour. In a way it’s like giving birth, only without the physical agony.

3 How did you start writing?

In my day job I do lots of business writing: reports, submissions, memos. All the left-brain stuff that leaves you feeling spent at the end of the week. (sounds familiar) For ages I wanted to try my hand at creative writing but never had the time. Then my children grew up and moved away, and my husband took a job interstate. With the house to myself most week nights, I replaced TV-watching with writing. That was about six years ago and I’m still loving it.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Finding a tribe of other writers right here in Brisbane. For me writing is a solitary head-in-a-corner occupation. If I try to write in a coffee shop or a library, there are too many distractions. When people are around, my attention-span is shorter than a goldfish. I also tend to eavesdrop on everyone’s conversation, which can get me into trouble at times. By nature I’m not a recluse, so I need to get out and about to keep up my energy levels. What could be better than talking to friends with the same passion (or should I say ‘obsession’)?

5 What are you working on at the moment?

My second novel ‘The Scarlet Key’ has just been released, so I’m currently in marketing mode. It’s a ‘crime mystery with a conscience’, about life, love, death and tattoos. Between now and Christmas I’ll be appearing in several Brisbane bookstores. Dates and times are on my website. Next year I’ll be doing author talks in libraries and writing my next book. The working title is ‘Sentenced without a Trial’. It’s a narrative non-fiction about the Australian government’s imprisonment of thousands of Italian-Australians during the Second World War and the impact it had on their lives.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Don’t just talk about writing, do it. Make writing a habit. Don’t put it off or make excuses. Set aside a little time every day. Keep on writing until your story is finished. Then edit, edit, edit.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Most of my favourite authors are Australian. I enjoy reading popular authors such as Kate Grenville, Venero Armanno, Kate Morton, and Hannah Kent. But I also love reading work from my local tribe of authors: Nene Davies, Davide Cottone, Lucretia Ackfield, Noelle Clarke, Kylie Kaden, to name a few.

You can learn more about Debbie Terranova by visiting the Terranova Publications website. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. ‘The Scarlet Key’ and Debbie’s first novel ‘Baby Farm’ are both available as paperbacks for $25 (including postage anywhere in Australia). They are also available as eBooks from online stores such as Smashwords and Amazon.

Café Cala welcomes Belinda Pollard


Hi Belinda, welcome to Café Cala,

belinda-pollard-bnw-450x450Thanks Maggie! Lovely to be here.

I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’m intrigued that you’ve written two quite different books in the past two years. I’ve been making macadamia and chocolate cookies this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Tea please, with milk and no sugar. (I’m sweet enough. *cough* )

1 You’ve written two very different books in the past two years. What was the inspiration for each of them?


POISON BAY is the first in my Wild Crimes series, and it was the novel that hovered at the edge of my imagination for 20 years. It’s about a group of old friends who meet for the strangest of reunions to hike Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. By the time they realise they are hopelessly lost, old secrets are baring their claws. The idea developed in 1995 after a New Zealand holiday during which (thankfully) no one was murdered. 😉 I’d been reading Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, and it struck me that the combination of Fiordland’s dramatic landscape and extreme weather would make an excellent murder weapon!

dogged-optimism-300x450DOGGED OPTIMISM: LESSONS IN JOY FROM A DISASTER-PRONE DOG is an utterly different book. It’s a light memoir of the many years I spent with my feisty, fiercely optimistic terrier. It began as a collection of funny anecdotes, but then I discovered I couldn’t tell the dog’s story without telling a little of my own.
So I had to venture into some of the most difficult moments of my life, while still keeping the overall tone upbeat. I found it quite confronting to be so vulnerable on paper, and yet it was also incredibly satisfying to write.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

Connecting with readers and other writers. I’ve met so many wonderful people since I got serious about creative writing. We create worlds with our words, and I love visiting the worlds of others, and inviting them into my own. When a reader “gets” you, it’s a very special feeling. I also love connecting with other writers as we encourage one another to be brave about wearing our hearts on our pages – whether that be revealing our lives in memoir, or our imaginations in fiction.

3 How did you start writing?

My first novel was a romance that I wrote for a school assignment when I was about 8 years old. My teacher must have been startled. I don’t recall much of it now except that somebody caught a plane. Air travel was the height of glamour to me at 8! Come to think of it, there’s air travel in both my Wild Crimes novels…

4 What would you say has helped you most?

I have worked with words my entire career, first as a journalist and later as a book editor and writer of meditations. I secretly longed to write fiction, but I was waiting for someone to give me “permission”. Entering writing contests finally gave me the impetus to get writing: it took my mind off the “permission” thing, and gave me a deadline, which the old journalist in me rose to meet. I also embarked on a research trip for POISON BAY, hiking New Zealand’s Milford Track. That also gave me a target, and got the idea outside of myself. Talking about the book as something that would actually happen – in the process of interviewing people for my research – made it real.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m soon to launch the German edition of POISON BAY, and unbelievably excited to see my words in another language. I’m also a third of the way into VENOM REEF, the second in the Wild Crimes series. This time my two journalists are heading to a remote tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef, but when ground-breaking medical research collides with greed and terrorism… well, let’s just say it’s not the best holiday they’ve ever had!

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

If, like I was, you are waiting for someone to give you permission to write: I hereby give you permission to write! Go do it. Have fun. Stop worrying so much about whether you’ll be good enough, or whether your family expects their own hobbies to come first. There are plenty of less useful, more expensive hobbies you could have. And it might just turn out to be one of the most inspiring and rewarding things you will ever do.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Ooh, so many. I often read Jane Austen before bed – a little bonnet-trimming and civilised conversation calms me after the stresses of modern life. On long-haul flights, I enjoy mysteries by PD James or Elizabeth George. Bill Bryson dominates the travel writing section of my bookcase (I skip over the occasional coarse language as that’s not really my thing). I also enjoy quirky memoirs.



