Sunday, 22 December 2013

LAST CHANCE! Don't miss the encore broadcast "MY SANTA" this Sunday, December 22, 5:00 PM, on the ION Television network! 

"MY SANTA" stars: 
Matthew Lawrence (MRS. DOUBTFIRE)
Ben Gavin (SUPER 8 )
Channing Chase (MAD MEN)

Directed by Sam Irvin (director of ELVIRA’S HAUNTED HILLS, co-executive producer of the Academy Award winner GODS AND MONSTERS; author of KAY THOMPSON: FROM FUNNY FACE TO ELOISE)

Here's the 5-star review in the Examiner:

Here's a link to the trailer:

Here's the interview Sam Irvin did with Fiona McAndrew about the movie:


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Catherine Daniel, Artist And Author Of 'Wanton Fairies For Beginners'


My guest today is the wonderfully, talented, Artist and Author of 'Wanton Fairies For Beginners', Catherine Daniel.


Catherine painting at her allotment garden.


Catherine has painted and sculpted all her life, covering a wide range of subjects in watercolour, acrylic and bronze. Her lifelong passion for beauty, nature and humour suffuses her work & never more so than in her latest book.

It was whilst tending her allotment here in England with her friend Rosie Lee, that she discovered a new breed of Fairies, she then created one of the most enlightening little e-books I've ever seen.
It's a must have this Christmas, if you're looking for a gorgeous stocking filler, or if you want to buy something for yourself that's cheeky, naughty and indulgent, look no further than the 'Wanton Fairies For Beginners' e-book.


Catherine welcome,  it's lovely to have you here I love your book, it's beautifully illustrated and the saucy poems accompany them perfectly.

Thankyou so much for inviting me. It's great to be here. Of course all the Wanton Fairies wanted to join in too.. but I realised it could have become a bit of a squish & then there's no knowing where that would have ended! 

What exactly inspired you down at the allotment and how did Wanton Fairies actually come about?

Well..although keen gardeners, my lifelong friend Rosie & I knew nothing about growing our own fruit & veg, so the allotment has been a 10 year learning curve with 95% sheer hard work..half the time wondering why & how on earth we still do it with day jobs too! 

However, it has also been a fantastic place to unwind, observe & feel a connection with nature through the seasons as well as relishing the abundant bonus of organic food.
For me it has also been a deep & invaluable source of inspiration for my art work.

Many of the Wanton Fairies have been 
observed & sketched in this special place. 

I think the idea first germinated there after a robust weeding session, when I sat down for a breather & sent a text to a friend along the lines of: "I've just seen a Lavender fairy, wearing a black silk thong, disappear into the rhubarb patch."




The recipient of this text replied that on relaying the text to her husband "he disappeared into the garden for hours!" (They have a lot of lavender)
A few days later an idea hit me like 'a bolt from the blue' & i couldn't start or stop sketching fast enough.
Images of Wanton Fairies flooded my head & took over my life.



The sketches progressed to painting & with that the poems began emerging also. It was at this point Rosie & I began working on the poems together.
We had the most magical fun creating them, often finding ourselves convulsed with laughter as they evolved (many of which were far too rude to print).
Some I wrote, some Rosie wrote, some we fused! The fused ones are, I think, the best.
I tried to keep pad & pencil with me at all times.
Much of the inspiration happened whilst commuting to work & if I'd forgotten my pad I'd write on anything handy, laughing & muttering to myself as I wrote. (I did get some nervous looks from fellow commuters).
One of my favourite poems 'Yorkshire Fairy Hawthorn' was written by Rosie & i in a cafe on three flattened paper cups after a particularly arduous bike ride!

Yorkshire fairy 'Hawthorn'

Humour has been the driving force through much of my work over the years.
Who doesn't love the sound of laughter & its powerful intoxication as you enter its radar. It brings people together, helps you through the hard times & is a great healer.



Water Iris

Wanton Fairies are delightful rebels. In these times of restraint, where rules run riot, they allow you freedom through your imagination. They are good-naturedly unrestrained..inviting you to join in the rebellion. You too can unwind & if you so choose, join them half-naked in a tree to sip Elderberry wine.. Or dress outrageously in thigh-length leather boots & whip your friends with daffodils! You can please one is judged.
Here are fairies you can relate to. The real McCoy. A glorious bouquet of natural beauties in all shapes, ages, sizes & temperaments. There's a fairy here to suit everyone.
Unconcerned by the honest imperfections of a little superfluous hair or weight. Spending their days in wanton, distracting, fertile mischief, these fun-loving beings are a rally against the air-brushed perfection of our time and a tonic for all open, like-minded folk who come into contact with them.

As a small child I was enchanted by the works of Arthur Rackham, Ronald Searle & Cicely Mary Barker's 'Flower Fairies' series.
Now the 'Flower Fairies' of childhood can be observed fully grown, with their saucy double-entendre poems alongside.

Sweet Pea

I thought that they would appeal to the baby boomers generation as an adult version of their favourite childhood 'Flower Fairies', but they have drawn a wider group of fans from teenagers to a growing band of delightful luminaries in their 90's, including a 94 yr old spitfire pilot who has the book & entire collection of prints & cards.Yes, they are a bit saucy, but we've kept to the clean side of saucy/double-entendre.
Its verse is as innocent or as naughty as you choose it to be. I'm told this gives it a "music hall & seaside peep-show charm."

To date 32 voluptuous Wanton Fairies have been observed & painted in various stages of they pose amongst blooms, fruits & foliage, accompanied by their saucy verse.
The first book of 15 fairies is out now as an ebook. 
We have had many requests for a hard copy & hope in time to find the right publisher for all 32 along with a third book which is in gestation. 
There are many ideas for other Wanton fairy books & plans for a range of Wanton Fairy products.

