Category Archives: Research Secrets

An interview with… Lynne Hackles

For my last ever Research Secrets interview for the national Writing Magazine, Writers Forum I was lucky enough to interview Lynne Hackle about how she researched her romantic comedy when she was unable to go out of the house.

Lynne first wrote this romantic comedy novel, back in 2002 and states it is actually more comedy than romance. It didn’t have a title back then and she put it away and rediscovered this gem in 2020 when Covid struck. She explains she had learnt a lot in twenty years and knew it could be improved.

Lynne told me she was about to do a major rewrite when my brother died from Covid. Losing a younger sibling is hard and Lynne revealed she had a sort of breakdown because she found she couldn’t, and didn’t want to, go out. This meant she couldn’t get out to do any research and she really needed to find out how Job Centres worked.

She explained this was a problem because her opening chapter started with my main character, Gail, being in a Job Centre and she hadn’t been inside one since she wrote the first draft. There was only one solution – to set her story back in time. She decided that beginning it in the first few days of the new millennium would save her the stress of trying to go out into the world and risking a panic attack.

Gail starts off in the Job Centre because her boss has made her and her best friend, Dilys, redundant. The two women, both fifty years old and with no qualifications, find it impossible to find work so start a cleaning agency. Gail, stuck between an eccentric mother and a wayward daughter, lists her problems, the final one being to get laid, and then starts to solve them all, with what she hoped would be help from her imaginary agony aunt.

Lynne told me she always had a secret dream to be an agony aunt and always turn to the problem pages in magazines first. She has even used some of the problems she’s read to help her write short stories, many which were published in the weekly woman’s national magazines.

Gail needed an agony aunt but, instead of writing to one, she conjured up her very own. This lady in pink was going to be a proper agony aunt, kind and helpful, similar to the ones in the book, but she turned into one of those characters novelists talk about – the ones who have their own ideas as to what they are going to do. Sometimes she offered advice, sometimes she turned up when she wasn’t wanted, and she also had days off, refusing to answer questions.

Really, she was about as much help to Gail as thermal knickers in a heatwave. Her part grew as the book progressed and grew even more when Cahill Davis Publishing and Lynne came up with the title, Gail Lockwood and her Imaginary Agony Aunt.

The shop from which Gail was made redundant actually existed in Worcester. Lynne revealed she once once worked there selling all sorts of interesting stuff like miners’ knee pads and gas mask holders. There were lots of baskets filled with miscellaneous goods and every morning they would take shoe rails and coat racks outside. she remembered her easy-going manager asking her to make a price label for some men’s grey Mac’s.

Using a felt tipped pen she drew a picture of the back view of a man with no trousers on, arms holding his Mac’ wide open and his bare bottom revealed in the split at the rear and added ‘Flashers Macs’ and the price. All the Macs were sold by the end of the day. She borrowed the men’s grey Mac’s and other stock for her fictional store BJ’s, called that because the owner, Bradley Jones, used his initials for the name, though Gladys and Dilys said it stood for Bloody Junk. Bradley was a cross between the manager of the original shop Lynne had worked at, and her boss from the building society she worked at later. In the novel BJ’s moved itself to an optician’s she had worked at in Malvern.

Lynne kept Malvern library in its original place but replaced Malvern Hills with a new housing estate and moved the whole town a little closer to Birmingham. She explained it was like looking at that entire area and stirring things around to get a new place. Lynne believes you need to be able to see where a story is set.

“I could have drawn a map but because of using a place I knew well, I kept Chenwick, in its entirety, in my head.”

Lynne Hackles

To research her other settings such as, Spain and Australia, she started watching A Place In The Sun in particular couples looking for homes in Spain. One pair wanted an apartment near a golf course and immediately, she knew this was exactly what she needed for Gail’s ex-boss to retire to. As for Australia, Dilys uses some redundancy money to go to her daughter’s wedding there.

“I asked my friend Glynis Scrivens, who I call my cyber-sister, for help. She made sure the times and seasons were correct. I’d watched Neighbours in its early years and seen what a hotel could look like and the sort of houses that were in Ramsay Street. Television can come in very useful.”

Lynne Hackles

Gail’s mother, Pearl, plays a good-sized part in the story. Her eccentricities included the way she dressed, jumping through different eras. No two days were alike. The 1960s weren’t a problem. Pictures of girls wearing mini-skirts, crocheted dresses, and white boots were all over Facebook. Going back to the 1950s meant trawling though and One outfit Pearl wore came directly from the film, Doctor Zhivago. Lynne said she enjoyed researching these different fashions from different eras by looking at photos and dress patterns on the internet.

Her tip for other writers and for anyone unable to go out, whatever the reason may be, then the internet is a wonderful resource. Not just Google, but friends online too. Ask a question and you’ll get lots of responses.

To find out more about Lynne Hackles and her books visit her website:

An interview with… Barbara Henderson

For my Research Secrets slot in this month’s issue of Writers’ Forum #253 19 Apr 2023, Barbara Henderson explained to me some of the research she did into the building of the Forth Bridge to Dunfermline for her middle-grade novel, Rivet Boy

Rivet Boy is her eighth book for children and was published by Cranachan Publishing on 16th February 2023. It features Edinburgh, Dunfermline and the Firth of Forth as key settings and is woven from historical events entwinned with her imagination.

As a historical fiction writer, Barbara is always on the lookout for story possibilities. Almost every single one of her books was inspired by reading an interesting snippet or visiting a heritage site. She told me she has been fascinated by the Forth Bridge for a long time. Her first job was across the Forth. She had to cross the water daily, which meant either rattling across the iconic Forth Rail Bridge by train or staring at it in awe as she drove across the road bridge beside it. In fact, her wedding reception was held right beneath the bridge. She said it eventually clicked – the world was crying out for a light-touch engineering book about the building of the Forth Bridge as readers love knowing a story is rooted in real events.

Barbara’s tip to other writers wanting to write a novel on true events is to read around the topic for a few months to gain an overview. Once a possible story presents itself, find the person who knows most about it. They will love being asked about it – all their friends and relatives will already be thoroughly sick of hearing about their pet interest and your keen interest will be very welcome.

