Her new YA ghost story is perfect for Halloween week, so I invited Bryony Allen to guest post at FLY HIGH to  tell us everything about it. There's a chance to win the e-book or kindle book of The Assembly Room for readers commenting this post and adding their own e-mail address. The giveaway contest is open worldwide and ends November 7th.

So, why did I write The Assembly Room?

The book is my third novel with my current UK independent publisher, Pneuma Springs, but it's my second in the YA genre. The story came in to being thanks to an old building that is  - believe it or not  - actually called 'The Assembly Room' . The building lies on the outskirts of the village of Hitcham in Suffolk, England. It was on passing this building over the years every time I go to see my parents that the seeds of the book started to take shape in my head. Just looking at the building makes the mind start to wonder what kind of history it may have had; well it does for me at least.
In  my research for the book I looked at the local history in the area as well as land registry records and found that the building (now a little bit derelict) was built in the early 1800's and had been used as a reading room and also a community hall. Its Gothic features are certainly reminiscent of the time period.

The reality is that it is now used as a storage area for its current owner who also owns and lives in an adjacent cottage, and the actual area of land around the place itself was formerly used as a commercial garage in the mid 20th century.



"I can never forget the day they brought me the news that my sister's head had been cut off. I was not yet thirteen, too young fully to understand why she had to die, but old enough to imagine the horrific scene at the end. They said she had committed treason, the foulest of all crimes, but it didn't make any sense to me for Jane had only done what she was forced to do. and by that reasoning, I too had been an innocent traitor, just as she was."
This is the opening of this incredible novel I've just finished reading. The young girl in distress for her sister's horrible, unfair death is Katherine Grey, only 13 at the time her sibling was crowned Queen of England for nine days only to be  sentenced to death as a traitor soon after by Queen Mary Tudor  (1554). After Jane’s death,  also the life of Katherine Grey will be full of sorrows and pains in her constant attempt to pursue  true love as well as  the recognition of her status as heiress to the throne of England. She will have to fight against a fierce and very powerful rival, Queen Elizabeth I,   who saw her as a danger to her rule.

Lady Katherine Grey’s fate is intertwined with the story of another unlucky young royal child, Kate Plantagenet, Richard III’s  illegitimate daughter.  Katherine Grey finds her miniature portrait and a diary, and starts feeling sympathy for whom she imagined to be,  like her,  an unhappy victim of a dangerous inheritance: they both have their destinies signed by their having royal blood running through their veins.

The two stories develop onto parallel levels, distant in time, but so close in human suffering. Both girls will have to fight in the pursuit of true love: being of royal blood, a marriage for love is highly improbable for them. They have to marry for state reasons, they have to accept what parents and monarchs choose for them. The two  different levels of the narration offer a privileged perspective on historical figures and facts: Kate Plantagenet lived at Richard III’s court after his marriage to Anne Neville, while Katherine Grey is part of the Tudor family, cousin to Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth and always kept close to the court by all of them in order to check her movements as a possible contender.

The two stories merge into a quest for the truth about the tragic fate of the Princes in the Tower, after Richard III’s coronation as king of England. Kate wants to purge her father tainted fame after his death at Bosworth, even risking her own life,  and Katherine Grey, imprisoned like the young Princes in the Bell Tower  by Elizabeth I,   will try to get to the truth thanks to Kate’s diary.
Is the mystery solved in the end? You’ll have to check that out yourself reading the book. I’m not revealing any further detail.



Phillipa Ashley is my guest today with a lovely post about romantic adventures, castles and pirates. I love the setting of her latest romance, Miranda's Mount. It's a very special place I just happened to visit  last summer, it's in Cornwall and ... unforgettable. Discover more, read Phillipa's post!

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved romantic historical adventure stories such as The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Three Musketeers and I’m an addict for period dramas in this vein. In fact I think that the BBC’s version of Lorna Doone with Richard Coyle as John Ridd is probably my favourite of period drama of all time (alongside N&S of course!) I love the drama, the passion and the sheeer thrilling adventure of these wonderful books and productions.

Even now, if I’m not careful, I’ll find myself hooked on an old Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie, or Elizabeth & Essex... and The Wicked Lady would be my desert island movieIt may be in black & white but I love it so much I ordered a copy on DVD. Even my daughter, who saw it while at home ill with glandular fever, is now hooked.

