Val Penny’s “Hunter’s Revenge”

Today, I’m hosting my friend and fellow-Crooked Cat author, Val Penny, on the blog.

Hunter's Revenge Cover

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is revenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense? Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city. The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taut crime thriller.

Here’s a taster:

Much of the action in Hunter’s Revenge revolves around the car showroom and garage Thomson’s Top Cars. Here we meet Jamie and Frankie who are running the business while Jamie’s father, Ian, is in jail.

“I’m glad we’re doing this together,” Jamie said to his cousin. “I know having to leave us in charge is stressing Pop out!”

“Aye, probably more stress than his time in prison could ever have done. But at least you’ve passed your driving test now.”

Frankie could have been reading his uncle’s mind. Ian Thomson had just under two months to go before he was eligible for parole, and in the meantime could only hope that Jamie and Frankie didn’t do anything too stupid to ruin his business. At least the wee receptionist, Jenny Kozlowski, seemed to have a bit of common sense.

“I’ll be a bit late in today, Frankie, can you hold the fort?”

“Aye. What you up to, then?”

“Nothing much. It’s just that it’s Jenny’s birthday, and I’m going to pick up cakes for all of us for coffee break.”

“If it’s her birthday, she should buy the cakes. That’s what the rest of us all do,” Frankie protested. “You fancy her, don’t you?”

“Don’t be stupid!”

“Aye you do. Well, I won’t tell the guys in the workshop, if I can get a chocky doughnut.”

“Piss off, Frankie.”

“Am I getting a chocky doughnut, then?”

“Aye,” Jamie grinned.


Jamie was disappointed to see Frankie at the reception desk when he walked in.

“Where’s Jenny, cuz?” he called over to Frankie.

“Dunno. Not even a phone call. And she’s well late now.”

“Well, she must be somewhere, her coat’s here. She looks good in red.”

“Well she’s not anywhere, as far as I can see.”

“She’s usually early. Wonder what’s up.” Jamie rubbed his hands together. It might be spring according to the time of year, but with its wide glass front and the open garage at the back, the showroom was cold.

“She maybe went to get cakes,” Frankie suggested hopefully.

“Without her coat? I doubt it!” Jamie retorted.

“Well, she was probably out on the lash last night and slept in.”

“Could be, but I still can’t see her leaving last night without her coat.” Jamie shrugged and turned away, trying to hide his disappointment. “It’s fucking freezing in here. I’ll make us a coffee first to warm us up, then I’ll try phoning her.”

“Phone her first, Jamie. You know you want to.”

When Jamie wandered back to reception from the office he plonked a mug of coffee in front of Frankie.

“Her mam says she never went home last night. Do you know if she was going out with pals or the like?”

“I don’t know. You gave that guy a test drive in the Bentley and I went home. A fellow came in just as I was leaving, but Jenny said she would see to him because she would stay on and lock up with you.” Frankie smiled. “I thought, aye aye, nudge nudge, say no more. So off I went. I picked up the twins from their child minder on the way home. You know?”

Jamie frowned. “She wasn’t here when I got back, and the showroom wasn’t locked up. I was pretty pissed off about that. But I couldn’t see nothing missing, so when the guy said he wanted to think about the Bentley, I just locked up and came home.”

“Nothing was missing except Jenny, you mean.”

“I didn’t know that. I thought you’d both just buggered off.”

“Like we’d ever do that. Your pop would skin us alive when he got hold of us. Do you think I’ve got a death wish?”

“Funny accent the man had,” Jamie said. “European or something.”

“Jamie?” The head mechanic, Gary, called across the showroom. “Where’s that old blue Volvo that was waiting to go through its service?”

“What old Volvo? I don’t know. Don’t you keep a log of all the cars you work on?” Jamie asked angrily.

“Aye, but we didn’t get to this one yesterday. It was just waiting outside for us to get started this morning. The customer asked us to give it a service, then put it up for sale. Said he had a buyer for it who’d pay eight grand, but he might need a test drive first. I told him he’d need a brain test if he was paying that much for that car. But it seems like he was right; it must have been sold. ”

“So what happened to the paperwork?” Jamie shouted. “We’ve not sold any fucking old Volvo. Where is the damn thing?”

“No idea.”

“So what do I do now? Jenny’s not in, and a fucking car has gone missing. This is a truly rubbish start to the day. Pop is going to bloody skin me.”

Frankie shrugged, “Phone Jenny’s mam back? Maybe the man she spoke to took the Volvo.”

“I suppose I should. I don’t fancy it though. She shouts. I don’t think she likes me. Then what do I tell Pop about the car?”

“I think you’ll need a chocky doughnut before you do that. I know I will!”

“I’ll need more than a fucking chocky doughnut, Frankie, if we’ve lost one of his customer’s cars.”

author pic 2

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books.

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One Cornish Summer! (or “What we did on our Holidays”)

A Blog post celebrating the paperback launch of Liz Fenwick’s latest book, One Cornish Summer. (her best to date!)

Cornwall is firmly linked in my childhood memories as THE place we went to on holiday. My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother bought a tiny fisherman’s cottage in St. Ives for £200 in 1948 after my Grandfather had died.

