Please tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in the East End of London and was fortunate enough to attend an excellent primary school which encouraged creative writing. After winning an inter-schools’ writing contest, I began to keep a diary and often added little stories and poems to it as the years went by. However, I did not take up writing seriously until 2013. By this time my two sons had left home and I had more time to myself. I like to focus on Romantic Suspense, Humour, Paranormal stories, and Women’s Fiction (family dramas).
One of my short stories, ‘Lifting the Black Dog’, was published in ‘1000 Words or Less Flash Fiction Collection’ (2016). I also wrote an article ‘Look on the Bright Side of Life’ that was included in the 2016 book ‘They Say I’m Doing Well’ which contains articles about mental illness, (proceeds go to the charity MIND). My screenplay ‘For the Sake of a Child’ won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival, and my novel ‘A House Without Windows’ gained interest in 2017 from De Coder Media, an independent film production company based in New York. ‘Finding David’ reached the quarter-finals of the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Competition, and my latest book ‘His Ladyship’ reached the finals and long list of the 2021 Page Turner Writing Award.
jjspina: Wow, Stevie! That is quite impressive! I read A House without Windows and was blown away by it!
What process do you need in order to write?
I need complete silence in order to think, and so off go the TV, radio and CD player. I also prefer nobody else in the room. My husband works from home in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and I work at my computer which is downstairs in the front room. Sometimes we even speak to each other!
jjspina: Haha! Whatever works for you. I understand how you feel. I like complete silence but don’t always get it!
How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
Usually/mainly from news items, and sometimes I’ll re-write something I’ve watched on TV. I’m also a people watcher, and gain inspiration from everyday folks going about their business.
jjspina: Yes, I agree about seeing and observing what goes on around us.
Please share your books with us and a synopsis of each.
Paranormal novella: ‘Finding David’:
When Karen and Mick Curtis attend a demonstration of clairvoyance for the first time, Karen is singled out by the medium, Rae Cordelle. Rae has a message from Karen’s son David, who passed over to the spirit world many years before. The message shocks Karen and sends her on a journey of discovery, rocking her previously happy relationship with second husband Mick, David’s stepfather.
Paranormal/Time Travel novel: ‘Partners in Time’:
John Finbow, a successful writer, and his wife Kay move into Southcombe Rectory, a large Victorian house that has been empty since the 1960s. It had previously been owned by the Cuthbertson family who had lived there for generations. Their marriage is under strain, as John, 39 would like children before he gets too old, but Kay, 34, does not.
When John is working in his study soon after moving in, he is disturbed by the sight of a young woman who appears out of the blue on his sofa. Emily Cuthbertson, whose old bedroom is now John’s study, was 25 at the time of her death and the youngest of 8 offspring of the late Reverend Arthur Cuthbertson and his wife Delia. Emily had died in 1868 but is now unwilling to leave behind her old life on earth, due to having missed out on a family of her own whilst being a companion to her widowed mother. Emily is still desperate for a husband and children, and John is the answer to her dreams.
One hundred and thirty years separate them. Will Emily and John’s love survive time’s relentless march?
Paranormal/Historical Fiction: ‘Lily: A Short Story’.
Lily is 92 and failing in health. Her family told her she was going on a little holiday, and although she finds herself still on her beloved Isle of Wight, to her horror she is now living permanently in a residential home at the mercy of Bridie, the ‘horrible’ one.
To make what is left of her life happier she thinks about years gone by, and once again wonders about the strange disappearance of her 14 year old sister Violet in 1897. Her depression lifts when another new resident manages to shed some light on the 76 year old mystery….
LGBT novel: ‘His Ladyship’:
Norman Wicks is 57, overweight, and has diabetes. He is sick of his life. He has never left home, had a girlfriend, or held down any kind of job. The only friends he has are online, as he prefers to stay in the comfort zone of his bedroom. His devoted 92 year old mother Agnes waits on him hand and foot.
