Category: Visiting Today

‘Visiting Today’ – Crooked Cat Author, Carol Maginn

Today’s visitor is fabulous Crooked Cat Author – Carol Maginn – who is going to share some interesting thoughts on the wonderful world of writing fiction

Welcome to London, Carol 






Hello June!  Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog. 


I’ve been thinking recently about how much of ourselves and our lives sneak into our fiction. 

New Yorker storyteller David Sedaris (whose book, Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy, I bought for several friends) amiably shares tales of a family so startling that…. they may just be real.   Many journalists, too, routinely utilise their real life experiences – I recall one who reported that none of her family would tell her anything anymore; they would begin, and then narrow their eyes and say ‘No, you’re just going to put it in your column.  ’

It was only after I’d finished my first novel, Ruin, that I realised that all the characters – hyperactive mother Lorraine, materialistic and grasping Suzanne, troubled and lovelorn Max, pragmatic ten-year-old Joely, and sociopathic secretary Luke – were in fact me.   All of them. 



My second, Daniel Taylor, is a thriller set in Rome, and I wrote it whilst living there.   The first eponymous Daniel – the hero – knows the city well and speaks effortless Italian, whereas the second Daniel is a hapless tourist who gets lost, misunderstands, and is almost permanently bewildered,….  well, you can guess which one was reflecting my reality…. 



Many of the Crooked Cat books I’ve read have insights which come from the lived experiences of their authors – Jane Bwye and Miriam Dori, for example, to name just two – and gain strength and authenticity from this.   

But I suspect that more of us goes into our characters than we perhaps altogether intend – it may be that it couldn’t be otherwise.   Lionel Shriver has said that she had no difficulty in writing the psychopathic Kevin, in We Need to Talk About Kevin because she felt herself developing empathy with him as she wrote.   The angels and demons of our natures get the chance to flap their wings, harmlessly, on the page.  (more…)


‘Visiting Today’ From Dublin – Irish filmmaker turned author, Lorcan Kavanagh

Welcome to London, Lorcan – and congratulations on your forthcoming, exciting debut novel, Texas Dakota



Thanks, June. It’s great to be here.

What inspired you to write Texas Dakota?  From the pre-release info, it appears dark and different. 

It all began when I was researching for a different novel. I stumbled upon some information about the meth manufacture and trade that ran from Texas all the way to North Dakota. It was run by the Hells Angels and was destroying poor communities in Middle America. I found the story interesting and sad. It stayed with me for a long time so I looked into it some more and then decided it might make a good story.

We have something in common – actually two somethings.  We both took around three years to write our first book – and, we are both represented by the same fabulous publisher, Crooked Cat Books. 
What are you working on at the moment?


I’m working on another thriller. I am just past outline stage. It is set in the dark world of organ trafficking. Hopefully, it will be an exciting page-turner while also highlighting the impact organ harvesting has on the vulnerable in the world. Concept-wise it is bigger than Texas Dakota but I am hoping I can finish it in less than three years. 

You come from a film background – what inspired you to move in a different direction?  Would you like to see Texas Dakota in a film production?  If so, who would you cast as your main character, Brolin Walker?


Visiting Today – Author, Angela Wren, takes us on a virtual visit to Argentat


While the February weather here in the UK is cold and miserable, the offer of a trip to South West France was always likely to win my attention.  When that offer is from fellow Crooked Cat author, Angela Wren – I wasted no time in packing my virtual passport. 


Visiting Argentat  

Hi June and thank you very much for inviting me to visit your blog.  I thought we’d go on a little trip together rather than just chat over coffee and cake – and my favourite is Tarte au Citron, just in case you were wondering!



I spend a lot of time in France and always have done, so it’s probably no surprise to you to find that my novel Messandrierre is set in south-west France.  But I want to invite you and your readers to stroll with me along the river Dordogne and into the town of Argentat. A small place, of about 3000 inhabitants, nestled in the high valley of the Dordogne. As you approach you cannot help but notice the houses rising up the hillside with their timbered walls with dark rooves covered in tiles hewed from of local stone.


The narrow streets provide respite from the heat of the summer sun and the small windows and shutters keep the houses warm in winter.  As we take a right here we can make our way down to the quay. 