The main aim is to spread some light-hearted fun & happiness through this little book & engage  a wider audience.
Everyone will be sure of a warm welcome if they choose to step inside its virtual pages into our garden of delights. Who knows WHAT may happen in there..
Wanton Fairies are adept at liberating the inner fairy in the open-minded!
You have an international following and have exhibited your art work in places such as Royal Academy, Mall Galleries, Royal Society Of British Artists, Society Of Women Artists and many more.
 Do you have any plans to exhibit in the new year?.

I do plan to exhibit, but have not decided where as yet. (I need to finish more art work first!)
The 32 Wanton Fairy watercolour originals have taken quite some time to paint & I'd like to exhibit them all together to coincide with publishing the book 'Wanton Fairies For Beginners' as a real book, so until that happens they will be safely stored away.
My other artwork is varied & covers a wide variety of subjects from the familiar to the strange so a visit to an exhibition may not necessarily include Wanton Fairies...but you never know....They can be MOST persuasive!
....In fact ...was that a 'Pine Tree' Wanton Fairy that just flew before my eyes!? ...Oh ..there could be another painting on the way..&..a poem... Perhaps the poem first! ....It IS Christmas after all! 

Here goes: 

Pine Tree Fairy

In the Yuletide forest deep,

Where all seems quiet and fast asleep,
If you look hard you may well see
A Pine Tree fairy in her tree.

She needs no thermal underwear
To guard her from the cold, crisp air.
In drifts of snow she struts he stuff,
In bobble-hat and big fur muff. 

(First draft..I'll run it past Rosie!)


Merry Christmas Catherine and you also dear reader, to find out more about 'Wanton Fairies For Beginners'  follow the link below.

#WantonFairies looks its very best on iPad  iTunes or iMac with the latest OXF Mavericks updated. 

Wanton Fairies For Beginners  Website

Follow  On Twitter  @WantonFairies



Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Humorist And Historian Frank Jordan Talks About Mental Health.

Fifi And General Frankie

My guest today is a Humorist,  Historian, my mentor and my friend,  Frank Jordan.

How many writers have the courage to talk openly about their mental health problems?
Fiona, there are dozens of books written by authors who have suffered one sort of mental illness or another.  Myself, I suffer from Prolonged and Severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and there are times (like the last three months) that I cannot connect with the humor I am particularly fond of writing.  The last couple of years have been especially challenging for me.  I was diagnosed with multiple health problems and actually spent a great deal of time (one year) in a Hospice House.  I couldn’t write anything then.  But among my best friends are writers of great and glorious humor:  Martin Shuttlecock, Charpacabra, the inimitable Colonel Juan, and now I have you, my own find, FiFi.  When I could not write (or would not write) I still read everything you all wrote, and laughed despite the depths of my despair.  Laughter heals… well maybe not insane cackling

How many of us (writers) have felt the depths of despair, alone, unable to reach out?  I can say honestly I have.
If you have ever put words on a page for others to read, you have felt despair, loneliness, and being unable to reach out.  Take Emily Dickinson for example; she never published a thing during her lifetime.  She came from a truly loving, but puritanical family who thought much of what she wrote and filed away was unacceptable.  Given the time and Emily’s difficulties in reaching out in a socially acceptable way for an unmarried woman living at home with a difficult father, she was condemned to be alone, despairing of ever having contact with the persons (or persons) to whom she was writing.  She was absolutely unable to reach out.

Do you feel that being able to write and express yourself has brought you freedom and liberation…maybe acted as therapy to heal you?
To be honest with you Fiona, most of my mental anguish is of my own making with a liberal dash of abuse from family members who should never have done what they did.  Their actions against a helpless child in no way mitigate my own boorishness, or the feelings of superiority I felt coming back from war, the tough guy patriot.  The therapy I’ve received from very knowledgeable and caring therapists, many of who went through the same anguish I went through.  The rest is up to me, to be a good person and to not hurt anyone else.
My advice for anyone going through depression is to seek help to find out what the root of the depression is.  And to work on it every day until you can cope with it and life on your own terms.  And laugh your ass off whenever you have an opportunity.  Make someone else laugh or at least smile to lighten their load.  In the end, you are alone most often with yourself, so it is best to be as good a person as you can be.
If it wasn't for Frank Jordan believing in me at a time when I had stopped believing in myself,  my collection of short stories published in Café Spike, would have never progressed to the depths of which I have taken them. I'm massively grateful to both Frank and Martin Shuttlecock .....Top Blokes!
To read more from Frank Jordan follow the link bellow. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sam Irvin Talks About His Latest Movie MY SANTA.

Christmas is in the air and what better way to get us in the mood for the festive season, is watching great Christmas movie.
I'm honoured,  today for the second time I have as a guest in my blog.  Hollywood film director, author, lecturer, producer, screen writer. The great Sam Irvin.
Sam! welcome back, it's lovely to have you here again. I feel  should be pouring us large glasses of eggnog.

Thank you for having me again. Eggnog it is! Cheers!

You have just finished directing the movie MY SANTA which premiers on the 29th of November on ION Network Channel.

MY SANTA is a very sweet romantic holiday film with touches of comedy. It's about a single mother, Jen, who was abandoned by her ex-husband on Christmas Eve several years prior to our story. Since then, Jen has been raising their now seven-year-old son, Eric, who, like most kids, is wild about Christmas. Unfortunately for Jen, the holiday season brings back a flood of traumatic memories of her divorce so she has a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Compounding her depression is the fact that she's never really been able to open herself up to the possibility of love from another man... until she meets Chris, the local mall Santa, who has an infectious love of all things Christmas -- and a secret identity. He's the son of Santa Claus. And he falls head-over-heels in love with Jen. 