Barbara explained for her children’s book, she needed a child character to take centre stage. So she researched the ordinary people who built this bridge and discovered a book called The Briggers – The Story of the Men who Built the Forth Bridge. However she found many of the anecdotes in this book of young people were depressing, and the Briggers had campaigned long for memorials to all the men who died during the bridge’s construction. The youngest victim she found was David Clark, a 13-year-old who fell and also a young boy called John Nicol who fell into the water from the bridge and survived unhurt, who became her main character.

Barbara hunted down the author, Elspeth Wills and found she was part of a research consortium of local enthusiasts who also called themselves ‘The Briggers’. More online digging even yielded an email address. Frank Hay answered her email and agreed to talk on Zoom. Barbara revealed her most valuable resource turned out to be Frank, and the others who had already studied the subject: ‘The Briggers’. When she asked for more information about John, the boy who survived, Frank spent a few days to look into it for her and sent her a ten-page document: He’d checked the census records, identified the most likely John Nicol, found his birth certificate, his parents’ marriage certificate and his two addresses in Dunfermline.

In addition, he discovered his father had been killed in an industrial accident in Australia before John was born. For a time, the widow was supported by charity, but it made sense for John to seek work when he was twelve, old enough to be a breadwinner. The newspaper extract describing John’s accident was also in there. Barbara was able to use this information to construct a timeline.

“I tend to think of historical fiction as a washing line. Your fixed events and real people are the pegs, pinning the story to the timeline. These are the things that are both true, incontrovertible and relevant to your story. In between, the washing can flutter in the wind of your imagination.”

Barbara Henderson

Construction was big for this particular book, so Barbara had to research the processes. She explained she finds it astounding that these Victorian engineers managed to calculate so accurately without the aid of modern computer technology. Much of the foundation work had to be conducted beneath the water. By the time her main character John begins his work on the bridge, the structure had emerged from the waves, but the fact that she feature so many details and incidents from real life meant that she had to constantly double and triple check that she had my order right.

In an early draft, she had the squirrel Rusty visit John on the bridge from North Queensferry – only to realise that it couldn’t have happened yet because the cantilevers weren’t connected at that point. Her tip is also not to assume anything. When describing the noise of the building site, she referred to a list along the lines of ‘hammering, drilling, scraping and shouting’ – only to be informed all drilling was done in the workshops, some way off and in advance. Many sounds added to the cacophony on the site, but drilling was not one of them.

Research can be a lonely business, as can writing. Her final tip is to join a writing group with similar interests to you. Barbara is part of the Time Tunnellers, a group of five historical fiction writers for children with weekly YouTube videos and blogs aimed at schools and historical fiction readers. Barbara told me she often learns something new from unexpected places – including my fellow Time Tunnellers’ posts.

You can discover more about Barbara Henderson and her books by following her on her website:, and follow her on Twitter @scattyscribbler and Instagram @scattyscribbler and @BarbaraHendersonWriter on Facebook.

To read the complete feature you can purchase a back copy of the #253 19 Apr 2023 issue of  Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.

An interview with… Alyssa Sheinmel

When I heard about Alyssa Sheinmel’s extraordinary research into face transplants for her novel Faceless, published by Chicken House, I was stunned the movie Face Off could have been based on reality. Face transplants are a real thing. Maybe not in the same way as in Face Off but still a possibility.

I was so intrigued to discover more I decided to interview best-selling YA author, Alyssa Sheinmel, for my regular Research Secrets section of Writers’ Forum, issue Aug 2016 #178.

Alyssa told me she knew she wanted to write a book about a girl who was in a horrific accident, a girl who struggled to understand how much of who she was is tied to what she looked like and it was her American editor who suggested a girl for whom a face transplant was her best hope at having a normal life after reading an article in The New Yorker about a full face transplant.

“I’m pretty sure I underlined more of the article than I left blank! My favourite line came from a plastic surgeon, who explained that while other surgeons made you well by taking you apart – by cutting out the parts of you that are no longer functional, that are diseased, that have turned toxic – plastic surgeons make you well by putting you back together. (A version of that explanation made its way into Faceless.)”

Alyssa Sheinmel

She explained she began her research by reaching out to doctors she already knew – her general practitioner, a friend who’d gone to medical school and a friend of her sister who was a plastic surgeon that specialized in reconstruction who answered her myriad of questions.

In particular, she wanted to ensure Maisie’s injuries were realistic. For example, could she have been burned in such a way that she’d need to replace her cheeks, nose, and chin, but retain her jaw? This doctor explained that pretty much everything about these surgeries is unusual, so there were no hard and fast rules. He also provided Alyssa with a detail that really stayed with her: it takes a while for the nerves to grow into transplanted skin, so for a period after her surgery, Maisie’s face would feel like sort of a mask hanging off of her – it might actually feel heavy. This detail made its way into Faceless.

Even so, Alyssa revealed she was worried about taking up these doctors’ time with her incessant questions but found these experts often wanted to talk about their respective fields

“It’s challenging when you’re talking to such ‘important’ people – when I was interviewing a plastic surgeon, for example, I kept apologizing for taking up time that he could be spending with his patients. But he insisted that he was happy to give me his time and answer his questions.”

Alyssa Sheinmel

Like all transplant patients, face transplant recipients are put on immunosuppressive drug regimens. Alyssa revealed her editor had a few doctor and medical student friends who were incredibly helpful with these questions in particular. What were the side effects like? How many pills would she have to take? At sixteen, Maisie has already been told that she can’t carry a child because her medication could cause birth defects. She found what the pills looked like by searching on Google.

Alyssa explained the immunosuppressive regimen became a big part of Maisie’s journey. It’s difficult enough for Maisie that she doesn’t look like her old self, but being on these drugs keeps her from feeling like herself too. She’s tired, nauseated, achy. She’s a former straight-A student who can barely stay awake in class anymore.

For Alyssa there isn’t always a straight a line between my research and the story as everything she reads and watches teaches her something about how to tell a story. She told me as she was writing Faceless, she found herself thinking about stories she’d read and movies she’d seen that – on the surface, at least – didn’t really have much in common with her book. But they still were every bit as helpful as all the articles she read and doctors she spoke to about face transplants. There were also things going on in her life that influenced the story such as, a family member underwent surgery and her stay in the hospital and subsequent recovery impacted on Maisie’s experience, too.