The river flows from here along a circuitous route out towards the west coast beside Bordeaux where it flows alongside the Garonne and then into the Gironde estuary and the Bay of Biscay.  




‘Visiting Today’ – Seumas Gallacher


 Speaking in his own, inimitable language about life as an author.  



Hello Seumas, and a warm welcome to London.  Where do I start?  Your life has been far from dull, and your writing is a dizzy contrast from the world of finance to writing crime thrillers! Or…

You call yourself a computer Jurassic, Seumas – yet your social media presence portrays anything, but.  You have taken the role of ‘building a platform’ to new heights.  How did you start?  Marketing anything is difficult and needs a keen eye and ear to find the niche that might take the product from just an idea to achieving respect and success and then making that success continue to work for you. 

  • If the term ‘computer Jurassic’ applies to emb’dy who still thinks he needs a ‘winder handle’ to start up a laptop, then I’m yer Huckleberry… my first ever purchase of a Mac was almost ten years ago to write the first Jack Calder novel, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY’… it was typed using one finger from each hand, which is still my masterpiece creation modus operandi… the ‘building the platform’ piece came from reading the blogs of the highly successful and terrific author, Rachel Abbott, who convinced me that ‘writing is a business’, and that the scribbling was the comparatively easy bit… all the rest, particularly the use of SOSYAL NETWURKS was key to being part of the modern author’s industry… and so it began…

So –  Jack Calder – how did he come into your life? (more…)


Visiting Today – Writer and poet – Vicki Case


Vicki is an acclaimed author and poet by night. By day she works as a criminal analyst with an Australian law enforcement agency.


Welcome to London, Vicki. I hope the sudden temperature change between your home in Australia and the current frosty winter here isn’t too much of a shock.

Hello, June. I’m glad to be here with you today. Although I’m not a lover of the cold, it’s certainly refreshing after the spate of 40+ degree days we have been enduring down under.

For me, poetry often depicts tragedy or sorrow – it is frequently overlooked – but when read – we realise it is the dark, raw, emotional side of life mixed with love, anger, and disappointment – whilst at the same time, tender and soothing.  A brave author or poet opens up to the world to say, ‘this is me, this is my life’.  Many readers will have experienced a few of the feelings in the words.  Some will say, opening up is like picking at a wound and it will make the sorrow deeper – yet many will read the words and gain some degree of healing as they will have an empathy with the writer.

To me, poetry has been the ultimate form of expression – through both the good times and the not so good. If I am totally honest, poetry was my saviour when all seemed lost. When I found it difficult to convey my love and feelings of love and happiness to my soul mate, poetry was the answer. When I was devastated and lost after his sudden departure, and contemplated the ultimate sacrifice, poetry was my salvation.


I find it very sad that most people will openly confess that they have never read poetry. Poetry was the first form of literature and yet today, sadly, it is a forgotten and discarded form of expression (verbal and written).


As you said earlier, I opened up to the world through my poetry after I lost my soul mate – and laid my heart and soul bare on a silver platter for the entire world to see. People that have read my books have christened me the “Aussie Poet of Love.” This is a title I gladly accept. Every thought, feeling, the moment of anger and sadness, happiness and joy, are all openly penned in the prose within the pages of my four poetry books.


Another thing that makes me sad, is the common reaction of people when they discover I write poetry. When it becomes known I am an author, people want to know me and talk to me. However, when I tell them I write poetry, they generally just shrug their shoulders, say ‘oh’, and walk off – totally disinterested any longer. It’s like you said earlier, poetry and poets are overlooked and discounted writers. When you read a poem, you are reading the very thoughts and feelings of the author at that moment in time. Whether their poems are expressing the finding or losing of love, or merely describing the myriad of natural beauty that surrounds us every day, poets write from the heart and soul. You can tell a lot from the very words of a poet. This is much different from an author – they usually conceal themselves behind words of fiction and express themselves through Worlds and people that don’t exist. 



Today, I have a visitor from the North East of England – author, Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson - Portrait





Hearty welcome to a chilly and  damp weekend in London, Jennifer.  The ‘land of blog‘ is a warm place for like-minded authors to meet and we are looking forward to hearing why you enjoy travelling around the world and talking about your love of writing.

