Today’s the day!

What’s in the box?

Hot off the UPS delivery truck all the way from the USA via Dubai to Johannesburg to Cape Town to me! At last, the author copies of my new novel have arrived. They seems to have been on a little book tour of their own since I ordered them from Amazon on 6th December.

But never mind. They’re here now and I’m very pleased with the look and feel of them. And the smell. Don’t you just love that when you open a brand new book?

I gave you a little opening excerpt from the book to whet your appetite last week, but today I have something special to tempt you with. It’s the recipe for Auntie Rose’s vegetable curry, which she uses to fill her famous rotis. I took a tiny peek over her shoulder when she was last making them.

Auntie Rose is always cooking up a storm. Maybe she’ll bring out her own recipe book some day!


e-book and
paperback
now available:
USA ~ UK ~ IND 
AUS ~ CAN ~ ESP
Rest of the World

If you’re in South Africa and would like a signed paperback sent to you, I have a few copies for you at a special price of R250,00 including P&P – just drop me a line!

Location, Location, Location #10

Location No. 10, Berg River, Laaiplek ©River Tides Guest House

In the latest stop on our literary tour through the pages of my novels, we’re taking a trip up the west coast of South Africa to a small town called Laaiplek, situated where the Berg River meets the Atlantic Ocean. This is the spot where my latest novel, Song of the Sea Goddess was conceived.

A visit to Mike Harvey’s lovely River Tides guest house just after New Year has become something of a tradition for us, although sadly our sundowners with Mike have had to be postponed this year with beaches and rivers out-of-bounds and travel between ‘hot-spots’ actively discouraged. But we will return.

Here I am, back in January 2019, sitting on the shady bench on the right hand side of the photo, busy with pen and notebook, during our customary short summer break. I might well have been writing the very words that eventually evolved into the first chapter of the book, which started as a short story involving Sam the fisherman and his little boat, Porcupine.

Sitting by the banks of the broad brackish Berg River,  fishing boats periodically put-putter past. It was easy to start to imagine a story about one of them. A little blue-painted fishing boat, which I watched throttling past the old fish-processing factory as it set out on an evening voyage, captured my imagination.

I know from reading Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, that night-time is the right time to catch octopuses, using a little olive oil to ‘calm troubled waters’ and a light to attract them. But then, once Sam had caught his two octopuses, I desperately wanted to save them because, as we all know, they are at least as intelligent as dogs, and I really couldn’t bring myself to let them be despatched. And so the fantasy was created and the adventure begun.

Some of you might remember the original short story from when I put it up on my blog almost exactly two years ago, although it has undergone some reworking and refinement since then. But the essence of the place remains unchanged, for who could fail to be inspired by a location like this?

“Many ghosts of ships and men haunt Laaiplek. A place of adventure and romance.
Coast of Treasure’ by Laurence G. Green (1932)

Sunset over the Berg River ©Cliff Davies 2019

Excerpt from ‘Song of the Sea Goddess’

Sam casts off from the jetty in his little fishing boat, Porcupine. The last orange and gold sunset slivers are disappearing behind the blue-grey hills on the far horizon as he pushes the throttle forward and eases little Porcupine out into the broad brackish river that leads to the ocean.

Gulls wheel noisily overhead, their keening cries eerie in the twilight. The twin lighthouses blink at each other on either side of the bay. Sam pushes the throttle forward another notch against the growing sea swell. He runs his work-roughened hands around the little boat’s steering wheel and sets his course along the coast, inhaling the sharp sea air.

Sam grew up on the Cape Flats. Life had been hard there; it still is. But he’s escaped. He had to. On the run from members of an opposing gang, he got on the road and hitched up the West Coast. He slept rough; got work, casual stuff; then things started to look up. He found a broken-down little boat one day when he was exploring the shoreline for salvage. Slowly he fixed it up with the help of a retired ship’s engineer called Jannie, who spends his days giving advice and watching the activity in the little harbour by the river mouth.

Sam and Porcupine make a great team. He’s brought the little boat back to life and in return she gives him safe shelter and a means to make a living from the bounty of the ocean. Tonight he’s fishing for octopus, which is best done at night with a lamp and a little can of vegetable oil to make a window in the waves. He rounds the coast to his favourite cove and drops anchor.

