Short Story Excerpt: Beyond the Familiar by Jeff Young – Afterpunk Anthology

Short Story, Writer's Feature, Writing

JY Steam.jpgMeet Jeff Young.

Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune.

He is an award winning author who has contributed to the anthologies: Writers of the Future V.26, In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, Clockwork Chaos, Gaslight and Grimm, By Any Means, Best Laid Plans, Dogs of War, Man and Machine, If We Had Known, Fantastic Futures 13, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson, TV Gods & TV Gods: Summer Programming. Jeff’s own fiction is collected in TOI Special Edition 2 – Diversiforms and the forthcoming Spirit Seeker. He also edited the Drunken Comic Book Monkey line, TV Gods and TV Gods –Summer Programming. He has led the Watch the Skies SF&F Discussion Group of Camp Hill and Harrisburg for seventeen years. Jeff is also the proprietor of Helm Haven, the online Etsy and Ebay shops, costuming resources for Renaissance and Steampunk.


Beyond the Familiar Excerpt

“The departed have better things to do than talk to you.”

Kassandra met that statement from Madam Foss with a canted eyebrow.

“Look at me like that all you will lassie, but it’s still the truth.” She tipped her teacup back and drank down the last bit as Kassandra waited for her to continue. “It may sound absurd but the dead don’t always have an interest in what the price of butter is. They’ve moved on. They’ve joined the grand choir. They’ve earned their reward. They’ve other concerns.”

Kassandra couldn’t help but notice that as Madam Foss delivered her last comment her eyes drifted off to the right and she lifted the empty cup for another sip only to find she’d already emptied it. Kassandra enjoyed her time with her new mentor. However, she often found that not only was it important what Madam Foss relayed but also what she avoided. Since it was expected of her, she asked, “Well how does one engage with the departed then? My former teacher was grave robbing and then forcing the spirits to speak.”

Madam Foss’s dark wrinkled visage puckered up even farther as if she’d been offered something scraped off of the road outside. “You and I will be avoiding any such wrongdoing. What we do is like a tool. You can build a house with it or you can lay about with it doing all sorts of damage that not only hurts those around you but also you.” With that one of her fingers shot out and dug into Kassandra’s chest. “You will be better than that wretch.”

Leaning back in the chair, so she could reach for her teacup and put herself out of the range of that finger, Kassandra considered her mentor.

Madam Foss kept her hand outstretched for a moment longer and then leaned back into her own chair. “We speak to the dead mostly through intermediaries. There are those that are just as restless as they were in life. They can find the spirits we need to speak to and if those are unwilling to speak, the intermediaries can carry messages.”

“They are familiars,” Kassandra said suddenly pleased with herself at the realization.

The chair creaked as Madam Foss lunged towards her once again, finger pointed and then thought better of the action. She clutched her hands together, staring at Kassandra. “I keep forgetting that you are so much older than most who are brought to me.” She shook her head, the gray curls swaying under her bonnet, “I forget that you like to think for yourself instead of just listen and listen good like a younger one would. So lassie if you say familiar to anyone else, they’ll be calling witchcraft in no time at all. What we do has nothing to do with the dark parts we were discussing before. Perhaps those spirits do become familiar and perhaps that’s why they take such a name, but the common man only knows that as evil. We speak to intermediaries, to intermediaries only, clear? We are mediums. We speak for the dead and the dead speak to us. That’s all that matters. When someone decides they know better than we do, that’s when words like ‘evil’ and ‘witch’ gets tossed about. That’s when they start gathering tinder.”

She considered Kassandra for a moment longer her dark eyes squinting as if she could see inside her. Then the passage of a dirigible overhead caused the windows of Madam Fosse’s small home to shudder and broke her attention. She stood up suddenly and gestured for Kassandra to follow her. Setting aside her teacup, Kassandra brushed the front of her dress down and then stepped after her mentor as she crossed the sitting room and walked through the foyer. The house was split by a large staircase that rose into the dimness of the upper level. On the other side were a pair of large wooden doors. Kassandra had spent most of her time in the sitting room and the kitchen beyond during her visits. They hadn’t ventured to the other side of the house until now. Madam Foss pulled out a large brass key and unlocked the doors and then threw them open.