Hello June, and thank you for inviting me along to ‘visit’ you on your blog today. It’s funny, but that’s a sentence which I’d never have written eighteen months ago, but now, it’s one of my favourites! As writers on social media, we are so frequently bombarded by Twitter accounts or Facebook groups which promise to ‘increase our exposure’, and although I absolutely appreciate the value of Twitter and Facebook (and indeed enjoy using both), there’s something really nice and personal about a ‘blog visit’, writers heading over to each other’s sites and chatting about this and that. I enjoy getting to know people via their interviews or articles on other peoples’ sites, and am finding the chance to do the same genuinely good fun.

Writing can be a solitary act, but sitting down with a nice cup of tea and reading an array of blog posts (whether directly about writing or not) can be a great way to connect with people. Thanks to the blogosphere, I’ve connected with people in different towns, countries and continents, and it’s fun! The Crooked Cat gang in particular are a widespread group, and ‘popping over’ makes it feel more like a fun group of friends than simply writing colleagues.

Blogging also gives people, as the guests, a chance to flex different writing muscles, and talk about different things. This week, for example, I’ve been working on a project which has languished on my laptop for months, uncared-for, but I’ve reached a point where it simply isn’t working. A lovely change then, to write this for you. Still words, still productive, but giving my brain a chance to think about my plotline in the background, without any undue pressure, whilst I do something else. (more…)


Today, my visitor is author, Miriam Drori

image011Welcome, Miriam.  




Hello, June. Thank you so much for having me here.

Hello, Miriam. How did we meet?

We first “met” in the anthology 100 Stories for Queensland. That seems so long ago now. Then we met again nearly three years ago through our publisher, Crooked Cat. I’ve always appreciated the humour in your posts.

Ah, yes, the anthology was great.  I felt proud to have my story chosen to appear alongside so many great stories from authors around the world.

Crooked Cat has introduced us to many great authors and their list is growing.

I’m glad the humour works, too.

What’s your genre?

My genre is… I don’t know. I think it’s a shame that writers feel compelled to stick to a particular genre. I know some writers want to do this and that’s fine, but I’m enjoying the variety and don’t want to restrict myself.

If you don’t have a genre, what links your novels?

One link between my romance Neither Here Nor There neither-here-nor-thereand the series of novellas co-authored with Emma Rose Millar, The Women Friends – of which the first, The Women Friends: Selina, was released recently – is Judaism (although that topic appears more in the second novella).   selinafrontcoverAnother is love.

Another novel I hope to publish soon has no connection with Judaism and only a little with love. So I suppose the only link in everything I’ve written or plan to write is: things I’m passionate about. (more…)


Visiting Today is multi-talented dynamo – Suzi Quatro

Music – Acting – Author and, more.  

I have many likes:  Rock ‘n’ Roll,  Blues and Soul, stage shows, detective programmes, radio, reading and writing.  Earlier this year, I set a goal – one to interview someone who could touch on all of those likes.  Impossible… some might say.  Hmm; maybe.  There was, of course,  only one person to fit the bill, the amazing, Suzi Quatro…

Today –  I’m privileged to welcome American singer-songwriter, musician, radio personality,  actress, and author,  Suzi Quatro,  to my blog corner.


 Welcome,  Suzi.  Thank you so much for finding time in your very hectic schedule for a chat.  Gosh!  Where do we start?  Your careers have spanned decades – yet, on stage, you look the same as when you were picked out by Mickie Most, all those years ago.  Are we allowed to say which year?

Absolutely… I started the first band with my sisters in 1964 and went professional right away.  Mickie Most came to Detroit in 1971 and I was chosen for a solo contract, arriving on these shores in October of that year.

You come from a musical family – was your dream always to be on stage?

Yes. I always knew I would be an entertainer, right from day one.  I still love it just the same, 52 years later.

You are a musician at many levels, although many only associate you with guitars.  Which is your instrument of choice when you just want to chill?

I was trained on piano. I  still love going through the classics.  I was also trained on percussion, getting to First Chair in the school orchestra.  I am self-taught on bass and guitar.