Night comes quickly, and within half an hour Sam has two good-sized octopuses in his fishing bucket. He shifts a little on the makeshift perch of his old sleeping blanket, propping his back against the wheelhouse. Sam has been busy helping out in the harbour all day. He feels the stiffness of a hard day’s work; he’s tired. Lulled by the bobbing boat, Sam slips away into a glorious slumber.

He is awakened by the sound of voices. Someone’s on the boat!

‘Concentrate,’ says the first.

‘I am concentrating,’ says the second, rather indignantly.

Sam holds up the lamp. ‘Who’s there?’ He stands up and turns around sharply. There’s no one. He walks around the little deck, holding up the lamp and peering out into the inky ocean. Then he hears them again.

‘Over he-re,’ the voice calls in a sing-song voice.

‘Over he-re,’ joins in the second voice in a deeper tone.

Sam spins around. Where are the voices coming from?

‘Coo-e,” calls the first voice.

Suddenly a jet of water spurts out of the fishing bucket, wetting Sam’s feet. A tentacle waves at him. ‘Coo-e.’ It waves again.

Sam crouches down by the bucket. The two octopus heads bob up, their eyes fasten upon his. ‘What the…?’ Each of them winks at him. ‘No!” Sam stands up and takes a step backwards. More tentacles appear, waving at him. Sam shakes his head.

‘Let us go!’

‘Please, mister fisherman!’

Sam approaches the bucket again. He squats down. ‘No man. Fish don’t talk.’

‘We’re not fish,’ says the first voice indignantly.

‘We’re cephalopods.’

Sam rubs his eyes; he pinches himself.

‘You’re not dreaming, you know.’ A tentacle extends towards Sam’s arm and prods him gently. ‘This is real.’

‘Tip us out and let us go,’ sings the first voice.

‘And lots of treasure you will know,’ choruses the second.

It’s as if someone has taken over control of his body. Sam picks up the bucket and steps over to the side of the boat where he gently inverts it. As the two octopuses slide into the sea, a huge wave breaks over the boat, knocking Sam flat on the deck. The empty bucket lands next to him with a clatter. Porcupine bobs about like a cork, and suddenly dozens of octopuses appear above the waves. As Sam tries to find his feet, a vast tentacle reaches onto the deck and grabs the bucket, swiping Sam across the head and knocking him out cold.


Pre-order your copy of the
e-book now for the introductory price of $3.99 or your country equivalent:
USA ~ UK ~ IND ~ AUS ~ CAN ~ ESP ~ Rest of the World

When all else fails…

…visit a bookshop. One with a cat!

Bikini Books is one of my favourite second hand bookstores and fortunately it’s only a short drive from home. An added bonus is that it’s right by the ocean, with a fabulous view all the way across False Bay to Cape Point. The beach was completely empty since it, like almost every beach on our beautiful coastline, is currently closed for Covid.

It’s not the kind of store where you can go looking for a particular book. It’s a bit chaotic.

Francois and Jackie vlogs

You just have to run your eyes over the titles and wait for the books to choose you!

Here’s the book haul. All of them, apart from the art books, cost the equivalent of $3 or less, which is huge bargain, since new books are very expensive here. As always, my taste is eclectic.

I really ought to have read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie before now: such an important book. There’s a Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behaviour, with a climate change theme. She’s such a good writer. I’ve read La Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible in the past and loved them both. Then there are a couple of books set in South Africa, to keep my promise of reading more books by local and Southern Hemisphere authors, Andalus by Jason Webster, who wrote Duende (another past favourite) and a collection of short stories by Sara Paretsky involving her feisty private eye, V.I. Warshawski, one of my favourite fictional characters (apart from my own, of course).

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, we would have been on a little summer break to a beautiful West Coast town on the banks of the Berg River, but the new lockdown last week scuppered that plan. Never mind. That’s what photos and imaginations are for… and, of course, books.

I’ll be taking you with me to that very town at the end of this week, when we visit the location where I wrote the first words to my new novel, Song of the Sea Goddess – available on pre-order now.

USA ~ UK ~ IND ~ AUS ~ CAN ~ ESP ~ South Africa and the Rest of the World

Location, Location, Location #9

Speke Hall, Liverpool

Today’s stop on our literary tour through my novels takes us to a specific location in South Liverpool. Grade 1 listed Speke Hall has a fascinating history, and a whole novel could have been constructed around a number of events associated with the house and its inhabitants. However, it purely serves as a backdrop to my story.

