Author Interview with Sarah Painter


Today I am so happy to welcome fellow Scottish author Sarah Painter. Like me, Sarah is not technically Scottish, but we won’t dwell on that. Her debut novel came out this month and it is getting great reviews. I have it ready to read on my flight to California. I am actually looking forward to 11 hours of uninterrupted reading time.

What does your writing day look like?

Officially, my writing day is contained within school hours. In theory, I focus on fiction in the morning and do journalism and admin in the afternoon. It’s not as organised as this in practice, though, partly due to my outstanding powers of procrastination.

What is the most you have written in a day?

For fiction? I’m not sure. I’m pretty slow and 1000 words is a good day for me during the first draft.  When revising (which involves adding lots as I tend to underwrite), I’m quicker because I know the story and the characters. 

Do you listen to music when you write?

Yes. I make a playlist for the book and listen to it every time I work on it.

Who gets to read your work before it is published?

My critique partners, my agent and my editor.


If your child told you they wanted to be a writer, what advice would you give them?

Read lots, write lots, and marry someone rich.

Describe your heroine in five words.

Sarcastic, kind, stronger than she realises. Oops, that’s six…

In what way is she most like you?

Probably the sarcasm.  

In what way is she different?

More confident, less anxious.

Did you research this book? Discover anything interesting.

I’ve always been interested in folklore so already had a fair few ideas, but I did do specific research on herbalism and superstitions.

 If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast in the starring roles?

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.

What would is your favourite meal? Calories don’t count.

In my universe, calories never count! I love pretty much all food and can’t pick one favourite… Here are three meals I never get bored of eating: Roast chicken with roast potatoes, broccoli and my mum’s gravy, fajitas with refried beans and lots of guacamole, pasta with a good, garlicky tomato sauce.

What is the most romantic thing someone has done for you?

I’m lucky to be married to a very romantic man, but he’s also quite shy and wouldn’t thank me for answering that question!

What accent do you find the sexiest?


Who is your celebrity crush?

David Tennant (see above). I also have character-specific crushes i.e. I only fancy the actor when they’re playing the specific role (Sherlock, Aragon, Spike, Loki, Eric Northman, to a name a few).

Name the sexiest redheaded man.

I’m quite partial to Damian Lewis.

Language of spells is out now. Check it out!

Amazon US


Meet my Beta Reader: Fiona Wison

I don’t usually give unsolicited writing advice. I give unsolicited advice on just about every thing else, just ask my husband. The one thing I would recommend to a new writer is get a beta reader. Beta readers give you feedback on your work before you release it on the unsuspecting world. My beta reader is Fiona Wilson. She reads my books as I go along and gives me pep talks when I am feeling useless. She is an all around amazing person. This weekend she took part in a marathon. I was so impressed so I asked her to stop by. Image

 Can you tell me a little bit about the Moonwalk? What is it?
The moonwalk started 16 years ago with 13 women walking the New York marathon wearing their bras to highlight breast cancer awareness. It has since grown immensely to events not only in New York, but London, Edinburgh, and Iceland. The charity do Sunwalks in Newcastle, Bristol and Southhampton. This year is also the very first New York Moonwalk. When Nina Burrough started Walk the Walk all those years ago in 1996, she had no experience of fundraising or breast cancer sufferers. However a little over 2 months later she found herself diagnosed with breast cancer. With her encouragement, and that of their patron, Prince Charles, the charity has raised millions of pounds which support sufferers of breast cancer, provides scalp coolers to stop those going through treatment from losing their hair, and has also helped fund Maggie’s centres in Scotland. There is a lot more information on the website which can be found at
What made you choose to do the Moonwalk?
The first year I did it because a friend had decided to do it. Her best friend was, at the time, suffering from breast cancer. I then decided a few years later to do it again on my own. Last year my partner entered with me, but due to the horrendous weather we only managed 15.5 miles before having to pull out. I had to prove to myself this year that I could do it again and finish it, which I’m glad to say I did!
What was your time this year?
8 hours 4 minutes 36 seconds!
What was your training schedule?
To be honest it wasn’t great this year at all. At Easter I had a viral infection with symptoms similar to arthritis. I had swollen feet, ankles, fingers and was in a lot of pain. Due to that I didn’t do much training. But my friend, Kerry, who did the walk with me did all the training. She was an inspiration with how well she did.
What advice do you have for novice walkers?
Do the training! Start as soon as you can building up your miles. Eat carbs beforehand. Walk some hills in your training as there are quite a few along the route. Arthur’s Seat is a very good one to do to prepare yourself. 
How much money have you raised?
Overall I have raised over £1500.
Are you doing it again next year?
NO! I have always said never again after each one, but this year I mean it. This was my fourth time, I have blisters for the first time, and I feel it is a definite sign to stop while I’m ahead. I have always said I would volunteer when I stopped walking. The eldest boy I nanny has always wanted to do the Moonwalk, and this year there was a new event introduced called the New Moon. This is open to children from 10 years old, as well as those newbies who want to see what it is all about. It is 6.6 miles so doable. So if he still wants to do it in a few years I will do the New Moon with him. After that who knows? I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anyone now so would consider doing the Half Moon in the future, but definitely need a few years rest first.
And now books. You have your finger on the literary pulse. Are there any authors I should keep my eye out for?
One of my favourite authors right now is Sophie Davis. Her YA ‘Talented’ series is one of my favourites. I also love Lindsay J. Pryor’s ‘Blackthorn’ series, but you already know that! And a future author, whose work I have had the privilege to beta read, is of course Kierney Scott! There are so many I could name right now but it would take forever. 

Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

The complaint I hear most about tofu is that it has no flavour. People say that like it is a bad thing, but that is the beauty of tofu. It is so versatile because it has no discernible flavour. Could you transform pork into a delicious cheesecake? No way, but tofu, it totally works. I will post a recipe for that another day,  today is all about gearing up for BBQ season. Here is a recipe that even meat lovers can get on board with. First things first: know your tofu. Not all tofu is created equal. As a rule of thumb, I use silken for desserts and extra firm for savoury cooking. Silken tofu would fall apart on the grill and you would be left with a mess and hungry guests. Here is what you need for the marinade.

1 cup soy sauce

1 clove garlic smashed

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon fresh ginger

up to 3/4 cup plum wine

Combine everything except the wine and bring to a boil. Add wine to taste. As with any marinade, the longer you leave the tofu soaking, the more it will infuse. I also like to use this marinade with vegetables, it is particularly nice with courgettes (zucchini for my American friends).

You can freeze the marinade after use and use it again. Growing up, we always had Teriyaki sauce in the freezer.

Enjoy your BBQ 😉

Q&A with Katlyn Duncan


I am delighted to welcome the adorable author Katlyn Duncan to my blog. Her debut novel Soul Taken is out now from Carina UK

What does your writing day look like?  I don’t have a particular “writing day”. But my day consists of getting up quite early, getting coffee, checking my social media and pounding the keys for about an hour. Then I go to work, try and get some words down at lunch if I have time, come home, do household duties and spend the rest of the night writing, especially if I am on deadline.

What is the most you have written in a day? I think I clocked in around 6,000 in one day.

Do you listen to music when you write? Sometimes, it depends on my mood and if I am writing a particularly emotional scene. I have a lot of classical music that I put aside for specific scenes that help bring the story out of me.

Who gets to read your work before it is published? I have a few close friends that act as my CPs. They aren’t afraid to tell me what to fix and I love that.

If your child told you they wanted to be a writer, what advice would you give them? Go for it. Dream big or go home.


Describe your heroine in five words. Brave, intelligent, independent, stubborn, and beautiful

In what way is she most like you? We share a lot of the same physical traits, brunette hair and blue eyes, but I don’t see her *as* me. We do share an affinity for cemeteries.

In what way is she different? She is a lot braver and she challenges those around her, especially her boss. I’m a bit of an introvert and she is the polar opposite.

Did you research this book? Discover anything interesting. I didn’t research much for this book. I do enjoy stories about the after-life and this was my chance to make it my own. And I love the era that Maggie was human in so I did loosely base the flashbacks on that, but I’m no historical writer.

 If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast in the starring roles? Great question! I always “cast” my characters before I start writing so I will always think of them first if Soul Taken was ever going to be made into a movie. Okay, Maggie would be played by Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Ally would be Lindsay Ellingson (VS model), and Cooper would be played by Chace Crawford. I don’t want to spoil the book any further than that!