Dark curtains covered the windows in what was a converted dining room. Bookcases were set up so that the square corners of the room were rounded off. Wooden chairs with caned bottoms were spread around about the perimeter and a rich rug covered the floor. But what drew Kassandra’s attention was the table at the center.

It was circular and draped in deep red velvet. A wooden disk lay on top only slightly smaller in diameter. At its center was a hole and braided copper wires rose from inside the table to latch on to the Jacobs Ladder that climbed halfway to the ceiling. Copper threads chased across the wooden circle in strange patterns and two brass handgrips were mounted close enough for easy use. A leather-backed chair was pushed up to the table in front of the grips.

Madam Foss pulled back the chair and said to Kassandra, “Sit.”

Before they’d merely been conversing. The tone that the medium took with her now was one that had Kassandra dropping into the chair before she considered rebelling. Instinctively she reached out for the grips. They were so cold to her touch that she almost pulled away but the sharp glance from Madam Foss made her keep her hands in place. The older woman reached down and began turning a large crank that was just visible under the tablecloth. As she did so, a crackly snapped through the air and a flicker of static flew up the Jacob’s Ladder, then another and another until visible arcs ascended towards the top and dissipated into the surrounding air. The copper wiring on the tabletop danced with fat blue sparks and then the current hit Kassandra shooting her hair out in all directions. Her red curls furled like a corona about her.

“Now you know why I wear a hat,” came Madam Foss’s dry comment.

But Kassandra wasn’t paying attention any longer. She was trying to understand where the water had come from. Then it struck her, it wasn’t water and it was coming from her. Her skin, her pores, her mouth, her eyes, her ears – every exit from her was weeping something that wasn’t water but rather ectoplasm. Madam Foss had called it the insulation between worlds at one point. There it was real, right before her. Gradually, the silver substance began to collect in a sphere over the table. When Kassandra looked down at the design in copper with its circles about the handgrips, she realized that it was designed to help keep the ectoplasm contained. The Jacobs Ladder overhead was bleeding off just the right amount of static to keep the circuit she was part of safe. More and more ectoplasm kept pouring from her until the sphere swelled to twice the size of her head. She looked at it closely and discovered that it was spinning ever so slightly. Then she lunged forward out of the chair and plunged her head into the silver mass.

At first she didn’t notice anything. It was almost as if her eyes were adjusted to a dark room. There was a faint sound that might be footsteps and a light breeze blew across her face. Gradually, she began to realize that she was looking down what she could only describe as a path. It was so straight and long that perspective vanished into the distance. She could see a little of what looked like woods to either side but couldn’t actually move her point of view. It was as if her head weren’t with her any longer but only her eyes. There were shapes and shadows ahead of her, however they were so far down the path they were more like suggestions or imperfections in the overall pattern. Then one of the shadows grew darker and became more defined. It stepped out of the side onto the path and crossed it quickly. But before it faded into the other side, it hesitated. For the tiniest part of an instant, Kassandra thought that she’d seen a dark cloaked form turn to stare at her.

The last time that she’d seen the shade of her mother Anastasia, she’d worn a dark cloak. If there was any spirit she wished to speak to it was most certainly her mother. If her mother were to become her familiar spirit, it would be almost perfect. But the figure was gone. The path was fading and Madam Foss’s iron grip was pulling her forcibly back into the chair.

As she sat there gasping, her hands torn from the brass grips, Madam Foss considered Kassandra, hands akimbo. “Should’ve known you were going to do that. From now on girl you listen to me if you plan on staying on. The other side doesn’t take kindly to intruders. There are things that keep us out. That’s not how we talk to the other side. That’s the important part. We talk to the other side. You don’t get to visit unless you’re planning on staying. Now you just sit back and I’ll get you another cup of tea. Your heart’s gonna race and be out of rhythm for a little and it’s likely you’ll have trouble catching your breath. You’re young so you’ll do fine but it’ll hurt.”