Lorna Doone - BBC 


Are you ready for Halloween? The Rise of Zombie "Semi-Historical" Literature: A Growing Popularity with Students and Spook Thrillers

(by guest blogger Caroline Ross)
Traditionally the "living dead" doesn’t move with great speed or finesse, but in the book publishing industry Zombies have taken off like the speed of light. Over the past few years, book stores have displayed an increasing number of zombie-related historical fiction that has seemed to do quite well with the youth—so much in fact that some titles are even appearing on required reading lists at select universities. But of course you don't need to be a student to enjoy them. If you're looking for a few good historical reads with a satirical, dark twist then check out some of these titles just in time for Halloween.
Pride, Prejudice and Zombies
Just like the title sounds, this parody piece is a smashup of the classic 1813 Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice with sprinkles of brain-eating zombies, courtesy of author Seth Grahame-Smith. It might seem a little bizarre to picture a zombie infested 19th century England and a zombie-slayer Mr. Darcy, but the story line actually works. Not only does Grahame-Smith do a stellar job at creating an alternative universe within a classic story such as Pride and Prejudice, but he's also successful at bringing out the laughs—this book is funny with a capital F. (2009)



The book

A missing boy, government agents, an interdimensional portal... Mia has one goal for her senior year at Whispering Woods High-find her missing older brother. But when her science project reveals a portal into another dimension, she learns that travelers are moving in and out of her woods in the most alarming way and government agents Regulus and Arizona are policing their immigration. Mia's drawn to the mysterious, aloof Regulus, but it's no time for a crush. She needs to find out what they know about her brother, while the agents fight to save the world from viral contamination. But when Regulus reveals that he knows Mia's secrets, she begins to wonder if there's more going on than she thought...and if she was wrong to trust him...

Praise for The Waiting Booth 

"The book kept me on the edge of my seat with its perfect balance of teenaged angst, interdimensional portals, and a fractured family."
~ Author Christine Ashworth



This post is part of the Spooktakular Giveaway Hop hosted at I Am A Reader Not a Writer and at The Diary of a Bookworm. Welcome to the creepiest giveway contest of the year which will go on till Halloween. Leave your comment below this post and choose your options in the rafflecopter form at the end of the interview. Only one option  is mandatory: become a follower if you are not already one! All the others are optional but will give you more chances to win. So, get all your chances to receive a free signed paperback copy of  Dhariya ~ Prelude To A Dark Legacy by Karelleyn  Brae Wade. Moreover,  don't forget to browse through the list of blogs participating in this incredible hop: there are more than 500!  It means you've got chances to win up more than 500 prizes! Click HERE and go to the list of blogs. Now it 's time to meet the author and discover more about your prize!

Hello and welcome at FLY HIGH,  Karelleyn. It’s always a pleasure to find intriguing books and new writers to present to our readers, so thanks for being my guest today. Since your Dhariya ~ Prelude To A Dark Legacy is a gothic novel, could you please start telling us what is the appeal of the gothic genre to you?
I love the classic gothic novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights...the elements of dramatic intensity, passion and the hidden mystery within the darkness greatly appeals to me.

The aim of a gothic tale is usually to entertain the readers frightening them. Your purpose instead?
I find today’s gothic stories are more frightening and horror filled...I feel the depth is lost within this sensationalism....I much prefer the old world traditional gothics and follow this path ...to weave the web of intrigue and mystery which compels the readers onward ....luring them deep into the shadows to uncover hidden truths along the way.



I have been asked to explain why I chose Tuscany for the setting of the start of my novel Sign ofthe Times.
To be honest, it wasn't a difficult decision. I love Italy and all things Italian. I had rented a villa in 2003, with seven friends, in Bibbiena, which features in the novel. At the time, it hadn't occurred to me that I would use it in a novel, and indeed I wasn't even writing back then.
But when I sat down to start writing Sign of the Times, and chose my first character, Holly, and made her a travel writer, it seemed instantly clear to me where she should research her next book.
Bibbiena is a lovely little village, in my mind, very traditional. It's close to Arezzo, which is briefly mentioned also. We stayed at a beautiful villa called Casa Cardinale.  As it turns out Holly's B&B where she stays is a mix of this villa and a hotel I stayed in in Positano. Both times the owners virtually adopted me, as they were so delighted I spoke fluent Italian.
From Casa Cardinale we could see up the hillside to other villas. One of those villas was the setting for the Italian wedding in the book.
Many of the scenes in the book are those which I actually experienced: going to the market place, watching the wizened old men playing chess outside a café, going to the bottega where Holly deliberates over the prize-winning olive oil and which wine to buy. The fact that shopowners and locals alike, knew who we were, happens to Holly also.



