Today is the review for the Festival of Cats which is anthology full of the works by Diana Alexander, Amaris Chase, Daphne Denley, J. J. Drover, Harriet Hitchen, Rebecca McDowall, Jane Phillips, Angela Reddaway, Margaret Royall, Stuart Samuel and Penny Wright.
Willow was thrilled to be invited to read this book, after all with her feline familiar, Vincent and resident ghostly Black Cat, how could she resist?
Thank you Crumps Barn for the advanced copy to read and offer our unbiased opinion.
Book Review: The Festival of Cats
Title: The Festival of Cats
Author: Diana Alexander, Amaris Chase, Daphne Denley, J. J. Drover, Harriet Hitchen, Rebecca McDowall, Jane Phillips, Angela Reddaway, Margaret Royall, Stuart Samuel and Penny Wright
Publisher: Crumps Barn
Release date: 28th February 2023
Genre: Poetry, memoir, fiction anthology
Heroes and danger, comfort and claws
A black cat dreams of finding a new family, and a vampire is woken by a brush with ancient folklore. Then a cat tests just how far his nine lives run, before a stray moves in, and a kitten discovers a thirst for adventure …
Full of playfulness and wildness, this is a vibrant collection from eleven UK authors about the reality of being owned by a cat
Thoughts From the Emporium
Willow began reading this curled up with Vincent beside her, listening to him purr and fell in love immediately with the tale of Moonlight, a black cat longing for adoption. She knows they are less likely to be adopted thanks to their witchy reputation. It was Vampire Cat which drew Amber’s attention. Who knew these felines could raise the dead in one leap? And living in Whitby with its own vampiric folklore, it made her more wary of Black Cat lurking in the shadows.
While there are many cats immortalised in words, black cats win the day which made those in the Emporium smile (just don’t tell Vincent who believes his ginger mane and coat make him superior to threadbare Black Cat).
This wide ranging collection of short fiction, memories and poetry maybe pocketsize but it has heart, emotion and holds the essence of cat ownership making it a joy to read and an ideal gift for cat lovers.
With its tale of witches, vampires and haunted chessboards it’s a must for the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf. And with the inclusion of a matchmaking feline, it also earns a spot in Rosa’s box.
This is a unique collaboration of eleven UK authors featuring original work from: Diana Alexander, Amaris Chase, Daphne Denley, J. J. Drover, Harriet Hitchen, Rebecca McDowall, Jane Phillips, Angela Reddaway, Margaret Royall, Stuart Samuel and Penny Wright. All are cat lovers to the core.
Now the chaos of Yule and the New Year is over, we are delighted to share our first Monday Merry Meet of 2023. Today Jane Lovering, author of 25 books has popped in for a chat about her books, writing and of course magic. We all fell in love with her The Forgotten House on the Moor, a romance with a ghost hunting twist last year and can’t wait to read her new release, There’s No Place Like Home.
Grab yourself a cuppa and join us to discover more about this author.
Monday Merry Meet: Jane Lovering
Willow: Welcome Jane, we’re so excited to have you here. I hope you’re not allergic to cats. Vincent, our lumbering Maine Coon, has taken to sleeping on the sofa in the staffroom. Amber will move him out of the way so you can sit down.
Jane: I love Whitby! It’s not that far from where I live, so I can call it research, wandering down the little old streets and popping into the wonderful crooked little shops in the Old Town. Oh, and I’m not at all allergic to cats – in fact I’ve had them all my life. I don’t have one now because Current Dog is a Patterdale Terrier and the only response to hearing that someone owns a Patterdale is ‘oh dear, I am sorry.’ She’s a fiend. Vincent can sit on my lap if he likes.
Willow: Be prepared to be squashed by him then. He loves attention. What would you like to drink? We have Yorkshire tea, herbal tea, coffee or something stronger. Since Christmas we have some homemade sloe gin left or wine.
Jane: I can’t drink alcohol at all, so I’ll have a big mug of Yorkshire Tea, please. Very strong, no sugar, hardly any milk. I have the tea palate of a jobbing builder. Oh, and if you’ve got any biscuits…
Amber: One mug of builder’s tea coming up and we always have biscuits.
Rosa: I’ve just finished your new book, There’sNo Place like Home. It is set on the Yorkshire moors and, like your other books, has a wonderful sense of place. Do you spend a lot of time in potential locations to capture their atmosphere? Where is your favourite spot?
Jane: Most of my books are set around where I live, or within a few minutes’ walk/drive. I spend a LOT of time walking and running locally (see under ‘Patterdale terrier owner’) and it all serves to help me absorb atmosphere and scenery. Although when I’m running, I’m mostly sweating and swearing, to be honest. I don’t really have a favourite place, I love all the moors and fields and becks and dales and woods around me. It depends on my mood. Sometimes the exposed bleakness of the moors is best, and sometimes I just want some rustling woodland with leaves, and squirrels to chase. Er, for the dog, not me.
Willow: Your new protagonist, Izzy, joins a reality show to track down big cats wild in the British countryside. What was your inspiration for this idea?
Jane: A friend is fascinated by Bigfoot and watches a lot of those ‘Hunting Bigfoot’ programmes. He suggested that I wrote about a British Bigfoot hunt, but I’m just a wee bit more sceptical than he is. However, I know people who’ve seen what they have sworn are big cats out in the countryside, and I thought that finding one of these might make a good story. Then I needed to work out the how and the why – and came up with a reality TV show. They always seem to feature people doing ridiculous things that nobody would ever want to do in the normal course of events, and people will seemingly do anything for money…
Rosa: Among other things, this novel tackles homelessness. Was it something you planned to cover to raise awareness of the situation people find themselves in, or did it develop while writing about Izzy?