The emotional aftermath of surgery was another one of those times when her unintentional research came in to play. Years ago – well before she started working on Faceless – she watched a documentary called The Crash Reel about American snowboarder Kevin Pearce. Heading into the Vancouver Winter Olympics, it looked like nothing would stop Kevin from bringing home a medal (except possibly, his long-time rivalry with fellow-snowboarder Shaun White). But during practice one day, a horrific crash sends Kevin to the hospital, where he’s treated for a traumatic brain injury. All Kevin wants to do is get back on his board, back to the life he knew before – but his friends and family are worried that snowboarding again could kill him.

In Faceless, Maisie was a runner before her accident – she ran track on her school’s team, she ran alongside her boyfriend, she ran for fun. Running was a huge part of who she was, part of how she defined herself – and after her procedure, she can’t run the way she used to. In fact, she might never be able to run again. Just as Maisie has to give up running, in The Crash Reel, Kevin Pearce has to come to terms with his new reality – a reality that might not include snowboarding.

Another piece of unintentional research helped her with the aftermath of Maisie’s accident – a novel called The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman, which I read years ago as well. It’s the story of an ordinary New Jersey librarian to whom the extraordinary happens: one day, she’s struck by lightning. Afterwards, the world looks different – literally: she can no longer see the colour red. Though Hoffman’s protagonist doesn’t have much in common with Faceless’s main character, Maisie (other than the fact that each have a run-in with lightning), they’re both characters whose lives are changed by somewhat random events, and they have to come to terms with a new normal.

“When I was a freshman in college, my psychology textbook taught me how to insert humour into a dry topic. Magazine articles have prompted (sometimes completely unrelated) story ideas. And certainly, when I watched a documentary about snow-boarding a few years ago, I had no idea it would someday influence a novel I wrote about face transplants.”

Alyssa Sheinmel

Alyssa’s tip to other writers when researching is to keep an open mind. She explains you never know where your next idea will come from, which book or article or essay will help you learn how to tell your story. Just keep your eyes and ears open, and learn as much as you can.

You can find out more about Alyssa Sheinmel on her website: and follow her on Twitter: @alyssasheinmel.

To read the complete unabridged feature you can purchase a copy of the Aug 2016 #178 issue of Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.

An interview with… Pippa DaCosta

Fantasy is another of those genres where people have said to me you do not need to research that you just make it up. But I believe to write believable fantasy you will need to research the world’s you are creating. In 2017, for the Sept 2017 #191 issue of Writers’ Forum, I interviewed fantasy writer, Pippa DaCosta who explained how her research helps ground those fantastical elements and convince the reader that what they’re reading could be real.

Pippa DaCosta’s five book The Veil series is about a half-demon girl who was raised by demons, but must learn to be human. Through various trials against the backdrop of an imminent demon invasion, she must conclude whether humans or demons are the real monsters. she has also written, Girl from Above, a four book sci-fi series and Hidden Blade another urban fantasy series centred around an Egyptian Soul Eater in New York. 

The inspiration for, City of Fae, her adult fantasy series set in London came from travelling on the tube during the WorldCon in London, in August 2013. As a country girl, she’s always found the tube to be a surreal experience, and as the tube train hurtled through the dark, the windows plunged into blackness, she asked herself, “What if there were something out there, peering back?” London itself is such a mismatch of old and new, modern and traditional, that the idea of taking a traditional countryside race of beings – the fae – and throwing them into the city environment, really appealed to her.

Pippa explained she wanted to take something beautiful and ethereal, like the fae, and put them somewhere dark and filthy—really going against reader expectations, hopefully to surprise them. The London Underground is one of the oldest in the world and in some parts you can really feel the history crowding in. It’s the foundation of London, and as readers of my London Fae know, the fae begin to undermine London from beneath.

London has many layers, it’s part of what makes the city so special, traveling from A to B, or marching along the street with only our destinations in mind. Pippa told me she researched much of London’s underground network of tunnels, including Victorian reservoirs, abandoned tube stations, and even a decommissions military bunker that used to be classified. Old entrances are disguised as store fronts. Commuters pass them every day not knowing a network of forgotten tunnels burrows beneath their feet.

The plague pits were a gory and fascinating discovery—such as those unearthed by the recent Crossrail engineering works. The under London is already so alien, that when she stumbled upon these plague pits during her research she knew she had to write them into the second book, City of Shadows.

Pippa revealed she rode the tube for a few hours, with no real destination in mind. She discovered once she slowed her pace and took the time to observe, the tube became a fantastic and interesting place to people-watch. Human beings aren’t meant to be crammed together in small metallic vessels and then dragged through underground tunnels at increasing speeds, but all she had to do was look around and see how commuters had adjusted to the uncomfortable and made it a part of their lives.

“One of the most interesting things, for me, was watching the ebb and flow of people. One time, I settled on a bench—the only person to do so—and watched trains clatter into the stations, deposit their crowds, and thunder off again. That stampede of people came in waves, and once they were gone, the station fell deathly silent again. Noise to silence to noise. Movement to stillness. It flowed in and out. That was something I couldn’t have known or experienced had I not been there.”

Pippa DaCosta

This way she picks up snippets of conversations. She said one gem came from two women talking and complaining about how hot the tube was, they explained between themselves that it was because the line we were travelling on at the time was one of the oldest and deepest parts of the London underground. That was a brilliant nugget of information, which went straight into the London Fae books.

Fantasy worlds are grounded in reality. As an author, you can’t just fling ideas together and hope they stick. The world has to make sense, it has to have an order, and rules. Research helps ground those fantastical elements and convince the reader that what they’re reading could be real. Before writing the book, Pippa explained she looks at the world and its rules. Nothing too strict, just enough to start spinning the ideas as she doesn’t want to trap herself in those rules later, she keeps them more like brush stokes than firm outlines.

She revealed her research generally starts with simple Google searches on mythically creatures where she often falls down Pinterest research holes and get lost in all the wonderful imagery. She explained many a fantastical beast has come from browsing the likes of Pinterest. She told me she keeps a document folder on her mac for articles and uses private Pinterest boards to pin research and images of various locations. In fact, creating a new Pinterest board is one of her ‘book rituals’.

