Sunday, 8 December 2013

All the fun of Carter's Steam Fair

For a taste of the 50s, pop over to the Circus Mania blog and read a three-part feature about the time-travelling fairground rides of Carter's Steam Fair.

Or click the icon on the left to download my fairground romance, The Fairground Girl.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Children's books for Christmas

If you’re looking for a Christmas present for the 8-14-year-old girl in your life, look no further than the Olivia books by the Guardian's theatre critic-turned-author Lyn Gardner.
Beginning with Olivia’s First Term, the six books follow the adventures of two circus girls - Olivia and her younger sister Eel - who are billeted at their grandmother’s London stage school while their dad Jack, the Great Marvello, busies himself with such stunts as walking a high-wire between the towers of Tower Bridge.
Read a full review on my (br)other blog Circus Mania.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Dress to Impress

Vintage events organiser
Bettina Scarlett
- interviewed in this month's
Classic American

One of the reasons I write is to enthuse people about things, so it was gratifying to hear that Polka Dot Dreams, the adventures of vintage girl Natty Smalls, has inspired short story writer, blogger and keen jiver Wendy Clarke to buy a Natty-style rockabilly dress of her own. Read all about it on her blog, Wendy’s Writing Now.

If you’re looking for vintage-inspired clothes and accessories of your own, don’t forget Bettina Scarlett’s Mid-Century Christmas Fair on December 14 at:
The Hammersmith Club
11 Rutland Grove
London W6 9DH

Be there or dress square!

Oh, and you can read my in-depth interview with Bettina - a girl raised on rockabilly - in the current issue of Classic American - the No1 mag for fans of American cars and all things Americana.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Vintage clothes and where to get them!

From the forces sweetheart look of the 1940s to the full-on rock'n'roll style of the 1950s, Natty Smalls the heroine of Polka Dot Dreams has a fabulous vintage or reproduction outfit for every day of the week. But where does she get them? And if reading Polka Dot Dreams gives you the urge to buy some retro threads of your own, where will you find them?

I asked three queens of the vintage scene which emporiums of mid-century style they recommend.

Kai Hoffman, the swinging singer with Kai's Cats and the hostess with the mostess of London's premier swing night, Live and Let Jive (Upstairs at Ronnie Scott's on the first Thursday of every month) gets all her stage-wear and just about everything else she wears from reproduction 40s and 50s fashion designers:
Vivien of Holloway
294 Holloway Road
London N7 6NJ
Tel: 020 7609 8754

Jazz zinger (and that's not a spelling mistake) Kitty La Roar recommends long-established vintage shop Blackout II on Endell Street in Covent Garden.

Vintage fashion event organiser Bettina Scarlett suggests the following vintage-inspired designers:

Outerlimitz for evening wear and Lady K Loves for good value day clothes.

You might also like to pop along to Bettina's Christmas mid-century vintage market at The Hammersmith Club, 11 Rutland Road, Hammersmith on December 14.

So now you know where to get an outfit just like Natty's in Polka Dot Dreams a vintage clothes romance by Julia Douglas. Click here to try before you buy.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Jazz alert!

Hot on the heels of my last post in which Kitty La Roar talked about her role in Sinatra Sequins & Swing, along comes this new CD by SSS front man Kevin Fitzsimmons - and boy is it a dilly!

Kevin has such a perfect voice for Sinatra songs that he's been a voice stand-in for Old Blue Eyes in TV and radio ads. But the great thing about this disc is that he's even better when he's just being himself, especially on the original songs that sit snugly alongside such covers as a cool and quirky reading of The Beatles' Norwegian Wood.

He had me from the first line, "I'm back on the blues again..." and from there the disc just gets better.

The Fitzsimmons original Views From The Quayside, Slightly Intoxicated is about messing about on the Thames and it swings like crazy, thanks to some accelerating ivory playing by Leon Greening.

Elsewhere, there's razor sharp jazz accompaniment from trumpeter Steve Fishwick and sax men Alex Garnet and Derek Nash. But it's Kevin's effortlessly slick vocals and witty writing on songs like the title track, Show Me The Way that make a great hour of jazz.

Pre-order Show Me The Way by Kevin Fitzsimmons here. Better still, put on your zoot suit and scoot along to the launch party at the Spice of Life in Soho on Wednesday October 2.