With that she reached under the table, pulled the handle she’d cranked into place against the underside of the able. She patted Kassandra on the shoulder as the table crackled with a few stray sparks and wondered off after the tea.

While Kassandra sat there blinking, black spots chasing across her vision and her heart thumping away like a swallow trapped in a chimney, her mind was racing. She’d seen heaven. Well, she’d seen the other side. It wasn’t anything like she’d expected.



The Details on the upcoming Afterpunk Anthology

tales of paranormal steampunk.jpg
eSpec Books brings you three great new steampunk books of witches and magic and the great beyond.
eSpec Books is back with three delightfully punky tomes for your reading enjoyment. Won’t you help us make these fantastical books a reality? We bring you familiar favorites and shiny new names, but as always wonderful fiction. This campaign will allow us to cover production costs, pay the authors, and possibly include artwork in these books, which you can read about below…


by Michelle D. Sonnier

The seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, Arabella is destined to disappoint, when she was expected to shine. Though she descends from a long line of gifted witches she has earned the moniker of a “brown bud” showing no sign of magical talent.

When it truly seems her lot can grow no worse, she discovers an unnatural affinity for…of all things…technology. Not only are the mysteries of the mechanical world open to her, but her new-found ability allows her to manipulate them, making her the first ever clockwork witch and anathema to the nature of the witching world.

How will she come to grips with her new power when she must question if she will survive the judgement of her family and her peers?

spiritseeker.jpgSPIRIT SEEKER  

by Jeff Young

The Kassandra Leyden Adventures

The Leydens were people of extraordinary means. The father a well-known adventurer. The mother a spiritualist oft consulted by the government of New Britain. The daughter, Kassandra, inherited both the skill and sense of adventure that made her parents great.

But when her mother vanishes without a trace, and her father turns toward spirits of a fluid nature as he loses himself in memory, Kassandra is left to find her own way and purpose. She quickly learns a sense of caution as she discovers there is as much intrigue as adventure about the world she lives in. And not all those she’s had faith in are to be trusted.

With the whispers of spirits in her ear and unlikely allies at her back, Kassandra strives to defend both the living and the departed…after all…

It’s the Spirit of the matter…



edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer

While mankind can scarce hope to pierce the Veil without crossing it, a few intrepid souls will ever bend their will against the aether, combining artifice and the arcane to uncover its secrets.

From voodoo death cults to the Day of the Dead, mummy parties, the wheel of reincarnation, the practice of death portraits, and so much more, these tales leave no gravestone unturned.

Be it heaven or hell or the limbo in between, the hereafter is about to get ‘Punked.

With stories by Jody Lynn Nye, David Sherman, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, James Chambers, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jeffrey Lyman, Bernie Mojzes, Travis I. Sivart, Jeff Young, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.

April Author’s Gallery Interview

Author Interview, Writer's Feature

Meet Kelly Metz Silverman.

Mountains 2010 - KKE-10_sm.jpg

Kelly Metz is an author of urban fantasy, romance—both of the paranormal and contemporary persuasions—and whatever else strikes her fancy. Her lifelong goal is to raise miniature goats and write full-time while never getting out of her pajamas. With a day job in advertising, a husband, three stepchildren, live-in parents, and a menagerie of pets, writing provides much needed downtime and entertainment—though really all the above provide source material. How does she manage to do it all? Easy. Sleep is for wimps. Please send her virtual caffeine at

Interview Prep Questions:

What do you primarily write?

“Mostly, I write romance. Some stories have a little romance, some have a lot, some are emotional, some are physical. Some are contemporary, some are paranormal. Most end happily, but some…not so much. However, they all center around a relationship, and the story is always about how that relationship defines the individuals.”

Where have you published?

“I have several stories in anthologies, the most recent a parody mashup called TV Gods, where we took our favorite television world, and threw in our favorite pantheon of gods. My story, The Lay of Pie, is a retelling of the Norse myth, The Lay of Thrym, featuring Thor and Loki, traveling across middle America in a ’67 Chevy Impala.”



