Behind the Book – The Silence

It was so lovely to pay a return visit to Anne-Marie Ormsby and talk about books, Tuscany and my favourite authors 😊📚

All That Mighty Heart

The Silence

This week I was very fortunate to get to speak to Katharine Johnson, author of thriller The Silence. Ever since my early obsession with the Agatha Christie novel Sleeping Murder I have had an interest in stories about secrets and repressed memories, and this book fits that bill perfectly.

Naturally I wanted to get behind the book and find out where Katharine got her inspiration from for this dark tale.


Tell us the basic premise of your book?

Doctor Abby Fenton has a rewarding career, a loving family, an enviable lifestyle – and a secret that could destroy everything. When human remains are discovered in the grounds of an idyllic Tuscan holiday home she is forced to confront the memories she has suppressed until now and relive the summer she spent at the villa in 1992. A summer that ended in tragedy. The nearer she gets to the truth…

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Meet the author of Purgatory Hotel – Anne-Marie Ormsby



My visitor today is Anne-Marie Ormsby, author of the fabulous Purgatory Hotel. If you’re a fan of dark hotel stories like The Shining you’ll love this!

The story:

Dakota Crow has been murdered, her body dumped in a lonely part of the woods and nobody knows but her and her killer. Stranded in Purgatory, a rotting hotel at the edge of forever, with no memory of her death, Dakota knows she must have done something bad to be stuck there with murderers and rapists. To get to somewhere safer she must hide from the shadowy stranger that is stalking her through the corridors of the hotel and find out how to repent of her sins. But first she must relive her life. Soon she will learn about her double life, a damaging love affair, terrible secrets and lies that led to her violent death. She must face her demons and make amends for her own crimes before she can solve her murder and move on. But when she finds out what she did wrong will she be truly sorry?

To read a sample or buy the book please click here:

Author Q&A

Hello Anne-Marie, welcome to the coffee shop. What would you like to eat and drink?

Hot chocolate and cheese toastie would be perfect!

Great choice. I think I’ll join you. Now, if you could invite just two authors (alive or dead) to dinner who would they be?

I would have to invite Jack Kerouac and Ray Bradbury. They have both inspired my writing immensely and anyone who is an icon can seem larger than life, so I’d just like to get drunk with them and be humans together.

How does where you live inspire what you write?

I live in London and it is a very fast paced busy lifestyle, which has always caused me to seek out the quiet back streets and the areas where tourists don’t go. At the weekends I love going into the city and wandering the empty streets that during the week are crammed with office workers. I think that in my writing I do the same – I try to find the undercurrent, the places that people don’t go to, find the alternative to the place where everyone else goes.

What is the story behind your story? 

It was initially inspired by a song by Nick Cave called ‘God’s Hotel,’ It got me to thinking about what the afterlife would be like if it involved being in a hotel. I generally find hotels to be a bit creepy, The Shining is the most frightening movie I have ever seen, and I think it affected how I see hotels. But once I had the setting I then began to develop the ideas of how one would be able to atone for something they couldn’t remember doing, and the twisted tale of Jackson and Dakota was born.

What genre would you describe this as and why did you choose to write in this genre?

I always think of it as a whodunit, but its really paranormal fiction. I’ve always been drawn to the darker side of literature and movies, I grew up reading Ray Bradbury and Stephen King and the only romantic novel I’ve ever really liked was Wuthering Heights which is as dark as it gets when it comes to love! Also I’m Irish and the Irish love a good old ghost story, my Nana used to tell us stories about Banshees so I think the paranormal must be in my blood.

Who inspired you to become an author?

The first time I wanted to become a write was after reading a book called The October Country by Ray Bradbury. I was totally swept away by his prose and I just wanted to start writing, so I did. But it was my mum and dad who encouraged me, they used to give me all the books and even bought me notebooks to write my stories in. Also my older brother enjoyed writing too so he also used to encourage me to use my imagination to create stories.

Describe your dream writing room!

It would be an attic room with lots of windows looking out over a wood/lake/cemetery. I’d have a desk facing out looking over the view and the rest of the room would be full of books and something to play music on (I always listen to music when I write). It would also have a wine rack because I like to drink when I write, it loosens up my brain and lets the ideas out.

And what are you working on next?

I’m just starting to formulate the plot for another paranormal fiction novel, this time set in London, it’s a reworking of a novel I wrote in my early 20’s that I find a bit cringey to read now but it had some good ideas in it so I’m going to develop it.

Sounds great. Good luck with it and I hope you’ll pop back into the coffee shop in the future and tell us about it!

You can connect with Anne on Facebook

Or Twitter @AMOrmsby


Do you want to know a secret?