Excerpt from Poison Bay – Chapter 1

poison-bay-300x450Callie Brown was first to see the shotgun and the fragile hands that held it, framed in the viewfinder of her ancient second-hand film camera.

The gang had gathered to celebrate the end of high school with one last pool party, on a Brisbane night so humid it felt like February instead of November.

Tomorrow, they would scatter to universities and apprenticeships. Tonight, they seized one final opportunity for the boisterous to bomb-dive, the beautiful to preen near-naked, and the diffident to camouflage the physical consequences of too much junk food and too little exercise.

Callie gave a self-conscious tweak to her faded sarong, straightened to her full considerable height, and tried to look like a photojournalist, not a stalker. She lined up a shot of Jack and Kain attempting to be pleasant to each other. Jack slouched, his butt propped against the armrest of the leather sofa.

Kain stood straight, arms crossed, lord of his square meter of floor.

Tonight she would finally tell him how she felt. What did she have to lose?

The shout went up, “Pizza’s here!” and both guys looked towards the voice, changing the composition of the shot. Nice. She snapped the shutter, advanced the film and waited, eye to viewfinder, for them to turn back.

Someone jolted her arm. When Callie’s left hand rotated to refocus the lens, she saw it. Crystal clear, yet impossible. Instinctively, she pressed the shutter.

And lowered the camera and stared.

Jack must have been next to see. “Liana, what are you doing?” His voice was sharp over the laughter. Others jostled for pizza, oblivious to the girl with the gun.

The room became still, as each noticed others staring.

Pizza slices dangled from limp hands.

A mosquito buzzed its way up the wall.

Liana said, “No, keep eating. I wouldn’t want to keep you from anything important.”

Callie’s stomach squirmed like it was full of spiders. Was this another of Liana’s games? It wasn’t funny.

“Liana, put that down at once.” The voice sounded so strangled Callie had to glance aside to be sure who’d said it. Bryan, Liana’s boyfriend.

“I don’t take orders from you anymore.” Liana’s lips barely moved.

Bryan took a step towards her. Across the room Kain moved too, wearing a look so desperate it told Callie more than she could bear to know. Liana raised the weapon and pointed it from one to the other. Both hesitated, then fell back.

Callie tried to speak clearly around a tongue suddenly thick. “What’s wrong, Liana? Let’s talk about it.” She found herself looking down the double barrels of the gun, and into eyes alight with fury.

“Oh, you’ve got time to talk now, have you Callie? Well, I haven’t.”

She turned the weapon towards herself.


Nine years, eleven months and two weeks later

Callie tried to ignore the feeling that something was not quite right.

The squeak of her hiking boots on the tiles at Christchurch International unnerved her. Her usual soundtrack on an airport concourse was the click-clack of the high heels she hated but had learned to endure. The plastic “beauty” required for television work was a curse to a closet tomboy, and yet it seemed this was going to be one of those moments when she couldn’t bear to be without it. My version of Stockholm syndrome, she thought.

Her big wheeled suitcase was also absent. As instructed, she had only a cabin bag containing a few items of kit, and her camera gear. Bryan would supply everything else.

She felt ill-equipped to meet a bunch of people she’d avoided ever since that awful funeral a decade ago.

When the invitation arrived, it had seemed like a solution—something dramatic to talk about with the ruthless gossips at work, taking the focus off William Green’s holiday to Italy. The whole newsroom knew he’d booked that holiday with Callie, but taken a cute little blonde instead. While she’d been indulging the fantasy of a lifetime of jokes about a couple named Green & Brown, he’d been making other plans.

Well, anyone could go to Italy. To rouse the curiosity of a bunch of hardened hacks, trek Middle Earth instead.

She’d discovered years ago that drawing attention to herself was the best way to hide, and the scheme had certainly eased her passage through the past six weeks. But today she faced the ominous reality. Ten days in remote New Zealand, far from phone signals and baristas. A deranged place for a high school reunion. Why can’t Bryan organize a dinner party like normal people?

“Callie!” Advancing towards her, arms wide, was the only bright spot in her gathering gloom. Rachel Carpenter had been her best friend since they were pig-tailed six year olds.

After a hug, Rachel stood back and looked her up and down. “That’s a nice look for our glamorous television reporter.”

Callie wore trousers that zipped off into shorts, but they were only the beginning of the horror. “Wait till you see my rain jacket. It’s fluorescent orange.”

“You’re not serious.”

“At forty percent off, how could I resist? Besides, it matches my hair.”

As they linked arms and walked, Rachel said, “I’m still in shock that you decided to come. Even Mum was laughing at the thought of Callie Brown having to carry her own bag any further than the nearest taxi.”

“I’m not that lazy.” They exchanged a glance. “Oh, all right, I am. But on the plus side, I’ve got an excuse to look a mess for days on end.”

“I see you made an effort this morning though. I wonder why?” Rachel’s mouth curved into an impish smile.

Callie had risen uncomfortably early to straighten her frizzy strawberry curls into a glossy curtain, and even applied a touch of makeup, but found it best to answer: “How’s your Mum?”

Rachel grimaced. “She’s fine, but I hated leaving her. It’s my first time away since Dad died.”

Before Callie could think of a comforting reply, they reached the food-court, where people were standing from a table, moving towards them.

