Best-selling author of all time!

Any guesses as to who is the most read author in the world? Well, according to a recent Wikipaedia article, it is Agatha Christie – who has estimated sales of between two and four billion!  Even beating the bard, William Shakespeare!

Hercule Poirot appeared in 33 of her published ‘whodunits’ – which numbered 85 in total – not forgetting her  numerous short stories.

It’s no surprise then that young librarian,  Janie Juke, has learned so much from the great man that she has become a successful amateur sleuth.  In the fictional Sussex seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, Janie enlists the help of friends and family to solve crimes and mysteries – with her notebook at the ready and Poirot’s advice always on hand.

Agatha Christie was born on 15th September 1890.

And now, to help celebrate the birthday of our wonderful Queen of Crime, you can buy all three books of the Janie Juke trilogy in one compilation.

The Sussex Crime Mysteries is available now for pre-order via Amazon at a special discounted price of £5.99 for just 13 days – don’t delay, the clock is ticking…

Not lost, but abandoned

It was 1986 when Nottinghamshire social worker, Margaret Humphreys, was first contacted by a former child migrant in Australia.  She was asked if she could help track down his family in the UK.  That was just the start of a long journey for Margaret, and for the many individuals and families she has helped since that day.

In 1987 she established the Child Migrants Trust, which continues to do vital work in tracking down families and raising awareness.

Here is an excerpt from the Child Migrants Trust website that explains a little of what the children were subjected to:

‘After being told fanciful tales of travel to the ‘Land of Milk and Honey‘, where children ride to school on horseback, child migrants were sent abroad without passports, social histories or even basic documents such as a full birth certificate. Brothers and sisters were frequently separated for most of their childhood; some were loaded onto trucks for long journeys to remote institutions, only to be put to work as labourers the next day. Many felt an extreme sense of rejection by their family and country of origin. Others felt like characters from Kafka’s novels; their punishment was obvious – exile from their family and homeland – but the nature of their crime was a complete mystery.

The tragic reality for many child migrants was appalling standards of care which fell well below standards found within British institutions. Children as young as seven, sent to institutions in Western Australia, were involved in construction works without basic safety measures. Many were injured in building accidents at an age when they would have been in school if they had remained in the United Kingdom.’

Families were torn apart – many never to find each other again.  In a recent news article (Daily Mirror, 30th August 2018) Rex Wade – one of the last child migrants to be sent to Australia in 1970 – tells his story:

“The whole experience ruined my life. We were treated like slaves. It was wrong and should never have happened.”

These and many other stories inspired me to write The Forgotten Children  – in the hope that it will increase awareness about this terrible period in British history.

The Forgotten Children is available now for pre-order from Amazon and will be published on November 29th.

The Queen of Crime!

On the 15th September 1890 Agatha Christie was born.  She started writing novels  in her early twenties and a hundred years later her books are still being read by millions!

Among those readers is Janie Juke, young librarian and amateur sleuth, whose hero is Hercule Poirot.  Janie has made a name for herself in the sleepy seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, where she uses all she has learned from Poirot to solve crimes and mysteries.

The Janie Juke mysteries are set in Sussex in the late 1960s – when Agatha Christie’s books were already famous the world over.

Now, to help celebrate the birthday of our wonderful Queen of Crime, you can buy the whole Janie Juke trilogy in one compilation.

The Sussex Crime Mysteries is available now for pre-order via Amazon at a special discounted price for just 15 days – don’t delay, the clock is ticking…

The Forgotten Children

I will let the words of the Child Migrants Trust tell this story…

‘Britain is the only country in the world with a sustained history of child migration. Only Britain has used child migration as a key part of its child care strategy over four centuries rather than as a last resort during times of war or civil unrest.

The reality of this policy was to remove children, some as young as three years old from their mothers and fathers, from all that was familiar to them, and to ship them thousands of miles away from their home country to institutions in distant lands within the Commonwealth. Many of these children were removed without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

In the post-war period, child migrants as young as three were shipped to Canada, New Zealand, the former Rhodesia and Australia, a practice that continued as late as 1970.’

It is only as a result of the tireless work of Nottinghamshire social worker, Margaret Humphreys, that much of the truth has come to light.

When I first found out about the child migrants I was shocked.  Then I was angry and that anger inspired me to write a book.  I realised the best way to help the thousands of people affected by this dreadful policy that lasted for decades, was to raise awareness.

The Forgotten Children follows the journey of a mother, whose child was taken from her at birth.  It is fiction, but based on the many factual accounts I read while researching the book.

By telling the fictional story of Emily’s search for her child, I hope The Forgotten Children will encourage more people to be shocked and angry.  Perhaps then the individuals and families affected will finally receive the support they deserve.

The Forgotten Children is available now for pre-order from Amazon and will be published on November 29th.

Celebrating mysteries!

It’s fair to say, that there’s cause for celebration back here at Janie Juke HQ!  The Invisible Case – the third book in the Sussex Crime mystery series – will be available from this Saturday, 30 June.

As well, as this new novel, brand new editions of the first two books in the series have been published, with beautiful new covers (cover design courtesy of the talented author and cover designer, Christoffer Petersen).  The second editions also now include a map of Tamarisk Bay, the sleepy seaside town where Janie lives and works, and a bonus chapter.  But the great news is that the price is still the same – at £6.99 each.