Jane: My characters tend to come to me fully formed, so I already knew that Izzy was homeless. The only thing I had to work out was how it came about, and come up with a way that was plausible – a way which would make many readers think ‘that could have been me’.
Amber: You’ve written 25 books. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?
Jane: D’you know, I don’t think I would? I’ve been very very lucky, and I’ve met such wonderful people and made such good friends along the way, that I don’t think I’d have anything any different – other than maybe have it happen twenty years earlier!
Willow: We always love hearing about author’s day. Do you have a strict your writing routine?
Jane: Well, it’s not ‘strict’ because I don’t believe in beating myself up over it, but I tend to wake up, make a big mug of tea and then go back to bed with the dog and my laptop. I try to write 1000 words a day, and then I’m up and out for a run with the dog and then off to work (I don’t start work until 3pm before you think I’m one of these ‘early risers’ whom I swear are a myth).
Amber: I dabble in writing. Do you have any advice for novice writers?
Jane: Read read read. Not just in the genre you want to write, but anything and everything. Biographies, ‘How To’ books, novels, poetry – every word you read informs the writer you become. Oh, and don’t ask for feedback on your writing from family, or anyone who might die at your hand if they criticise you. Find a beta reader or writing partner who is not emotionally invested in you – they are the only people who will be honest. Joining a writers’ group can be helpful, but it depends on the group – avoid any with loud, dominant characters who are only there to read their work and be told how wonderful they are.
Willow: Great advice and an ideal excuse to visit bookshops guilt free. Whitby has a delightful one. The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?
Jane: I live alone in a tiny little cottage (well, I’ve got the dog…) so I’m fine for peace and tranquillity, I sleep very well (because it’s so quiet), and I believe in making my own luck and security. I think it would have to be focus and concentration because I can be – how shall we put it politely? – a wee bit scatty and disorganised.
Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?
Jane: I’m not sure. I think my life is pretty perfect at the moment, actually! Possibly it would remind me of Christmases, spent with all my children around me, eating food, playing games and laughing. If it could blank out the hours of cooking, the arguing, the mess and the washing up, that would be nice too.
Amber: Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have had had any spooky experiences – did it influence your writing The Forgotten House on the Moor and other books?
Jane: A few minor happenings that I couldn’t explain – this is a very old cottage and I’ve had the usual amount of strange window and door openings, knockings and clonks. Over the years, I’ve seen things which might have been supernatural, and I have a belief that we don’t understand everything about the world beyond us. That sense of mystery, of enquiry and the ‘maybe’ runs through a lot of my books.
Willow: Your cottage sounds delightful. Unlike your character, Holly Grey in Hubble Bubble, we don’t dabble with magic, it’s in our blood. Bearing that in mind, if we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours what would it be and what would you do with it?
Jane: I would like to be able to see the world through the eyes of animals. To experience what they do and understand how they see us. I think it might help me to understand why they seem to be such irrational creatures – I’d love to sit up trees with squirrels and stomp along with badgers and skitter about with the ponies!
Willow: I think I’d have to join you with that superpower, experiencing Whitby through the eyes of Vincent or some of the wild birds would be eye opening. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?
Jane: You’ve probably got them all! But I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Mythology of the British Isles’ by Geoffrey Ashe, about the history of folklore in Britain and the origin of myths, which is fascinating.
Willow: That’s one we don’t have but it sounds like it’s a need.
Rosa: I have a Box of Romance books I share with friends and customers. What would you add to it?
Jane: That’s too hard! That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child! I have so many friends who write amazing romances, that I couldn’t possibly select just a few, it wouldn’t be fair.
Willow: It can be a cruel question. And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?
Jane: My next book is with my editor and awaiting edits, but I’m actually currently writing a book set on Orkney, about a witch’s cottage, the person who inherits it and what happens when she does. It might be right up your street!
Willow: It truly does and we can’t wait to read it. I hope the writing goes well and you’ll have to pop back and tell us all about it.
Isabel, Izzy to her friends, has got nothing left to lose when she makes the bravest decision of her life.
A month living under canvas on the Yorkshire Moors with five strangers wouldn’t normally be her idea of a good time, even if there is prize money to be won at the end of it, but she’s all out of options.
Joining her in this wild goose chase, being filmed for a TV show, are farmer Seb, whose marriage is creaking but who is desperate not to lose his family. Sheltered Ruth who needs an opportunity to show she can make her own decisions. Glamorous socialite Kanga, who has been living a lie. American Junior who has his own secret that has led him there. And last but not least, mysterious and brooding Mac, who Izzy can’t help but be drawn to.
As the fickleness of nature tests them all to their limits, this disparate group come together to face the challenge. But when Izzy finally tells them the truth that has brought her out on the Moors, will that be the end of their adventure, or the beginning of her future? Because what Izzy really needs is a place to call home, and someone to share it with could be even better…
Jane Lovering is the author of 25 novels and novellas, which she calls ‘dark psychological romance, with jokes’. She lives in North Yorkshire, where many of her books are set, in a creaky old cottage with an obsessive Patterdale Terrier and a lot of cobwebs. She has won four Romantic Novel of the Year awards, likes biscuits and running (cause and effect) and Tony Robinson. Jane is actually a very nice person, despite her tendency to snarl ‘what do you want?’ out of open windows whilst holding back a growling dog with one hand. Honestly.