I'm extremely  glad to welcome best selling author Jenny Barden at FLY HIGH to discuss her latest release, Mistress of the Sea. Read the interview, leave your comment + e-mail address to enter the giveaway contest for a signed first edition copy of her book. The giveaway is open internationally and ends on November 2nd.

Jenny Barden has had a love of history and adventure ever since an encounter in infancy with a suit of armour at Tamworth Castle. Training as an artist, followed by a career as a city solicitor, did little to help displace her early dream of becoming a knight. A fascination with the Age of Discovery led to travels in South and Central America, and much of the inspiration for Mistress of the Sea came from retracing the footsteps of Francis Drake in Panama. She is currently working on a sequel centred on the first Elizabethan 'lost colony' of early Virginia. Jenny has four children and lives in Hertfordshire with her long suffering husband, a loving Labrador and a deadly Bengal cat.

Welcome to FLY HIGH, Jenny, and many thanks for accepting my invitation. Now, my first question for you is: Mistress of the Sea is set in the Elizabethan Age, the first part of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. What is it that you find most fascinating in those years?

Mistress of the Sea covers the years 1570-3; it begins twelve years into Elizabeth I's long 44 year reign. At that time England was on the point of emerging as a power to be reckoned with on the world stage, free from the Church of Rome and domination by any other stateHer seafarers, Francis Drake among them, were voyaging far and opening up new opportunities for trade, colonisation and piracy. They were developing the skills in navigation, sailing and ship-design that would lay the foundations from which the British Navy and the British Empire would later emerge. In 1570 England was about to enter her Golden Age, Shakespeare and Marlowe were only boys but they would epitomise the flowering of the English Renaissance; Edward de Vere was already writing beautiful poetry and Nicholas Hilliard was starting to produce the exquisite paintings that would help create the iconography supporting the image of Elizabeth as 'Gloriana'; the sublime music of Thomas Tallis graced the chapels of the royal household and nobility. There was a new confidence and optimism. The country was free, relatively liberal and growing economically. England was looking outward and toward a 'brave new world'. What I particularly like about the true adventure which forms the backdrop toMistress of the Sea is that it encompasses so much of what was pivotal in England's development at this exciting time.



First of all let me thank Stephanie Cowell for being again my guest at FLY HIGH with a great post dedicated to Elizabethan England. Her first time here was in January 2011 to present her CLAUDE AND CAMILLE, A NOVEL OF MONET

NICHOLAS COOKE: ACTOR, SOLDIER, PHYSICIAN, PRIEST, the story of a brilliant but hot-tempered boy who grows up as an apprentice in Shakespeare’s theater troupe 1593 and to whom Shakespeare is a life-long mentor, has been published in the kindle version. To celebrate the event Stephanie granted one kindle copy to the readers of this blog who left their comments. 

The lucky winner is Amanda




If it wasn't clear enough this giveaway hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A WriterThe Write Path is all about fantasy. Choose your options in the rafflecopter form below (only 1 is mandatory, the others are optional) in order to enter this giveaway and try to win 3 awesome fantasy novels by Australian  author Prue Batten's. Three e-books for one winner

1. The Stumpwork Robe (The Chronicles of Eirie) 

2.  The Last Stitch (The Chronicles of Eirie) 

3. A Thousand Glass Flowers (The Chronicles of Eirie) 

An incredible set of fantasy tales all in the kindle edition!

                                                  A Thousand Glass Flower - my review
                                      Meet Finnian, the hero of A Thousand Glass Flowers (interview)



by guest blogger Sarah Stone
Books are the heart and soul of life. The written word, since time immemorial has been used to enrich the soul. The written word, remains an enigma even in the 21st century-which is an age largely dominated by computers and less hard copy text.  And if you are going to college, books can help you grow and develop more. Books can enrich your vocabulary, occupy you and sometimes, help you dream. Inspirational books can help you have the energy to wake up every day. This is magical. This article consists some of the 6 most inspirational books ever written by man.