Her glance skittered across faces she hadn’t seen since high school. Too many, all at once. She didn’t know whether to offer a handshake or a hug or a hula dance.

The two blonde women were first to approach. Dumpy, kind Sharon alongside the slender and petite Erica, who had always made Callie feel like a lurching giant. She exchanged a warm hug with Sharon and a less-sincere embrace with Erica.

Next, the men. Kain was as gorgeous and self-assured as she remembered, although his smile seemed, if possible, a little whiter. She fumbled in her portfolio of facial expressions for one that might say Pleased To See You, But Not To Any Foolish Extent. His quick, relaxed hug left an after-image of hard chest and expensive cologne.

Finally, there was Jack. Good old Jack. Not very tall, not very good-looking, not very anything. They’d studied journalism together, long ago and far away. He tripped on someone’s bag, and his hug became a collision. “Nice to bump into you again,” she said, and he laughed, his face red.

She had just worked out who was missing when she saw Adam walking towards the table, obviously just arrived on a separate flight. His lanky frame looked at home in the hiking paraphernalia.

“Hey team!” he bellowed, grinning. He made a boisterous round of greetings, collapsed into a chair, and launched into the tale of the beautiful “Scottish lassie” who ran hunting safaris in the Northern Territory with him—and the engagement ring that had two payments to go. The previous awkwardness round the table dissipated as he blathered.

Callie returned with coffee just in time to hear Adam ask Jack, “So what are you reporting on these days, Scoop?”

Kain said, “He isn’t reporting on anything. He’s at Bible college, studying how to be better than us. We’re calling him the Reverend now.”

Callie was stunned. So, Jack hasn’t grown out of the religion thing. Adam hooted with laughter, but unlike Kain’s his teasing showed no malice. He shoved Jack’s shoulder. “Ripper, mate! You can be Team Chaplain.” He pointed at Kain. “Team Lawyer, if we need to sue each other, or Team Lifeguard if we fall in the drink. Erica: Team Nurse, for when we scrape our knees. Sharon: Team Hairdresser, to keep us gorgeous. Callie: Team Reporter, because we’re superstars.” He paused at Rachel, losing traction. “Rachel…?”

She said, “I doubt we’ll need a scientist.”

“Team Sweetheart!”

Callie said, “What about you, Adam?”

Kain answered for him. “Team Navigator, if Attila gets us lost in the mountains.” Needless to say, their old nickname for Bryan was not one they used to his face.

Sharon said, “Don’t you think it’s amazing that every last one of us came?” She beamed.

People smiled, but Callie noticed that no one said anything. Most of us are not hiking fanatics, so why are we here?

To find Belinda and her books:

Poison Bay: Wild Crimes #1, Winner: Varuna Fellowship, IPPY Silver Medal (links to all stores)

Dogged Optimism: Lessons in Joy from a Disaster-Prone Dog, Winner: Foreword Reviews Awards – Bronze, Next Gen Indie Finalist (links to all stores)






Café Cala welcomes Karen Turner

Hi Karen, welcome to Café Cala,



I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I loved both Torn and Inviolate and am eagerly looking forward to the next one in the series. I’ve been making blueberry muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

I’ll have a coffee thanks … love my coffee!


1 Where did you get the idea for this series?

I’ve always loved to read series books so when the idea first came for Torn I knew it would be a series. The idea for the story itself started with the characters. Alex, my heroine, came first: the middle child wedged between glamourous siblings. Then as Patrick, my hero, arrived and began to reveal himself, I became enthralled with the story that started to evolve.

Patrick is such a dynamic person; he is strong, witty and intelligent but also enjoys a rather seedy lifestyle that intrigued me – and judging by the feedback I receive, many of my readers are intrigued by him too!

After the characters grew and became more solid in my mind, I began to see their homes and lives and suddenly the story just rolled out before me like I was seeing a movie. It’s perhaps why some reviewers have described Torn and Inviolate as being ‘cinematic’.

2 You are Australian. Why did you choose to set the books in Yorkshire?

When I was 19, I moved to Yorkshire and lived in a small farming village outside of Leeds. It was there that I fell in love with the landscape, village lifestyle and the stately old homes. The village I lived in is called Otley and its neighbouring village is Wharfedale. In my books, these villages are Wolstone and Wharferidge. The descriptions of the streets, the inns and markets – everything – are genuine. Over the years I have visited Otley many, many times and have been able to view old photos from the era. This meant that when I was writing my books, I could accurately describe the village, its layout and its people as it was in the early 1800s.

 3 Both books are set in the 1800’s. Is there something about this period in history that particularly appeals to you?

This is an interesting question because I had never been attracted to the Regency period. When I first began writing Torn, it was set during the English Civil War of the 1640s However, as many writers have reported, characters have a way of surprising you and going off in unexpected directions.

As I started to get really involved in the writing, my characters began doing things that just didn’t seem to ‘sit’ right. I stopped writing and had a good hard think about what my characters felt like and what their behaviour was indicating. I realised that I was in the wrong era for them. After a bit of research into their conduct and attitudes, I recognised the Regency period. I didn’t, however, know a lot about the era so I set about studying, reading and researching everything about how people spoke, how they addressed one another, what they wore, what they ate, what newspapers and books they were reading – even the slang they used in every day language. I had to learn all the minutia of their daily lives so I could place myself there. It was a long, but very fascinating, experience.

4 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I always said I wanted to write the kind of books that I enjoy reading, i.e. historical dramas that are well researched and historically accurate. After completing Torn and Inviolate, I sat back and knew that I’d achieved that goal. What I hadn’t counted on was how I affected other people. I received so many emails and social media messages from people telling me that they didn’t generally enjoy the genre, but my books had changed their mind.

