Hingston’s Box by Decima Blake

Published by Pegasus Publishers

Paperback: 29 September 2016


I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Decima Blake, to talk about her debut novel, Hingston’s Box.


Writing Hingston’s Box – inspiration, research and plotting

Decima, what is your main source of inspiration?

The Golden Age of crime fiction has always fascinated me. I home in on novels, television adaptations and series that ooze mystery and intrigue. I challenge myself to solve the crime or identify the mystery’s solution before the conclusion is drawn, but invariably my mum beats me to it. Her dad and grandmother loved detective novels and murder mysteries, introducing her to them as she then did for me. Cumulatively they have been my main source of inspiration, leading me to enjoy the works of Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter’s Morse, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and those that have been inspired by them.

What inspired you to incorporate a supernatural theme into Hingston’s Box?

I believe a suggestion of the supernatural or the unknown can increase the power of a mystery. It adds a unique layer of uncertainty which can tip an already dark plot into a much more unnerving and memorable experience. I have been inspired by a number of novels that use the supernatural to differing extents, for example The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and M. R. James’ ghost stories.

You’ve set Hingston’s Box in real locations. Why does realism matter to you?

Due to the supernatural element in Hingston’s Box, I was keen to ensure that everything else was historically, geographically and procedurally true to life, so that in theory, the story could really happen. Hingston’s Box crosses the genres of crime fiction, mystery and the supernatural, so I wanted to strike a balance between the known and the unknown.

In general terms, realism matters hugely to me. Life presents countless avenues for exploration in a novel, all of which carry the potential for conveying great meaning, interest and relevance to the reader. I’ve focussed on the exploitation of children and the importance of protecting children from becoming victims of crime. My aim was to place the reader at the forefront of Hingston’s investigation so that they feel they have policed through the eyes of a detective. I set Hingston’s Box in real locations that I have an affiliation with and hope my descriptions sufficiently convey their character and atmosphere to inspire readers to visit Dartmouth, Totnes, Newton St Cyres and Cadbury in Devon, and Chiswick and Kew in London.

What was the most difficult area to research?

The Victorian circus of 1860s England proved the most difficult to research, in part due to the lack of photographs I could locate. The challenge led me to The British Library in London where a microfilm ordered from its location in the north of England gave a fantastic insight and proved to be invaluable for bringing realism to Hingston’s Box.

How did you plot out Hingston’s Box?

The initial concept for Hingston’s Box was a very simplistic idea: I thought how it would be exciting if something could materialise in a file and help solve a mystery from the past. I jotted down a few pages which outlined the overall story and the main themes.

I had limited historical knowledge and therefore completed the majority of my research at the outset to check whether the concept was workable and if so, exactly what time period and geographical locations were appropriate. I visited all locations in the book to get a true feel for the settings and to take photographs to remind me of details I may otherwise have forgotten.

A significant proportion of my research was conducted at The National Archives in Kew and having thoroughly enjoyed that experience I decided to set one of the chapters of Hingston’s Box at the Archives where Hingston himself leafs through a murder investigation file complete with calligraphic witness statements, investigative reports and anonymous notes. This was one of twenty chapters I outlined, each in a couple of sentences, in order to plot the order of events, make note of recurring themes and connect Hingston’s present day investigation with ‘a murderous past’.




About the book:

Since investigating the disappearance of fifteen-year-old twin boys, Hingston – a young, talented Detective Sergeant, has been tormented by night terrors. On waking, he remembers a vast, golden meadow that glows with warmth and carries the sound of rapid footfalls and trouser legs pushing through grasses. A curly haired boy runs tirelessly through the meadow. The promise of adventure is lost when the sickening ache of death seeps into Hingston’s bones. Feeling suffocated and tortured, melodic chimes calm him and his panic subsides. Signed off and leaving the office, a key inexplicably falls from Hingston’s investigation file. Intrigued, he takes it with him, escaping London for Dartmouth where his investigative race begins. Stalked by a challenging elderly woman and hindered by his boss, his determination to solve the case draws him into the supernatural world that connects a murderous past to the present


About the author:

Decimdecima-blakea Blake, aged thirty-two, has a long-standing interest in child protection having worked with teenagers, she is deeply passionate about child victims of crime. In writing Hingston’s Box, Decima drew on her love of classic English murder mysteries and ghost stories. Her interest in English Literature was ignited by two highly motivational teachers who made her A Level studies enjoyable, character forming and invaluable to her future endeavours. Hingston’s Box raises awareness of the vulnerability of all children to exploitation. A percentage of royalties will be donated to the charity Embrace Child Victims of Crime.