“I’ll also look at things like the hierarchy of the courts or military units. Depending on whether I’m writing fantasy or sci-fi, I’ll research the shocking histories of various UK castles and their powerful lords. I find researching worldbuilding is a fluid process, that builds with each new lead I chase down. But, it’s easy to fall into a research hole, so you have to be focused and have a goal.”

Pippa DaCosta

Research is the foundation of worldbuilding, and worldbuilding is what brings fantasy realms to life. You never know what little research gem could prove to be the shining star of the next chapter. Give yourself time to get lost down those research holes, you never know where they may lead but never forget your goal.

Pippa told me about a new app coming for desktop PCs soon, called the Novel Factory. It allows you to generate character and plot profiles and link various research elements, including web addresses, articles, images, so it can all be easily found again in one place. She reckoned it looks like a great resource for organising all those plot bunnies.

You can find out more about Pippa DaCosta, her urban fantasy and science fiction novels here:





To read the complete feature you can purchase a back copy of the Sept 2017 #191 issue of  Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.

An interview with… Ebele Bright

Even picture books need researching. A good writer always checks their facts. For the #252 15 Mar 2023 issue of Writers’ Forum, I interviewed Ebele Bright about the research she did for her picture book about eagles, Fly Chico Fly.

Fly Chico Fly is a story about an eaglet, Chico, who is afraid to do what birds are naturally good at, flying. He feels left out as his brothers have already taken to the skies, but his vivid imagination and caution stop him from taking that important leap. The story follows Chico as he learns to face his fear of flying.

Ebele told me the internet is her first stop during research, as so much information is readily available and easily accessible. She finds it an invaluable resource. There is access to research papers, places to visit, library searches, documentaries, other people’s pictures and videos, movies, images and more. She elaborated:

“I knew I wanted an eagle for this story and immediately looked into the different species of eagles, their appearance, anatomy, natural habitats, flight altitude, what they are synonymous with, their flying and landing positions, their interaction with their young, and how they learn to fly.”

Ebele Bright

She used Google images for pictures of eagles and chose the bald eagle, as she felt it would translate easily to illustrations, and capture the attention of children. As she particularly wanted to understand and express Chico’s concern of the differing weather conditions she searched Google images of eagles in their natural habitat. She explained it was important to her to make her research relevant to young children.

As well as the informative websites, she used video footage from places like Netflix and YouTube to further supplement her research. She told me Our Planet on Netflix was particularly useful for observing different environments and the documentary 72 dangerous animals: Asia on Netflix was also helpful. She watched on YouTube, a particularly beautifully slowed down flight of a bald eagle by the Epic slow Mo channel and discovered an Instagram hashtag search with your word of interest, comes up with useful images and videos.

Ebele also searched the bible app for verses containing eagles and read through them. The bible spoke of the swiftness of eagles, their superb vision, powerful wings, natural habitat of dwelling on the cliffs, rocky crags at night and building their nests on high, and the intentional and caring relationship between parent eagles and their eaglets.

As children learn by play, fun and in the most natural way she followed their lead by weaving certain elements into the story; a few characteristics of eagles, like their ability to fly really high and their perfect vision. She also mentioned specific parts of their anatomy to spark questions, providing some education on eagles in simple format.

The information was dropped in bite size by putting an illustration of a wing and talons on one page to encourage discussion, and allow kids to point to parts of the eagle’s anatomy. Ebele observed her own children particularly love talking about the differences between eagles and humans, and naming parts of the eagle. The emotional development for Chico was important to validate his fears, explore his vulnerability, guide his speech and growth, so that children relate to him.

“I found speaking with counsellors and parents about their knowledge on dealing with fear fascinating. I wanted to know their body language, word usage at the beginning of counselling, techniques for helping children walk through obstacles and the visible signs they are opening up. I spoke with other parents and drew on my parenting style raising fearless children, as well as my childhood.”

Ebele Bright

To ensure she portrayed this accurately she spoke with teachers as they have more access to children from different backgrounds. She wanted to discover how they navigate different emotions in the classroom and help guide children needing more support. Ebele explained observation is our close friend as writers. She constantly observes people, things and  environments, because it’s free. She likes to observe the workers at her daughter’s nursery to see how they interact with the children.

“On one occasion, I recall the tearful screams of a child who clung to his father in hopes of not going into nursery. I observed a staff member calm the child, turning his lunging hands into a warm embrace. The staff member validated the child’s feelings with soft spoken words, an attentive gaze and an open body language.”

Ebele Bright

A combination of these experiences helped her to frame Chico’s dialogue and character development, as both dialogue and character are interwoven.

Ebele’s research tip to other writers writing picture books is to read it aloud to people to gain feedback and watch their reaction. Reading to children in groups is a helpful way to observe which parts of your story stick, and makes them laugh. Did they understand the story? Did they enjoy it? Which parts are they repeating afterwards? Children are beautifully expressive and very honest. She revealed she prefers to do this without the illustrations, as it gives a true picture of the strength of the story.

Ebele said she organises the information she finds by the main character, relationships, environment and any additional details. She knows which details are really important and dispensable. She then makes a collage on google docs using screenshots and images, sketch things on paper, and make notes until her research looks more like a painting, and not just individual splashes of colour.

She emphasised it is important to remind yourself research must come to an end to avoid the research vortex which may ultimately keep your story at bay. Allow your imagination the freedom to thrive and simply write.

You can find out more about Ebele Bright on her websites and and follow her on Instagram @weareannounceworld

To read the complete unabridged feature you can purchase a copy of the #252 15 Mar 2023 issue of Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.

An interview with… Sarah Aspinall

For my Research Secrets slot in Writers’ Forum issue Sept 2021 #236 I interviewed Sarah Aspinall about her memoir Diamonds at the Lost and Found: A Memoir in Search of My Mother, published by Fourth Estate and inspired by her glamourous, yet eccentric mother, Audrey Miller, later known as Audrey Aspinall.

Sarah knew she had to find a way of writing this book as every time she told the story of her childhood adventures people would gasp and say, ‘you have to write that, it’s such an incredible story.’ The word incredible always worried her a little, as she’d sometimes wonder if it all really happen as she remembered it.