Now onto the Interview!


When and why did you begin writing?

“I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. I’ve always enjoyed reading and creating stories. However, I didn’t begin seriously pursuing the craft until about seven years ago. I read a book—whose name I shall not disclosed—and wasn’t satisfied with the ending, and thought I could do better. So I sat down and wrote my first novel. Not quite so simply as that, as I’m sure all writers know. But I enjoyed the process, learned from my horrible attempt, joined writers groups, learned more, and kept going.


What books have most influenced your life most?

“During my “younger” years, it would be Anne Rice, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz. Interestingly, horror authors. But these guys taught me that monsters are interesting, and can be heroes. Recent books (or recent to me in some cases) would have to include the Dresden Files, for craftsmanship, character arcs, and the author’s ability to make each book better than the last (for a 15 book series and still going, that’s saying something); Harry Potter, for its various themes and storytelling; Outlander, for its focus on marriage rather than the newness of first love, as well as characterizations (seriously, if you don’t know James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, get to a bookstore); and Game of Thrones, for it’s complicated, interwoven plots that require a reader to think to piece backstory together, and the author’s lack of fear for killing of favorite characters because it makes sense for the story (I still miss you Ned, you foolish, honor-obsessed idiot.).”


Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

“For me, genre comes from the story. It wasn’t really a choice. For a long time, I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was a romance writer, because at the time, I wasn’t interested in writing a story where the ending was guaranteed. See, to be a “romance,” the books must end happily. I enjoyed dragging the relationships over multiple plot lines, and so each story didn’t always end with the couple “together.” Technically, not romance. But my good friend Elizabeth Andrews smacked me over the head, and informed me I was a romance writer. As I mentioned earlier, I write about relationships and how they define the individuals. That really lends itself to the romance genre. But I also write paranormal and urban fantasy, because I love magic and alternative realities. The foundation of those plots? Relationships. Relationships, romance.

As for choosing the genre for the story, it’s more that the story chooses the genre. I have an idea; I write it; then I figure out where it goes. It’s the story that is important. Everything else is just marketing.

How do I balance writing more than one? Right now I’m not under any contracts so I write the story that is screaming loudest. Currently, it’s a paranormal romance. But my contemporary series is starting to shout, so as soon as I finish this draft, I’ll start on book two of the contemporary series.”


Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

“I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. I’ve certainly sat at a keyboard and been unable to produce words. Sometimes my personal life is interfering with my ability to focus on the craft. Sometimes a shiny new idea is distracting me. Sometimes I’ve written my characters into a corner—I only half plot the story, and let it grow organically—and I need to figure out where I turned left instead of right. Sometimes I’m horribly bored with what I’m writing and need shelve the idea for a while.

Writer’s block, to me, feels more like an excuse, when to be called a writer, you need to do one thing: write. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer prize worthy prose; it just has to be words from your heart and soul. Just sit down and write. BICHOK: but in chair, hands on keyboard. Find another writer and do word sprints. My local chapter of RWA does an incentive activity twice a year called 50/50: write a minimum of 50 words a day, for 50 days. 50 words are easy. It’s a paragraph.

Feel like you have writer’s block? Just write. Give yourself permission to ramble, to write badly, to write without purpose. That’s the beauty of editing; you can always fix it. You can’t fix a blank page.”


For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

“I read both. My favorite authors are always automatic hardcover buys for my collection. But I also buy them digitally because I like the portability of my library, and the ability to highlight favorite passages without destroying my paper copy. New authors, I’ll generally buy digital. Plus I have a severe impulse control issue, and like the buy now read now feature of ebooks.”


What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

“Any review is a good review. No, scratch that, any review that invokes a strong response is a good review. Five stars, it’s the best you’ve read? Fantastic. I love it. One star, it’s the worst thing ever? I’m okay with that. You know why? Because you cared enough to write something, which means that the author succeeded. They moved you in some way, even if that way has a negative context. Good writing affects others. The reviews that bother me? The middle of the road ones, the ones that don’t have an opinion either way.”