Author Links :  Twitter | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Hingston’s Box was published on 29 September 2016 by Pegasus Publishers and is available to purchase on Amazon, www.pegasuspublishers.com and to order through all good book stores.



Published by Avon 

Ebook: 6 October 2016 | Paperback: 1 December 2016


For Ava Bliss, it’s going to be a Christmas to remember…

On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.

Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.

So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…

Curl up with this gorgeous, festive read – the perfect treat for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.


I’ve always enjoyed Sue Moorcroft’s books and its a pleasure to be taking part in this blog tour for her latest, The Christmas Promise.   Millinery is not a subject you often find in a novel but in this story, Sue Moorcroft has woven the art of making hats into an impressive and heartwarming story.  Its not all fluff and lightness however and between the prettiest of covers, The Christmas Promise covers some not so nice issues, including serious illness and revenge porn.  These subjects are dealt with sympathetically and helpfully, particularly with the revenge porn issue, where advice and suggestions are included within the story narrative.

From the outset Ava Blissham was an easy character to like. She is loyal to her friends, she hadn’t had the happiest of childhoods with distant and career focused parents, especially where Christmas was concerned and I really felt for her.   Not only was she struggling to make enough money to live on from her Ava Bliss millinery business but she also has to cope with a *** of an ex-boyfriend.  When she is introduced to Sam Jermyn, a media PR boss, there is obviously a spark between them however Ava has other priorities – and loyalties, and has no intention of taking things further.

Family is very important here and the relationships between parent and child – whether loving and close or distant and self sufficient are under the spotlight.  Sam’s obvious devotion to his mother was so very touching and despite all that she was going through, Wendy was an extremely upbeat and resilient character.  In fact all the characters are well drawn and realistic and you feel that you really get to know them – warts and all. I had my favourites – besides Ava (I share her fondness for Zinfandel Rose!) and Sam; Ava’s father Graeme was someone you want fighting your corner and WAG ‘Booby Ruby’ was a delight with more depth of character than was initially evident.

Readers of Sue’s earlier books may remember the setting of Middledip, which features in this story and although much of the tale takes place in London, we make a welcome return to this lovely village and to briefly meet up with one or two of its characters.

There is so much more to the art of hat making than I ever imagined and whilst the book is not in any way a tutorial it does give an interesting insight into how various styles are constructed, all interwoven into the story when Ava is asked to make a very special bespoke hat for a very special person.

This is a lovely book to curl up with and enjoy – not just at Christmas but at any time of the year.  I loved this one and definitely recommend it.



My thanks to Avon for the paperback copy to review.  With the proof copy of the book came an exciting box of hat making materials – this is my effort!  The milliners of the world can be safe in the knowledge that they face no competition from me!

christmas-promise-box christmas-promise-hat






About the author:

Sue Moorcroft writsue moorcroftes women’s contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes. Her new book, The Christmas Promise, will be published by Avon Books UK (ebook 6 October 2016, paperback and audio 1 December 2016).

The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue is a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner. She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing ‘how to’.

Sue was born in Germany, the daughter of two soldiers, then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She’s worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a typesetter, but is pleased to have wriggled out of all ‘proper jobs’.



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Don’t. Trust. Anyone.

It was supposed to be a fresh start.

A chance to forget the past and embrace the future.

But can you ever really start again?

Or does the past follow you wherever you go…

Steph and Mark have just moved house, trying to find a way forward after all the secrets, lies and betrayal.

But starting over isn’t always easy. Especially when someone will go to any lengths to make sure you never forget…


Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall was published on Thursday 20 October in ebook, paperback and audio download.   All this week, bloggers have been posting reviews as part of the blog tour – my turn was on Monday and you can read a guest post from Lisa and my review of this wonderfully twisted book here.



I was fortunate to receive an invite to the launch of Tell Me No Lies at Waterstones Piccadilly and have a brand new paperback copy, signed by the author, to give away.  Entry is via Rafflecopter below.  I’m very sorry but for postage costs, I have to restrict this to UK entrants only.

Good luck and happy reading!








a Rafflecopter giveaway



Published by Carina UK/HQ Stories

Ebook & Paperback : 20 October 2016


Don’t. Trust. Anyone.

It was supposed to be a fresh start.

A chance to forget the past and embrace the future.

But can you ever really start again?