Cheri by Colette
For someone who is going to college, you still treasure the life you have in your teen hood.  Those moments were great and magical. At least that’s what I assume. You need to move on from those moments. This book is triumphant, strong and emotional. It helps you remember the high school days, falling in love the first time and letting go-when it doesn’t work. Living with this reality as you go to college can help build a strong character in life as you mature.



Welcome best-selling historical fiction author, Sandra Gulland at FLY HIGH! and read the story of her long journey in the e-book self-publishing field. Enter the giveaway contest for 3 e-book copies of her THE MANY LIVES AND SECRET SORROWS OF JOSEPHINE B, first novel of a great trilogy  (Read carefully the giveway details given below).
I love everything to do with publishing. I have worked as a typesetter (that dates me!), an editor, a ghostwriter, a novelist—and now: e-book publisher.
I must qualify that however: I'm not a publisher insofar as I do not—as yet—publish works by others. Also, I have yet to take charge of the process from start to finish: I am publishing novels of my own that have been previously edited and extensively published . . . but have then—in one vast territory (UK and beyond)—gone out of print. I wanted my novels to continue to be available to all readers, so I decided topublish them myself in e-book form, under my own imprint: Sandra Gulland INK.
I have a giddy love of being an entrepreneur, so the process of creating INK has been fun, one very close to my heart  . . .  but it has also been quite a bit more time-consuming than I expected. Setting up an e-book publishing company and launching my titles took all of one year—and there remains quite a bit more to do. If you are considering e-book publishing, here are some of the things I did:



Chrissie Elmore is my guest again  here at FLY HIGH   after her interview about Unmapped Country, her  continuation of Mrs Gaskell's North and South.  She accepted to share some of the information she found researching the context of her book: the world of the cotton mills in Victorian England. Read her interesting post and don't forget to check out her book!


So You work in a Cotton Mill ... by Chrissie Elmore

So you work in a cotton mill?  Now don’t you complain about getting up at 5am. In 1851 with everyone flooding into Manchester for jobs and starving Irish undercutting the wages, you’re the lucky one. At least it means your family has a roof over their heads.
I know running home for a cup of tea and piece of bread at 8am hardly seems worth it when you only have half an hour but at least it will keep you going until 12, then you can share a nice bowl of potatoes with those tiny pieces of bacon fat. Yes, it’s boring when you’ll get exactly the same for supper when you’re shift ends at 8pm, but let’s face it, your Ma wouldn’t know what to do with anything else if she could afford it – she went into the factory when she was six.

Oh, and try and use the privy at the mill – you don’t want to go near the one in the corner of the court that hasn’t been cleared for months.’



Parade's End
It's been I while since I last posted about period drama or TV series. I hope you haven't been thinking that I have been neglecting one of my passions,  because I haven't. I have been watching several new series in fact, only I didn't have time to write about them. For example,  I watched all the five episodes of BBC2 Parade's End starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Adelaide Clemens, Rebecca Hall, Rufus Sewell and Rupert Everett among other great actors and actresses.

Adelaide Clemens as Miss Wannop
Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Ford Madox Ford's tetralogy,  Parade's End,  was broadcast on BB2 in September. The 5-episode series is intelligent, refined TV drama that I hope you'll come to see and appreciate sooner or later. I am not a huge fan of Mr Cumberbatch 's male charms but I do recognize his talent as an actor. I love his voice and his cerebral performances, especially as Sherlock, but I didn't watch this drama especially for him.  While I liked the series very much for its themes and its brilliant script (not an easy task to adapt modernist prose), and loved the costumes and beautiful locations as well, I couldn't sympathize with its hero. Not Mr Cumberbatch's fault, mind you,  but ChristopherTietjens's uprightness, stiffness and stubborness didn't let me feel any tenderness nor sympathy for the martyr of society he wanted to become. 



Nicholas Cooke: Actor, Soldier, Physician, Priest is a book Stephanie Cowell published in 1993 to great reviews. It is now available in the Kindle version, and Stephanie kindly accepted to talk about it here at  FLY HIGH! If you love historical fiction set in Elizabethan England, you'll be definitely interested in this book. What about getting a chance to win a free kindle copy? Leave your comment or a question for Stephanie Cowell, add your e-mail address and good luck! It's as simple as that. This giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 18th.