See also: Julia's Jukebox for Polka Dot Dreams.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Kitty La Roar - Queen of the New Jazz Age

Kitty la Roar and Nick of Time
Putting on the jazz style

She sang in the bath for an EDF TV ad, but Kitty La Roar also rocks a neat line in vintage jazz age dresses, whether backed by a full orchestra in the touring theatre show Sinatra, Sequins and Swing, or in hip London cabaret clubs like the Cellar Door with her pianist husband Nick of Time.

In this interview which recently appeared in The Stage, Kitty told me all about the vintage jazz scene.

How did you get into vintage jazz?

I got seriously into it when I was about 8, growing up in Bolton. I was a strange child, but I loved Ella Fitzgerald’s voice - that soft, intimate vibrato that was really pleasurable to listen to. I also like the sophistication of the melodies in the great American songbook. There’s something whimsical about it, but something dark as well.

The cat's meow
Kitty La Roar in
Sinatra, Sequins & Swing
Where did you get the name Kitty La Roar?

I did a drama degree at Goldsmith College and a couple of us were trying to come up with camp alter egos for cabaret work. We came up with the name between us. I’m planning a new jazz project in a couple of months and I was actually thinking of changing the name in case it wouldn’t be taken seriously. But having talked to a few people from musicians to promoters, everyone seems to like Kitty La Roar, so it’s probably something I’ll stick with.

How did you meet Nick?

I saw him playing piano at The Edge in Soho. He was inviting people to get up and do a song, so I got up and sang My Funny Valentine. We did a few gigs and kind of circled each other for a while. It was the usual worry of can you have a working relationship with someone you’re involved with? But it’s worked out really well. We’ve got residencies at the Savoy and the Dorchester. Then we play a little place called the Cellar Door in Covent Garden where we experiment with our jazz stuff. It used to be a gents toilet and it’s tiny. It holds about 40 people, which is nice, because you can see people’s reactions and when they like a song it’s lovely to see.

How big is the vintage jazz scene at the moment?

It’s becoming more and more popular. It used to be that rockabilly was the counter-culture look, but now it’s more of a Hot Club, 1920s and 30s look. We’ll get 18 and 20-year-olds coming to gigs and they look immaculate. The interesting thing is, when we started playing the Cellar Door we were doing cabaret but we’ve shifted to more of a jazz profile and the audience has got bigger.

How did you get involved with Sinatra, Sequins and Swing?

I met Kevin Fitzsimmons, who has a lovely tone for Frank Sinatra songs, when we were both doing gigs at a racecourse. He was telling me his plans for the show and thought I’d be good for the glamorous sequin element. It’s a lot of fun. I get 8 costume changes and it’s rare to get the opportunity to sing songs like Marilyn Monroe’s Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend with the full arrangements. There are Rat Pack shows that don’t sound anything like the quality of a big band, and it’s the big band people go to see, really.

For details of Kitty's gigs with Nick of Time and Sinatra, Sequins & Swing, go to

For a fictional look at the vintage scene, meanwhile, try Polka Dot Dreams by Julia Douglas. Click here to try before you buy.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Behind the scenes of Polka Dot Dreams

The new Writers' Forum is out - and includes the concluding part of a two-part feature on how I wrote the rock'n'roll romance Polka Dot Dreams.

If you've ever fancied writing stories for womens magazines, there's also a feature in which I talk to four top fiction editors about what they are looking for in new writers... and what will put them off a manuscript.

To read the opening chapters of Polka Dot Dreams before you buy it, click here.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Julia's Jukebox for Polka Dot Dreams

Natty Smalls, the vintage clothes-obsessed heroine of Polka Dot Dreams only listens to two types of music: “Rock... and roll.” So what would be on the soundtrack if her jive through the retro scene was made into a movie?

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On by Jerry Lee Lewis. This is the pumping piano smash on the jukebox when Natty walks into Matt’s 50s-themed ice cream parlour and first sets her eyes on the man of her dreams.

I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. The song Natty’s landlady and Matt’s widowed mum, the irrepressible Margie, blasts at full volume while Hoovering the stairs. Although she’s partial to a bit of Abba, too.

Big Hunk Of Love by Elvis Presley. Tartan-clad Teddy Boy band Duke & The Bop Tones are roaring through this full-on rocker when Natty and Matt have their first jive at the Cinderella rockabilly club.

Chapel Of Love by the Dixie Cups. As Natty sinks to her chin in a bubble bath and thinks of Matt, what more apt tune could be playing on her retro-styled CD player than this rock’n’roll song about walking down the aisle?