What would is your favourite meal?   A giant grilled chicken gyro. If I could eat that every day I would.   

What is the most romantic thing someone has done for you? When my husband and I were dating in college he had gone home for the weekend. So I thought. He ended up coming back to the dorm and casually knocking on my door and when I saw him I was thrilled. We spent the whole weekend together. It was a small gesture but special to me.

What would a perfect day for you look like? My perfect day would be at the beach, reading, with the temperature around 80 so I don’t burn. Maybe a picnic too.

What accent do you find the sexiest? Scottish. Hands down. (see answer below)

Who is your celebrity crush? The biggest celebrity crush I’ve had for almost ten years is Gerard Butler. I would love to meet him someday and just give him a big hug. He looks like a good hugger. Plus he’s wicked talented.

Name the sexiest redheaded man. Oh goodness. Michael Fassbender I’d have to say. Yum


Kindle US:
Kindle UK:
Nook UK:


Perfect Vegan Frosting

In honour of Father’s Day I am sharing one of my favourite frosting recipes. As you may have guessed, my dad is vegan. He firmly believes that most of the diseases that plague western society are caused by animal products, especially dairy. My mum believes all these diseases can be cured with breast milk, aspirin , and cannabis. But I will save that for another post.


The key to good frosting is a food mixer. In theory you can make frosting with just a bowl and a fork, but who has the time? Or the strength? That has Repetitive Strain Injury written all over it. Save yourself, and use a mixer.

The ingredients you will need are:

1 can refrigerated coconut milk (the full fat kind)

Icing sugar (also called powdered sugar in America)

cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You will notice I did not give exact amounts. The reason is because the best frosting feels light and fluffy, and you can’t measure that. Also, you never know how much coconut solids you will get from a can. It depends on the brand.

First separate the coconut solids from the water. I save the water to make the sponge. Place coconut solids in mixer with vanilla and about 1/2 cup cocoa. Mix well. Next add icing sugar a cup at a time until the desired constituency is reached. Don’t worry if you add too much sugar, just thin it with the coconut water.

And there you have it: delicious vegan frosting.

P.S. I love you dad. Happy Father’s Day. 


In which we discuss swearing


In real life, I try not to swear. Sometimes I fail miserably, because sometimes life is hard and saying a bad word makes you feel a little better. I have no idea why it works, but it does. On the internet I don’t swear because I hate offending people. I really hate it, it is just one of my things. My husband says I am a people pleaser, maybe I am, but I will never admit it. Unless of course this offends you…

But here is the thing: I don’t mind swearing at all. There is not a single word that I would rule out of my lexicon; because, for me it is all about intent. If you want to hurt someone, you can inflict a whole lot of damage without swearing. It is not the words, it is how you use them.
I know a lot of woman who cringe at the word cunt. I quickly became used to this word when I was working with the Scottish Prostitutes Education Programme. In my experience, sex workers say cunt a lot. Interesting enough, I never heard it in the context of anatomy. For that, they used fanny, which never fails to confuse the American in me. I hear fanny and I think butt, not vagina. When I first started teaching in Scotland, I told my pupils to put their fannies on the carpet. My assistant looked at me like I had just stripped naked and assassinated the queen. But I digress.
Sex workers were always saying, “I am going to kick his cunt in.” This was usually uttered by an irate woman talking about a punter or a partner who had really upset her. Let us all take a moment to reflect on the imagery of this. I think it perfectly captures the rage. Everyone knew there would be no kicking, even if the man in question had a cunt to kick in, but it made the woman feel better. It gave her back some of the control she had lost. So for that reason alone, I don’t mind swearing. If it makes you feel better, do it. You are not going to offend me.


I have been putting off making a website since I got The Call. I am not at all technically minded. My five year old had to show me how to use the power saver my husband installed on the computer. I was convinced I had broken another computer. I break a lot of things so it seemed the obvious reason the computer would not turn on.

But I am determined to be brave and self sufficient and not ask my husband for help. He is one of those people who can do anything. And do it really well. Basically he is the guy you want on your team, no matter what the task. I want to be that guy too, but with lady parts and minus the super hot Scottish accent.

So here goes world!