Every summer we would drive down from south Manchester, long, long before motorways existed. We would start at 5 in the morning and stop for a picnic breakfast on the A36 outside Gloucester, then Bath and the south-west, arriving as dusk fell. At that age, the journey was part of the holiday, although we always stopped at the same places through the day. I’ll gloss over the time my parents left me in my portable high chair, hanging from a farm gate. (they realized I wasn’t in the car after about 100 yards).

The A30 going into Cornwall was no better then than now! The road was slower, but the traffic was a lot lighter. There were some famous bottlenecks along the way; some of them are still there, re-designated as “road improvements”.

Holidays in St Ives were one long beach day after another. Porthminster, Porthmeor, Westcott’s Quay, the Harbour.

John - Cornwall - 1955
On the beach near The Island, St. Ives


A family of four can’t fit in a tiny cottage, so half the family would decamp to stay with my uncle and aunt at their farm in Leedstown. A real old-style small Cornish mixed farm where my Aunt and uncle ran a herd of Channel Island cows, kept pigs and raised chickens. I still remember the year my uncle got a tractor! It was Dobbin the horse before that.

Just after the War, there were still fields being cut by scythe by a gang of miners when they came off shift. The farm had no electricity then, so taking a candle to bed was a real adventure.


My Uncle, Ralph Harvey James, came from a long line of Cornishmen, and his grandfather was the last Purser of the Botallack mine on Cape Cornwall.

A modern shot of the front of Horsedowns Farm

Of course, when you are aged six, summers lasted forever, and the sun always shone. I have no memory at all of it raining! It seems we only remember the good times at that age.



A couple of years ago, we started holidaying in Cornwall again. While the family members are long gone, the magic still remains.

Perhaps with all that history, it was inevitable I would fall into writing historical romance. There is a book coming eventually featuring the Harvey James family!

John’s first historical novel, Heart of Stone, was published in October 2017 by Crooked Cat Press. Set in Ireland, and about more of John’s ancestors, it continues to garner 5* reviews.

~ About Liz Fenwick ~

img_0087Liz Fenwick, award-winning author, ex-pat expert, wife, mother of three, and dreamer turned doer, was born in Massachusetts, and at the age of twenty-six moved to London where she fell in love with an Englishman. After nine international moves, she now spends her time in Cornwall with her husband and her mad cat, writing stories inspired by the beautiful Duchy.

Find out more at, follow her on Twitter @liz_fenwick or visit her Facebook page

~ Where to find One Cornish Summer ~

Goodreads            Amazon UK          Amazon US

And, from today, in bookshops everywhere!

On NOT Winning the Joan Hessayon Award.

First and foremost, this is SO much NOT A MOAN! The delightful Hannah Begbie duly won for “Mother” and spoke very movingly on accepting the award. I’ve already pre-ordered “Mother” and will be reading it as soon as it comes out in August.


But, for me – we were ALL winners on the night. I would say to all those on the New Writers Scheme, YOUR turn will come. You will get published sooner or later, and when you do, you too will be up for the Joan Hessayon Award.


This is, of course, both this year’s winner, Hannah, and last years winner, Kate Field. Those who were there will long remember their speeches. Both moving and affecting; they touched a chord in all of us.

Speaking personally, being in Oxford for the Award Ceremony – as well as the Summer Party, crowned a super year for me. It “set the seal” on the year, and to get the public recognition from my peers (peeresses?) in the RNA. A key life moment, I think, at least as far as my career as an author goes.

Writing a book are such a personal thing, and writing one and getting it out to press, be it conventionally or independently published, is such a strain, with disaster and rejection waiting at every turn, that finally, to be able to deliver your first “baby” to a high level of approval, and to acknowledge the unbelievable support and help given by the RNA members, friends and the New Writers Scheme readers (and not forgetting Immi)P1110988

There were four of us who are published by Crooked Cat at the party, and three of us up for the Joan Hessayon. Me, Sarah Stevenson, Awen Thornber and Lynn Forth.

Oxford was memorable in so many ways. While not so accessible for some, to have it in the Ashmolean Museum atrium was yet another highlight. The museum caterers seemed to do us proud with canapes and glasses of bubbly, and it was a really good “collegiate” feeling to buddy-up with all the other contenders for the award. Again, the word “contenders” seems to imply we were competing against one another. I certainly didn’t feel like that. We really were ALL winners on the night.

We also had the comforting presence of Marte Lundby Rekaa and her expertly-wielded camera. Its great to get professional quality pictures that we can use without restrictions. As I’ve always said  – I take snaps, but Marte takes pictures!

Some members of the New Writers Scheme may be unaware of the Hessayon name. The late Joan Hessayon was a long-time member of the RNA and a great supporter of the New Writers Scheme. The award is given in her memory, and is sponsored by her husband, Dr David Hessayon. If you have ever been into a Garden Centre, you will have seen his books on display. For many years they have formed an outstanding series of “Expert Guides” and have achieved world-wide sales figures that most of us can only dream of.  Just Google Amazon and Hessayon, and you will get a host of results.

