Posts in Author blogs

The Library of Lost and Found is the Great North West Read

Posted Thursday 24 October 2019 by Sue Lawson in Author blogs, Events, Opinion

The Great North West Read encourages everyone to read and discuss the same book during the month of November. This year, we are delighted to have the charming, page-turning and utterly brilliant The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick, to discuss.

Phaedra Patrick, author of The Library and Lost and Found

Taking inspiration from Phaedra’s own love of libraries, the story tells of volunteer librarian Martha Storm, who finds a mysterious book of fairy tales. Within its pages lies a surprising dedication that stirs up family secrets and sparks her own emotional journey of discovery.

In November, Phaedra will be visiting libraries across the North West to read from her book, sign copies, answer questions and share stories about her journey to becoming a best-selling author. Take a look at Phaedra's GNWR tour dates.

Phaedra said: “As a child, I used to visit my local library in Oldham and dream that one day my own book would sit on the shelves. The Library of Lost and Found celebrates the power of stories and I’m delighted it’s been selected as the 2019 Great North West Read.” Check the events pages for times and dates. 

The Great North West Read 2019 is also one massive, interactive book club. Help us become the North West’s largest community read - grab a copy of The Library of Lost and Found and get together to talk about the book with other readers through online and in-person book discussions.

You can get involved on social media using the hashtag #GNWR, on the Time to Read Facebook page or join two live online book club chats running on Twitter in November. Online book chats are the perfect way to keep reading, talk about what you're reading, and make friends with other readers. And you don't even have to leave your house to join in.

Twenty two library services throughout the North West, from Cumbria to Chester, including all of Greater Manchester and Merseyside are involved.

GNWR logo

The Library of Lost and Found is published by HQ/HarperCollins and will be available to borrow from all public libraries in the North West. It's also available to buy as a book, audiobook and ebook from independent bookstores, Waterstones, Amazon, Kobo, Apple, WHSmith. Get your copy and join the biggest book club in the North West! Visit Phaedra's website to discover more of her novels, read her latest news and find writing tips.

Hidden depths: Peter Street gets grave

Posted Monday 11 February 2019 by Preeta Press in Author blogs

Peter Street

Northwest publishing house Preeta Press have been in touch about an author and book which have got them excited ...

"Peter had no confidence in reading and writing until at the age of 32, after a serious accident when he badly injured his back, met an English Literature teacher from a local high school who was in the next bed. Both were in hospital for an extended period and during the boring long hours of recovery, Peter decided he wanted to learn how to read and write and the teacher agreed to help him. They have remained lifelong friends.

Following this, Peter discovered he an aptitude for writing poetry and became well known on the national poetry scene and was given a grant to write poetry from the the Royal Literary Fund. He has had several successful published poetry collections.

At the age of 64, Peter was diagnosed with autism and whilst this was a relief it was the impetus he needed to write his autobiography.

Hidden DepthsHidden Depths is the first volume of his autobiography to be published. He chronicles how working as a gravedigger, for the first time in his life, he found social acceptance and friendships.

One of his first jobs was digging in sand and Peter imagined the beaches at Blackpool. Unfortunately, the reality was much more frightening as the sand came into the grave and began to drag him down. Luckily a fellow grave digger noticed the situation and eventually it took two of them to get him out, much to his relief. The next day there was a bucket and spade waiting for him in the workman cabin.

"One of his first jobs was digging in sand and Peter imagined the beaches at Blackpool. Unfortunately, the reality was much more frightening as the sand came into the grave and began to drag him down."

There was also the poignant side of the work when he was given the horrendous job of burying a stillborn baby, made more difficult as he knew the mother personally.

Set in the middle 1960s, the book also tells the love story between Peter and Sandra, who against the wishes of both sets of parents, fought to be together."


"She’'d have been burned as a witch in those days": Sharon Bolton visits Ramsbottom Library

Posted Monday 3 December 2018 by Ian Anstice in Author blogs, Events, Opinion

Sharon Bolton at RamsbottomIt was great to see a big author like Sharon Bolton come to a library like Ramsbottom for several reasons.  For one, the library is not huge unlike many that would normally see Sharon. Another is that the library is absolutely gorgeous, in a picturesque Lancashire town very reminiscent of the area described in her book “The Craftsman”. And, finally, of course, this was the culmination of the Great North West Read, a regional promotion that was instrumental in having such an author in the region in the first place.

But what was she like?

Well, the intelligence shines off her for a start. This is someone who would be fascinating no matter what she was talking about and this talk, which she must have delivered several times at least before, was no exception.

It started off spooky. Her parents lived in a church. They had quiet neighbours, people joked. But it got the young Sharon thinking that the best place to bury someone you have murdered would be in a graveyard. After all, there’s so many there already, another one may not be noticed.

Sacrifice BoltonHer first book to sell was “Sacrifice” and she was thrilled to get it not just in bookshops in this country but also internationally. It’s a thriller with a slightly supernatural twist. But not too supernatural, for she is a Gothic writer and thing with those is that, however it may appear, there’s no magic involved. Sharon sees magic as, vaguely, like cheating. It’s just human wickedness. But that should be scary enough.

“From the very first page I want my readers to be scared. If they're reading in bed, I want them to want check underneath them." she days.  You don't need gratuitous violence or ghosts to scare people, just hints and a good story will do it.