Behind the scenes of  MY SANTA

Would you like tell us all about it and it's wonderful cast.
We have an amazing cast! Matthew Lawrence (MRS. DOUBTFIRE) plays Chris, the son of Santa Claus. His sidekick is played by Jim O'Heir ("Jerry" on PARKS AND RECREATION). Jen is played by Samaire Armstrong (DIRTY SEXY MONEY, ONE TREE HILL, ENTOURAGE). Her best friend/neighbor/baby-sitter is played by the hilarious comic actress Julie Brown (EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY, CLUELESS, STRIP MALL, MEDUSA: DARE TO BE TRUTHFUL). Jen's co-workers at her office are played by Paul Dooley (BREAKING AWAY) and Channing Chase ("Pete Campbell's" mother-with-dementia on MAD MEN). They made my job easy!

Can folk here in the UK watch the movie also.
Unfortunately, I don't know yet when the film with be broadcast in the U.K., but I will keep you informed!
Meanwhile, I've gotten quite a splash of publicity in the U.K. with a full-page photo and story in The Telegraph about my younger days working as an intern on Brian De Palma's THE FURY starring Kirk Douglas -- which has just come out in the U.K. on Blu-ray featuring a 50-minute on-camera interview with me about the making of the film... PLUS my first short film called DOUBLE NEGATIVE. Here's a link to The Telegraph article...

I must ask you before we finish up here.
 I'm huge fan of Sam's book!  "Kay Thompson From Funny Face To Eloise"   Have you started on the script yet?

I can't talk specifics yet, but I am very happy to report that I am in negotiation with a well-known public figure who wants to option the book for a possible dramatic motion picture adaptation which he would produce. All the stories you hear about "development hell" in the movie industry are true, so this doesn't necessarily mean that a movie about Kay will get funded and "green lit." But, at least there is interest and movement -- and a burning desire to make it happen. My participation will most likely be as an executive producer and historical advisor. Fingers crossed! 

Sam it's such a privilege, many thanks. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Ditto to you and all your loyal readers! It's been a pleasure. Again! Until next time... Cheers!

You can find out more about Sam Irvin here in my Blog or why not pop over to his website .
Thanks again, Fiona!!!

Thanks everyone for dropping by, my American readers don't miss out on a cosy night in with MY SANTA which premiers ION at 9pm 29th November.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Ian Youngs, Skoob, Martin Shuttlecock,The Man Behind Cafe Spike.

Today I'm honoured to have as my guest my writing mentor, my friend, my editor, writer, author and owner of Café Spike an online magazine. Ian Youngs also known as Skoob1999 and Martin Shuttlecock.

Ian welcome and thank you not just for being my guest today but for the magic you sprinkle into to my fictional stories In Fantasies From The Kitchen Sink and the adventures of Fifi La Mott over at Café Spike. It's lovely to have you here.

You're welcome Fiona. I'm never sure where I am most of the time and I don't like talking about myself a lot because I'm basically very boring.

Where did it all begin, and when did you first start tapping the keyboard and sending your stories into Cyber Space ?

It all started in Hope Hospital, Salford. That's where I was born, just down the road from Old Trafford. And The Cliff, United's old training ground was just down the road from where I lived as a child so I'm naturally a United fan, although I went to Maine Road before I ever went to Old Trafford. I was forced into that and always tried to avoid the place. I survived by some kind of fluke and kind of drifted through life until I got to where I am today. I live down on the south coast now, but that's a long, long story. I'm still a Northern monkey at heart, the type who likes beer, fags and pies. I love soul music too - the late great Marvin Gaye was lucky enough to be in the same room as me twice at the Apollo down Ardwick Green back in the day. He did a bit of singing and piano playing. I just sat there listening.

As regards keyboard tapping - I saw a website and decided to have a go at writing comedy articles. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, I suppose because I just like writing. It's hard to explain. I used to work for a big multi-national corporation and used to make up joke posters that used to get faxed all over the world, which was nice. It was all happy days for quite a long time writing articles for the spoof news website, until the realisation came to me that some people just do that stuff for some kind of ego trip, with no respect for their readers. Basically there were people conning readers into clicking on headlines when there was little, if anything of any substance behind the headline.

A group of us got together and tried to change things. We tried to persuade people to forget about amassing points and concentrate on writing genuinely funny and/or interesting pieces as opposed to knob jokes and celebrity gossip stuff. In the end we got shouted down and the points whores won, so we moved on. That site's still going but in my opinion it isn't a patch on what it was when we were there - or what it potentially could have been.

Café Spike came about by accident really. It was never my intention to take the reins, but after a couple of other attempts to set a website up by writing mates failed I just went ahead and did it. I hadn't a clue what I was doing and still don't really. It's been a steep learning curve but I think we're getting there.

Where do you hope to take Café Spike in the future?

Wherever the contributors want to take it. I'm hoping to have a place where people can write and get published without too many restrictions. One thing I've learned since we got this thing rolling is that creative people don't take too kindly to being shoe-horned into boxes or restricted by over zealous guidelines. I try not to interfere. Fortunately the people writing for us seem to think along roughly the same lines so there's very little conflict. Having said that, we do like to have things properly presented so we go out of our way to get things right. Going back to the question - I'd like for us to be a fun site where people drop in to be entertained and like us enough to want to revisit. If we build some kind of fan base that'll be good enough for me.

Will we see more of your work on paper as in the next Dorking Review?

The next Dorking Review is more or less ready to roll but there was a glitch with the illustrations. I've been in touch with the editor, Gary Moore and I've pitched the idea of illustrations to a couple of artists. Hopefully I'll be able to help out on that front, and we'll be able to get things moving. I haven't given much thought to writing anything as a solo project because I have a full time job, a family and other interests and that and Café Spike mean that there isn't much time left for anything else.

Do you enjoy the editing side of the magazine?

Again, it wasn't ever my intention to get involved with that side of things, but I've noticed over the years that some writers have great ideas and come up with some very amusing stuff, yet struggle for a variety of reasons with the basics. If I can help out a little in that respect I'm more than happy to do so. Usually it's just a case of tidying up a few typos. I don't do sweeping changes to submissions because I think it's important for the writer not to have their original idea mangled beyond all recognition. I hate editing my own stuff though. That drives me mad.