Do you still have the 1957 Fender Precision guitar your Dad gave you?

Yes, of course. It hangs on the wall in the front room of my home.

Your style of music, the look – in what was predominantly a male arena has inspired many.   Most people associate you with form-fitting leather – Did you choose your ‘look’ – or was the leather  encouraged by your manager?

I never had a manager.  I had advisers and still do.  I was a huge Elvis fan from age 6. Always wanted to wear leather.  When the moment came, after Can the Can was recorded and ready to be released, I had a big meeting with Mickie to discuss image and, I insisted on leather. I would not back down, Mickie finally gave in… Then suggested the jumpsuit which I thought was great seeing as it was low maintenance.  Had no idea it was going to be sexy!

You have sold in excess of 55 million records – do you ever look back and think, ‘Wow, what a journey’?

The journey. I am still on it… I am so fortunate to be allowed to do what I love doing,  and for so long. I never take it for granted and always give thanks.

I have always loved Elvis – his untimely death left a void for many.  You often refer to Elvis – how did he inspire you in your music?

I saw him when I was aged six, on T.V. in the USA, and  decided at that moment that I was going to be just like him.  Throughout my life, he has influenced me and sat on my shoulder… so many epiphanies.  

All in my book.  Unzippedunzipped




Elvis singing It’s Now or Never. The Wonder of You, King Creole and, Blue Suede Shoes are high on my list of golden Elvis oldies.  What are your favourite Elvis songs?

Don’t Be Cruel, and Love Me Tender.

Radio – you have presented radio shows.  Does it seem strange performing when you can’t ‘see’ the audience?

I have had my own radio show on BBC Radio 2 since 1999… didn’t take me long to slot into this medium – after all, I have done so many radio shows myself on the other side of the mic. I love it. Love communicating. I am talking to the people all the time.

You have many more strings to your bow – appearing on TV, and on stage:  Leather Tuscadero  – in the American TV series, Happy Days.  The lead role of Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, the musical.  A ‘shocking’ appearance in Midsomer Murders (obviously I’m not referring to your performance as shocking – but an electric shock ended that character – Mimi!).  An MI5 operative in Dempsey and Makepeace;  Minder and many other shows.

First ever acting…3 years in Happy Days. I loved it and also the above TV shows,  plus Ab Fab… musical of course. I wrote and starred in a musical too, ‘Tallulah Who?’ in 1991.  I love acting – probably second to music – very close race and want to do more.

Is it true you were the voice of Rio Rogers, in Bob the Builder?

Yep. That’s true.

Unzipped‘ – your autobiography.  A mix of emotions, experiences and reveals a sense of humour, too.  With the hectic lifestyle you’ve led and, still do – does the light-hearted SQ humour keep you on your toes?

I wrote the book as two people, which was the thrust that made it all make sense to me –  Little Susie from Detroit, and Suzi Quatro.  All the way through, both people have their say… I am a combination of both.

You are active in helping others and, in October of this year,  you received an Honorary Doctorate in Music at Cambridge Ruskin University.  How did you feel when you stood up to accept this?

I was humbled and in tears. Me… Somebody who didn’t even graduate high school becoming a Doctor – OMG! So, so proud.

You deserve to be proud.  That’s an amazing achievement.

Gosh!  What a lot we’ve managed to fit in for this blog interview!  Thank you, Suzi.  The time has flown and we’ve only covered part of your hectic life. Today we’ve seen you off stage – without the leather and guitars.  You display a healthy attitude to life and others’ feelings with a great sense of gritty humour and respect for your family and friends .

Long may the other Suzi – the one with the leather and guitars, continue to rock.  You once said you would, until… the audience stopped clapping.  And, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.





Today I have a visitor from Hale in Cheshire –  Author, Sue Barnard

Today I’m in the company of fellow Crooked Cat author, Sue Barnard



Hi, Sue and thanks joining me on the outskirts of London. I know you have many strings to your bow – some might describe you as the whole orchestra!



Hi June, and thanks for inviting me today.  But I’d hardly describe myself as “the whole orchestra”.  I think a more accurate description might be “a random selection of session musicians who’ve left their instruments on the bus”.