I’ve just signed the contract for my third novel!

THE SECRET will be published next summer by Crooked Cat Books.

Set in the same fictional village as The Silence, The Secret is about another secret harboured by Villa Leonida – this time a wartime secret.


The story follows the friendship, love and rivalry between two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy.  Their paths diverge when beautiful, aspirational Martina marries into the wealthiest family in the village and moves into Villa Leonida while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher. But Martina finds life at Villa Leonida very different from the one she’s dreamed of and an encounter with a stranger leads to a secret that has devastating consequences.


If you’d like to receive more info and excerpts please sign up for my free (and very infrequent) newsletter




Meet the author – Angela Petch

Angela walking where the partisans fought

You might have gathered by now, I’m a huge fan of Tuscany so I’m thrilled to welcome author Angela Petch into the coffee shop. In 2016, Angela self-published her first historical novel Tuscan Roots, which is set against a background of World War 2 occupied Italy. It has now been reissued by Endeavour Press.

As I have been immersed in wartime Tuscany myself while writing my new novel I can’t wait to chat about it over coffee and a florentine. But first let me show you the cover of Tuscan Roots which I think you’ll agree is stunning.


If you like Italy you’ll love this novel. A story of two women living in two different times. In 1943 occupied Italy Ines Santini’s sheltered existence is turned upside down when she finds Norman, an escaped POW. Years later Anna Swilland, their daughter, starts to unravel accounts from assorted documents left to her after her mother’s death. She travels to the beautiful Tuscan Apennines where the story unfolds. In researching her parents’ past she will discover secrets about the war, her parents and herself which will change her life forever.

Author Q&A

Hello Angela, I’m really enjoying your book. How did you research wartime Tuscany?

Writing this book has been almost a labour of love, an acknowledgment of the hardships my Italian mother-in-law and Italian friends endured. The elderly have such stories to tell, but they are reticent about their courage and I feel we need to know about what they went through. Their experiences are valuable for all of us and I believe we need to understand our past to cope with the present and future. This is one of the themes in both my books.

How did you go about finding a publisher?

Having exhausted the usual first avenues of family, friends and local readers, I decided to submit to a small independent publishing company and my book was accepted quite quickly. I deliberated for quite a while over the clauses and sought legal advice. My social media skills are limited, if I’m honest, although I’m enjoying the meeting people aspect (less so, the marketing), so I hope that this necessary side of putting a book out there might be shoe-horned more skilfully by my publisher, Endeavour Press. Maybe my indie-published friends will think I’m letting the side down. Well, they can use me as a guinea pig. If it doesn’t work out, there is a let-out clause and I will go back to being an indie author for my next books. Watch this space!

Why did you choose to write about Italy?

I’m British but a bit of a wanderer: born in Germany, I’ve lived and worked in Italy for many years, as well as Holland and Tanzania. But Italy holds a special place in my heart. I met my half-Italian husband whilst I was working in Sicily in my twenties and I lived in Rome as a child. At University, I read Italian. I cannot shake Italy off and we are really lucky to live in (unChiantishire) Tuscany every summer, where we have a watermill we let out to holiday makers.

Writing in the garden of her Tuscan watermill

Our area of Tuscany, high up in the Apennines, lies along an old German defensive line known as the Gothic Line and everybody in the villages around has stories to recount about this difficult period of the last war. When we go for walks, we often come across old gun emplacements, bunkers, munition stores in the woods… and ghosts from the past seem to whisper to me from these locations and I feel the need to write their stories. I’m fortunate to be able to speak Italian fluently and have been given permission to use local anecdotes and stories for my books.

How important is the setting to your story?

“Fiction depends for its life on place,” says Pulitzer prize-winner Eudora Welty, and place and location are what inspire me while I write. I have received good feedback about this from reviews on Amazon “… through this…wonderfully atmospheric tale of love, this book transported me from the Italian hills of the Resistance to the greyness of post-war London and back again to breathe the smells and tastes of modern Tuscany.” (John Casey)

Angela’s stunning Tuscan home

The sequel to “Tuscan Roots” will also be reissued by Endeavour Press on December 8th.

Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing your love of writing and Tuscany. Wishing you lots of success with the book!


Twitter : @Angela_Petch
Author Facebook:
To buy the books in paperback click here: “Tuscan Roots” –
And “Now and Then in Tuscany” –

Author page – Amazon : Angela Petch


Meet the author – Tessa Robertson



I’m thrilled to be joined today by Tessa Robertson, whose sassy and seductive thriller Assassin By Day has just been released.

IMG_6170Here’s the blurb:

What would you do if the mystery to your mother’s death lay with your employer?