Why comedy and satire?

I don't really know. It's the hardest thing to do as a writer. It's easy to make somebody cry, or get them riled up but making somebody laugh out loud is a tough call. I rarely laugh aloud at the printed word, although I recall cracking up reading 'The Wanderers' by Richard Wright and a Monty Python paperback, likewise with Spike Milligan's books, but I've laughed more since I started doing the online stuff. I'm lucky to have met a fine bunch of very funny people who've been inspirational - I don't need to name drop because they know who they are. Some of them are having difficult times at the moment for a variety of reasons and that's hard to take on a personal level sometimes because these people are friends, and it's been my privilege to get to know them.

Right - I'm off down the pub now.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Fantasies From The Kitchen Sink #4

Yummy-Mummy Musings Over The Marigolds…
Yummy-Mummy Musings Over The Marigolds…
More from Fifi La Mott and Captain Jean-Luc
Dorking Community Centre was a hive of activity. Ted Pemberton, Jim Blackcock, and Frederick Mansell all peered through the half open kitchen door as Fifi La Mott took to the floor. She was about to discuss her best selling novel: “ The Life and Crimes Of A Newcastle Stripper.”
Ted Pemberton, Dorking’s notorious book reviewer, took a large gulp from his hip flask, which contained his favourite tipple of Chivas Regal 25. “Nice arse,” he said a bit too loudly, as several vexed ladies’ heads snapped round to shush him.
Giggling like schoolboys, the three old men quickly closed the kitchen door.
They had volunteered their services to The Women’s Institute, as part of a sly, conniving plan of gaining access to Fifi La Mott, the sexy authoress. They had each volunteered to help carry the buffet and set out tables and chairs.
A large gathering was expected.
Hilda and Katy gave the men strict instructions that they must to be on their best behaviour and stay in the kitchen, whilst Fifi read an excerpt from her book and answered questions.
A loud knock on the kitchen window made the spying men jump with fright.
It was General Frankie.
The American ex-marine, had retired to Dorking, with his brassy wife Mimi, six months earlier. Already he had found his new platoon in Jim, Ted and Frederick. The men were on a mission.
“Bugger me Frankie! You could have killed Fredrick. He’s got a dicky heart,” hissed Ted, as he let Frankie into the kitchen through the back door.
“Okay men no, need for any alarm,” said Frankie raising his hands to surrender. “What’s the plan of action?”
“Bring Fifi to her knees,” replied Jim Blackcock, rubbing his crotch.
Jim Blackcock was always rubbing his crotch. It was common knowledge in Dorking that he was a dirty old man. No lady’s bottom was safe from Jim’s grubby little hands.
“What are these?” said Frederick, lifting the cellophane from a large tray of what appeared to be chocolate cakes. Immediately becoming pre-occupied by the delicious aroma.
“Chocolate Brownies ya stupid prick,” cackled Ted, turning to offer General Frankie a hit of his gentleman’s finest scotch from his flask.
“They smell lovely. I think Fifi La Mott made them,” said Frederick, mesmerised by dark, rich fondant swirls with sprinkles of what Frederick thought was chocolate. “Ya don’t think anybody would miss a few do ya?” He stuffed the biggest one into his mouth before handing the tray round to the other pensioners, who all greedily snatched at the cakes.
The chocolate brownies were the ones Fifi had baked earlier and deliberately handed to Frederick with a knowing sexy smile. She knew he wouldn’t able to help himself.
Fifi had used a recipe given to her by her friend Elspeth Taylor-Beverly Hills, the drag artist whom Fifi sometimes worked with back in Newcastle. Elspeth had a liking for cannabis sprinkles; she sprinkled everything she baked with the drug, which she personally imported from Amsterdam in her knickers.
Fifi finished reading the excerpt from her book and opened the floor to questions.
Hilda Blackcock was the first to stand and wave her hand .
Fifi smiled at Hilda’s floral dress and fuchsia pink lipstick. She reminded her of Mrs Slocomb from the television programme “Are You Being Served”
“Yes Hilda?”
“Fifi dear, have you really had sex with all those men, and did you really have a threesome with two Ethiopian Catholic priests when you went on holiday to Rome?”
Fifi smiled coyly. “What do you think Hilda?”
“I hope so deary, I really do!” answered Hilda excitedly
“Well, there’s your answer,” winked Fifi. “Next question please?”
“Fifi” said Mrs Patel jumping up from her seat. “As you know we ladies here at the Women’s Institute participated in a nude calendar last year. Well, what I wanted to ask was would you consider teaching us how to pole dance?”
The room erupted with the sound of applause. The questions flowed thick and fast. The evening was a great success.
Fifi agreed at the end of the session to set up a pole dancing class at the community centre.
Her publisher, who had driven in from London stood quietly observing at the back of the room. Fifi had sold 100 books in an hour. He always knew he would be onto a winner with Fifi. He climbed back into his Aston Martin and sped off to meet a pretty little English rose in a hotel room in Chelsea.
Fifi couldn’t wait to get home to tell Jean-Luc all about the evening’s events.
First she had to check her mission had been a success.
As it was such a warm pleasant evening she decided walk home via the town. In the distance Fifi could just make out a large sign for New Tesco Extra.
To her amusement, there up against the shop window in a star shaped position with his arms and legs sprawled apart and his chest pressed against the glass was Ted Pemberton. His tongue appeared to licking an advertisement for a large bowl of tortellini.
Ted Pemberton, Dorking’s eccentric controversial book reviewer, was stoned and intoxicated. This was nothing new. But licking advertisements in shop windows certainly was!
“Good evening Ted…are you all right?” asked Fifi, trying not to laugh.
Ted slowly removed his tongue from the window. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he attempted to focus on her.
“I can’t move! I’m stuck! I’ve been like this for an hour or more! Help me!”
“I’d be a bit more careful if I were you Ted,” warned Fifi. “I’m sure I have just seen someone from the Dorking Review pulling into the car park. You wouldn’t want this picture on the front page of tomorrow’s paper now would you?”
She turned on her heel and walked away… just as the curious reporter spotted Ted and made a beeline for him.
Ted wasn’t the only one Fifi saw on her leisurely walk home. As she approached the lane where her pretty little cottage sat, there hiding in the bushes with his mail order binoculars round his neck, was Frederick Mansell.
“I’ll knock and tell Katy where you are shall I Fredrick?” Fifi called out as she strolled by. Fredrick scurried back into the hedgerow like a sewer rat.
General Frankie who lived in the largest house in the lane was in his garden, ranting to some brightly painted garden gnomes.
“Hey girly! Wanna come see what real men are made of?” called Frankie just before collapsing unconscious into a bed of dahlias.
Smiling to herself Fifi walked towards her house. She could see her neighbours Hilda and Jim Blackcock. They were dancing the tango naked in their front room. The curtains wide open for anyonel to see. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Fifi closed the front door behind her and kicked off her shoes. She removed her poodles, Spock and Kirk, from their leads, then slowly climbed the stairs to her bedroom where Captain Jean-Luc was patiently waiting for her.
“The log Fifi,” he commanded, as she entered the room.
Fifi sat at her writing bureau and opened her laptop.
“Mission Hash Cakes accomplished Jean-Luc,” she said, whilst typing feverishly. “Ted Pemberton will make tomorrow’s news. Front-page headline: ‘Dorking Book Reviewer Caught Licking Tesco’s Window’.”
“Next mission Fifi – pole dancing fundraiser at the Women’s Institute,” dictated Jean-Luc.
Just then Fifi’s phone started ringing. It was Maureen, Fifi’s friend who lived in Australia. Maureen was internationally renowned as ‘The Orgasmic Chef.’
Fifi’s eyes twinkled. Long gone were the days of making jam and singing ‘Jerusalem’ at Dorking’s Women’s Institute. Fifi had arrived.
“Hi Maureen. What’s new? Really? Tell me more!”