Being stopped in the street, in a café – even at the gym – by strangers telling me how much they loved my books and my characters, is one of the best feelings a writer can ever have. Receiving emails demanding a date for the next book also brings a smile to my face.

We’ve all experienced that most exquisite pleasure of reading a book that stays with you long after you’ve finished it; where you’ve fallen in love with the characters and participated in their lives and you just want more. Now and then I receive feedback from reviewers and readers in which they tell me that through my books they have experienced that same pleasure – well to me, that is the most rewarding – and humbling –  thing in the world!

 5 How did you start writing?

I began writing as a child. I would have been less than 10 years old and would spend my afternoons after school at the kitchen table making my own versions of Little Golden Books. I wrote stories about my brother, my pets and my school friends and I illustrated them – very badly – in coloured pencil.

I grew up on the Famous Five and the adventures of Enid Blyton’s classic characters inspired me to think up all manner of scrapes and dramas for my own characters.

6 What would you say has helped you most?

Reading. It is said that writers should always read the genre they wish to write. I can definitely say this adage is true. However, my books fit into many genres: romantic fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, etc, so I read all of these. I also read other genres like biography and the odd horror. I’m not a big fan of fantasy or scify, although the Game of Thrones series is a must for anyone aspiring to write – George R.R. Martin is the bravest, most gifted author I have read in a lifetime of reading.

Writers must learn all the time, they must continuously hone their craft and pay attention to the literary world around them. There is no better way to do that than to read!

7 What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I’m working on the third and final book in my series. It began with Torn, continued with Inviolate and will end with this book – I’d love to give you the title but it’s a closely-guarded secret. Only a favoured few know its name and my militant media relations team have sworn me to obedience. I. Must. Not. Tell. At least not yet!

Nevertheless it’s an historical fiction, set in the same house as Torn and Inviolate. Although the popular characters from the previous books make an appearance, the story mainly focuses on Jessica and how, as a young widow struggling to raise her children, she faces one of the greatest moral dilemmas imaginable.

Will she be true to herself? Will she follow her heart in defiance of a world that is at war and blinded by fear and bigotry? Well, you’ll just have to wait for the book to come out!

8 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

I’ve been asked this question a lot and my answer is always the same: just start! It sounds simple and it is because stopping is the hard part. A book is never finished, you just get to the stage where you have to abandon it and call it done. The easy part is starting.

Many budding writers tell me that they try to start but end up staring at a blank screen with nothing to put down.

The truth is, they try to put things down but it doesn’t seem to sound right so they become disillusioned and give up. The key is to continue – just get it down. You’ll have plenty of time later on to re-work and re-draft. In fact before the manuscript is finished it will need to have gone through numerous drafts. I once heard the late Bryce Courtenay say in an interview that his books usually went through up to 11 drafts before they were ready.

So don’t be put off if you think your work won’t be up to scratch. Forget all of that and just start writing!

9 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

My very favourite author of all time is Pamela Belle. I’m also a fan of Diana Gabaldon and Philippa Gregory. These writers write very well researched historical fiction and they are my inspiration. Other than these ladies, I do enjoy Tim Winton and Ken Follett and have just finished Pillars of the Earth.

These are only the tip of the ice berg. There are so many other writers out there whose books I have loved; I just wish I had more time to spend reading. The world is full of brilliant books! Oh – Anthony Doerr suddenly comes to mind and his book, All the Light We Cannot See. What a masterpiece that book is!




1808. When 14 year old Alexandra meets Patrick, her handsome and notorious step-brother, she is confused and resentful as he shakes the foundations of everything she has ever known. Driving a wedge between Alex and her brother Simon, he tears apart the fabric of her quiet world. Yet she is intrigued by the enigmatic Patrick and finds herself increasingly drawn to him.

These are the years between childhood and womanhood, during which Alex begins to realise that her growing affection for Patrick owes nothing to sibling fondness.But these are turbulent times for England and Patrick and Simon, answering the call of adventure, join the fight against Napoleon with devastating consequences.In a family ravaged by war and deceit Alex finds herself betrayed in the worst possible way.This is the story of one woman’s passionate struggle for love and hope against all the constraints of her time.

Inviolate continues the story of Alex Broughton, the passionate and determined young woman readers first met in Torn.
Numb after the pain of an intolerable betrayal, 19 year old Alexandra Broughton turns to her only source of hope – an arranged marriage. Resolutely accepting this as her last chance to make a future for herself, she journeys to Scotland to face the unknown.Although Alex makes every effort to settle into her new life, she struggles to suppress the memories of her lost lover’s passionate yet faithless embrace, and remains haunted by a fleeting and impossible love affair.For Alex, this is a time of growing; a coming of age where she turns to her husband in a desperate effort to carve out a life with him, and just as it seems that contentment is within her grasp, disaster strikes.As the war against Napoleon reaches a crescendo, Alex discovers a web of deceit that slowly unravels long-held secrets to reveal the true meaning of treachery.

Trapped in a loveless, violent marriage, and with nothing left to lose, Alex embarks on a fight for survival. Battling the irresistible forces ranging against her, she remains bound to the one man she can never forgive – the one man above all others she can never forget.

Karen’s next book is an adult fiction set in Yorkshire 1943, and returns readers to the once glorious Broughton Hall, where war-widowed young mother, Jessica Barrow, lives with her children in the now dilapidated manor house. It’s here that she discovers a mysterious diary and through the story held within, she finds an independence and passion she’s never known before. This new-found strength will be put to the ultimate test when she encounters a stranger; a German bomber who has been shot down near Broughton Hall.