Norman has a secret he has kept hidden from the world for the majority of his life, but now he is desperate to bring it out into the open. He is terrified of how his family will react. However, for his own happiness and peace of mind, Norman must find a way to tell his mother and siblings exactly what they do not want to hear.
HIS LADYSHIP reached the finals and the Longlist of the 2021 Page Turner Awards.
Romantic Suspense: ‘A House Without Windows’
Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now. Amidst her grief she often looks back and thinks about her fiancé Liam. She lies awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off, and prays that Liam is still out there somewhere searching for her.
Humour: ‘No Sex Please, I’m Menopausal!’
After going through the menopause Lyn finds that she no longer wants sex. This is unfortunate, as her husband Neil still does. When he discards her after 35 years of marriage like an old worn out shoe, Lyn moves to Cornwall to start a new life. However, new friends are hard to find, and she feels lonely. On the spur of the moment she decides to join an online dating site, ‘MatchULike’, just for companionship. Amongst the peculiar people she meets is Peter; shy, and conscious that his ‘gentleman’s’ operation has rendered him an unattractive prospect in the marriage stakes. Lyn makes a friend of Peter, but when Neil gets to hear about the friendship he realises too late that there is more to a relationship than just sex, and he suddenly starts to appear back on the scene and wants to turn her life upside down all over again!
Humour: ‘The Pilates Class’.
Roger is a down-to-earth builder type, Judy is the harassed single mother of four teenage boys, and Thelma is a librarian who usually looks as though she’s been sitting on a wasps’ nest for most of her life. Neville is on the lookout for a woman (any woman will do), and Julian just wants to be young again. Edie is the wrong side of 70, and Roz is a size zero fitness queen.
These characters, together with one very overweight Alice, all meet up for the first time at their local Pilates class. Petra, the class instructor, has no idea what she has let herself in for!
Suspense: ‘Cruising Danger’.
When Pauline Edmunds agrees to accompany her workmate Shirley on a Caribbean cruise, she is disappointed to be left alone almost at the start when Shirley starts a holiday romance with Joe Collins, a guitarist in a band working on board the ship. However, Pauline does not like the look of Joe, and tries to dissuade Shirley from continuing the affair. When Shirley cannot be found one morning, Pauline begins to investigate her friend’s disappearance, opening up a whole can of worms amidst a background of Caribbean scenery and sunshine.
Suspense: ‘A Marriage of Convenience’.
Gerrie Hermann, aspiring rock star from a rich South African family, has an unusual proposal for Sophie Woods when he meets her for the first time in their university canteen. Strait-laced Sophie has never done anything out of the ordinary in the whole of her 19 years. When she decides to take Gerrie up on his offer she has no idea that her decision is going to affect the rest of her life in ways that she could never have foreseen, even in her wildest dreams.
Suspense: ‘Scam!’ (won the 2020 Electric Eclectic writing competition).
Lauren West and Ben Hughes are saving frantically for their forthcoming marriage and mortgage deposit. When Lauren sees an advert online from a firm of brokers extolling the profits to be gained by buying and selling Bitcoins, she is interested enough to pursue it further.
Lauren clicks on the advert. She is soon contacted by Paul Cash, a knowledgeable stockbroker whom Lauren trusts straight away. He is affable, plausible, and seemingly genuinely interested in her welfare. Lauren looks forward to making enough money to be able to surprise Ben and bring the date of their wedding forward, and also to put a deposit down on their ideal house.
What could possibly go wrong?
Suspense: ‘Examining Kitchen Cupboards’.
Jill Hayes discovers that not all is as it seems in her new post as a college examinations administrator. When she turns whistle-blower and tries to report her findings to the authorities, she is horrified to discover that some people will stop at nothing to ensure her silence.
Suspense: ‘For the Sake of a Child’.