Join me again soon for more of Fifi’s adventures here at Café Spike.
Visit Maureen at: – for food that’s better than sex. (Allegedly.)
Story – Fiona McAndrew. Follow me on Twitter @twtfiona

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Author Of Churchmouse Tales And The Dorking Review Gary Moore.


My quest today is author of  The Dorking Review and Churchmouse Tales,  Gary Moore.
Gary thank you so much for being my quest today.
Who is Gary Moore the man? Gary, along with two other writers Skoob and Frank Jordan, have mentored me with regards to my own writing over the last few months.
Basically a middle-aged Englishman living and working in France. I have had an interesting life up to now. Ex-businessman, ex-army officer, ex-debt collector, and currently working as a heating engineer. I'm trying to figure out why my career seems to have developed backwards rather than forwards. I've dined with millionaires and drank with paupers and I've now got a much better understanding of human nature than I had when I was in my twenties. Can't understand why I'm skint! Still, much better to be happy I reckon.  
Tell me, where it all began, when did you first start writing?.
How did it all begin? Well probably the story side was from about 8 years old. I had an English teacher at junior school who was either brilliant or lazy, I'm still not sure which. Anyway, once a week we had to go in front of the class and talk about anything we liked. Most of the kids were up there for a few seconds, but I would stand there and make up stories for the rest of the class and would rattle on for ten minutes or so. Ten years later I'd forgotten all about it when a girl sat next to me on a bus that was taking me to college (engineering rather than humanities) and she recognised me from junior school and remarked on how much she had enjoyed the stories that I used to make up, so I suppose that it's always been there.
The writing side came much later, only about six or seven years ago. I was walking in my garden when a fully formed story came into my head. i know that may seem strange but that's actually what happened, and I felt compelled to write it down. It took over two years to do it, but I ended up with a 70,000 word manuscript for a novel. The problem was that although I could think up the stories I'd never really been taught how to write properly and so figuring that writing was a cheaper and less harmful hobby than going to the pub I set out to learn how to put my stuff together in a more presentable (and readable) format. The manuscript is now currently gathering dust in a drawer and needs a complete re-write. looking at it now I can see a multitude of errors in it, but at the time, like all new writers I was half convinced that publishers would be beating a path to my door for it.
What inspired you to write Churchmouse Tales and then The Dorking Review.
Churchmouse Tales came about after I'd been posting on a writer's site on the internet for a couple of years. I'd found that I had the ability to write short humorous pieces and that people seemed to like them. I'd started to put some of them together to make up a self-publish book with the idea of sending it to the mainstream publishers; the idea being that they would give a finished book more attention than a slack handful of paper before throwing it in the bin. One of the other members of the site was starting his own publishing house and knowing my work, and that I had a book ready to go offered to publish it for me, which was great as it cost me nothing and everytime a copy is sold I get a dollar. I think that I'm up to about 10 bucks by now!
The Dorking Review came about as I'd found another site that did fake news stories where the writers simply posted them up. Around five percent of the stuff on the site was very good material and it occurred to me that I could put together a book of these articles very quickly as they already existed. I contacted the writers with the idea and my publisher agreed to run it and the whole thing was put together in around six months.
You also edited The Dorking Review is editing something you have done in the past.
Not really, but having used the forums on a number of internet writing sites helped. Also realising that it takes a lot of hard work to become proficient as a writer was very useful and I tried to pass on what I had learned to others. It was actually an interesting thing to do as I saw a little bit of how it works from the other side. All writers get very involved in their work and it can sometimes be difficult to explain why their stuff can't be used. You say to a writer "We're making a book about trains. go and write me some features for it". Off they will go and three months later they'll come back with a load of stories about boats. You then say "I can't use this. I need stuff about trains". "But it's brilliant" they'll say, and it all ends up them thinking that you can't recognise good writing, and you wondering why you asked them in the first place.
Are you planning to write more books in the future.
There's a second Dorking Review ready to come out as soon as we have the illustrations, and I'll probably put together a third sometime next year. I've also got a possibility of ghost writing a biography for a bomb-disposal expert but I don't know if it's going to happen or not, and won't know for another few months. I've also been writing a few humorous articles on business and finance under the banner of 'Triumphs of Marketing' for www.cafeSpike which seem to be well received and I'll probably start hawking them around the trade press to see if anyone is interested. At the moment it's more about self publicity and making the right contacts which is something that I'm not very good at. Realistically it will be at least another two or three years before I can make enough income from it to think about writing full time.