Karen’s books are available in downloadable versions for Kindle, Kobo, Sony eReader, etc.

Printed books are available from book stores around Australia and also online stores such as Booktopia.

You can connect with Karen on




Café Cala welcomes Kim Kelly


Hi Kim, welcome to Café Cala,



I’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I’m looking forward to reading Jewel Sea. I’ve been making some strawberry and macadamia muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Oh yum! Tea, please – coffee makes me crazy(er).



1 Where did you get the idea for Jewel Sea?

I was trawling Goodreads one rainy afternoon a couple of years ago, looking for something interesting to lose myself in, when I came across a book called Koombana Days, by historian Annie BoydI don’t know if it was the photograph of handsome sailor lads on the cover or the magical sound of the name of the ship, but I knew I had to have that book.

From there, it took all of about five minutes for me to be completely smitten by the story of this ship. The Koombana was a state-of-the-art, luxurious coastal liner, and she mysteriously disappeared in a cyclone off the coast of Port Hedland in 1912, never to be found. Here was Australia’s worst civilian maritime disaster – Australia’s own Titanic tragedy –  and I’d had no idea it had ever occurred. To a history magpie like me, it doesn’t get much more tantalising.

But it did! Once I discovered a cursed pearl was rumoured to have been aboard the ship, well, it was impossible for me to resist spinning all this into a fiction of my own.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

Six novels on, it’s pretty rewarding to see how much I’ve grown as a writer – my confidence and my skill at words get shinier as the years go on. That’s all wonderful. But what’s even more wonderful, by far, is the way my relationships with readers have deepened, too. More and more I feel that my readers travel with me as I write. That’s an extraordinary blessing, and a privilege too. Whenever a reader tells me they’ve enjoyed or been touched by something I’ve written – there is no other gold like that.

3 How did you start writing?

I’ve always played with words and inside stories, so I think I’ve always been a writer. But for the first thirty or so years of my life, I was too anxious to share my writing with anyone. Then a miracle occurred: by the happiest of accidents I scored a job as a book editor at Random House. Working with and meeting so many other authors (most of them far weirder than me!) finally gave me the courage to step out myself. Once I did, stories began charging out of me. Can’t shut me up now!

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Editing the work of others not only fed my own courage, but it taught me so much about what words can do, what works when and why. Throughout my career I’ve edited across all genres and marvelled at much beautiful writing in them all. I don’t think I could have asked for a better or more diverse education in storytelling – one that’s taught me most of all to write truly as myself and no-one else. It’s also given me a profound respect for all writers, which in turn encourages me to keep challenging myself, keep exploring what’s possible, and keep pushing at my boundaries.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve got quite a mixed bag going on right now. I’m in the process of proofreading the new editions of my first four novels, which will be out early next year – with gorgeous new covers. I’m also waiting on editorial notes from my publisher for my latest manuscript, which will be out next year – a tale of love between spies on either side of the political divide during Australia’s Cold War.

As for what I’ll write next, I have three different stories swirling around. One is a bushranging tale set during the gold rush, which is just about completed; another is the story of a world famous acrobat equestrienne; and the other is the story of an amazing doctor who changed the lives of many children. In other words, my heart is torn three ways. What idea appeals to you, Maggie? Help me make up this muddled mind?

They all sound good, Kim!

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Write. That’s what everyone says, I know. But it really is the best advice. Always be writing something. When you finish one story, rather than waiting around by the phone for feedback, start writing something else. Rejection? Don’t mope for more than a day – again, start another tale. Study all the books you love, and some you don’t love, too, study them minutely, and pinch all the tricks and ideas you think are tops. But only by writing can you really learn how to write – and, most importantly, discover what it is you really want to say to the world.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

There’s a total mixed bag for the magpie’s nest here, too. Lately I’ve enjoyed Anita Heiss’s Cherry Blossoms and Barbed Wire, Laura Bloom’s The Cleanskin and Jane Harper’s The Dry. I guess the pattern there is that they’re all Australian stories – and that’s pretty unsurprising!

JEWEL SEA – read Chapter 1



The heat rushes in with the opening of the door, breathless, fag-end of summer heat, and yet it’s March. Isn’t it? My blouse sticks instantly to my skin, and it’s only nine o’clock, whatever it is.

‘Roberts.’ Even my voice seems liquefied somehow, draining across the terrace boards towards the balustrade. ‘It is March, yes?’

‘Yes, Miss Everley,’ he replies, this Roberts, my driver this past fortnight home at Retreat. At all hours he’s impossibly erect, smiling, handsome: waiting at the bottom of the steps for me in the full glare of the rising sun now, his jacket is an essay on the insanity of man. I want to peel the deep-green worsted off him. He informs me: ‘It’s the twelfth – of March.’

‘I don’t believe it.’

‘Do you ever believe anything?’ Marg is following me out, keys in one hand, voluminous handbag always in the other. Humidity means nothing to her, unseasonable or otherwise – she was formed in Calcutta, mostly.

I turn on the stair between her and Roberts, and whatever I might have quipped in response leaves me in the click of the door as Marg shuts it behind her. I take in the broad, strong back of my redoubtable companion, my navigator – Marg, Margaret Carson – the twitch of her wrist as she locks the door to save one of the maids forgetting to fasten the snib inside. I look up at the house, our dear Retreat, the place where I was formed, mostly, and an odd hesitation catches me, an unfamiliar whisper of finality. This house, this haven of cool, pale stone, is a place I have yearned to leave ever since I knew how. Despite the solidity of both her dimensions and her market price, there has always been some impermanence beneath my feet here, some sense I have only ever been a visitor. I leave this house for months at a time several times a year. I don’t know why I should be even vaguely reluctant to leave her now.