Ginny Ford is pleased to win the coveted job of housekeeper to the directors of PhizzFace Inc. However, her joy becomes tarnished by an accidental find whilst cleaning, leading her to suspect that all is not as it should be on the managerial corridor. Delving deeper, she is shocked to uncover corruption and a secret paedophile network that has remained hidden for years, involving the very people she has come to know and trust. Unable to live with her conscience any more, she decides that she cannot keep quiet and that she must find a way of helping all the children involved. However, by trying to help the children she discovers that she has unwittingly put her entire family at risk…
Suspense: ‘The Noise Effect: A Short Story’.
What lengths would you go to in order to ensure a peaceful existence? Newlyweds Eve and Leigh Chandler are thrilled to be given a council house on a recently built estate after living with Eve’s parents for a year, and are eager to get to know their new neighbours. Eve quickly forms a friendship with Tessa Patterson at number 16, but things turn sour when Mark Denny moves into number 18 with his two teenage sons.
The Dennys enjoy playing their music loud enough for the whole street to hear. Leigh and Eve, both normally easy-going and placid, complain to the council after being driven to distraction by noise emanating from the house next door. However, this only serves to make them a sitting target for Mark Denny’s anger, causing Eve to discover a previously hidden side of her new husband that she was totally unaware of.
Romance: ‘A Rather Unusual Romance’
Erin Mason, divorced and with two teenage sons, finds her world begins to fall apart when she undergoes what is termed a “life event”, and is diagnosed with cancer. Not too far away somebody else, Alan Beaumont, is also suffering a similar fate. Their paths slowly come together in this inspiring and humorous tale which is partly based on actual events, and shows how love can flourish in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Women’s Fiction: ‘The Daughter-in-law Syndrome’.
The Daughter-in-law Syndrome investigates the complicated relationship causing much friction between Grandmother Edna Deane and her daughter-in-law Arla. In addition it focuses on the sometimes tumultuous partnership between Arla and her husband Ric.
Arla Deane sometimes likens her marriage to undergoing daily psychological warfare. Husband Ric will never voice an opinion, and puts his mother Edna up high on a pedestal. Arla is sick of always feeling that she comes in at only second best to her mother-in-law, who much to Arla’s fury is never told anything by Ric or his sisters that she would not want to hear.
This novel explores the husband/wife, mother/son, and mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships. After twenty eight years of marriage, Arla, the daughter-in-law, is at the end of her tether and persuades a reluctant Ric to accompany her for marriage guidance. As they look back over their lives with Counsellor Toni Beecher, Arla slowly comes to realise her own failings, and eventually discovers the long-hidden reason why Ric will never utter a cross word to his mother.
Also, adding to Arla’s stress is the fact that her son Stuart will soon be marrying Ria, a girl whom Arla feels is just looking for a free ride. Arla is convinced that Ria will be no asset to Stuart at all; her new daughter-in-law just wants to be a mother and has no intention of ever working again once the babies start to arrive. After visiting Stuart and Ria for Sunday lunch, Arla is convinced that her son is making the biggest mistake of his life…
Women’s Fiction: ‘Revenge’
Teacher Alistair Veale is just coasting along in his 20 year marriage to Ann. His two sons Tom and Jake are growing up fast and have their own interests, but he still enjoys a close relationship with 13-year-old daughter Jessie, his ‘Princess’. When Alistair takes 14 children from his tutor group on a week-long school trip to the Isle of Wight, a new Science teacher, Carly Jessop, goes along to keep an eye on the 6 girls. Alistair notices a growing attraction between himself and Carly, which cannot be ignored. However, when Alistair and Carly begin an affair the consequences are horrific and far-reaching, threatening not only Alistair’s livelihood, but also his peace of mind and the relationship he has with his own three children.
Women’s Fiction: ‘Barren’.
Esme Jones and husband Aron have completed their family and have twin sons Jared and James. Esme’s older sister Eden Reece is desperate for a child, but a hysterectomy has put paid to any chance of her becoming a parent. When Esme offers herself as a surrogate, Eden and husband Billy are delighted. However, when Esme notices the first fluttering of life inside her and a scan reveals that she is carrying a girl, both sisters are not prepared for the outcome which threatens to tear the fabric of the whole extended family apart.