Thanks very much Gary.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Katarina Fropond Talks Satire, Novels And Her Brother Horror Author Gerard Gray.

Today I'm delighted to have my cousin satirical writer  Katarina Frogpond, or known by her other pen name Edie Gray.

Katarina it's lovely to have you here today thanks so much for being my guest. Lets get straight to it.

When did you first start writing.
I can’t remember.  It was such a long time ago.  But I do remember I was writing my first sci-fi book at the age of 15.  It was about a space satellite that could talk.  I enjoyed writing it, and then I subsequently enjoyed putting it in the bin.
How did writing for The Huffington Post come about?
I started writing my comedy review column for the Huffington Post because I knew a lot of comedy writers who made me laugh and I wanted everyone to know about them too.  At the time I was writing for Spoof News, and I wrote with writers whose stories were regularly read by 10,000 people a day.    They were people like Skoob, and Iain B, and Jaggedone, who were like the graffiti artists of Political satire.  They wrote prolifically, and quite often it wouldn’t be unusual to find myself talking to a Spoof Writer on the Spoof Forum who had as many as 2000 articles in his back catalogue.   I found that impressive.   But whenever I spoke to friends who wrote in the paper journals, they didn’t know who these writers were, even though their articles were at the top of the Google pages every day. 
So I started the column to highlight these Spoof writer’s work, and eventually, they began writing books and I reviewed their books, too.  But shortly after I started writing for the Huffington Post Blog, my computer got hijacked by web pirates and I began to write a bit about web pirates, too.  So my blog became quite diverse for a while, but now it has returned to being mostly about comedy writing again.  If any of my Spoof friends tell me they are writing a book, they let me know and I review it for them.   The last one was Erskine Quint, Intrepid Adventurer, Extraordinaire.  It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  It’s worth a read. 
Have you always loved comedy?
Yes.  I have.  It was the shining light in our dark childhood.  Our family had a lot of problems but we all had an amazing sense of humour, and we just laughed our way through the dark times.  I remember my first comedy memories were of watching The Young Ones, BlackAdder and Monty Python with my Dad and my brother.   But later I loved Father Ted, The IT Crowd, The Thick of It and Peep show.   My favourite comedy series at the moment is The Big Bang Theory, but it worries me because I think I can see a bit too much of myself in Sheldon.  Not so much the mathematical genius bit, because I can’t count, but the obsession with comic book heroes and sci-fi adventure books.  I’m thinking of getting the box set, actually.  
But, its not just actual comedy that makes me laugh.   I see a lot of humour in politics.  I think Ed Miliband is very funny.   His PMQ retorts make me laugh a lot.  And even though I know his one-liners have been written by a committee of speech-writers, he does deliver them with good comic timing.  I think he should consider a career move to stand up comedy. 

What do you think of your brother's self published recent success with his debut Novel Dead Broken?
I haven’t been able to read past the first 25 pages.   Not because I didn’t want to, but because Gerard wouldn’t let me.   He told me the book gets a bit disturbing after that, but I’m very proud of him for writing this book.  It nearly got to the top of the horror charts, and that is an immense success for a first time author.  He was in the number two position on the Amazon Horror Book Chart on the night James Herbert died, and I think that’s quite a historical place to have been at that moment in time.  He loved James Herbert and I think he was very sad that he didn’t get to meet him.  He also loves Iain M Banks, too and I think it’s sad that Gerard has arrived on the scene just as his heroes are leaving the stage.   I can imagine he would have loved to have gone to book festivals and Horror conventions and hung out with James and Iain to talk about horror, and sci-fi.  But now he won’t be able to do that. 

You have written three Novels of your own. Will you be self-publishing them also. If so, when can we expect to see them on the Amazon shelf?

I’m not sure.  I’ve got one book that could be published at the end of the year on Amazon, if I really work hard with the editing, but the other three are stories that need illustrated.  And I’ll have to wait until my artistic skills catch up with my writing skills before I can even think of publishing those.  It’s an ongoing project that may never end, but that’s the way I like my projects.   My books are a lifelong project.  I’ve always got something on the go.   It’s just what I do. 