My familiarity with the building is connected to the tea-rooms there, and not just for the coffee and cake, although as any writer knows, that would be reason enough. It was, among a number of venues, where I used to meet with members of my team to conduct their appraisals. We were all home-based workers, probably some of the first back in the early noughties, and following a remark from one of my neighbours about the number of ‘gentleman callers’ I’d had to my house, I realised that having home-based meetings was probably not such a good idea. Hence I came to know the nearby tea-rooms at Speke Hall rather well. Not all the meetings were easy, but the lovely setting made the whole business a little less stressful, and allowed my reputation to recover.

Speke Hall – tea-rooms and visitors’ centre

Speke Hall is a beautiful old manor house, with parts dating back to Tudor times, and it’s just the kind of place that wicked Lord Childecott, the antagonist in Following the Green Rabbit, might have lived, although I had to whisk it away to the next county for the purposes of my story. In addition, the estate’s former farm buildings, which were converted into the tea-rooms, could quite easily have served as one of the outbuildings in which Mr Eyre was imprisoned by the evil Lord, if you picture them without windows and with a thatched roof, as they probably would have been in the past.

I was deliberately vague about the time-period in which the novel was set in order to avoid becoming embroiled in too much historical research, but we’re somewhere in the late sixteenth century. Like William Norris, a Royalist, who lived in Speke Hall at the time, Lord Childecott would be suspicious of both the French and the Jacobites. Of course, my antagonist is suspicious of any stranger, but to tell you more would give the game away if you haven’t read the novel.

I had in mind the Great Hall with its grand fireplace and oak paneling, as the setting for the scene below.

Speke Hall, The Great Hall

Excerpt from ‘Following the Green Rabbit

Up at the Manor House, Lord Childecott was getting nowhere with his new prisoner. Despite his best efforts, Mr Eyre was failing to co-operate. True, he hadn’t resorted to violence yet, and that was always a possibility. His chief enforcer, Smiler, so named because of his lack of teeth, was a dab hand with the thumb screws and other less than dainty tools. However, he had a feeling that such methods would only work if Eyre was to watch them being applied to someone he cared about. If local gossip was true, then he knew just who that would be.

Lord Childecott paced the room while Mr Eyre sat patiently on the chair to which he had been bound. Since his capture that afternoon, he’d been locked up in a dusty outbuilding. He had tried to find a way out, but although he’d succeeded in freeing himself from the ropes which tied his hands and feet, escape from the building had proved impossible. Now it was evening. He was hungry and thirsty and he was facing his captor and his questions.

“I’ll ask you again, Eyre, where are you from?”

“And I’ll tell you again. I came from the other side of the wood.”

“You were on my land and that’s forbidden.” Lord Childecott glared at him. What do you want here?” He strode over and fingered Mr Eyre’s jacket. “And why are you so strangely dressed?”

Had his hands not been bound to the chair, Mr Eyre would have raised them in a gesture of exasperation. “If I told you where I’m from, you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Try me,” Lord Childecott snarled, an inch from Mr Eyre’s face. Mr Eyre tried to avoid grimacing at the stench of Lord Childecott’s rotten-toothed breath.

“I believe I’ve come from the future. More than two hundred years in the future, judging by what you’re wearing and the style of the buildings here,” Mr Eyre replied glancing around the room.

“Don’t trifle with me, Eyre.”

“I’m not. Look, you say I’m strangely dressed. This is how gentlemen are accustomed to dress in the first decade of the twentieth century. Look in my pocket” he indicated his jacket pocket. Childecott didn’t move. “Well, go on, look.”

Childecott reached into Mr Eyre’s pocket and brought out the Box Brownie.

“That’s called a camera. It’s a new invention. Something from the future,” said Mr Eyre. “It takes pictures, likenesses if you will.” Mr Eyre thought for a moment. “Like an automated artist.”

Childecott turned the camera over in his hands. He put it to his ear and shook it. “In this little box?”

“Do be careful with that,” Mr Eyre pleaded.

Childecott tossed the camera onto a nearby couch where it rolled over and came to rest on its side. “I don’t believe you. Some foreign toy, no doubt,” he sneered. “Now, who are you working for? The Jacobites? The French?”

“I’ve told you. I’m not working for anyone and I’m not a spy. I’ve told you what I believe has happened.”