What are you currently working on?

It’s a paranormal romance series. Remember that first book I wrote? Well, I’m taking that story idea, and splitting it over a series. I’m currently drafting book one, but planning for three to five novels, depending on what happens.


You can find Kelly at:








Writing Feature:

Title: My Favorite Mistake

Blurb: Thanks to blindly following her ex-fiancé, 21-year-old Katie Bryant has nine months left in a town where the cows outnumber the residents. She knows no one except her new landlord. Will Savage is a player and the last man she should ever date, although he could be the perfect distraction while she counts the days until she graduates and goes home. A distraction she craves after her father’s unexpected death.

Though her mother is falling apart and her best friend sports a baby bump, whatever guilt and responsibility Katie feels is non-existent when she’s in Will’s bed. The best part is not having to sacrifice her plans for him. Come May, it’s over. Zero complications.

Make that lots of complications. Katie won’t lose herself in someone again, but her head and heart disagree about Will. As graduation nears, she must decide: take a risk on a reformed player or play it safe and leave him.

Excerpt from chapter 4:

Will backs the truck into the drive, a short distance from the apartment door. Phoebe’s black nose appears briefly at the window, then vanishes as she scampers downstairs. The yaps begin just as we step onto the walkway, and by the time the key is in the door, elevate to levels of imminent explosion.

I thought you said you had a dog,” he says eyeing the door.

I do. I also said she was small.”

That doesn’t sound like a dog. It sounds like a chipmunk on crack.”

I can’t argue. She does. The door is barely open before she bursts outside, looping around my ankles and barking at Will.

That’s a dog?”

So I’m told.”

That’s not a dog,” he tells me. “It’s a wind-up toy.” He looks into the apartment, then back down at the frantic pup. “Where’s the rest of it?”

Phoebe pauses her barking to snort. Then she prances over to his feet and promptly squats.

Will jumps backwards. “Hey!”

I choke on a laugh. “I don’t think she likes you.”

All girls like me.”

He frowns, so disconcerted, I have to fight not to laugh again. “Questionable, but I suppose none of them have expressed their opinions by peeing on you.” A wicked grin crosses his features, and he opens his mouth. I hold up both hands. “Don’t. I truly don’t ever want to know.”

I go inside and deposit my phone and keys on the kitchen counter. Phoebe charges ahead, stopping on the landing to turn around and bark frantically at Will, who is right behind me.

So I don’t have—” I start, but the words die when I see what he’s doing. Will wipes away the glower directed at my dog and blinks innocently at me. “Right. Picking fights with animals the size of your shoe is very macho.”

And yet you keep insisting on calling that thing a dog. I had an Irish wolfhound growing up. This—” He gestures to Phoebe, still barking. “—would have been a snack to King. Oophf.”

He catches the box I sling at him. “I really appreciate your help, Will.” Hands still on the box, I lean forward, adding my not insubstantial weight. His biceps strain against the fabric of his shirt and there’s a smile in his eyes. “But if you keep making fun of my dog, you will be late for work.”

Oh?” His hair hangs forward, sleek with a slight wave.

Yes, because I will brain you with my baseball bat, dump you in the closet, and take your truck keys.”

Ah.” His lips curl. “Now you resort to threats.”

I don’t threaten. I promise.”

He leans close, our heads almost touching. A beam of sun dances in his eyes, adding a spark of mischief to their blue depths. His breath smells faintly of mint. “No one drives my truck but me.”

Then leave my dog alone.”

“’You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.’”

Recognizing the quote, I burst out laughing, backing up and covering my mouth.

He grins. “Get a move on, Kitten. You’re cutting into my prep time.”

I almost correct the name again, but decide it’s the satisfaction of irritating me that keeps him using it. No irritation, no stupid nickname.

The remaining boxes fit into the back of his truck. What would have taken me all night, we’re accomplishing with one trip. I don’t know if I should be happy it won’t drag out, or feel pathetic because my entire life fits in the bed of Will’s pickup truck.