After years of unanswered questions, Mishka Vald sets out to uncover the skhodka’s involvement in her past. What she doesn’t expect is to join forces with men who push her to become a double-agent and confirm her future. While hunting down leads, the ruthless assassin realizes a life in the shadows is the only way for her to protect those she loves.

For Mishka, forbidden love is worth the pain when it comes to Eddie Harper, a military man turned cop. Her affection waivers when duty comes first and she joins forces with an elite Russian soldier, Alexei Petrovich. With a blackmailer threatening her school love, she seeks refuge with a fellow assassin, Nickolas Volkov. And when pushed too far, she’s ushered to a secure locations…and straight into the arms of mysterious handyman, Dylan Kain. As the pieces fall into place, their mangled order reveals each man’s true intention. Whose deceit can she accept and whose will obliterate her?

All roads lead back to the woman she thought dead—her mother. Now, as weddings are crashed and alliances tested, Mishka uncovers a deadly game and the players involved. Her heart, once unable to budge, is thrust into action, but which man can keep her soul intact?

You can buy the book here:


Thanks so much for visiting the coffee shop Tessa. What can I get you?

I will take a vanilla chai latte and some cherry cheesecake please 🙂 Awesome, thank you so much!

Which fictional character would you like to spend a day with?

I would love to spend a day with my main character, Mishka Vald. She would definitely keep me on my toes the entire time. We both have foul mouths and sassy attitudes, so I think we’d get along. I’m not an assassin like her, but I think it would be fun to kick a bit of ass and look sexy doing it.

I’m glad to hear you’re not an assassin! What is your favourite film?

Choosing a favourite film is like asking what book is my favourite. I have too many, but I’ll narrow it down to the thriller genre as Assassin By Day is along those lines. I would say the Bourne movies are the ones I can watch over and over and never tire of them. The intricate plot, action, and mystery involved with the main character gets me every time.

I can never get enough of the Bourne movies! What made you choose to write a thriller/suspense novel?

As a reader, I like to be motivated to continue a book and feel an emotional connection through action and mystery. The same can be said as to why I write this genre. I want readers to engage in the story and keep flipping pages because they need to know what happens next.

If your book was made into a film or TV series who would you cast in the main role?

This is a writer’s dream come true, so of course, I already have the roles cast. For Mishka, I would choose Marie Avgeropoulos. Although, she’s MUCH shorter than Mishka in the book, she fits the overall appearance of this character.

Tell me one thing about yourself that would surprise people.

Not many people know that I am double jointed in my arms/shoulders. It’s really funny when people first see it and I love that I’m a bit of a freak.

That certainly is impressive! Thank you for answering my questions and huge congratulations on the book – I’m looking forward to reading it. 


IMG_6171Tessa Robertson has been landlocked in the heart of Iowa, USA for the better portion of her life. She grew up on sci-fi and action movies, but isn’t nearly a ninja…yet. Since childhood, writing stories and reading have been a constant. Moonlighting in a law firm, she takes on her favorite cases: criminal. Her stories push the limits of standard characters and explore the thriller facets of romance and action.
In her spare time, Tessa attempts to teach her Australian Shepherd and Golden Retriever new tricks; spends copious time with family; catches up on her favorite shows; and listens to country music.


Author visit – Isabella May

IMG_6133It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome Isabella May into the coffee shop today – and it will come as no surprise that we are chatting over some pavlova.

Isabella’s debut novel has the unforgettable title of Oh! What a Pavlova and has been getting loads of social media interest. I just had to see what this book was about – and find out some more about the author behind it.

Isabella lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a Co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).

She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’!

Oh! What a Pavlova is her debut novel… and her second novel is already in the hands of her publishers


Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

You can buy the book here:


Q&A time

Does where you live affect the way you write?

Living in this part of Spain definitely helps the creativity to flow. From my house I can see not only the beach and the Mediterranean sea, but the mountains besides, and sometimes, if I crane my neck out of my son’s bedroom window, I can even add Morocco and Gibraltar to the mix. Most of all though, the quality of light in this part of the world is magical.

That sounds absolutely idyllic. What’s your favourite tipple?

I’m going to be ‘naughty’ and choose two! I love a well-made Pina Colada… The Waldorf Astoria in NY raises the bar pretty high, as does one of our local gin and cocktail bars here up the coast. I’m also a sucker for Campari with Blood Orange, preferably whilst sitting in an Italian piazza (but the way it was made in the good old days, with cochineal). Nowadays, I believe this is substituted with food colouring and the taste just doesn’t compare.

Your favourite film?