“Enough! You are trying my patience.” Lord Childecott thought for a moment, then turned to one of his men who was standing by the door. “Lock him up again and fetch Martha Stebbins, I’m sure we can give you an incentive to talk once you see what Smiler here can do to your friend Mistress Stebbins.”

Two of Lord Childecott’s enforcers untied Mr Eyre, then taking him firmly by the arms, frog-marched him from the room.

“No! No!” He struggled against them wildly. “You leave Martha out of this. I…” At Lord Childecott’s signal one of the guards stuffed a grubby piece of material in to Mr Eyre’s mouth and he could speak no more.

As the two enforcers dragged the struggling Mr Eyre across the courtyard and back to the barn, he noticed a flash of movement behind the Manor House. The guards, however, were too preoccupied with trying to manoeuvre their resisting captive to notice the two boys watching from the other side of the yard. Mr Eyre was manhandled through the barn door, all the time protesting through his gag. One of the men yanked it out of his mouth.

“Go on, you can yell all you like out here. No one will hear you.” He laughed and heaved the door closed, dropping the heavy wooden plank into place and barring the door shut.

Mr Eyre got to his feet and started to hammer on the door with his bound hands, bellowing at the top of his voice to be released.

“Right then, we’d better go and fetch old Martha,” the guard said to his companion as they stomped off, leaving Mr Eyre cursing and yelling and banging on the barn door.


Following the Green Rabbit
is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon at a discounted price
for the month of December.

USA UK ~ CAN ~ AUS ~ IND
the rest of the world


Image credits: Rodhullandemu, wikiwand, countrylife.co.uk

Location, Location, Location #8

Location No.8 – The Isle of Man

Next on our literary journey through the pages of my novels, we’re going to hop over to the Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish Sea, which lies between northern Great Britain and the north of Ireland, where we’re going to catch up with Pierre, our handsome leading man from You’ll Never Walk Alone, who’s treating Lucy to a little break away (although, if you’ve read the book, you’ll know he has another agenda).

I have fond memories of the Isle of Man, even though I only ever visited as part of my job as an insurance surveyor. I used to go there for three or four days at a time a couple times a year, but unlike Pierre and Lucy, who travel on the Isle of Man ferry, I used to fly over from Liverpool on a little Shorts 360 airplane.


Although I was working, I still managed to see quite a lot of the place between appointments. The island is probably best known for the notoriously hazardous annual TT motor cycle race. On one occasion I drove my hire car around the famous circuit, although at a considerably more modest pace than the TT competitors, of course. During the initial draft of the book, I’d been planning for Pierre to take part in the race, but the logistics became problematic. Maybe he’ll return to the island to do just that in a sequel to You’ll Never Walk Alone that my characters are still begging me to write.

I was also tempted to take Lucy and Pierre on a grand tour of the island, but it would have got in the way of the story, so I contented myself with a brief interlude in which they drive out to Peel Castle on the west coast of the island. It’s a partially restored Viking ruin, and a pretty, peaceful location where once I sat overlooking harbour to dictate a report. My typist (yes, it was that long ago) told me she wondered why she could hear seagulls in the background.


Lucy and Pierre stay in the fictional Royal Hotel, where Pierre ‘has a bit of business’ to attend to. It’s loosely based on the Palace Hotel and Casino, one of the places I stayed in during my visits to the island. It made a fine and fitting backdrop to the story, although I never went to the casino itself where much of the action in this part of the book is set. Nor did I visit the ‘back of house’ areas in that particular hotel. Trust me, it’s not always a good idea to stay, much less eat, in a place where you’ve inspected the kitchens. However, my knowledge of hotel security did come into play.

Excerpt from ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’

Pierre crept along the second floor corridor. He’d left Lucy sleeping. As far as she was concerned, they were just going to help Verushka get away from the abusive Russian. Pierre hadn’t mentioned the jewels again. He decided he was going to make sure he got his hands on them himself, and since he still had the passkey and d-lock, what could go wrong? Provided he was careful.

He counted off the room numbers until he reached 287. Even from outside the door he could hear the Russian snoring. Pierre took out the passkey and ran it through the slot next to the door handle. The indicator light changed from red to green and the lock clicked open. Pierre paused and listened again; satisfied, he opened the door gently and slipped into the room. He closed the door quietly. The room was shrouded in darkness. The Russian snored on. Pierre could also hear Verushka’s slow, quiet breathing; she was also asleep.