My favourite spoof Article from you is “Margaret Thatcher’s Basement Secrets Reavealed” which I think is hilarious.   Where do you get your ideas from?
Ha. Ha.  That was one of my favourites, too.  It was part of the Tory Zombie series that I wrote for Spoof News.   I mostly wrote these stories when I was angry with the Tories, usually after watching Prime Ministers Question time, or Newsnight.  I was worried about the desensitisation of government.  The newly elected Tory party seemed to be picking on the poorest, weakest people in our society.  They seemed to be attacking disabled people and people who, for one reason or another, had found themselves dependent on benefits.   I thought the Tory policies were heartless and cruel, and that’s when I realised that it would be quite sensible and funny to portray them as zombies.  
 It was shortly after that, that I created the Tory Zombie series.   And after I had created my monsters, I realised I needed some heroes too - superheroes - and I decided that if the Tories were the zombies, then the veteran members of the old socialist Labour party would have to be the superheroes.   Then, obviously, they would all fight each other in a secret war. 
I had so much fun with these.  But when I wrote them, I also had a lot of optimism.  I thought that the Tories were so obviously wrong in attacking the poor people in our society that someone would stop them.  But nobody did.  And I think we have entered a very sad time in our political history, and it just made me feel defeated when I watched the terrible things the Tories continued to do on Newsnight, so I stopped watching it.   And that’s why I more or less stopped writing the zombie series.   The superheroes stopped fighting and the Zombies won. 
In a recent telephone conversation between us, I referred to us jokingly as the modern day Bronte's. You said Gerard would be Emily.  What did you mean by that?
I just meant his writing is a bit dark.  He tends to like to look at the dark side of reality and I like to look on the bright side.  But he’s not as miserable as Emily was.  There is a lot of humour in his books.  I think Iain Banks reader’s would understand it and Val McDiarmid talked about this kind of dark Scottish Humour when she wrote in a recent tribute to Iain Banks that I'd grown up with the Scottish sense of humour, so I had no trouble with the notion that something so dark, so disturbing and so bleak could also be laugh-out-loud funny. I'd just never seen it written down before.”    I think this describes Gerard’s humour very well, and if Emily were alive today I think she’d be writing in this style.  
That leaves the question of which one of the Bronte's is you and which one would I be. You known what Kat,  I think we will leave the answer to that question for another day!  We will save it for Café Spike!
Thanks so much everyone for dropping by.

You can follow Katarina Frogpond on Twitter @DeltaPanda
Or why not read some of Katarina's work over at The Spoof .

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Horror Author Gerard Gray

A question Q&A session with Gerard Gray author of "Dead Broken".


Gerard thanks very much for agreeing to be my guest today. Also let me congratulate you on the amazing success of your debut novel "Dead Broken" currently riding high in the Amazon Horror charts. You must be delighted by your achievement.


Yes, but I just got lucky. I happen to know a lot of very nice people on Facebook and twitter – they helped me loads. It was still nice, though. The book got 10000 downloads over the free promotion, mostly in the UK. In the week that followed I sold close to 700 books, and it is still selling J. If it’s OK, I need to send out a big thank you to every one who posted, tweeted or talked about the book. Oh, and a big thank you to everyone who bought it. I hope it wasn’t too disturbing J


Did you ever envisage the book would be as popular as it is?


No. Getting to number 2 in the horror charts, second only to the great James Herbert, was a fantastic privilege. In saying that it’s just a hobby, and I’d like to keep it that way. I have a couple more books in me, but I like the idea of being able to write them at my own pace. That’s the beauty of going Indie. 


What inspired you to write a dark psychological thriller/horror?


I have always loved horror – I get it from my mum. I can remember being very young and asking her what the book sitting beside her bed was. She said the name of the book was Rats by James Herbert. She said it was frightening. My mum loved a good horror story, and it wasn’t long before she had me following suit. At the age of eight she let me watch all the Hammer House of Horror series. At the age of nine our favourite family movie was Halloween! I think I know where I get my love of horror from.


In the book the main character Peter Murphy battles with his father’s bi polar disorder and his mother’s depression. It's also been said in a review that you give a refreshing honest insight into grief.  Were these difficult subjects to write about?


Yes. I actually did grow up in a household blighted with mental illness – my dad was a manic-depressive, and my mum suffered from depression on occasion. It was a big part of my early life, which is why I find myself writing about it time and time again. In saying that, I had one seriously happy childhood. Both my parents were fantastic. I miss them loads.


Are you writing a sequel? Are we going to hear more from Gerard Gray?


I am, but it’s a difficult one for me. I don’t think writing about the last days of your mum would be easy for anyone. In saying that, Dead Broken isn’t my first book. I have a book prior to this one already written. I have plans to make it a prequel to Dead Broken, but I need to write the sequel first. Then I’ll go back and re-write the prequel and fit it in. It all goes a bit crazy in the prequel!!


In case the reader is not aware, you and I are cousins. Your sister is the Huffington post Blogger, Katarina Frogpond, who is also hoping to publish her own books in the very near future. When the three of us re-connected recently, were you as surprised as I was at how many of us in the family share a love of words?


Yes, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been. We have a very creative family. I don’t think it ends at the written word, either. I’ve written songs from about the age of 13, and some of our cousins have actually released albums. We even enjoy painting. But you are right – it’s our love of words that has brought us back together. I suppose it’s all in the genes J

 Thank you Gerard and thank you for dropping by. X

 Below is an excerpt from Dead Broken currently available on Amazon.

Follow Gerard on Twitter  @GerardGray101

I could see myself walking into the past, walking up to my parents’ front door. I had just spent seven hours driving up from London. On entering the house I found my dad sitting in his mechanical chair, his tongue a lapping and a lolling, his hand shaking back and forth. We exchanged a couple of welcoming remarks and then I spotted my mum coming out of the kitchen. On seeing her I felt somewhat unsettled, but my subconscious shook it off.

“The gypsy returns,” I said jokingly.

“Come and give me a hug, London boy.”

I gave my mum a warm hug and then followed her into the kitchen.

“I made you a Chilli. Are you hungry? I put fresh chillies in it.”

“Famished,” I replied, going straight for the fridge. Right enough she had bought me some Thai chillies.

“Ahh, chillies…” I said, picking up the packet, stroking it jokingly against my face.

“Pete, it’s very hot. Try it.”       

I tasted the chilli and right enough it was hot, but no way was it hot enough. I am addicted to chillies; at least I was before my stomach problems began.

I looked at my mum again. She looked weathered and worn, but quite well.

“Are you OK?”

“Huh…” she huffed, expelling a puff of exasperated air. “Him. I don’t know how much more I can take.”

I turned around to look at my dad. He was sitting in his chair, a fat, failing invalid. I looked at my mum. I wasn’t sure how to take this. Recently she had gone from being the angel of my youth to a constantly moaning hypochondriac. My sister blamed her German friend, Helga, and I tended to agree.