I first fell in love with 16th century England when I was very young and read everything I could about it.  I especially fell in love with Shakespeare and the theater of his day.  So it was likely that the first novel I ever published was about a brilliant boy who grows up as an actor in Shakespeare’s theater group and follows his extraordinary adventures from one difficulty to another, from one love to another, until he eventually becomes a physician and Anglican priest. The novel is Nicholas Cooke: actor, soldier, physician, priest. It was first published to wonderful reviews in 1993 and has just been re-published as a Kindle e-book.

I first traveled to England at the age of 23 quite alone with almost no money, stayed in student lodgings and cheap hotels and ate a lot of greasy sausage rolls with tea. I visited Westminster Abbey and stood before Queen Elizabeth’s tomb. At the Tower of London, the guide pointed out the spot where Anne Boleyn was beheaded. In Canterbury I had an unbelievable adventure with another girl on the



Hello everyone! Time for a new author interview and time  to discover a new unforgettable historical fiction novel. Join me, welcome Deborah Swift at FLY HIGH! and check out her just released The Gilded Lily. I'm sure you'll love it!

Hello and welcome at FLY HIGH,  Deborah. It’s a great pleasure to have the chance to present you and your new spellbinding novel, The Gilded Lily to my readers, who are always so interested in historical fiction. Could you start telling us something about your heroine, Ella?

I think Ella is an unusual heroine because she is selfish, ambitious and stubborn, not a combination that would usually attract a reader. Yet I hope she is still loveable in some ways because the reader can see that Sadie loves and relies on her. And I think we appreciate that underneath she is still insecure and unsure of herself moving in a society she does not truly understand.

Is she inspired by any other literary heroine you admire?

I admired the way some of Charles II’s mistresses came from nowhere to be very influential at court. Women like Nell Gwyn and Moll Davis who were actresses or courtesans who used their physical beauty and charm to move upwards in society. Like them Ella is always hoping to be noticed by someone important!

London in 1660 was the stage of great changes after years of darkness: Charles II was restored on the throne after many years of Puritan rule. What were the most exciting aspects of those years you discovered while researching?



Here are the names of the winners of Nell Dixon's e-books: 

- RedRose 15
- Tifferz
- Rosia_Lady

My congratulations on winning to the three of them, many thanks to all the readers who entered the giveaway,  and my most grateful thanks to Nell Dixon for being a kind and generous guest.



In a recent discussion on Goodreads, we lauded the few authors who go out of their way to make certain their historical details are accurate, but slammed the ones who didn’t bother. In today’s mass-media world, research is too easy and you shouldn’t slip up on whether your female character in the mid eighteenth century wore drawers or nothing at all. It turns out, that depends on the country she lived in. French women wore drawers, but in England, apparently, the women did not wear any underpants.
Others in the discussion lamented over all the knowledgeable virgins in novels set in medieval times. Girls from good families would have been cloistered from the seamier side of life and would have gone to the marriage bed with very little information. They would not behave like randy vixens as soon as they hopped in between the sheets.

I once reviewed a novel set on an eighteenth century sailing ship where everyone was cooking in their cabins as if they had hot plates. On wooden ships, fire was a huge threat. Cooking was done in the galley, not in separate cabins.   This was an easily researched fact.
One person in my discussion was annoyed over a novel set near The Second Boer War (1899-1902) in which someone used a latex condom. Latex wasn’t invented until 1920. She said, “Please. It's a simple peek into Wikipedia for something that simple.”
My current pet peeve is a popular author whose recent novel is about Marie Louise of Austria, and then France. The author shows her as a strong, independent woman, mistreated by, and never in love with, her husband Napoleon. She’s portrayed as having had a lover before she even meets her future husband. All this is untrue, but the author bragged about her extensive research of the period.  If you’re playing with the facts, put this in an Author’s Note. People I spoke with had taken this “faction” as fact after reading the book. I’ve spent years at the Library of Congress researching this era, reading memoires from servants, valets, and members of Napoleon’s staff. The author’s depiction is far from the truth. Sadly, many will believe otherwise.
I reiterate, it’s so much easier today to do research; these gaffes shouldn’t be tolerated—or admit to your readers that you’re writing fantasy or alternate fiction or have changed the facts to suit your purpose.