Pierre moved silently over to the wardrobe and took out the pen torch he’d borrowed from behind the bar downstairs. As he opened the door, the Russian spluttered and muttered something. Pierre froze and killed the torch beam. He heard Denisovich turn over. Minutes passed. He heard the Russian breathing heavily again.

All clear, Pierre thought. He switched the torch back on and fitted the electronic device into the lock of the safe. The little door swung open. Pierre reached in and drew out a thick, velvet covered jewel case. He eased back the little golden clasp and opened it. There was the necklace, with the matching earrings and a brooch; the complete set.

As Pierre stood up he felt the cold, hard barrel of a gun press against the back of his head. ‘Turn around slowly and give that to me,’ said Verushka softly.


You’ll Never Walk Alone
is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon at a discounted price
for the month of December.

USA UK ~ CAN ~ AUS IND
the rest of the world


Image credits:
Isle of Man Tourism Board, Isle of Man Newspapers (David Kneale); jetphotos.com (Fraser McLachlan); Trip Advisor; Best Western Hotels

Location, Location, Location #7

Location No.7 – Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris (Wikipedia)

Returning to our literary tour through the pages of my novels, let’s pop over to the romantic city of Paris, where we’re going to join our main character, Laura and her boyfriend, Greg from The Silver Locket. The city of Paris is rather special to me, being the first overseas place to which I travelled with my husband, when we were very young, back in 1985. In a similar way, Paris is special to Laura, being the first place Greg took her for a weekend away.

Specifically today we’re going to tag along with them on their visit to Père Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris and the most visited necropolis in the world. You may remember from the first stop on our tour that I share Laura’s fascination for old graveyards. You can’t get much more fascinating than Père Lachaise with its catalogue of famous decedents including Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein and many, many more, so naturally Laura would choose to visit the place during her weekend away with Greg.

Poet George Rodenbach, climbing out of his grave (Wikipedia)

It’s a fascinating place where you can wander for hours amongst some of the most incredible funerary monuments. I’ve been drawn to the cemetery during several subsequent visits to Paris, which was an easy hop from Liverpool on Easyjet by the late 1990s.

The narrow lanes and twisting paths are the perfect place for another eerie encounter with the mysterious woman in the brown coat, whom Laura first meets in the Rufford graveyard, although on this occasion, Laura’s mistaken and it’s someone else. Greg’s reaction to her erroneous confrontation and, a little later on, to the silver locket with its naively-drawn picture and odd little talisman inside, show us how dismissive he can be of Laura. We start to see that he’s on different trajectory to her, scorning simple pleasures, like picnics by the river, which Laura continues to enjoy (as do I, provided there’s a nice bench to sit on).

Narrow lanes among the graves, perfect for an eerie encounter! (Fodor)

I have to say that I’m in rather good company with this particular choice of setting. Alexandre Dumas references the famous cemetery in his novel The Count of Monte Cristo as being ‘alone worthy of receiving the mortal remains of a Parisian family…’ and the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is buried in Père Lachaise. More recently, in the film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the eponymous dark wizard convenes his followers at Père-Lachaise towards the end of the film.

Excerpt from ‘The Silver Locket’

Laura and Greg stood together poring over the plan of the famous Parisian cemetery, Père Lachaise.

“Okay,” said Greg, “we’ve seen Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, the Belgian poet who’s climbing out of his grave…”

“Georges Rodenbach.”

“Yeah, Rodenbach, who else do you want to visit?” Greg looked around at the lines of gravestones and monuments stretching off in all directions. “We don’t want to spend all day here do we?”

“No, but can’t we just wander around for a bit? Oh, but we should see the wall where the communards were executed, that should appeal to you,” Laura laughed. “Round up the anarchists and shoot them.”

“Mmm, very amusing,” said Greg consulting the plan. “The Mur des Fédérés, as it’s actually called, is along here,” he said pointing to the map. “We can go there and then loop back along here towards where we came in.”

They wandered along in silence, Laura veering off the path to take a closer look at some of the more intriguing or quirky-looking tombs. A large ginger cat was happily curled up on the step of Rossini’s tomb. Laura stopped to stroke it. It purred loudly.