Why I should sense – what? I look out the other way again, beyond Roberts and the car, to the yachts on Freshwater Bay, bobbing and billowing through their breakfast diamonds as they do every sunny day. The Indian Ocean pounds at Cottesloe somewhere behind us, but here at the sheltered mouth of the Swan it’s always calm, almost always a swimming day. And I am treading water out beyond the baths: Irene! Irene! Come back – a shark will take you! my mother calls me in from some ancient memory. I can see her waving to me, pleading from the shore, calling in to me my one abiding fear, and it’s not of sharks but that I’ll take a fatal gulp one day if I don’t keep moving. I resume my way across the lawn to the car now. Don’t stop pedalling, my motor seems to say, but I think I might be losing sight of what I’m pedalling for. In fact, I know I am, but I can’t stop for dread, or for dearness. God, Mum, but I still miss you. Is it really seven years?


‘Tigs?’ Marg is at my ear, whispering the college-days sobriquet she saves for affection and for warning, but mostly for bemusement. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘Just a little bummed,’ I whisper back, and there can be no uncertainty about that. I’m always a little bummed, a little hung-over from the night before. Stale. Sticky. God – this heat. I could go for a swim this minute, let myself drift out past Rottnest, all the way to Madagascar.

‘Poor thing,’ says Marg, with absolutely no sympathy. Why should she have any? It’s she who tidies up after me, makes sure I’m out of bed in time to meet my ship, keeps all my secrets in that handbag, too. She is my sturdy veneer of respectability, and she keeps me on the move.

I grunt and slouch into the back seat with my own contempt for myself, and she says, sighing her way in beside me: ‘Going to be one of those days, is it?’

One of those bummed-out days when I’m gruntish and rude the whole while? No, it’s not. I mutter: ‘Just contemplating Derby.’

And I am now. If it’s hot here in Perth, it will be land of the damned up in Derby – even if autumn decides to begin somewhere over the next two weeks. I can no more forego Derby, though, or more specifically Everley Station, fifty miles east and ten degrees hotter, than I can my next gin. Old Hal, dear old Dad, would never forgive me if I never came home again there – if I went as far away as I should. Neither would my sisters: Oceanna and Marie will have the children gathering bouquets of lavender lambs’ tails for me, the mulla-mulla blooms we gathered when we were small ourselves, so blue against the red desert earth, petals crumbling onto white linen as so many tiny sprinklings of sky. They’ll have polished my saddle and plaited Freckle’s mane, too. I adore my family. I have three nieces and two nephews who adore me back; I even like their fathers, because they like mine – they both work for him; our family is tied up in such a sweet bow. But, apart from the station’s more or less uncanny resemblance to a forgotten corner of hell, there are only so many relentless conversations about the cattle trade one can reasonably survive, dinner chat turning always to the latest best plan for keeping the West Kimberley free of ticks and natives, ladies’ lounging always consumed with which of my sisters is pregnant first again and who is due when.

As it is, I spent little more than a week with them all here at Retreat over Christmas, making an excuse that I had to get back to Melbourne, for the hunt with Marksy, to whom I’ve been notionally, mutually non-engaged for the past five years. I still haven’t told Old Hal the real reason for my increasingly frequent trips east over the past couple, can’t tell him that my ‘shopping’ forays entail lunching with the editor of Australian Life Weekly, can’t even tell him I have a job, for too many reasons to count. Can’t tell him Marksy and I will never marry, either, though I’ll be quizzed daily for the long, long month I’m home. Marksy Densforth is not at all fond of girls, in that way, and I’m twenty-seven years old – Harold Wellington Everley, beef baron, will work it out eventually, even if the father part of him can’t: this heifer will never breed. Not if she can help it.


‘Well, it’ll be a relief to get out on the deep blue, won’t it,’ Marg says beside me, as Roberts noses out onto the Esplanade, bound for Fremantle, for our ship. ‘Catch some breeze. You know, I do love a lingering summer, but don’t you think it’s odd that the Doc hasn’t come for the past three days?’

‘Hm,’ I reply. Indeed our Doctor, the relieving evening breeze, hasn’t visited for who knows how long, but I’m distracted now by quite another linger. Last night: Stuart. I’ve left my preventative at his place, round the bay at Mosman Park, my little rubber stopper – left it on the corner of the bath. I’m not likely to need such contraceptive insurance in the next little while but it’s annoying. I almost tell Roberts to head down that way so that I might retrieve it, just in case, but Stu won’t be there, he’ll be in town, and I’m not asking his man for it. I squeeze my temples with too many never-agains. Stuart Wakefield. I’ve had a sweet spot for him forever, since short pants, my boy up the road, and he’s awfully unhappy with Clarice, takes every chance he can to get away from Adelaide to be free of wifey, but I’m never hot-suppering with him again. I am beginning to use men as I use gin: as an excuse to avoid the truth. I can’t keep wasting time like this, wasting life, here, going back and forth along the coast, spending more time on ships than in the world. In my life. It’s what Aus Life expects me to do, scratch out my first-class caricatures for them, to satisfy the insatiable hunger so many Australians have for unwitting self-disgust, but it’s not what I must do. Amusing as it is.


A stepping stone, I’ve promised myself ever since I took on the job, half a joke with Marksy, that’s all it is. A stepping stone to London, to Paris, to Prague, to proper living, proper writing. Things to write about. Actual experiences. But I’m holding my stepping stone so close, it’s going to sink me one day if I don’t let it go. ‘Purple Daze’, she’s my baby, my little monthly column. Mine. How could I let her go?