She then goes through her other books. Her next one was “Blood Harvest” which was rewritten from her very first big story idea which she never did get published, just with all the supernatural stuff taken out. There was a short trailer about the book which did, indeed, look very spooky.

Sharon used to live near where the Jack the Ripper murders took place so, Sharon being Sharon, this got her thinking. So she wrote a book partly inspired by the grisly Victorian events and produced “Now You See Me”. She did a ton of research for the book, including finding out that the lore around Jack is largely made up by detectives who worked on the case wanting to sell books. But one thing is clear: Jack was either very clever or very lucky, because he killed people in busy areas where it would have been easy for someone to have spotted him.

Bolton Now You See MeThe book started a series featuring a young female police constable – also a feature of The Craftsman – called Lacy Flint, trying to hunt down a killer while keeping her own dark past a secret. . Sharon thinks it's one of her best and may bring her back.

The author was born in Lancashire and lived there for her first eighteen years, being raised amongst all the local traditions of ghosts and the Pendle Witches. But the latter were real people.  Twelve men and women were executed for "murder by witchcraft", Mainly women. Sharon, being rational, discounts the magic aspect but also the criminal bit, saying at the very worst they were low level confidence tricksters.

What makes society turn on weakest, she asks. “"We don't hang people for witchcraft any more but there are still witch hunts".

So she knew she wanted to write about the area but, damn it, Jeanette Winterson got there first and, what is more, her book “Daylight Gate” was excellent. Sharon even read an extract of it approvingly, where it says "The North is a dark place ... Lancashire is the wild part of the untamed.". She is constantly amused that Lancashire people don't feel indignant by that description, they feel proud.

"She’'d have been burned as a witch in those days, she says. And looking at that intelligence in her eyes, and from what I know of the intense sexism of the times, I’d say she’s probably right."

So now to Craftsman, where Florence is a senior police officer looking for closure over a murder decades before and wondering if she caught the right man. Foolishly, too, she has brought the son with her. "It's a book about me or a woman like me"

And then suddenly it was question time, which Sharon insisted on. She likes questions.

She says her characters are not always “nice”. They have dark sides and that Lacey evolves immensely over the series. Sharon is more interested in baddies

Why is Sharon no longer called SJ? Because men have got over not being comfortable reading women authors.  When she started, it was thought being female would put off men. Not any more. Especially as being there is social media, everyone knows she’s a woman anyway. Moreover, there are quite a few “SJ” authors so it was getting confusing. So ... Sharon.

Sharon Bolton witch huntWhy did she choose the Falklands as a setting for one of her books? She always thought islands are perfect for thrillers. But every Island in the UK has already been taken so she chose the Falklands, which are like the UK but decades ago. Also, she likes islands. And Pendle felt very island-like in the book.

Why has she not written about Salem? She’s interested but there’s more than enough material in England and Salem has been written about enough.  Also, the same thing happened there than in Pendle. Driven like in America often by mercenary reasons.

But I suspect that Sharon is not driven by mercenary reasons, although she notes that as a professional writer she does not have the luxury of simply not writing. I suspect she writes because she has to write. And they can’t be kept in but burst out of her. Like a demon. A very rational, scientifically explainable one.

A video of the visit can be seen here.

The library is a sensory time bomb: Patricia Dixon on her visits

Posted Wednesday 31 October 2018 by Patricia Dixon in Author blogs, Events

Libraries have played an important part in the lives of many of us. Here, crime-writer Patricia Dixon reflects on her memories of them.

"On November 6th, I will take part in Tameside Libraries Mini Crime-Fest and whilst I prepare for the event, my thoughts have travelled back in time to somewhere that holds a very special place in my heart.

Droylsden LibraryA ghost from the future, hiding in the shadows, I observe my five year-old self, holding the hand of my father as we visit Droylsden Library for the first time. It became a Saturday morning ritual, the eager five minute walk from home that always felt like five miles once I was loaded up with books. 

Now I am as a teenager, sitting at the polished wooden desk with my friends. The library served a dual purpose, a warm and a quiet place to do our homework and, if we were lucky, we might also meet boys.

Patricia Dixon library bookNext I am a fashion student, an odd looking girl with spiky-hair wearing home-made clothes, Dr Marten boots and far too much make-up, a pile of reference books aid the search for inspiration. My friend and I have a crazy plan to run away to London so scour the heavy telephone directories, hoping to find the address of Bob Geldof or at least his phone number.

Time has shifted and in this scene I have changed so much, a young mother with two small children, listening to story time.

The library is a sensory time bomb, the scent of books, the hum of voices, and the smooth lines of an art deco building with its square glass windows that stood the test of time. My ghostly self wishes the librarians still had the book stamp. I longed to have a go and can still hear the sound as it prints the date in ink. I smile, remembering how I often begged my mother to take back a late book and pay the 2p fine; such was the shame of forgetfulness.

The circle is almost complete so I return to the present, wondering if my five year old self, the teenager or the student would believe that one day their books would stand on the shelves of the local library. The name on the spine is different now, but inside their words litter the pages, in print, forever. And maybe two more ghostly visitors will pop by, my parents, who will see their daughter’s books on display and if they do, I hope it makes them proud".

Patricia DixonPatricia Dixon is speaking at Stalybridge Library on Tuesday 6 November 1.30pm to 3. She is the author of crime books "Over My Shoulder" and "They Don't Know" as well as a series of fiction based in France.

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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