She looked up; Greg was already some distance away further down the path. Then out of the corner of her eye she saw a movement. At first she thought it was another cat, the cemetery was full of them, but then she saw a figure emerge from inside one of the tombs. It was a large woman wearing a brown coat. It was her, Laura was sure. And this time she’d followed her all the way to Paris. Laura moved stealthily towards the woman. She wasn’t going to get away from her a third time. Laura crept as quickly as she could after the woman, keeping out of sight. The woman was on one of the main pathways now, heading towards the gate. Laura broke into a trot. She was almost on her when she heard rapid footsteps catching up behind her. She ignored them as she drew level with the woman and caught her by the arm.

“Got you,” Laura cried triumphantly. “Now you can tell me who you are and…” Laura’s voice trailed off.  It wasn’t her. “Oh, sorry. Pardon, madame,” she said, letting go of the woman’s arm. She continued her apology, explaining in her fluent French that she’d mistaken her for someone else. Laura stepped back and bowed her head. “Pardonnez-moi.”

“What on earth do you think you’re doing, Law?” It had been Greg behind her.

“It was a mistake,” Laura said to Greg, then turning to the woman: “Une erreur, Madame.”

The woman brushed her arm in an exaggerated fashion, snorted, and headed off towards the gate.

“Do you think I should go after her?” asked Laura.

“No, I don’t. Just leave it. But what in heaven’s name were you doing? You virtually assaulted that poor woman.”

“I know, I feel awful. But this woman in a brown coat keeps following me. First I met her in the churchyard in Rufford. But then she was in Preston, and then I saw her by the park in Liverpool and then at the train station there too.”

Greg rolled his eyes.  “Come on, let’s get out of here,” said Greg.  “There was a café near we came in, let’s go and have a drink and maybe you can explain what this is all about.”

Laura did her best to explain, but under Greg’s critical gaze, it did seem that her bumping into the mystery woman a couple of times was probably no more than coincidence. Laura took out the locket and handed it to him, telling him where she had found it and showing him how it opened.

“What’s this scruffy bit of paper?” he said, pulling out the little drawing. Laura was only just quick enough to stop it blowing off the table where Greg had dropped it in disgust. “And this stamp inside, it doesn’t look like a proper jeweller’s mark to me. Is it worth anything? At least you’ve not been tempted to wear such a naff little object.”

Laura snatched it back from him and carefully replaced Thomas’s drawing over the little talisman which still looked up at her imploringly. There was clearly no point in explaining anything further about it. As for the dreams, she decided she should keep those to herself. It was all very well trying to find out about the history of the house she’d inherited, but to try to get Greg to understand that she’d been trying to trace the existence of someone she had just dreamt about, however strangely and vividly, was really not a good idea.

The sun was high in the sky; it was past noon and people were leaving their offices for their customary long lunch breaks.

“Come on,” said Laura. “Let’s get a picnic from the boulangerie over the road there and take it down by the river.”

“Wouldn’t you prefer to go to a nice bistro somewhere?”

“Not if we’re eating tonight. Oh please, Greg, let’s have a picnic. It’s what we always used to do.”

“That’s because it was all we could afford. But okay, if you like. I’ll leave the choice up to you, as long as you promise not to attack any more old ladies.”


The Silver Locket
(written under my pen name Holly Atkins) is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon at a discounted price for the month of December.

USA ~ UK ~ CAN ~ AUS ~ IND
the rest of the world

Weekend Special!

Free Download this weekend https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07R116WPW

It was just one year ago this weekend that fellow author, Paul English and I held our book launch party in a lovely cosy cafe in our home town of Somerset West in South Africa.

I sold a small stack of the paperback edition that evening, and since then I’ve sold a few more, had a good number of downloads of the ebook and received some great reviews and feedback.

I still love this book and I miss the characters. One day I might write a sequel, as they’ve been asking me to do (really!) ever since I left them at the end of the book.

For now though, for this weekend the ebook will be FREE to DOWNLOAD.
Sorry to bang on about it if you’ve already read it, but if you have, and you haven’t left me a review, I’d love it if you’d consider doing so.