I looked back at my dad. The poor man had just been in care for six weeks while my mum had had her knee operation. My sister had told me that she had been moaning about him incessantly: the horns and halo effect. As far as my mum was concerned this little man definitely had horns. And that was why I took no notice of her. On this occasion, I was wrong.

Why were you wrong?

My eyes widened in the dark. Floating in the middle of the room was a cat as clear as day, its tail a swirling and a twirling high into the air like the smoke from a chimneystack. It was Tiddles, but not the Tiddles of my cinema room. This Tiddles had a head.

“Tiddles, you found your head?”

No thanks to you.

“What do you mean?”

You certainly know how to hide a head don’t you.

I winced. Tiddles’ voice was wrong. Why was Tiddles’ voice so wrong? And then it dawned on me. The apparition floating in the dark was that of a cat, but the voice was still my dad’s. I felt sick and disorientated. I placed my head on the bed, closed my eyes and attempted to escape back into my waking dream.

I returned to my parents’ living room, my dad lying half asleep in his chair. It was like lucid dreaming. I found myself wondering which one was the real world: the one with the floating cat, or the one with my dad slumbering in his mechanised chair.

I sat myself down on the sofa with an enormous plate of chilli and a bottle of Leffe. I had asked my mum to tape me the UEFA cup match, and by some fluke of the world she had managed it. My mum was over seventy – technical she was not. I switched on the video. Mum had just gone to bed. My dad was sitting beside me, half asleep. 

I opened my eyes to find the ethereal Tiddles still floating in the dark.

“Do you want to know the score?” my dad mumbled from his armchair. He had been away at dialysis earlier that evening. It always left him drained.

“No. Definitely not. Don’t tell me.”

“All I’ll say is…”

“No! Don’t tell me.”

My dad said nothing for a couple of seconds and then continued.

“I’ll just say…” 


“That Celtic had a better game in the second half.”

“OK, don’t tell me anything else.” No way did I want to know the result. If I knew the result I wouldn’t want to watch the match. 

“And I’ll just say…”


“That Larsson got man of the match.”

The actual implications of this conversation went far beyond the result of a football match. In the back of my mind something was niggling, but I thought nothing else of it. He finally mumbled something incoherent and proceeded to fall asleep in his chair. He was exhausted.

Larsson did get man of the match, but it wasn’t the greatest of games. Celtic drew 1-1 at home. As I left the room to go to bed I looked back at my dad, sleeping in his chair. He looked all but finished. Again I had that niggling feeling, but I brushed it aside. I was tired. It was 1:30 in the morning; time for bed.

No sleep for the wicked, aye?

I threw an angry stare at the floating cat, but the feline didn’t flinch an inch. My glower burned and effervesced like a flare before darkening once more. The cat was right: the wicked had no right to rest. I think I had only been asleep for a couple of hours when it started.

“Mary! Mary! It’s 5.30, Mary. You need to get up.”

“Huh?” I mumbled, stirring from my slumber. 

“Pete, I’m out of the bathroom, now. You can get in, if you like.”

What the fuck? Was it actually five in the morning? I leaned over and looked at my phone. Right enough it was just after five.

“Mary! I’m hungry.”

I tried my best to ignore my dad’s voice. It was 5.00 in the morning, so by my estimations that meant I’d only had about four hours’ sleep. I turned over in exasperation. 

“Do you want some breakfast as well, Pete?”

“No I do not,” I vociferously whispered. “It’s five in the morning. I work hard all week. Let me sleep.”

My dad didn’t seem to care how early it was. All he cared about was the fact that he was wide-awake, so everybody else should be up as well.

My dad babbled on incessantly for the next hour. Every minute, like clockwork, he would say something else, his voice flowing into my room like the frothy waves on a beach. Not quite the tranquil swill of the Bahamas, more the freezing cold wash of a Scottish shoreline.

I eventually managed to fall asleep, but only for about an hour. I opened my eyes to be greeted by my dad’s manic rant once more. God only knew what time it was now, but by the way my dad was talking it sounded like he had convinced my mum to get out of bed.

“Mary, I want my breakfast in my special bowl,” he said rudely. “And I think I’ll have some toast. Are you making toast for Pete? If you are, then I want you to make me one more slice of toast than you make for him.”

What? Did I hear him correctly? Oh bugger. I had forgotten about this. 

I slowly dragged myself out of bed. My dad’s dressing gown was lying in the corner, so I put it on. I staggered into the living room to find him beached in his chair as per usual.

“Morning,” I said. “You were up early. What the hell was all that about this morning?”

My dad looked up at me with a sneer. “It’s my house. I make the rules in this house.”

“It’s not your house,” I replied. “It’s yours and mum’s.”

“If I put it to a court of law, they would rule in my favour. Your mother would get nothing.”

“What’re you talking about?” I shook my head in a bid to dissipate the growing anger. I quickly released the pressure by remembering that he was obviously going ill again. No point listening to a word he said.

I walked through to the kitchen.

“He’s going ill again, isn’t he?”

“Do you see what I have to put up with? He’s an ungrateful, rude little devil.”

“Mary. Bring me my tablets.” 

“Please!” I shouted back at him.

My mum picked up his tablets from the bench and winced. “He’s ugly. I can’t bear to look at him.” She then disappeared into the living room. I followed her in and watched her place the tablets down onto the little table in front of my dad.

“Thank you,” I said, aiming the reproach at my dad for not acknowledging my mum’s kind gesture. He ignored me, his hand shaking back and forth. 

“I need a cup of milk to take my tablets with.”

“Please!” I said again.

“I need a cup of milk to take my tablets with, please, thank you, please, thank you.” My dad said this with a cheeky grin on his face. I reluctantly smiled back at him; it was actually quite funny. My mum’s bitter mask remained stuck fast to her face, though. She didn’t find him funny in the slightest.

I opened my eyes and rolled over in the dark turning my back on the floating cat. I didn’t want to think about this anymore. This was not the way I wanted to remember my dad.