“My memories were vividly of a wild harum-scarum life, travelling the world with my glamorous but eccentric mother, Audrey. We wound up in various strange exotic destinations around the world; sometimes we were in luxury hotels and fantastic mansions, other times we lived in cabins of cruise ships, or a cheap scruffy motel in the Killdevil Hills of North Carolina. We often stayed with people we’d just met. Many of these people were men, as the purpose of these trips seemed to be for my mother ‘to find true love.’”

Sarah Aspinall

Sarah revealed when she started writing she had no contacts as she knew most of the people as ‘Auntie Sadie’ or ‘Uncle Les.’ She had no idea how to start her research and all she had to go on was a big chocolate box full of photographs, some had dates and names scribbled on the back. There was also a battered address book held together with rubber bands, in which nothing was in order in its alphabetical pages. It was stuffed with scraps of paper with barely legible names and numbers. Yet, Sarah had spent most her childhood listening to her mother regale people with her amazing stories. These people would have heard them all and may be able to fill in the blanks.   

“I think even a simple memoir is a way of passing on something precious as everyone has a story to tell.”

Sarah Aspinall

Audrey’s own childhood in Liverpool was easy to write about, as Sarah told me she had already vividly conjured the sights, sounds and smells of the coal-yard belonging to her Uncle Charlie where she and her mother lived after being deserted by her father. Memoirs such as Helen Forrester’s story of her desperately poor childhood in Depression-ridden Liverpool of the 1930 were brilliant for details of daily life.

On Facebook there are pages such as Liverpool Hidden History, which has 42,000 members. Her queries about the lives of a bookie’s runner got many helpful responses from people whose own parents told them stories of illegal back street gambling.  She used some of these personal for moments such as Audrey’s description of running back from the pubs with all the bets and hiding under the big tarpaulin in the yard when someone had tipped off the police. Similarly with accounts of the evacuees getting on trains Sarah borrowed from real memories of people:

‘…as the train crowded with children pulled out of Lime Street station, some of the little ones were screaming for their mothers. I saw one mother being sick on the platform, but mine managed to stand tall.’ 

Extract from Diamonds at the Lost and Found: A Memoir in Search of My Mother

Sarah explained she was aware of Audrey being very much the family star from the photos of her at the time in dance clothes, or leading the Orange Day parades or as the May Queen. She found accounts of these big celebrations of a working-class Liverpool childhood on social media. Watching archive from Pathe news on YouTube was useful gave a sense of the crowds watching a horse parade and the nodding heads of the horses. Sarah said there are hundreds of wonderful Pathe news clips online which really transport you to the past and spark the imagination. 

For her mother’s eventful voyage to America just after the war when she was twenty, Sarah bought James Steele’s book Queen Mary, which is rich in images that show the fabulous décor of the ballrooms and cocktail lounges and gives you a sense of daily life for the different class of passengers. She also signed up to to look for clues to her parents’ family histories and was thrilled to find it has passenger lists for sea voyages. 

“Discovering her name handwritten on the list was magical. Revealing she had written in one column she was a ‘journalist’ I’d known she had a social diary in the local paper, Talk of Many Things by Audrey Miller but was disappointed to find no records for those years.”

Sarah Aspinall

Sarah told me that travelling back to places in the book was the most powerful way of reaching back to the past. Scents and smells are amazing at unlocking memories. Walking the streets of New York helped her to write about the city Audrey discovered in 1946. Although the air would have been a little different then, many things would not have changed. Sarah knew she would be dreaming of something more thrilling than her godmother’s small flat in the suburb of Jackson Heights. Using this memory, she wrote:

‘Of course, in my fantasies I was in the New York of the Movies.. off sipping Martini at the Copacabana Bar with Cary Grant, not sitting each night in Mike and Sadie’s little apartment with our TV dinners on a tray.’  

Extract from Diamonds at the Lost and Found: A Memoir in Search of My Mother

A lightning bolt of memory came when her childhood friends reminded her of the stuffed snake toy she’d named Sabet Sabescue. Sarah divulged she suddenly remembered this was the name of the man who had taken them on the felucca boat down the Nile. HIs smile remained like the Cheshire Cat, long after the rest of him had vanished, hovering at the edge of my memory, along with the thrill of driving too fast in his open car with the wind in my hair. This is perhaps the most exciting thing about researching a memoir – the finding of these tiny keys that unlock a secret storehouse of forgotten memories.

For writing any book, and particularly a memoir Sarah’s advice is to get a good editor, or friendly reader to find cuts to make in your writing. Every line of a memoir can feel precious to you, because it is so intimately your story. She rarely read drafts of people’s books which wouldn’t benefit enormously by a tough edit. Writers must invite it, or even insist on it, as friends hate to tell the awful truth. You need to insist ‘be brutal, find me whole sections to lose, not just a few lines here and there’.  

Trims and tightening can help a lot, but the painful truth is often whole chunks of story just need to go even though they may have taken a lot of time and be beautifully written. Sarah elaborated that she cut three last chapters out completely, although they represented months of work because two trusted friends both said the same thing ‘it is better without them; the story really ends earlier.’ They were right. This is when she found a publisher.

Her research tip is to interrogate friends and family about tiny details of what they remember, as the name of an old toy can bring so much flooding back. Use the sense of smell to unlock the past. Sarah explained that if she smells Youth Dew her mother’s perfume whole scenes come back to her. If you can revisit places close your eyes and breath in, as it may allow you to time travel.

Sarah is happy for anyone wanting writing tips or advice to contact her via Facebook or Instagram. She doesn’t use twitter much. 

You can find Sarah Aspinall on Facebook @sarah.aspinall.355 and Instagram @sarahjaspinall

To read the complete feature you can purchase a copy of Sept 2021 #236 Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.

An interview with… Delores Gordon-Smith

For my Research Secrets slot in the February #251 8 Feb 2023 issue of Writers Forum I spoke to Delores Gordon Smith about how she researched her radio play based on the mysterious death of Charles Bravo in 1876.

Delores told me writing a story set in 1876 was a bit of a new venture for her, as all of her novels are murder mysteries set in the 1920’s. Murder, Charles Bravo: A Radio Play, published by Williams & Whiting, is very different.  