Film? That’s a tough one because I’m as fickle with my movies as I am with my books. It has to be something mind-blowing and outstanding to make me watch it twice, especially when there are so many other pieces of cinema out there that I haven’t yet seen. I think for sheer audacity, wit and imaginative storyline, it would probably have to be ‘Catch Me If You Can’. No, of course this has nothing to do with the fact Leo has the starring role in it…

Favourite place?

I honestly don’t have a favourite place. I really love to travel and the destinations I have visited are each so unique and special in their very different ways. I do have a penchant for Italy though, perhaps over and above most other European countries. Bologna, in particular, is a city which is very underrated – and all the better for it! When it comes to scenery, nowhere on Earth has (yet) come close to rivaling the chocolate box beauty of New Zealand’s south island. The green there is just so much greener, the sea so much bluer. It truly is heaven.

I’d love to go to New Zealand – need to sell a few more books…Now my next question is what was the first book that made an impression on you and why?

I think the Mallory Towers books really made their mark on me. I was bullied at high school and would have been reading them around that time. The fun and games at Enid Blyton’s fictitious school were a welcome relief to the taunting I encountered day after day, and the idea of an all girls’ school definitely seemed a whole lot tamer.

I loved those books too. I’m sorry to hear about the bullying but as they say success is the best revenge – and I bet those children would give a lot to be where you are now. What do you like best about being a writer?

All those hours of creativity stretching out before me (with coffee and cake to hand) is undoubtedly the best part of the job. There’s no better feeling than writing when you are in the flow, blissfully unaware of the concept of time, and then reading back over something quite magical, whose origins you really cannot fathom!

And least?

But then reality bites… and you have to market that book and hope for some sales. Gone are the days when this was solely a publishing house’s responsibility. So out comes the Author Hat and you just get on with it. But I try to make it as fun as possible by focusing on the aspects of marketing that I most enjoy.

And finally please can you tell me one thing about you that would surprise people?

Well, I was twice offered an interview to appear on The Apprentice. And twice I turned the opportunity down. Thank God. One of those years involved the one and only Katy Hopkins, who would probably have eaten my Self-Help loving self up for breakfast…and spat me out by elevenses, although it could have made some great TV. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly why my application stood out that particular year, and exactly why the production company even called me up to ask if I was ‘sure’. I can’t deny being more than a little torn when they went to those lengths, but boy am I glad I trusted my gut instinct not to go through with it. Apparently I was destined to be an author instead…

I’m a huge fan of The Apprentice so I would have loved to have seen you in it but I’m so glad you decided to take the author route instead. I wish you loads of luck with your book. Can’t wait to read it!

You can follow Isabella here:


Instagram – @isabella_may_author


Lies for less



Buy Lies Mistakes and Misunderstandings at half price this week from Monday 28th August!

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer. If you’re looking for something to read on holiday or over the weekend you might like to know that my 1930s psychological, gothic novel Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings is available at half price 99p/99c this week only as part of my publisher’s summer eBook sale.

Jack’s quest to find the mysterious girl who invited herself into his life and then disappeared shortly before a brutal murder is discovered is full of twists and turns. IMG_6010

I must be honest, Jack is a flawed character so if you like your books to be about steel-jawed super-heroes it might not be for you. He is an embittered young Have-not in a world of Haves who has achieved nothing in the year since he graduated from Cambridge. It’s 1931 and the height of recession so a very difficult time for anyone to get a job without a recommendation and he doesn’t have the right connections. Then just as his life was beginning to turn around he has fallen foul of the people who might have helped him.

But he is also an innocent led into a world he is unprepared for.

“The main character Jack reminded me of some of Daphne du Maurier’s heroes (or anti-heroes), people who find themselves stuck like flypaper once they’re involved.”

(Francophile, reader review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

“I sort of fell in love with Jack”

Booklover Bev, reader review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️



When he meets Giselle she seems to represent everything he wants. But it gradually becomes clear she is not who she says she is.



After a brutal murder is discovered Jack’s life depends on finding Giselle to prove his alibi – but how can he find someone who doesn’t exist?

What the readers say (some five star reviews):

“This book is fantastic. I usually only read romance novels but this mystery had me hooked from the first page”

“Sharp and intelligent prose that keeps you on the edge of your seat”

“Complex and intriguing”

“Couldn’t put it down!”

“Brilliant holiday read – gripping from start to finish”

“The historical detail covering the period before, during and after the war really added interest and the descriptions of Italy were especially vivid.”

You can see more five star reviews and buy the book at the special price from Amazon or click on this link as part of the Crooked Cat Summer Sale.

If 1930s gothic psychological suspense isn’t your thing you will find lots of great reads in other genres in the sale including historical, crime, romance and chick lit. Happy reading 📚💕