Women’s Fiction: ‘Legless and Chalaza: A dark novelette’.
When Jeff Jackson is told he needs a major operation on his right Achilles’ tendon, to his horror he realises there is only one person he can ask to look after him for a whole six weeks afterwards until the plaster cast is taken off and he can put weight on his leg again. That person is his wife Bea, who currently hates the sight of him and has moved out!
Women’s Fiction: ‘Repent at Leisure’
Paul McAdam wakes up to find a mysterious woman in his bed, but has no memory of how she got there. Soon, Cat Taylor worms her way into his life and eventually moves into his flat. This arrangement suits Paul well — until he meets his ideal woman, Anita Fairfax.
Soon after, they find Cat dead in Paul’s apartment. Despite little evidence, the police suspect him of murder. Anita stands by her new husband, but doubt soon creeps in as his behavior becomes increasingly erratic.
Could Paul be responsible for the murder – or is there more to it than meets the eye?
Women’s Fiction: ‘Mind Games’.
Frances Andrews is sick of her husband Martin’s addiction to pornography, and has lost her trust in him. Martin views porn as a harmless pastime, but when Frances threatens to leave, he is distraught and begs her to go with him for marriage guidance therapy. Counsellor Rhona suggests they take a holiday in the first instance, and start talking to one another again. Frances just wants out of the marriage, but finally agrees to go on a cruise…as long as they have separate cabins.
Told from both Frances and Martin’s perspectives, Mind Games shines a light on the effect that an addiction to pornography can have on a previously happy marriage.
Women’s Fiction: ‘The Donor’.
When you know you have met the love of your life, the last thing you expect is for your sister to lure him away. Clare Ronson is faced with this scenario when her sister Isabel marries singer and guitarist Ross Tyler. To compound Clare’s jealousy and bitterness, Ross hits the big time and becomes a wealthy tax exile, relocating to France with his family. Clare cannot bring herself to speak to Isabel or Ross for the next 30 years. However, when tragedy occurs in 2002 causing Ross to arrive back in England at Clare’s doorstep, Clare must try to put the past behind her for her sister’s sake.
Memoir: ‘Waiting in the Wings’
At the grand old age of 92, my mother Dot suddenly starts telling me that she loves me. I am quite dumbstruck at these outbursts of emotion, as she has never mentioned the fact before in all of my 58 years. Over the entire course of my lifetime we have often argued bitterly, and have never really seen eye-to-eye over anything. I squirm with the inner knowledge that she wants me to reply in a similar vein, but try as I might, I cannot.
The guilt I feel at being unable to grant Dot her wish is overwhelming. As Dot’s health deteriorates more towards the final chapters of her life, I take on the role of carer. I find the only way to bring her out of her perpetual misery is to reminisce on past events by showing her old family photographs, and by helping her to remember holidays and happier times. We look back without anger and sometimes with a lot of laughter, getting to know each other better, raking over the past, and talking more than we have ever done. The process helps me, a middle-aged woman, understand the perils of ageing that I might one day face, and also the struggles that elderly people suffer on a day-to-day basis while stoically attempting to maintain their independence.
This is a true story, told in flashbacks and in modern-day often humorous conversations with my mother.
YA/Coming of Age: ‘Alys in Hunger-Land’.
Alys Linford, 18, is depressed. She has become as fat as her mother, and hates it that the pair of them spend their days just sitting on the sofa, watching TV, and eating junk food. As another new year begins, she is determined to lose weight and find a boyfriend. She joins a slimming club and starts exercising, much to her mother’s disgust.
Will Alys lose half her body weight and find romance, or will she be forever doomed to follow her mother’s terrible diet and lifestyle?
jjspina: You have some wonderful books here, Stevie. I will be stocking up my TBR list for 2022! I also read, The Daughter-in-law Syndrome and enjoyed it immensely, I look forward to reading His Ladyship and a few others listed above. Since I have not yet read your new book, I will post my review of His Ladyship later here and on my monthly reads for January 2022.