       You studied French and Italian at University.  Was this the start of you wanting to travel the world?

I’d been to France once before (on a school trip when I was 15), but yes, the travel bug really took hold when I was at university.  Since then, I’ve managed to visit every continent except Antarctica.

      Where do you get the ideas for your novels?


I wish I knew!  My first novel (The Ghostly Father, published in 2014) was written in response to the prompt Write The Book You Want To Read.  I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet but hated the ending, and the book I’ve always wanted to read is the version in which the star-crossed lovers don’t fall victim to a maddeningly preventable double-suicide.  Why, I asked myself, should there not be such a book?  And the answer came straight back: Why not indeed?  And if it doesn’t exist, then go ahead and write it.

Since then, the Muse has been a little more erratic.  I tend get a lot of my writing ideas when I’m away from my computer, such as when I’m out walking, or digging the garden, or mowing the lawn.


The idea for my forthcoming book Never on Saturday (due for release on 9 February 2017)   sprang from a single line of dialogue which occurred to me when I was cleaning out the  garden pond.  But my current WIP, which is still in its infancy, is based on a suggestion made by a former school friend.

 You are an award-winning poet, an author, an editor, and, have been known to compile questions for BBC Radio 4’s Round Britain Quiz.  I believe your son has an interesting phrase he uses to describe you?

Yes, he once described me as “professionally weird”.  I rather like that.  Normal is for wimps.

      Please tell us a little about your books.

The Ghostly Father is a re-telling of the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet, but with a few new twists and a whole new outcome.  Nice Girls Don’t is a romantic intrigue based on a search for family secrets, with links back to both World Wars.  The Unkindest Cut of All is a murder mystery set in a theatre during an am-dram production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  And my forthcoming novel Never on Saturday is a paranormal time-slip story based on an old French legend.








Being an author and an editor, you see life from both sides of the cover.  An author feels their ‘baby’ is the best – but a good editor is priceless and protects writers from dangling modifiers and other grammatical and typo blunders that lurk in the text, unnoticed by the writer but glare back at the editor like flashing lights.  Why did you choose to be an editor?  Do you find it easier to edit another’s work rather than your own?

 It’s interesting that you should use the ‘baby’ analogy, because I’ve often thought that the role of the editor is not unlike the role of the midwife: nursing the proud parent through the birthing process, looking out for potential problems along the way, and treating them as required in order to ensure a safe delivery.

Such problems aren’t confined to just typos, grammar gaffes, punctuation issues, or the dreaded dangling modifiers.  An editor also needs to be on the lookout for continuity errors, plot holes, factual inaccuracies, inconsistencies, repetition, changes of point of view within a scene (known in the trade as “head-hopping”), passages which need further clarification, and incorrect local references.  A story set in Portugal, for example, would not have the natives speaking Spanish.  Having said that, you’d be amazed how many people (writers and non-writers alike) manage to get that particular one wrong.

Yes, I do find it easier to edit another author’s work than cast a critical eye over my own, simply because I’m so close to my own writing that I’m always in danger of losing all sense of objectivity.  But then, as you’ve just pointed out, that’s why we all need editors.

As to why I became an editor, I originally thought that if I can’t make it as a writer myself, then at least I might be of some small use to those who can.  I also saw it as a golden opportunity to channel the interminable rantings of my Inner Grammar Geek into a force for good.

Since joining Crooked Cat in 2013 I’ve edited books in lots of different genres: romance, historical, thriller, paranormal, crime, fantasy, YA, and CC’s only non-fiction title to date. One perk of the job is that I’m never short of good reading matter!

        What’s the nicest or strangest thing that’s happened to you as an author?

The nicest thing is when people tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my books.  I was staying in a hotel in Devon a couple of months ago, and the proprietor approached me at breakfast with a copy of The Ghostly Father and asked me to sign it.

The strangest thing is receiving emails from Amazon about “book recommendations” and finding that these include my own books.  It’s reassuring in one way, I suppose, but it still feels weird.

You have a great sense of humour – who is / was your favourite comedian?

 Oh goodness – how long have you got?  I love good topical comedy such as Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week on TV, and The News Quiz and The Now Show on Radio 4.  I’m also a huge fan of vintage comedy such as Morecambe & Wise, The Two Ronnies, Flanders & Swann and Round The Horne, all of which are just as hilarious today as when they were first written.