Here’s what some of my readers have said about it:

thumbnail Ellie Scott's review
You’ll Never Walk Alone is like a Scouse James Bond story. There are jewel thieves, evil villains and their sinister henchmen, plus a blooming romance between two beautiful people. But since it’s set against the vivid backdrop of 1980s Liverpool, it’s blended together with some wonderful Scouse charm and humour. Oh, and there’s a genius cat, a kleptomaniac monkey and an appearance from Dead or Alive singer Pete Burns. Doesn’t it sound like fun? Read more…

thumbnail JB Richards's review
Chris Hall’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is an absorbing fast-paced action and adventure romance that’s nearly impossible to put down. Hall expertly weaves together a fascinating plot-line involving several fascinating and complex characters while the action and danger written into this story is both dramatically and poignantly offset by what’s going on behind the scenes.

thumbnail Kevin Coopers's review
The story is full of interesting characters, especially those of the two couples. Gary and Gina have a strong established relationship, and live what most would consider to be a normal down to earth sort of life. Lucy and Pierre are caught up in a wild blooming romance which spins them into a life that some may consider as living on the edge. There is so much going on…  You’ll want to take your time with this one.

thumbnail Joe Leonardi's review
In You’ll Never Walk Alone, Chris Hall tells a good story a story I highly recommend. Read more…

 

read it anywhere
Read it anywhere – get it here!

 

 

 

Bunnies Abound!

Bunnies abound on lunasonline image courtesy of Beyond the Sphere
‘White Rabbit’ by Tom Merriman at Beyond the Sphere

Easter Bunny
Mad March Hare
Celebrating Rabbits Everywhere!

What’s this all about?
Well, spring (for most of you) is just around the corner and the Easter Holidays will follow hot on its heels. Maybe you have children? Grandchildren? Friend’s children?

Why not get them something original for Easter? It’s bunny-related…

Following the Green Rabbit by Chris Hall order on Amazon


Following the Green Rabbit

It’s my children’s fantasy historical adventure story for ages 9 years and up (and that includes the grown ups too).

It’s a book for adventurers everywhere!
You can read a bounding bunny bit here.
Order from Amazon

publicity pic


…for young adults upwards:
The Silver Locket
There was a little rabbit in my first novel too. With summer on it’s way, why not grab a copy for that lazy afternoon you’be been promising yourself?

Read a rabbit related snippet here.
Order from Amazon

Ever wondered what I sound like?
You can hear me rabbiting on about my books in a recent radio interview on Chat and Spin Radio, an internet radio station, based in the UK with a worldwide audience. I
t was my first live radio interview and a little bit daunting, but Ron and Ian who host the programme made it very easy.

My five minutes of fame start 42 mins into the programme after Diana Ross and before Sheena Easton so I was in good company.

And remember…

A child that reads will be an adult who thinks

 

 

 

 

 

A birthday gift

publicity pic

It’s my birthday today and if we all shared a physical work-space I’d be getting the cakes in! Since we’re not, I’m running a birthday giveaway of ‘The Silver Locket’ which you can download free from Amazon today and tomorrow (7th and 8th February).

Here’s your link: The Silver Locket – free download (UK customers click here)
The paperback version is at a special price of $6.99 (£5.35) depending where you live.
Goodreads reviews of The Silver Locket

It’s a second edition, and I’m pretty certain that the few annoying typo wrinkles have all been ironed out. Of course, this means that if you have one of the original paperbacks, you now have a collector’s item (well, maybe one day).

If you happen to live in South Africa, I can post you a signed first edition for R175,00 (price includes postage). If you stay here, you know that’s a bargain!

You may just notice a little box up on the top of the side bar: The Silver Locket is up for a reader’s choice award. If you’d like to lend me your support, just click on the pic.

February is also Valentine month and I have another offer running. My second novel, You’ll Never Walk Alone: a special valentine edition to download for just 99c / 99p.

Well, I have to go, it’s birthday time and I’m going to spend my royalties on a lovely pink rosebush for my garden! Have a lovely weekend everyone 🙂

The Silver Locket by Holly Atkins read it anywhere
Read it anywhere!

 

 

 

 

Back on the Black Friday Bandwagon

black friday lunasonline

Here it is: MY FREE OFFER TO YOU!

Until Sunday 1 December (midnight PST)



YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE
5 star rated on Amazon and Goodreads

A novel set against the backdrop of 1980s Liverpool. It’s a tale of love and loss, thieves and gangsters, and ultimate reunion and redemption. There are mysteries to be solved and a few laughs along the way. And don’t forget your dancing shoes!
PS – it’s not about football or allegiances but is does contain content of a sexual nature; some swearing and occasional violence. 
Try a sample!


Download from these links:
USA  ~ UK ~ Australia ~ Canada India
Other countries, such as South Africa