Dosed with aspirin, I finish a last run through of the apartment, making sure I didn’t miss anything. I come down the stairs holding Phoebe’s leash, the tiny monster trailing after me like a lost lamb, and find Will waiting for me in the kitchen.

With Jeremy. My ex.


March Author Gallery Feature

Writer's Feature

Excerpt from Adam

By: James Bushill


Chapter 5

The cold northerly wind blew wavelines into the pollution cloud that blanketed the valley, permanently smothering the sleeping city below, leaving only the tips of the skyscrapers visible.
To the east of the hidden city, mansions speckled the hillsides. Outside their garden walls, gnarled trees and yellowing grass struggled for life.
Above the mansions, atop Mount Sentinel, the concrete hospital building glowed golden in the dawn light.


Inside, in a darkened corridor, a gaunt man with close-cropped hair and eyelids underscored by rings of shadow slept, his back toward one wall. It was Victor.


A robocleaner glided along, polishing the marble floor. It adjusted its course to avoid him, passing close to the other wall, a dark glass barrier that stretched from floor to ceiling. Behind the glass were hermetically sealed rooms, their interiors cloaked by darkness.


A number of items were laid out along the base of the glass wall: a red book, a wedding ring, a singed piece of paper, and three photographs in carved wooden frames. The photos showed Maria clad in hiking gear, arms aloft, snowcapped mountains filling the frame behind her; the shipping container lab at dawn; and, lastly, the two of them on a pebble beach, flanked by their wedding party.
Together, the keepsakes and the photographs formed a shrine. Each night, Victor would place them in careful order, before lighting a thick candle to burn through the night. Then he would lie in wait for sleep, his body desperate for rest, his mind drifting through the lonely hours.
Sometimes tiredness would triumph and he’d catch a few hours of restless sleep. In dreams, he’d run through a choking cloud, shouting her name. Then he’d wake in a cold sweat, convinced he was in the old house. Before opening his eyes, he’d reach out to touch Maria’s arm and confirm her presence.
Instead, he’d feel the cruel touch of the marble floor…


If you missed James Bushill’s interview, click here.

March Author Gallery Interview

Writer's Feature

Meet James Bushill.


James was born in England and raised on books. In 2007, he travelled to Australia to study film, intending to stay for a year. Once there, he fell in love, first with the country, then with his future wife, and ended up staying for good.
When he’s not writing (or procrastinating), he works as a ferry deckhand in Brisbane, Queensland, where he lives with his long-suffering wife and their two cats, Molly and Huckleberry.


Now onto the interview…


Tell us how your transitioned from inspiring filmmaker to author.

From when I was young, I loved both writing and cinema, and hoped to combine the two in a screenwriting career. However, although I enjoyed writing screenplays, my reason for writing was the opportunity to share my stories with other people, and I hated the thought of handing the copyright of a story that I’d worked on for months to a film producer, knowing that there was little chance that the film itself would ever get made. So I made the decision to turn the first version of Adam, a screenplay that I wrote during a UCLA course, into a novel. I enjoyed studying film and I learned a great deal about story structure and dialogue from my studies, but I’m glad I made the transition to writing fiction.

Has your travels influenced your writing? If yes, give an example of a scene that you can make a connection with to a place you’ve visited.

Like all writers, I’m a keen observer of people and places, and I try and absorb everything I can from the places I visit, never knowing when a conversation snippet I’ve heard or a place I’ve been will fit perfectly with a scene I’m trying to write.
The opening scene in Adam is set in a mining tunnel and that scene is partly inspired by the memory of a trip on my dad’s narrowboat in England, travelling through an old brick-lined canal tunnel, miles long, with the lights of an oncoming boat far off in the distance. With that scene, I’ve tried to recreate the atmosphere rather than the exact location, that eerie feeling of being far underground, only an electric light away from complete darkness.

You have your indie debut novel, Adam, out right now. Do you have anything else in the works that you can share with us?