I also love QI, which manages to be entertaining, witty and intelligent, all at the same time.  A few years ago, during a trip to Australia, Better Half and I were fortunate enough to see the QI Live stage show at a theatre in Melbourne.  We didn’t realise at the time just how fortunate we’d been; it was only afterwards that we discovered that the whole tour was a complete sell-out, and it has never been performed anywhere else in the world.  More’s the pity.

And I simply can’t imagine a world without Billy Connolly, Richard Stilgoe, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Blackadder, Horrible Histories, Monty Python, or the works of Terry Pratchett.

I was once told by a dear friend that “a sense of humour is a sense of balance”.  I feel desperately sorry for anyone who cannot see the funny side.  There is far too much misery in the world as it is.

Gosh, Sue! What an interesting life you lead. Thank you for joining me today.  You have proved that life is strange with its twists and turns and, that there is always a story along the way. 

Thank you for hosting me, June!

It’s been an absolute pleasure, Sue. I’m looking forward to reading Never on a Saturday in 2017.


  •  Read more about Sue on:


  • Blog:
  • Facebook name:
  • Twitter handle: @SusanB2011
  • Crooked Cat author page:




The Ghostly FatherAmazonSmashwordsKoboNookApple iBooksGooglePlay

Nice Girls Don’tAmazonSmashwordsKoboNookApple iBooks

The Unkindest Cut of AllAmazonSmashwordsKoboNookApple iBooks



JG talks to JG – Jeff Gardiner is visiting today

Hi, Jeff


Many thanks for joining me today.  I know you have taught English for many years and are an author in your ‘spare time’ – please tell us more. 


  • Hi, June. I actually gave up teaching about two years ago to explore what else I could do with my life. I enjoyed teaching and loved seeing students become independent and successful, but with all the political micromanagement plus the way data has become more important than the individual child in education, I decided that teaching was no longer for me. I respect and admire teachers greatly because I know the pressure they are under.

Your list of publications is still growing – and across many genres.  Is there a particular genre you are pulled towards?

  • I have written humour, horror, fantasy and romantic fiction, and will probably continue to work in that range; but I feel that I might do well to focus my writing within the Young Adult market. Of course, those genres all work well under the YA umbrella. My natural tendency is towards a kind of ‘magic realism’: using a contemporary realistic setting to explore mythical, fantastical ideas.

We both have novels dealing with bullying in children – and both stories involve eyes and the ability to rise above bullying in very different ways! Tell us about Myopia, your YA novel. What gave you the idea?


  • As a teacher, I saw how bullying can damage vulnerable, sensitive individuals, and wanted to understand what made some people want to hurt others. How and why do bullies lose their sense of empathy? It’s difficult to give advice to victims with no self-esteem, and seeing them sink into a spiral of despair and pessimism is heart-breaking. I also believe very strongly in the non-violent philosophy of Gandhi and have long wondered if there is a way of tackling bullying that uses no violence or aggression whatsoever. This was the beginning of ‘Myopia’. As the title implies, the main character – Jerry – suffers from short-sightedness, and Myopia becomes confused with Utopia. He realises that being short-sighted is not a disability, but actually a gift. He’s not actually the one who is short-sighted, at all.

Please tell us about your other books 

  • The Gaia Trilogy begins with ‘Pica’, in which Luke – a typical negative teenager, who hates animals and walking in the countryside – meets the mysterious Guy who introduces him to the ancient secrets and magic of the natural world. Of course, this changes the course of Luke’s life forever. In the sequel, ‘Falco’ (out in November 2016), there is shapeshifting plus other fantasy elements, as Luke realises that it is down to him to save our dying planet. What can one teenage boy do? The third in the series is due out in 2017. 


  • pica-final-jgfalco-jg





  • ‘Igboland’ is the tale of a young English missionary’s wife living in Nigeria during the Biafran War. Miles away from her home and family, her spirit, marriage, and faith are all tested to the limit. This one is not a YA novel.