In the phonetic alphabet ‘Charlie’ stands for the letter C and ‘Bravo’ for the letter B.  Which may lead anyone to suppose that a murder mystery with a character called Charles Bravo as the victim must be fiction. It isn’t.  The murder – or, perhaps, more accurately – the death of Charles Bravo was one of the most notorious unsolved mysteries of Victorian England.

On Tuesday, the 18th April 1876 Charles Bravo, a young barrister aged thirty, came home to his beautiful and wealthy wife, Florence, who he’d married four months previously.  That night he was taken gravely ill and, after three days of agony, died on Friday the 21st.  After his death the autopsy revealed that Bravo had taken a dose of between twenty and thirty grains (about half a teaspoon) of the poison, antimony. But who gave him the poison?  That’s where the mystery lies.

Like many avid readers – and most authors are avid readers – some of the very first grown-up books Delores read were the Sherlock Holmes stories. She explained Sherlock Holmes’ background is so vividly depicted that, almost without knowing it, any child reading the stories will accumulate a substantial store of knowledge about Victorian England – hansom cabs, steam trains, the gas-lit streets, the huge gaps between rich and poor, the old rural way of life and the smoky industry of the city; all that’s in Conan Doyle, a foreign but familiar landscape. 

The Charles Bravo mystery fits right in – it’s a Sherlock Holmes story without Sherlock, populated by an arrogant young barrister, a damsel in acute distress, a mysterious elderly doctor, a foreign companion who evidently has a secret of her own and a kindly, alert lawyer. The mystery has intrigued many writers from Agatha Christie to Julian Fellows.    

However, as any writer knows, the finished book or play is the tip of an iceberg of research. That sounds very daunting but it’s easier to get your head round the idea if you break it into the various steps. 

First of all, the setting, period or the subject – preferably all three – have to be something that you’re interested in anyway. Victorian England and an unsolved murder mystery?  Yes, that box was ticked. I think this initial interest is really important because you’re going to be spending a lot of imaginative time in this world that you’re creating. 

Incidentally, it’s where the story’s set that is probably the most important. If you think about the books that you’ve really enjoyed, the chances are it’s the setting, along with the characters, that’ve drawn you into the book. Delores advocates you should try to discover the real facts about the time, place and subject and don’t rely just on what you’ve seen on TV or read in popular novels. 

Those have their uses but wherever you’re setting a story try and make it real.  This rule applies as much to stories set now as to historical fiction and as much to a story set locally as to some exotic destination. If you’re interested enough in your home town to set a story there, then you’ll include the sort of detail that’ll make it come alive for the reader. How? Well, if you want to set a story in your home town, for instance, you’ve got a huge advantage as you know your town inside out. However, try and see the town or city through a visitor’s eyes. What would strike a visitor as unusual?

She told me the descriptions of Holmes’ London are so realistic many readers think they know the place, but the interesting thing is that Conan Doyle wasn’t a Londoner. He came from Edinburgh and gives his impressions of London as they’d strike a visitor. One little clue is Sherlock Holmes’ address, 221B, Baker Street. That “B” isn’t a London way of numbering apartment, flats or rooms; it belongs to Edinburgh. Then, of course, as your story develops, you’ll be able to add to your initial knowledge by the close-up detail you’ll need to make an individual scene come alive. 

Delores discovered the landmark book on the subject is How Charles Bravo Died by Yseult Bridges, published in 1956.  Here, she recounts in great detail, the story of the two inquests (the case never came to trial) that were held, as well as giving a plethora of fascinating background detail on the various people involved. This book is one of those great things that occasionally happen to a writer, an absolute gift for anyone interested in the subject. 

“I didn’t think the Bravo case could be turned into a novel. With the transcripts of the inquests so faithfully recorded by Yseult Bridges, the story seemed tailor made for a radio play. I wasn’t making up dialogue but using (and, obviously, editing) what was actually said. Okay, so I had to make up some dialogue but I tried to keep that well within the bounds of what the various characters are recorded as thing and feeling.”

Delores Gordon-Smith

Her tip to writers wanting to write their own radio play is to not only research the subject matter but to also do the research into the genre.

“A radio play – at the risk of sending obvious, it’s all got to be done in speech. Obviously you can have a character’s voice-over as an intimate chat to the listener – a sort of breaking the fourth wall.”

Delores Gordon Smith

She elaborated how Inner thoughts can be given as a voice-over and the sound effects (buzz of conversation from a crowd in court) etc help to set the scene as, unlike a novel, you can’t fall back on straightforward description. Delores said signalling to the listener that we’ve moved onto a new scene can be tricky and recommends a couple of tricks, such as having the narrator say words to the effect of, ‘It was later that day when Mr X came to see me..’ etc.  

Other than that – the technical side of remembering it’s all spoken word with no visuals or description – the process is much the same as writing a novel. That’s imagining yourself in the lives of these characters and bringing them to life as best you can.  

Discover more about Delores and her books on her website:

To read the complete feature you can purchase a copy of #251 8 Feb 2023 Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.

An Interview with… Rebecca Raisin

In a Research Secrets interview for #250 4 Jan 2023 issue of Writers’ Forum, I spoke to Rebecca Raisin about her travel research into Van Life and Christmas traditions in Lapland for her latest romance novel, Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop.

In typical romance style the heroine is going through a bad patch where her life seems to implode and she can’t understand what she’s doing wrong. Flora’s best friend Livvie comes up with an audacious plan for her to become a Van Lifer and live her dream selling Christmas decorations from her van at a market in Lapland.

My beautiful van Peppermint

Rebecca told me Lapland has this magical allure thanks to the Aurora Borealis and it’s one of the most festive places on the planet so felt is was the perfect backdrop to send Flora in her van. She revealed she uses Pinterest to make vision boards about each novel before she begins as it helps as a visual prompt when she describes the town, characters and what they’re up to. She makes her boards ‘secret’ so no one has access to them before she has finished writing the book.

To flesh out her characters she starts by doing a personality profile on each main character – what they look like, and then more important parts like what they’re afraid of, what they want most. She told me she writes copious notes, their backstory, whether they’re whimsical, sassy or confident but secretly unhappy.