Or does the past follow you wherever you go…

Steph and Mark have just moved house, trying to find a way forward after all the secrets, lies and betrayal.

But starting over isn’t always easy. Especially when someone will go to any lengths to make sure you never forget…



It’s a pleasure to be kicking off the blog tour for Tell Me No Lies, to be published this week.  Lisa Hall is an exciting new voice in the psychological thriller genre – to be able to write such suspenseful thrillers she must have a seriously twisted mind (and I mean that in the nicest possible way!!).  Her debut novel Between You and Me has already gathered over 1,160 5* reviews on Amazon since being published by Carina in March 2016 and I have no doubt that Tell Me No Lies will be another great success.   My review will follow at the end of this post but first I have a guest post from Lisa which I hope you enjoy.


Writing Psychological Thrillers

by Lisa Hall


I never set out to write a psychological thriller – not in the beginning. With my first book, I just wrote the story, and it wasn’t until my editor pegged it as a psychological suspense novel that I realised that was what it was. This time around though I knew exactly where I was going – and that was directly back into psych thriller territory. The idea for Tell Me No Lies came when someone in my life – someone who I was fairly close to – acted in a manner that was completely out of character, and showed some really unexpected behaviour. It made me think how well do we actually know the people that we let into our lives? Lots of us tend to take people at face value, and I wanted to explore what would happen if our instincts about somebody were wrong.

It’s a hard genre to write for – there are so many amazing psychological thriller writers out there, especially British writers. I’m a huge fan of C. L. Taylor, Julia Crouch and Elizabeth Haynes. There is a lot of pressure to come up with new, more exciting twists, but we are very lucky in that crime readers, and especially readers of psychological thrillers, are some of the most passionate readers I’ve ever come across. Bloggers and reviewers shout from the rooftops when they love a crime novel, and the support I’ve had from bloggers and reviewers has been fantastic. It’s an incredibly popular genre, and I believe the reason for that is the every day, domestic element that crops up all too frequently – it seems we find every day situations gone bad very scary, particularly when we realise that the things that happen in these novels…well, they could just happen to us too. I’d like to try my hand at writing something different one day, maybe a nice romance, or chick lit novel? I couldn’t guarantee that everyone would survive though…





My Review:

After reading this book I can guarantee that you will Never.Trust.Anyone.Ever.Again. When newly pregnant Steph and her husband Mark move to a new town with their young son Henry it is supposed to be a fresh start for them both. Times have been tough, for various reasons (which are revealed) but someone is determined to make Steph scared and uncomfortable. Mark has to travel a lot for his work and so Steph and Henry are left alone and vulnerable – just to add to the suspense.

The characterisations in the story are excellent – even some of the peripheral characters will have you grinding your teeth.   Steph is portrayed as someone quite fragile mentally but who is trying her best to be strong and overcome past issues and this is where I had a lot of sympathy for her. She has trust issues which means that she doesn’t make friends easily and so when Laurence, her charming and good looking next door neighbour and Lila, a young woman from across the road attempt to befriend her, she tentatively accepts. However it becomes clear that someone is trying to intimidate and scare her, the question is who? There appear to be many suspects, some from her past as well as her present. Is she just being paranoid? Is someone really targeting her – or is she the book world’s best unreliable narrator?  You can make up your own mind.

I have to admit that there were times when out of sheer frustration, I wanted to shake Steph and shout at her to bring her to her senses.  She seemed incapable of joining the dots together and making a picture. I could see it – why wouldn’t she!

This book will truly mess with your head. I think I probably suspected almost everybody in turn before making my mind up and even then I had some doubts.  The story rolls along at a pace and it was certainly an addictive book that I wanted to keep going back to.  Tell Me No Lies is one seriously twisty thriller that shows how difficult it can be to leave the past behind…and that ending.  I didn’t see that coming!


My thanks to the publisher for the paperback copy to review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.


About the author:

lisa-hallLisa loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a librarian – and after years of talking about it, was finally brave enough to put pen to paper (and let people actually read it). Lisa lives in a small village in Kent, surrounded by her towering TBR pile, a rather large brood of children, dogs, chickens and ponies and her long-suffering husband. She is also rather partial to eating cheese and drinking wine.
Readers can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaHallAuthor


Author Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Amazon UK   |  Goodreads




The mysterious parcel that arrived in the post!