I’m currently working on “The Dark Kingdom,” an epic fantasy trilogy about a blind girl with a unique power. I’m hoping to release the first book in the series, tentatively titled, “The Girl who Dreamed of Eagles,” in mid-2018.

Why base Adam off of Frankenstein? Is there a personal connection that you have with Shelley’s Frankenstein?

I’ve always been fascinated by Frankenstein, arguably the first ever science fiction novel. I think the idea behind it, of someone creating artificial life and the problems that ensue, is timeless, and one that’s particularly relevant now that technology could give us that power in the near future. That possibility has inspired a number of media reports in recent years concerning the potential for some kind of evil A.I. to emerge and destroy us all. In my novel, I wanted to show that, just like in Frankenstein, if disaster does occur, we won’t be blameless.

Adam is set in the future and soley science fiction based. Are there certain characteristics for the science fiction genre that you had trouble, or found challenging, to incorporate into your novel?

I grew up reading my dad’s sci-fi collection so I was raised on the classic science fiction stories from the 50s and 60s. With so many talented authors pushing the boundaries of the genre since then, my main challenge when writing Adam was to come up with an original story inspired by the classics without resorting to tired old tropes. Hopefully I succeeded.

Is there anything you wish you had done definitely throughout writing, editing, and publishing Adam?

I don’t have many regrets but I do wish that I’d been a bit more sceptical when it came to the writing advice I found in books and online. Whilst it was well intentioned and some of it has been useful, it ended up leading me down a number of blind alleys with working methods that didn’t fit my natural writing style.

How do you feel about self-publishing? Tell us a bit about your experience self-publishing Adam.

When I finished my first draft of Adam, I was still planning to send it off to traditional publishers, but the more I found out about self-publishing, the more I liked the sound of it, and in the end, I didn’t send a single query to traditional publishers. I won’t deny that it has been a lot of work, from finding an editor to typesetting the book myself, and it wouldn’t suit every author, but personally I’ve found self-publishing very rewarding.

Is there anything else you want to share?

Thanks for featuring me on your site and thank you to everyone who’s read Adam so far.


Thank you James for the interview!


Check back tomorrow for an excerpt of Bushill’s novel Adam!

Interested in Adam, click here for my review!

February’s Author Gallery: Summary of The Royal Nanny

Writer's Feature, Writing

Summary of THE ROYAL NANNY by Karen Harper

In April of 1897, a nervous, young nanny arrives at the royal estate of Sandringham in England.  Thus begins the true story of the lower class Cockney girl who reared two kings.  The eras are Edwardian and Victorian, the English time period of Downton Abbey.  The bold woman is Charlotte Bill, whom the children dub “Lala.”

The six children include the unhappy boy who will grow up to be King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor;  “Bertie” of The King’s Speech, who became King George VI and father of the present queen.  Also three other children, the youngest who was autistic and epileptic, whom the family hid and Lala protected and reared almost as her own.

Lala faces trials and triumphs as she rears these children and copes with difficult royal personalities and the temptations of her own heart when she falls in love with the vast estate’s gamekeeper, whom she misses dearly when she travels with the family to Scotland, the Isle of Wight and stays in Buckingham Palace.

Through Lala’s eyes, the reader glimpses the rich and the royals from Britain’s old wealth to the glittering excesses of Tsarist Russia; from country cottage to royal yachts, and from nursery to ballroom.  Charlotte Bill witnesses history and takes the reader with her.  THE ROYAL NANNY is a seamless blend of fact and fiction–an intensely intimate, yet epic tale spanning decades, continents, and the divides that only love can cross.



“The Royal Nanny is a gem…”—Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl.
“Fans of Downton Abbey will devour this vivid tale…”—Renee Rosen, author of White Collar Girl

In case you missed her interview, click her to meet Karen Harper!

February’s Author Gallery: Interview with Karen Harper

Author Interview, Writer's Feature

Good morning everyone!

For those of you who don’t know, each month I will post a two part feature. The first part will be an interview with the month’s author and include a short bio. The second part of the feature is a sample of the writer’s work. Sounds awesome right?