I close my eyes for a moment and the sun stipples every sense in gold through the peppermint leaves that overhang the road, all thoughts dissolving in the singular desire for a cigarette.

‘Bleeding heck!’

Roberts swerves sharply at the corner, skidding the wheels across the gravel verge of the narrow road as another car comes on towards us, too fast for the cliff-top grade. ‘Move over!’ He punches the horn as the other driver whooshes around us with a wave, and Marg’s fingernails dig into my knee. ‘Devil’s Bend,’ Roberts mutters, before turning to apologise. ‘’Scuse me, Miss Everley, Miss Carson – but I tell you, something should be done about this bend before someone gets killed. Too many cars on the roads these days – and hooligans with ’em.’

Someone will get killed, I have no doubt. But it won’t be the fault of the bend, will it. Roberts and just about every other driver takes this corner instead of wending down the bayside Esplanade. There’s the problem and the answer: creatures of habit, aren’t we all, caught in the illusion that one way might be better than another, quicker, easier, when it would have been more prudent to take the scenic route. I should get off the ship at Broome for Singapore and keep going.

I look down at Marg’s hand, still gripping my knee, aware that I didn’t so much as blink. I am that heedless, hooligan driver myself. Where am I going? I touch the string of seed pearls at my neck, a slim thread of cool in all this heat, and I don’t know. I don’t know much but that there is something wrong with me. There must be.


To purchase a copy of Jewel Sea, links to all major retailers can be found here:

Kim’s Facebook page:

Kim’s blog:

Café Cala welcomes Rachael Johns

Hi Rachael, welcome to Café Cala,


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

Hah – thanks for the offer and the brownies sound AMAZING, but unfortunately I’m not a tea OR coffee drinker. I’ll have a glass of water J


1 Where did you get the idea for The Art of Keeping  Secrets?

The Art of Keeping Secrets was (like all my books) a few tiny seeds of ideas pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. The first and probably biggest seed landed at my book club last year around the time Caitlyn Jenner came out as a woman. This got a heated discussion going amongst my friends about what we’d do/feel if we were in a relationship where our husband did the same. The responses were so varied that I decided I had to explore this topic, thus one of my main characters Flick was born. Last year was also a very sad year for one of my closest friends and it brought our group of friends even closer together than ever before, making me realise how blessed I am to have such amazing friendships. I wanted to celebrate the fact that good friends can really help you through the highs and lows of life. Another of the main characters, Neve, is a single mum and her situation is a little similar to that of my own mum’s.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t LOVE writing as much as I LOVE having written, so the most rewarding thing is every time I finish a book and think: WOW, I did it again. But the biggest reward of writing life has probably been the friends I’ve made on this amazing journey. They are now some of my closest friends and I talk to them about everything, not just the writing.

3 How did you start writing?

I actually fell into writing in the same way many people fall into their careers. I always wanted to be a primary school teacher but at the end of year twelve I accidentally dumped the boy I then thought was the love of my life and for some reason I turned to writing as a form of therapy. I’d never been a HUGE reader OR writer before then, but that summer I found books and I found that I had a love for creating story. I wrote the story of me and this boy – but I rewrote the ending. Instead of us breaking up, I gave him a horrific disease and killed him off so that nobody else would ever be able to have him. It was cheaper than therapy and I caught the bug so much that the week before I was due to start a teaching degree, I swapped to a writing degree. Sadly this degree taught me nothing about writing and ended up making me feel as if I should be writing literary fiction when all I wanted to write was the next Bridget Jones. For years after this I floundered with my writing (and did go back and become a teacher) until I finally decided to try my hand at writing romance and discovered the Romance Writers of Australia. This was the turning point in my career. It still took another five years to get published, but this was when I truly started learning about writing.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Joining Romance Writers of Australia – finding my tribe. But also working out where my voice fit. I tried for a long time to write something more literary and that wasn’t me. Then I tried to write category romance for Mills & Boon and at that stage, I couldn’t fit there either. When I decided to try writing a rural romance I found my niche and that got me started. Since then I’ve broadened what I write about and now write in two genres, but working out where my stories fit was instrumental in writing something publishable.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished the first draft of my May 2017 rural romance, TALK OF THE TOWN – it’s a small town romance with a single dad dairy farmer, an ex-con heroine and a ghost! I’ve had a lot of fun writing it but due to the big secret in the story, it’s also been rather tricky to get right.  After that I’ll be starting my next women’s fiction book and I can’t wait!

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Read lots and write lots. It seems simple but I never understand people who want to write books yet say they don’t really read. You can learn a lot about writing from reading – both good and bad books. Also join a professional organisation (like the Romance Writers of Australia) and take your career seriously even before you are published. You need to make the time to write and let others around you know how important this is to you. One final thing – don’t be in too much of a rush to get published. I took 15 years and while I hope you don’t take that long, those years (my apprenticeship) were not a waste. Learn your craft, learn your voice and make sure when your first book hits the shelves, it’s the best you can possibly do!

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I love Lisa Jewell, Liane Moriarty, Monica McInerney, Kristan Higgins, Brenda Novak and Marian Keyes plus a plethora of awesome Aussies.




THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS is a celebration of friendship. It explores the lives of three woman, the secrets they keep for each other, from each other and even sometimes from themselves.





 ‘I couldn’t sleep with Jeremy. It didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to hurt you. And when everything went bad with poor Emma, all I wanted was to see you, to talk to you.’