The Wacky Man by Lyn G Farrell

Published by Legend Press

Ebook & Paperback : 2 May 2016

288 pages


I saw this book mentioned so many times on my social media feeds earlier this year and, swayed by the many rave reviews from fellow bloggers, I had to buy a copy.  It’s waiting patiently to be read and reviewed but in the meantime I am very happy to welcome Lyn to the blog with a Q&A.


It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the blog Lyn, would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’m Lyn, a Leeds based writer and I am also an academic, working in distance learning. I feel like a rather unlikely novelist because I have always written part time and also in a fairly ‘off and on’ way, depending on what else I was doing. I’m catching up with life after a rather bad start. I’m completely addicted to learning, am an amateur singer, speak Tibetan badly and hack away at a guitar in the hope that one day I’ll be able to play something.


The Wacky Man was shortlisted for the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary (an annual prize for unpublished novelists) where you were up against 8 other authors, part of the prize a publishing contract with Legend Press for 2016. How did you feel when you were announced as the winner and was this the first award that you had won for your writing?

I never expected to win and for a few weeks afterwards kept worrying that they’d announced the wrong person by mistake but were too polite to tell me! It was a wonderful feeling after so many years of writing the story. Since I won I’ve also felt more and more deeply connected to Luke, because of his experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse with the mental scars that creates, and as a writer. I think it is amazing that his mother, Elaine, could turn the devastating horror of losing her son and the trauma and grief that followed into something so positive. So the prize has also meant that I could be working with Elaine for the Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund (http://www.lukebitmead.com/welcome) which I’m delighted about.

I’ve never won anything before though I came close twice before; I had a short story highly commended by Writers’ Forum magazine several years ago and was runner up (unprized) in a regional newspaper for a short story over a decade ago. Lovely feeling but nowhere near as thrilling as winning the Luke Bitmead Award.


Your debut novel ‘The Wacky Man’ sounds very much a hard-hitting story and has been described by one reviewer as ‘deeply unsettling, heart-rending and terrifying’. Can you please tell us briefly about the book and why you chose to write this story?

The Wacky Man is about Amanda, an intelligent and disturbed teenager, who is fighting to overcome the extreme violence and abuse she has endured at the hands of her father.

I wrote this story for two main reasons. I’ve always wanted to write fiction, it’s one of my biggest passions, and when this story started to manifest, I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t have Amanda as my main character. Fiction gives a home to all sorts of characters, be they travellers through magical wardrobes, predatory men crowing about their conquests, fleeing murderers or heroines fighting for good. I felt that Amanda, a battered child, has as much a place in mainstream fiction as a princess or a horse and I wanted to write as beautifully as I could, about something I knew was going to be brutal and raw.

It is autobiographically inspired because I also wanted to use my own experiences and my passion for writing to give a voice to the children so often silenced and to convey the terror of living through something like this. I didn’t think for a moment that the subject matter might be seen as controversial; we read about and see horrific violence in crime novels and films all the time except usually the victim of the violence is talked about only by others. I think the fact that this has a child, angry, anguished and talking directly to the reader, makes it harder to leave behind. The review you quote from above tells me I’ve done the job I wanted to. If my novel helps in even the smallest way, to increase understanding of how much support children from violent homes need, and why, then I’ll be delighted.


Has life changed for you since becoming published? Do you have a full time job around which you have to fit your writing? If so, how do you best manage your writing time and is there any particular place you go to, to write, or any particular time of day that you find best for writing?

Life has changed a lot, so much so that I wish I could sleep less to fit everything in. The writing has taken me in a new and exciting direction, with Elaine as I mentioned before and it is also full of author events, festivals, article writing and blogger guest posts and reviews. I’m meeting new people with the same passion for reading and writing and I’m loving every minute of it but I also work full time. I have an academic role in online learning and all the writing related work has to be fitted around that. Luckily I work at home between 3 and 4 days a week so I get up early in the morning and write. I also write after work, when I’m not teaching in the evenings, and at weekends, though I try to keep some of Sunday for relaxing. I don’t have the luxury of a particular time of day, just as and when I can fit it in. I feel very lucky to be so busy with things that I love doing.

I have an ‘office’ (which is actually an office/bedroom/exercise room/library) in my flat and usually write there as I type straight onto the computer. I also keep a notebook by my bed for lazy weekends when I’m shattered and don’t want to get up. I write and snooze and write a bit more. I’ve become good at carving out bits of time here and there to make sure I fit it all in. My Tibetan language study and guitar practice is really suffering and I’ve had to give up the allotment, but until I can go part time in the day job, the priority has to be to writing.