Everyone give a big welcome to February’s author. *claps*



Meet Karen Harper.

Karen Harper is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women.  A former high school and university English instructor (Ohio State), she is a lifelong Ohioan who loves to travel.  Her suspense novels often include an unusual culture such as the Amish or Appalachian people.  Her historicals have focused on the Tudor royal family and the Plantagenets until her recent switch to Edwardian England.  (Thinks the Downton Abbey eras.)  THE ROYAL NANNY was released in June 2016.  Her historicals have been bestsellers in England and Russia.  Karen won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for her suspense novel DARK ANGEL.  Her novel SHATTERED SECRETS was judged one of the Best Books of 2014 by Suspense Magazine.  Please visit her at or


Now onto the interview…

Does writing a historical novel take longer than writing a contemporary novel?

It depends on whether or not I have the research done for the historical novel.  If so, I can write either genre in 6 – 8 months, although each story is different.  However, I must say that I also do research for the setting and careers of my hero/heroine and other characters in the contemporary suspense also.  I was a teacher for 15 years and love to teach my readers something in addition to a great story.


On average how long do you spend researching for a novel?

Each book is different.  For my Tudor-era historicals, because that was my area of interest for years, it would take me less time than researching my new settings, which are Victorian and Edwardian.  (Think Downton Abbey.)  I’ve spent 3 years off and on reading background for my next historical, THE IT GIRLS, about two sisters, one a fashion designer and one a writer.

For the contemporaries, it depends on whether I know the background (I’m very familiar with Ohio Amish country) or not.  I do tend to pick places I know.  I’m currently write the SOUTH SHORES TRILOGY, set in South Florida, where we wintered for 30 years and the Caribbean where we often visited.


What advice do you have for anyone interesting in writing historical fiction?

You have to really love the era you pick to make it come alive.  Don’t just “paint in” places and people; you have to know them.  Travel to the settings if you can, and make that setting a character in itself.  And, of course, read good historicals to see how writers handle the past.  People are people but the different cultures and times should be honestly represented.  And don’t play havoc with well known figures.  This is an obvious example, but don’t make George Washington a liar.  He started out insecure as a leader so that’s fair game, but don’t go against the core value of your real characters if you use them.


What made you decide to take the first step and publish a book?

I was a high school English teacher for 15 years and an English instructor at Ohio State for 2 years, so I knew literature and writing.  But it was a big step to find the courage to try to get published, get an agent and find a publishing house.  The trigger for me was visiting England, getting a story idea and then going full steam ahead.


Out of the novels you have published, do you have a favorite?

I think that question is like, “Which of your children do you love more?”  I could say the book I’m currently working on or the one which has a heroine I especially related to, like THE ROYAL NANNY, since I was a teacher for years and love young children—and British Royals.  Favorites also tend to be ones which did really well, such as the first time I made the New York Times list or the one which won the Mary Higgins Clark Award.  But it is hard to choose favorites.


Do you prefer writing series, with multiple characters getting their own story, or s stand alone?

Once again, that’s a tough question.  I loved writing the nine books in THE QUEEN ELIZABETH I MYSTERY SERIES, with continuing characters.  I do find writing trilogies fun:  I think of them as mini-series, like on TV.  I think my current trilogy THE SOUTH SHORES romantic suspense novels, will turn into a series because I love the cast of characters and have lots of other ideas for them.


What characteristic do you find critical for your female heroines to have?

They have to basically be good people, average women who rise above the dangerous or desperate things that happen.  I would not do well writing a central character who is an “unreliable narrator” as is popular today—one you can’t trust.  My current heroine has narcolepsy, so she has to battle that, but I don’t think I’d ever write a drug addict or killer heroine.  Just not for me.


Final words from Karen:

I post on my facebook page 3 times a week, not only about writing but observations, contests, personal things, always with a photo.   I also try to keep my author website current at .  I also do a twice-a-year e-newsletter which people can sign up for on the website.  I love to hear from readers.


Thank you Karen for the interview!

Stay tuned tomorrow for an excerpt of The Royal Nanny.