“I also use online personality tests and input what I think my character would choose and use those results to flesh them out even more. One of my favourites is This helps me to make my characters relatable so the reader can sympathise with them and cheer them on.”

Rebecca Raisin

When setting books set in exotic locations, Rebecca explained she looks for off-the-beaten track experiences, foods, culture, lore about the place. She wants the reader to be wowed by learning something they didn’t know before. For Lapland, with its artic climate she focused on finding out more about the setting through official websites like: and when something piqued her interest she searched further afield.

She finds Instagram great for providing images that take root in her imagination so she can then create more vivid descriptions. She searches hashtags such as #Wanderlust #VanLife #Nomads #Lapland. For example:

Cradling the mug to warm my hands, I look at the snowy view outside and know that moments like these are why people choose Van Life. There’s no one about, just me and the snowy cotton-ball landscape.

Extract from Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Rebecca told me the most unusual piece of research she did for Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop was to find a local sauna at a swimming centre and try it out. After reading so much about the health benefits, she wanted to experience it for herself to help her describe it throughout the book.

“I found it mercilessly hot and hard to breathe and I only lasted about five minutes.”

Rebecca Raisin

This research, along with her reading, filtered into her writing, as can be seen in this following extract:

One thing I’m curious about, why are saunas so popular here? Is it because of the arctic temperatures? A way to warm up?’

‘Yes, that I suppose but it’s mainly for the health benefits. For general wellbeing. If the sauna can’t cure you, nothing can. I use it for detoxing, anti-ageing, to speed up my metabolism. Back in the day, my grandmother gave birth to all her babies in saunas, as did many in her generation, thinking it was the safest, most sterile place for such a thing. Every single member of my family has a sauna at home – they use the sauna, then swim in the icy cold lake and head back into the sauna. It’s invigorating, makes you feel alive! It’s just one of those things that’s ingrained in us.’

Extract from Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Her research into Christmas traditions revealed the typical cosy way in which Finnish people celebrate Christmas. It’s traditional to celebrate Christmas from the 21st of December until St Knut’s Day January 13th. Finnish people tend to work a lot in the lead up so they can spend the holidays with their families. On December 24th they decorate the tree, have a warm glass of gløgge, or mulled wine before their joulusauna.

Rebecca explained she spends a lot of time reading travel blogs and searching on Instagram for people living the same sort of Van Life lifestyle. She advocates reading travels blogs is an authentic way to learn about what struggles they face along the way, as well as the gems they find that an everyday tourist might miss. Usually her heroines are thirty-somethings travelling on a limited budget so she hunts for others who go from country to country and live a frugal existence selling what they can and living outside of ordinary. She revealed YouTube van diaries were also a fun way to tag along these journeys from the comfort of her own home.

Rebecca told me she is particularly interested in food when researching for a book, as it’s a great way for characters to try something new and is a scene setter. Popular during the festive season in Lapland is joululimppu which is Christmas bread.

She explained that like a lot of the Finnish food it’s a mix of strong flavours that just seem to work. She found the ideal recipe for joululimppu on

“Browsing food blogs is a very addictive past time of mine, especially when researching for a Christmas book set in a country foreign to me. I like the personal touch when reading blogs and that the creators are clearly passionate about their subject. I read up on certain recipes from that country, in this case Finland and then lace them throughout the book, trying not to info dump, but so they appear naturally to the reader.”

Rebecca Raisin

This can be seen in this extract from Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop:

Stalls sell roasted chestnuts, and piparkakut a traditional Finnish gingerbread. There’s a sign for the ultimate comfort food riisipuuro otherwise known as rice pudding, mugs of steaming hot cocoa and warm pastries. The scent of Christmas – a mix of nutmeg, vanilla, star anise – is heavy in the icy air.

Extract from Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

You can find out more information about Rebecca Raisin and her books on her website:

To read the complete feature you can purchase a copy of #250 4 Jan 2023 Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.

An Interview with… Stephen Wade

In January 2022 I interviewed Stephen Wade about the research he did for his fiction novel, The Lovers on Asphodel Way. The interview appeared in the #241 Feb 2022 issue of Writers’ Forum.

It is set on a Yorkshire building site of a new housing estate during 1972. The story encompasses the worries and fears of everyday life at this time. The Lovers on Asphodel Way is published by a new publisher called Inky Lab who are based in Newcastle. They have published four anthologies and my book is part of their new fiction list.

Most of his published books have been non-fiction and this one is fiction. Even so Steve revealed the research was basically the same, but in addition he had my own memories.

“Although I never took any photos at the time, luckily, on the main heritage site for the Leeds area, Leodis, I found houses and streets from all decades throughout the twentieth century. Imagining places has always been the first stage of my research, followed by tracking down objects, pictures, and of course, memoirs of times and places.”

Steve Wade

After his first draft, he realised that there was a lot he still needed to know, especially since he had only been working as a labourer in his student years. He realised he couldn’t carry a hod, lay a brick or spread concrete on a drive and he needed facts about the men on the site and the women workers in the places around the site, in particular a corner shop and a working men’s club. he told me for the latter, he used the newspaper archive for the basic facts – the Times Digital Archive for the year 1972. he also accessed the Lancashire Library Service digital archive, after first joining the Lancashire Library. This provided all kinds of details, including costs.

He used family anecdotes about when his dad was a baker to help him create the atmosphere and find his character’s voices. Most helpful of all the sources was the memories of the man who ran the site – the gaffer – who knew his father, who bought back memories of the way he spoke and his overall attitudes. But again, people who knew him provided more detail.

Steve said discovering information about life doing Voluntary Services Overseas proved to be a challenge. In the end, he looked at some old archives from a woman who worked for the Women’s Volunteer Service in Korea, and he transmuted her work – arranging concerts and music – into his story, which (in one strand) concerns a father writing to a son in Africa which is a contrast between the lawlessness the father sees at home and the surprising civilised and progressive context in Africa, reported by the son. When Steve looked at some memories of people who had done VSO, he found the British view of Africa was still governed at that time by the distortions of the media.