He reached out and squeezed her hand, a silent thank you, and this time, Flick didn’t want to pull away. She looked right into his eyes. ‘If you do this, it’s not going to be easy. Are you prepared for what might happen? For rejection, abuse… You might lose your job, your kids?’

‘What about you? Will I lose you?’

That was the million dollar question. The one she’d been asking herself over and over again since Seb had confessed. Should I stay or should I go? Whatever her choice – what would people say? What would they think? Where was the magic eight-ball to tell her what to do when she needed it?

             It’s none of anyone else’s damn business. Part of her had always cared too much about being “normal” but she hadn’t let that stop her becoming a taxidermist and she didn’t regret that decision. Just like taxidermy was part of who she was, so was Seb. She couldn’t imagine her life without him and she couldn’t just switch off her love, no matter how much she might want to.

Maybe she just needed to change her goalposts – accept that their relationship was built on a strong friendship and a love that transcended sex and all that stuff. Everyone knew that sexual chemistry faded after years of marriage and the divorce rates proved that when it did, many couples had nothing left in common. That wasn’t the case for she and Seb.

‘I’m so angry at you,’ she said. ‘I feel betrayed and like you’ve lied to me all these years. I wish you’d told me the truth from the start.’

He simply nodded.

‘But I’ll be honest,’ she went on, ‘I might have walked away back then and if I had we wouldn’t have Zoe and Toby, we wouldn’t have so many wonderful memories. Because of all that, part of me is glad you never told me. And that part of me wants to try and make this – us – work. We’ll create a new us.’

Hope flared in his eyes. ‘Are you… are you saying what I think you’re saying?’


Where you can find Rachael:





To-buy links:


Café Cala welcomes Anne Moorehouse

Hi Anne, welcome to Café Cala,

Anne MoorehouseI’m delighted to have you visit Café Cala. I really enjoyed reading Searching for Family. I’ve been making some pecan cookies this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Thank you for inviting me Maggie, I’d love a cup of tea please with just a dash of milk.


1 What made you decide to write Searching for Family?

Being an adoptee I was, for as long as I can remember, curious about my ‘other family’. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I was in a position to travel to England and find out more about my natural family. What I discovered was an exceptional story but it wasn’t until I retired from work and I began to write that I felt competent enough to tell the tale and do it justice.

2 It’s a very personal tale. What was the most difficult part of it?

For me it was trying to put myself in the place of my natural parents as I told their story. It was very moving; attempting to feel their reactions and emotions as they lived through their dreams and the drama tragedy that happened to them.  There were many tears shed as I wrote those passages. Thank goodness the story does have a happy ending, I could not have written it otherwise.

3 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

With writing in general, there is nothing quite like holding a published copy in your hands, knowing that without your efforts it would be in existence.  About this book in particular it was receiving the approval of my two half-brothers when they read what I had done with the stories they had told me; especially how I had interpreted the character of our father. They, of course, knew him closely and it was important to me they approved what I had written before I could even think of publishing.

4 How did you start writing?

It was an offshoot of my interest in family history – my own family and my husband Mal’s.  There were good stories to tell on both sides.

5 What would you say has helped you most?

Without doubt it is being part of a writing group; I have been in various groups over the past sixteen years. Writing short stories is a good apprenticeship and preparation for undertaking longer works. You learn not to waste words in short stories – it’s especially good for someone like me who tends to be rather wordy in my first drafts. Reading aloud to a group helps develop self- confidence. You should always read your work out loud to really pick up on those grammatical errors – you miss so much just reading on a screen.

6 What are you working on at the moment?

My next book My Sunshine Coast is almost ready for release. At the moment it is with the publishers for design and formatting and should be available during October. It is without doubt the most difficult thing I have done.  There is so much to tell about this great part of the world and to select what to leave out was as hard as choosing what to put in. I didn’t want it to be just another tourist guide or coffee table picture book.  I wanted it to have some depth. Although this does have a large component of photographs it also covers the history of each area, the contemporary life and case studies.  Sometimes these are contributions from local people, other times of industries. I hope it is a book that has appeal to both visitors and to residents too.

7 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

As I said earlier, being part of a writing group is invaluable.  But apart from that make time to write something every day. I don’t aim for a word count; that can leave you with a feeling of failure if you don’t make it (and some days you won’t). Rather, begin a journal; write down experiences and feelings, describe something you have seen, places you have been. This develops your powers of observation. The old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is absolutely true. I have written many a short story prompted by a photograph. Once you begin journal writing you will be surprised how much of that you can bring in to stories.

8 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Besides yourself, Lyz Byrski and Kate Atkinson are favourites. Add Elizabeth George for her skill at portraying a sense of place and being a jolly good mystery writer and Ruth Park for her wonderful descriptions of Sydney and its characters in the fifties.

Searching for FamilySearching for Family is an emotional and heart-warming family story spanning seven decades from 1916.  Beginning in a small coal mining town in Yorkshire it tells the life of a simple mining family and tells of the strong love that bonds them together despite the hardships of working down the mines.

We follow the lives of a family caught up by tragic personal disaster as well as the effects of World War II.  We share the heartbreak of a father forced to give up his daughter to adoption.

Their lives continue along different paths and as each tries to make a new life, both continue to be haunted by thoughts of the other.

We see how the years of mass emigration from war torn England can change the lives of so many people, as they are separated by continents.

Finally comes the opportunity for them to be reunited, but is it too late?

With memorable characters and a touching story, this book portrays life as it was in the difficult war years and the changes that those who chose a new land had to overcome to build a new life.

You can find Anne at|:



Her books are available from Amazon and through her website.