And as if that isn’t enough – we have business cards, bookmarks and banners – all being printed, as I write this…

Buisnesscard.indd

The Invisible Case

It’s a tragic case for Janie this time – there’s a sudden death and it looks as though it could be suspicious…

Just when Janie was hoping to spend a fun Easter weekend catching up with her Aunt Jessica, who has returned from Italy after nine years of European adventures, the family are caught up with tragedy.  Does Jessica’s friend, Luigi, have something to hide?  What is the real reason he has come to Tamarisk Bay?

The Invisible Case is available now for pre-order on Amazon for the special price of just £0.99p!

Find it wherever you are in the world –

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

 

Dreaming of Italy!

If you are waiting for Janie Juke’s next adventure ‘The Invisible Case’, I can confirm that progress is good!  The first draft is complete and plans are in place for publication some time in June…watch this space…

Meanwhile, I can share with you that I have tapped into my Italian roots for Janie’s newest mystery.  It’s been wonderful recalling childhood memories of long train journeys to Rome, with all the excitement of our picnic breakfast.  It makes me smile now to think about how we downed our cornflakes with evaporated milk, as though it was a meal fit for royalty!  Fortunately, most of our trips were made as a family, which meant we filled a compartment, so no danger of annoying other passengers with our endless games of I-spy.

On our return journeys we spent hours munching our way through all the fruit that kind aunts and uncles had donated to us for our travels.  On one occasion I remember an uncle arriving at Rome station to say goodbye and to hand over a suitcase full of grapes!

My dad took us all on long walks around Rome and, even though my aunt lived quite a way from the station, dad insisted we walk to Roma Termini before we started any adventure.

Appropriate then, that Chapter 1 of ‘The Invisible Case’ starts in exactly the same place…

 

 

EARLY ONE MORNING

(by Virginia Baily, published 2015)

A kind friend lent me this novel when he discovered I was interested in learning about what life was like in Italy during the Second World War, as part of the research for the third book in the Janie Juke mystery series.  The perfect about this storyline is that it is set in the very year and region that I had been focused on – Rome, 1943.

This was the year when Italians changed their allegiance and the English went from being their enemies to being their friends.  In truth, I am sure that for average Italian the English were never considered the enemy – but with Mussolini choosing to be pally with Hitler, well, it didn’t bode well.  Then, after a ‘vote of no confidence’ in July 1943 Mussolini was arrested and in October that year Italy declared war on Germany.

Early One Morning captures all of the difficulties of life at that time.  It has a powerful start, with the protagonist, Chiara, saving the life of a young Jewish boy – Daniele – when his family is rounded up by German troops.   As the story unfolds we learn how that single moment has devastating results for Daniele and Chiara for years to come.  We meet Chiara again in the 1970s to discover how she copes when she receives an expected phone call.  A phone call that brings back memories she had hoped to forget.

The tale is beautifully told, well written, and full of detail that helps the reader to see, smell and taste what life was like in Italy in the forties and again in the seventies.  It was during the seventies that I made many of my own trips to Rome, with family and with friends.  My memories of pizza al taglio is perfectly described here:

‘Customers were coming out of the baker’s, clutching pieces of something hot, wrapped in waxed paper, biting into it before they even got out of the door, so irresistibly delicious was it.’

And here, a description of one of Rome’s famous squares:

‘…Piazza Navona, with the three fountains, the water bouncing off the great white statues now and sparkling in the bright midday sunshine.’

All in all, the book was a joy to read and took me back there to that place and that time, without me ever having to leave my house!

 

 

 

Feeling inspired

So much has happened over the last few weeks, all of which has helped to inspire my writing.

First off I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Denmark with my two writing buddies!  Spending hours talking and thinking about books is my idea of heaven, plus we got to see a beautiful country in stunning weather – a dusting of snow on the ground, but bright blue skies and no wind.  Perfect walking and talking weather.

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Returning from all that mental stimulation I was pleased to be able to throw myself into drafting the manuscript for Book 3 in the Janie Juke mystery series.  In Book 3 we meet Janie’s Aunt Jessica, who has been travelling abroad for the last few years.  She is returning from Italy and so my favourite country has once again been in my thoughts.  Just like in Lost Property, Book 3 has references to the Second World War, but getting the period detail correct is critical.

As every author knows, research is a fun part of the writing process, but can often be tricky.  Pinning down the right resource, or finding someone who knows the answers can often prove difficult and time-consuming.  So, I was very grateful to discover that my cousin (who lives in Rome) was able to provide me with wonderful stories, told to her by her parents, who lived through the Second World War.  What’s more, one of her grandchildren has been set the task of interviewing his 90-year-old great-grandmother to find out what she remembers about that time.  I can’t wait to hear the results!

My Italian cousin has proved to be a wonderful support, and not just with the new book. Over the past few weeks she has been steadily translating The Tapestry Bag into Italian! She says it has been a labour of love and she’s been enlisting every member of her family to check the translation.  So, I am hoping that later this year I will be able to publish an Italian edition of The Tapestry Bag, followed (hopefully!) with Italian versions of the other books in the series.

My final boost of inspiration during February is to see my five star reviews on Amazon continuing to increase in number.  There are now SIX for The Tapestry Bag and THREE for Lost Property.  It’s so encouraging to know that readers are enjoying the books and I am really grateful for all the support.

But for now, it is back to my drafting – hopefully it won’t be too long before it’s finished.  I’ll keep you posted!