“As for the use I made of the Korean material and the Women’s Voluntary Services, this was wonderful source material, because the woman whose archive I accessed had been a working-class Lincolnshire woman whose family had lived lives of great service (from being in the second world war to the Korean and then in the Middle East). Her letters home gave me the authentic feel of the period because she was still working abroad into the 1980s, mainly in Germany.”

Steve Wade

Steve elaborated that these letters are the only ones that deal with the world well outside the Yorkshire village and people. He used them to make the exotic references more distinct and interesting, so the element of surprise and even shock in the letters from Africa gives the reader an element of the unexpected. It also has a modern resonance because the Africa depicted is not at all like author Joseph Conrad’s, or anything similar.

In the novel the writer of the letters in Yorkshire is a doctor, and he looks backwards in time for a kind of comfort, seeing the modern world as threatening, so he over-stresses the dangers he perceives around him as he writes his letters. The creation of his character proves how useful our own locality is because the model for him was a corner house in my own town, which had gradually been vandalised over a period of a few years.

Steve explained when doing research organisation is crucial. For his non-fiction he gathers all kinds of materials in folders, and relate the material to chapters, after first outlining the chapter content but for his fiction he revealed it was easier for him to put them in folders that roughly related to stages in the book.

“I tend to write fiction in passages and moods, short bursts. This relates to my fondness for notebooks and coffee shops. I tend to take my notebook somewhere beyond phones and doors, to somewhere where I will not be contacted, and then write a few pages. These pages then go into the folders for each stage as the story unfolds.”

Steve Wade

He told me his oddest piece of research was for the working men’s club. Back then, these places really were old school and very ‘unwoke.’ There were snooker rooms and bars where women were not permitted. There was a male culture that thrived away from home. What I did was invent an old soldier who is full of stories, strange exaggerations, and make his recalling the past a satire on him. In other words, he is something of a grotesque.  He comes out as a Python-type character.

His research tip for other writers is when you need to have authentic voices from the past, use the Old bailey Sessions Online. Here, dipping into any criminal trial between 1683-1913, who have the actual voices of ordinary people of all trades and places, to read – exactly as they spoke. Characters may be lifted from these very rich and fascinating trail transcripts.

Steve told me researching archives is particularly rewarding and surprising. He once found, in a pack of letters between mother and son, from way back in 1977, some pressed flowers and dried blood. The son had died on his way to take part in the Zulu War. The family history site is a wonderful resource because they have all kinds of previously hard to find court and prison records. The Ancestry site is also particularly useful.

You can discover more about Stephen Wade and his books on his website:

To read the complete feature you can purchase a copy of #241 Feb 2022 Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.

An interview with… Sue Moorcroft

Today you can discover what Sue Moorcroft told me about her research into the seasons for her romance novels in the interview for the #240 Dec 2021 issue of Writers’ Forum.

Sue explained writing a summer novel and a winter novel each year makes weather a consideration. When she was writing about Switzerland she used an online snow-cam and other online resources for typical temperatures and daylight hours.

She also keeps my eye out for seasonal events or traditions that she could be used in her novels and keeps a note on any posters about seasonal events – a Christmas tree competition or an artificial beach in the local town centre during the school summer holidays, etc.

“I had a Christmas wreath made last year and the florist explained it was compostable so I brought that into Under the Mistletoe and found a demonstration of how to make one online.”

She revealed when writing a Christmas book she bears in mind Christmas can affect everything. For those who celebrate the season, things are worse or better if you tag ‘at Christmas’ onto a situation. He lost his job at Christmas. She found her long-lost sister at Christmas. Christmas affects what restaurants or pubs look like, menus, what shops sell, what’s on the radio or TV and how people spend their time. Even a Christmas gift is meaningful for both plot and characterisation.

“Ideas are like gold dust. When I get one, I write it down. I can usually make my ideas fit the season with a bit of plot dexterity but definitely an ice hockey player fits nicely into a winter book and a vineyard owner into a summer book.”

Sue Moorcroft

Sue told me people with knowledge are key to her research and she is always interested in what they have to say and will follow up with more questions. She revealed she often uses social media to find the people she needs. For Under the Mistletoe she needed help from a teacher on the subject of bullying and help from an artist, as it’s my heroine Laurel’s occupation. She explained people can be incredibly kind.

When writing Under the Italian Sun she saw a documentary on the subject of post partum psychosis and followed the filmmaker on Twitter. He was the subject of the documentary, too, as he’d lost his mum young and didn’t understand why there was such a mystery around it. Sue told him how much she’d enjoyed the documentary and she was writing a book that covered the same subject. He offered her a video chat where she could find out more information.

In Just for the Holidays a forced helicopter landing took place. The process is called autorotation, the skill of keeping the rotors moving using pitch and yaw when the engine cuts out – a bit like a sycamore seed twirling to earth. Sue had trouble finding a helicopter pilot who wanted to help but eventually, via a friend of a friend, she found one. He took her up in a helicopter and they ‘pretend crashed’.

“It was awesome! I absolutely loved it. We shot down to earth and then he just pulled it up and landed (this is called ‘flare and run-on landing). Chatting afterwards, although it had taken ages casting around to find him, it turned out he knew my auntie.”

Sue Moorcroft

Sue also loves to visit the countries she write about. She regularly goes to writing retreats and courses in Umbria, Italy and has used the setting for several of her novels. Under the Italian Sun and One Summer in Italy are both set there so she was able to use her extensive photo library as a resource.

I know a lovely Italian lady and I asked her if she could help with things that were hard to research from here, or are cultural, such as what kind of beer this person would drink or how people behave if they have nuns to lunch, and she answered every email. She also put the Italian phrases right for me. It gave me a lot of confidence in the authenticity of the setting and themes.

On a visit, Sue told me she tends to eat local food, especially any particular to the region. Menus are also helpful, and available online. Settings can help an author weave a romantic spell around the reader. Her tip is to pick a setting that heightens the emotional stakes and visit it.

Find out more about Sue Moorcroft on her website and follow her on Twitter @SueMoorcroft and on Instagram @suemoorcroftauthor.

To read the complete feature you can purchase a copy of #240 Dec 2021 Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.

To read my future Research Secrets or Writing 4 Children interviews you can invest in a subscription from the Writers’ Forum website, or download Writers’ Forum to your iOS or Android device.