What is the best writing advice that you have received? And what advice would you give to anyone trying to get their novel published? Is there anything that you wished you had done differently?

I was told, by my mentor, Clio Gray, who came on board for the last two years of the novel, ‘Never give up. It will happen’. I’d spend days where I couldn’t see how to resolve something and it seemed to unsurmountable I’d despair and think it was never going to work. I’d leave it aside but have it bubbling around in my mind and suddenly, a solution would arrive. You have to remember that writing is a process. The more you write, the better you will get at it. You will have to scrap a lot of the work you produce but it’s not wasted because the next time you write, you’ll make a better job of it.

Before you submit to agents or publishers, get an editor and then leave your ego behind whilst you go through the process! By all means, go and beat up a cushion when a well-loved scene or favourite passage has been cut from the novel, but then sit back and try to be objective. If you’re not happy with something that’s been dropped, discuss it. Find out what they’re thinking. Sometimes you can reach a compromise or you can see it from their point of view. Either way, editing will hurt at some point and you just have to live with that. And always remember, if the person advising you is experienced, it’s likely they know what they’re talking about!

I wish I’d done creative writing courses before starting the novel. It would have saved me the seven yearlong slog where I learned by making mistakes. Learning by ‘doing’ has also taught me a lot so I don’t totally regret it, but I’m now doing creative writing course, post novel, and learning a lot.


Do you have any favourite books or authors which may have inspired you? What type of book do you enjoy reading for pleasure, and what are you reading now?

I love reading for pleasure. A masterpiece of a novel always inspire me because it teaches by example but also gives me great joy when I’m absorbed in it. A few favourite writers off the top of my head would include Peter Carey, Hilary Mantel, Elif Shafak, Italo Calvino, Kate Grenville, Honore de Balzac, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Gabriel García Márquez, Dorothy Allison, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Munro, Doris Lessing, John Irving, Sebastian Barry, Roddy Doyle. So many more – it really would be easier to send photos of my bookcases and Kindle collection. I like so many different genres of books, from gritty and magic realism to sci fi and comedy. I also love nonfiction, particularly biographies, memoirs and history books. I’ll really have a go at anything!

I have about other books I’m reading as part of my research for my second novel but I consider this work as well as pleasure. Though I am really gripped by them, I’m writing notes and hunting down scenes I’ve written where I think I can incorporate the new information.

I’m also reading ‘Random Acts of Heroic Love, as part of Radio Leeds Big Yorkshire Book Club. It’s not going to make my favourites list but I’m enjoying it in parts. And I’ve just finished ‘The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating’ which I spotted on a blogger’s website some time ago. It enchanted me and has made me fascinated with snails. 


How do you feel about social media, do you find it helpful or a distraction?

It’s both, definitely. It’s so useful for networking or finding out the latest writing news, not to mention promoting your own work. But it’s a terrible distraction to the undisciplined which, unfortunately, is the camp I sit in. I waste too much time on it and then I become very puritan and ignore it but am slowly and surely sucked back in by something. I wouldn’t be without it but I’m desperately trying to emulate Ruth Dugdall, who schedules specific times for it. If only I had her resolve.


When you’re not working or writing, what do you to relax?

I love reading and films. BBC IPlayer has quite a stock of old black and white melodrama and some world cinema at times too. I try to see my family as much as possible too, I don’t get to see enough of them. Once a month I host an acoustic night where I sing and I’d love to sing more but time is against me, especially as I’m also learning to drive.


What’s next for your writing career. Are you working on a book at the moment?

I’m working on some flash fiction ideas, a couple of writing related articles, some festival talks and a few short stories. I’m also writing my second novel, about the healing power of unusual friendship. I’ve got quite a lot done in first draft stage, but a lot is still in note form. I still have some research to do, especially for one of the two main characters. or in need of further fact gathering. Plenty to keep me busy, that’s for sure!

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions Lyn.


About the book:


My new shrink asks me, ‘What things do you remember about being very young?’ It’s like looking into a murky river, I say. Memories flash near the surface like fish coming up for flies. The past peeps out, startles me, and then is gone…

Amanda secludes herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life: her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised.  As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape?






About the author:


Photo by Karen Turner (www.karenturner.co.uk)


Lyn G Farrell is the winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary Award for her debut novel, The Wacky Man.
Lyn is currently working on her second novel, studying creative writing with the University of East Anglia and experimenting with flash fiction.

You can contact Lyn via Legend Press or via Twitter @FarrellWrites


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