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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fancy a Spell in the Eighth Century?

What does historical fiction mean to you? The Second World War? The Victorians?The Tudors? Today my guest author Sharon Bradshaw takes us right back to the eighth century with her debut novel The Monk Who Cast a Spell.


Sharon, who writes her own  Hope and Dreams blog, has a passion for history.  She also writes poetry which is published in  anthologies and quarterly magazines.

A qualified solicitor, she ran a writing competition in 2011 publishing an Anthology of selected entries to raise funds to buy bread for the children in Tanzania. Sharon lives in the UK near Warwick with her family.

Find The Monk Who Cast a Spell on Amazon

Hello, Sharon.  Welcome to my blog and thanks for agreeing to talk to me today.

How did you become a Writer?
I have loved books since I was a child, and I wanted to write the stories in them. History came later, with an interest in the 8th century. When I left University I qualified as a solicitor, and that became my career for over 30 years. Although I was an avid reader during this time, it was only when I took a career break in 2012 and was helping my son in his business, that I felt able to begin writing historical fiction.

Please tell us about your novel, and any other writing which you are doing.
I imagined a young man one day. He was sitting on a low stone wall gazing out to sea, and the thought stayed with me. Eventually, I asked the usual 5 questions: how; why; what; when; and where. I realised then that he was a Monk watching for the Viking long ships; crossing the sea in 794 AD to Iona. His name was Durstan. He falls in love with Ailan after their sexual awakening at Beltane, is drawn to Beth when he thinks he has lost her, and becomes injured then in a Viking raid.

The story takes place at a time when the early Christian Church is trying to gain a stronger foothold in the British Isles, and people still worship the Gods of their Ancestors. They use charms, amulets and spells for protection. There’s magic too, history, and a forbidden love in the book.

You can find me most days on social media. I was pleased to be asked on Linkedin last year, by Motivational Press in California, to send the first three chapters of the book with a synopsis and marketing plan.  The Monk who Cast a Spell was published on 16th March, 2015. and is the first book in the Iona trilogy. I’ve almost finished the sequel.

When you are writing do you listen to music, or prefer silence; and do you have any rituals which you follow, to help the words flow?
I like to walk in the morning, and prefer to write in a quiet place when I’m working on a novel, or engrossed in the plot for a short story. But I also love to people watch in noisy cafes, and jot down notes of my thoughts. Chocolate cake is helpful too, when I’m doing this!

 What is your first memory?

One of my earliest memories is of the family pet, a West Highland white terrier, who didn’t leave my side

What is your favourite genre to read?
It has to be history, although I try to read about different eras and in other genres, to stretch my imagination as a writer. The past has made us who we are today, and I love to read other writers’ interpretations of their chosen time.

What inspires you to write?
Writing has become a compulsion and something which I do every day. I find inspiration everywhere from researching the 8th and surrounding centuries, to places; people, and even the weather. There’s bits and pieces of everything in my work.

What are you working on at the moment?
I have recently finished compiling my first poetry Anthology, and am editing the sequel to The Monk who Cast a Spell. I’ve also started to do some freelance work, and am becoming established as a Motivational Speaker.

Thanks, Sharon. Good luck with the new book.

Find Sharon on Facebook here

And on twitter here

Sharon's blog

Monday, 17 August 2015

Oh, what a lovely war weekend....

I spent the last two days on sunny Lytham Green in Lancashire at the annual 1940s War Weekend - a wonderful excuse for wine-sipping  and soaking up the sunshine under the  guise of serious research for my next War World Two novel. What struck me most was how easy it seemed to talk to strangers - all of them with a common interest. German soldiers mixed with their British, American and Russian counterparts in an atmosphere of extreme bonhomie. Thankfully the war was just a memory.

This little girl was so well behaved!
Anyone for a dance?


We're in the mood for working....

Forties glamour on Lytham Green

And the dogs came too..

Lift, anyone?

Say hi to the Allies...

Monday, 10 August 2015


Is this my prize?

How many of you can remember the day you won a prize? Any prize? Did it make you feel good? If so, that's great. But what if you've never received any prize or award, ever, as far back as you can remember? How does that make you feel?

When my daughter first went into teaching she spent six months at a school where, on sports day, everyone was a winner.  The idea was to make all the children feel equal rather than some of them feel inadequate.

'But they're not all equal and never will be,' she complained to me later. So they need to understand that now.'  I agree. But I  also believe that children need encouragement.

Writers, actors, artists and those who choose to put themselves to the test through their work  or sporting activities, are used to disappointment and rejection.  It is part of  every day life. With the popularity of TV talent contents you could be forgiven for thinking that  some people actually enjoy being humiliated.

But they are in the minority. Take the late, great Cilla Black. Whatever you might think of her talent as a singer or television presenter, she tried all her life to make people feel good about themselves. That's quite a gift.

 I read recently about a school back in the 1950s which had a more  positive attitude to prize winners. They gave a prize for Optimism, prize for Peseverance, prize for Imagination and prize for Cheerfulness.

But best of all  was the Prize for the Person Who deserved a Prize but didn't get One. 
This  I really like the sound of. I think Cilla would have approved too.