  • Treading On Dreams’ is a romantic tale of obsession and unrequited love. The main characters are in their late teens/early- twenties, learning about love, rejection, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.







  • My collection of short stories, ‘A Glimpse of the Numinous’, contains horror, humour, and romantic tales.
  • I also have a work of non-fiction published: ‘The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock’.

 You have another great skill, that of being an editor. Editors, for me, make a book work. Do you think your teaching background steered you in this direction? How difficult is it when you have to let a writer know they need to let some of their ‘baby words’ go – or even a more serious cull?

  • I spent years helping others to shape and improve their essays and stories as a teacher, so I suppose editing is an extension of that. There are two main parts to editing: the substantive edit, which gives suggestions for structural improvements in terms of the narrative, characterisation and settings. Beginnings and ending are particularly important, for obvious reasons. Then there is the copy-editing stage, which examines things at the word and sentence level – grammar and punctuation.
  •  I see editing as a partnership with the author. In the end, it is their book, not mine. So my edits are the beginning of a discussion and negotiation. I will put my foot down sometimes if there are serious weaknesses, but so far authors have been grateful for the advice and suggestions. I know as a writer that ignoring the advice of an editor isn’t the best plan as you often cannot see your own flaws. That objective perspective is incredibly valuable. If a ‘serious cull’ is required then I’d explain carefully how it will improve the novel; when asking for rewrites I try not to push my own words onto the author because one thing I have learned is that I should not attempt to impose my style onto an author. I must respect their individuality and ‘voice’.

You live near Brighton – the home to many great authors.  What inspires you most about where you live? 

  • I actually live in Crawley. It’s a very cosmopolitan new-town. Crawley has excellent facilities and a large shopping centre, with easy access to London and Brighton. You can very quickly escape the urban life to the South or North Downs; the beach; or the expansive Ashdown Forest (home of Winnie the Pooh).

What are you working on now?

  • I’m working on the third book after ‘Pica’ and ‘Falco’, called ‘Gaia’. While the first novel has a domestic setting and the second opens out internationally, this third book takes the reader towards something more universal and spiritual. It’s proving difficult to get right, but when it’s finished it’s going to be mind-blowing.

Are your characters based on real-life?

  • Many of my protagonists share aspects of myself, without ever being me. There are always characteristics and forms of behaviour that I’ve observed or experienced in reality, but I am also a keen (if very amateur) actor. Writing is very similar to acting in the sense that you are free to create roles or put characters in difficult situations to see how they cope. I use my imagination as much as I use stuff from experience, so I’d say it’s a balance.   Lydia in ‘Igboland’ is inspired by my mother, but I very carefully made her very different, so that she almost became more like me in female form. Writing in the first person from a female point of view was a fascinating process. Just please don’t psychoanalyse me from that.

What’s the nicest thing that’s happened to you as an author?

  • I was involved in The London Book Fair when ‘Pica’ was launched. That was exciting. I’ve also been involved in a few Literary Festivals, most notably the Jersey Festival of Words, which is always great fun. I was lucky enough to lead some school workshops and the pupils were very welcoming and enthusiastic. I love going in to schools as a visiting author. It’s a chance to try to inspire young people to be imaginative and give them the chance to be creative.

You have a great sense of humour, Jeff – who is / was your favourite comedian?

  • Ooh, that’s difficult. I love Monty Python and things that are a little anarchic. Robin Williams was a genius. I love most stand-up comedians and watch a lot of comedy. One who is misunderstood and underrated at times is Stewart Lee. His humour is challenging, intelligent and often disturbing. His books are brilliant.

What do you do when you’re not writing / editing?

  • I love spending time with my daughters – cycling, trampolining, swimming, being silly together. I love films and rock music too. I have a third job as a performer. At the moment I’m working as a scare actor at a Halloween festival – which is fun. Scaring people can become addictive. I also do extras work for TV and film.

What a busy and exciting life you lead, Jeff.  There must be more hours in the day at Crawley!  Thank you very much for stopping by and giving us such an interesting insight into the life of Jeff Gardiner – author – editor – entertainer – dad.

Book links:





Treading On Dreams:

A Glimpse of the Numinous:

More about Jeff  can be found on the following links:



Twitter: @JeffGardiner1