Those nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award receive a cheque. I have already cashed mine. That’s the Winter Party and almost all my train fare taken care of! RNA parties are ALWAYS worth going to and I can’t think of a better use for the money.

Next up? Conference!

Another author Interview – Jay Raven

Jay Raven 1

Today on the blog, another author interview – this time from Jay Raven.


Jay writes Gothic Horror. His latest book, Crimson Siege, is out on May 22nd. (that’s Tuesday next!)

It’s the first in the “Blood Riders” series and is published by Junction Publishing.

1              What makes a good story?

Tension and high stakes, plus a plot that twists and turns, constantly surprising the reader. To maintain suspense, I always aim to start every scene with an intriguing line and end on a hook.

2              How have YOU become a better writer?

I’ve learnt to make my chapters and scenes shorter to fit the needs of the Kindle age. These days people want to read in bite-sized chunks – at bedtime, on their daily commute or during a snatched coffee break.

3              What inspires you?

In real life, people who are gutsy and positive. Optimism and enthusiasm are infectious. In fiction, protagonists who seek and ultimately achieve redemption. I want someone to root for, who has to battle their inner demons as well as their enemies.

4              What does your family think of your writing?

My wife Liz has always been hugely supportive but she isn’t really a fiction fan. (She prefers a good biography). One great thing – if she hates something I’ve written, I know for sure it will sell.

5              What was the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books?

I was a short story writer for many years and got it into my head that I couldn’t write anything longer than 4,000 words. Novels seemed an impossible dream, but I’m slowly learning to enjoy the loneliness of the long-distance scribbler.

6              If you could have written any book, what would it have been and why?

Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse. It is witty, subversive, has marvellously comic characters and is packed with sly social and political comment. It’s the book that made me want to be a writer.

7              How much research do you do?

Next to none, I have to confess. I’ll check that a certain mode of transport, type of weapon or major event is correct for the period I’m writing about but I take a very Disney-esque approach to history. Everything I write about takes place is a generic “ye olde times”.

8              How do you relax?

Wine, watching movies (I used to be a film critic), eating out (I also used to be a restaurant critic) and watching snooker (I’m merely an armchair critic on that!).  I can’t relax by reading – it feels like still being at work.

9              Do you have any writing quirks? (and if so what?)

I have two habits – I always stop a writing session in mid sentence. It makes it easier to pick up the thread next day. And I always write with earphones on, listening to loudish music. The music plays a twin role, it creates a bubble around me that blocks out any disruptions or distractions, plus helps create an appropriate mood.

10           Why write in your genre?

It’s one area of storytelling where the writer has full rein to investigate the darker, hidden and often dangerous side of human nature.  I also love the freedom it offers. There are no rules. The only barriers are the limit of your imagination and daring.

11           How is your writing different now from when you started?

It might sound odd but my writing has become more visual over the years. I don’t ignore the other senses, but focus more on what characters see and hear. I like to describe their expressions and how their mood or reactions affect the way their eyes flash, darken or squint. It creates the same effect as a close-up shot in a movie.

12           What do people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that they don’t?

Many people wrongly think that Gothic horror is old hat and has nothing original to say. They couldn’t be more wrong. I’m excited about how many new angles and elements I’m finding. The genre is constantly evolving and it’s thrilling to put your own stamp on it.

13           Your 3 favourite authors?

Terry Pratchett – the master of mirth and human observation.

Ray Bradbury – his sci-fi writing is so lyrical it weaves an irresistible spell, magical but also disturbing.

Michael Crichton – the creator of Jurassic Park and Westworld – one of the tightest, most economic storytellers in the business.

14           In what ways do you ’service’ or ‘support’ your books?

I blog and am shortly launching a newsletter. I’ve just revamped my website at

15           If you had to pitch your book in one line, what would it be?

Hammer Horror meets High Noon in the lawless badlands of 19th century Transylvania.

16           What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

Many writers examine the monsters lurking within ordinary people – I do the exact opposite. I look for the humanity inside my monsters.

17           Tell us something about your road to being published.

I was a journalist for 20 years before becoming a full-time fiction writer. It was an excellent training in writing tightly and quickly, and being able to structure a story to immediately grab a reader’s attention. I started by producing comedy twist-ender short stories for popular weekly magazines. I had an amazing stroke of luck in my first week when Chat bought two of my stories for their Summer Special.

18           Plotter or Pantser?

Plotter, definitely a plotter. My books feature a lot of characters, conflict points and subplots and it’s the only way to keep it all straight. Before I begin I’ll spend a fortnight working out every twist and turn of the narrative in great detail – every chapter and scene, every hook and dramatic opening. I even insert major dialogue exchanges. By the end I’ll have produced a 30-page “treatment” that is a mini version of the novel.

19           Your main character. What makes him or her so special?

Anton Yoska, the small town marshal caught up in the battle between vampires and  bounty hunters, has a mysterious past that makes people fear and distrust him. He has a strong social conscience and a sense of honour that often works against his own best interests.

20           What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

Are the film rights still available, and will you take a cheque?

Jan, many thanks. Fascinating, and some GOOD answers.

Here’s wishing you every success.


Blood Riders is still on pre-order offer at 99p at the time of writing – so be quick!