Second Chance by Natty Smalls. This is the song Natty writes after meeting Matt and hoping it will be second time lucky for both of them. Cameron Swoon, the mysterious Scottish Teddy Boy, swears it’s the song that will make Natty a singing sensation. But if Cameron can get her a record deal, what effect will that have on her relationship with Matt?

Click here to try before you buy the e-edition of Polka Dot Dreams on Amazon. Or check out a copy from your local library.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Four faces of Natty Smalls!

It's always fascinating to see how different illustrators picture a character, as can be seen from the covers of the different editions of Polka Dot Dreams.

The drawing on the left is how I imagined the heroine Natty Smalls in a doodle for my own amusement while writing the story.

This is how Natty appeared on the cover of the My Weekly Pocket Novel edition of Polka Dot Dreams.

Great hair, and I love the seaside setting. Not sure what happened to the bullet bra that features rather, ahem, prominently in the book. But, then again, it was My Weekly!

Pocket novels, incidentally, have a short but glamorous life on the newsstands of shops like Tesco and Sainsburys for just two weeks. So if you have a copy, hold onto it. It's a limited edition!

Here's Natty on the cover of the Linford Romance large print paperback, which is available to borrow from your local library.

I'm flattered by how closely she resembles my original doodle, including the ice cream from Matt's 50s-themed ice cream parlous. I also like the little details in the background, such as the suitcase, guitar case and leopard print coat that she wears in the opening scene.

And here's Natty large as life and in the flesh on the cover of the new e-edition. Perfect hair colour and the way she's tucking into that ice cream is Natty through and through!

Click here to read a sample chapter on Amazon.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Introducing Natty Smalls - the sensational singing star of Polka Dot Dreams!

Julia Douglas provides an exclusive interview with the heroine of her latest ebook, Polka Dot Dreams, the irrepressible Natty Smalls.

Name: Natty Smalls!

That’s an unusual name...

Natty by name and natty by nature! My real name’s Natalie, but Natalie Smalls sounds ridiculous!

What’s your role in Polka Dot Dreams?

I’m the star, of course! I breeze into town in my genuine 1950s vintage clothes, bullet bra and Twinco sunglasses and turn upside down the lives of everyone I meet. Especially the gorgeous Matt!

Who’s Matt?

Matt runs a rock’n’roll-themed ice cream parlour and is the most stunning specimen who ever pulled on a pair of vintage Levis! He’s got a blonde rockabilly flattop, the most amazing smile and a body-builder’s muscles that are simply to die for! He is a bit on the clumsy side, but I think that’s just nerves. We’re working on those!

You obviously like Matt. Does he have any rivals for your affection?

Well, there is the smooth and sophisticated Cameron Swoon! Now there’s a sharp dresser! Most people don’t understand the Teddy Boy look - Showaddywaddy have a lot to answer for! - but Cameron gets it perfectly: the expensive tailoring of a true Edwardian gentleman! Matt is jealous of Cameron because he’s going to make me a singing sensation!

Anyone else...?

My ex, the millionaire celebrity chef David Royale. But the least said about him the better.

Natty Smalls
as I first drew
Who are the female characters?

Oh, just wait till you meet the marvelous Margie - my larger-than-life landlady, Matt’s mum and, dare I say it, my potential mother-in-law! Margie owns an enormous house at the seaside. The other residents are Jase, a DJ - he’s harmless and nice. Then there’s Jude, a mysterious older woman who is Not To Be Trusted. There’s definitely something going on between Jude and Matt that I don’t like the look of at all!

What’s your best line in the book?

That would be when David says, “Virginity is a rather old fashioned ideal,” and I reply, “I guess I’m just an old fashioned girl!”

Can you tell us a secret that’s not in the book?

Matt’s always introducing himself as “I’m Matt, by the way,” - but that’s not his real surname! It’s Cardy - which could have serious implications for my name if we ever get married.

Polka Dot Dreams is available to download as an ebook from Amazon for the positively retro price of just £1.97. Click here to read the first chapter for FREE.

Polka Dot Dreams is also available to borrow as a paperback from your local library.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Rockabilly reading!

Follow the romantic adventures of vintage girl Natty Smalls as she jives through the UK rockabilly scene in the latest Julia Douglas novel, Polka Dot Dreams. Click here to read a sample chapter on Amazon.

Also available in paperback to borrow from your local library!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Have you booked your tickets for the Wildest Cats in Town Annual Xmas Party?

Have you packed your circle skirt, blue suede shoes and sprig of mistletoe?

The flyer for Ritchie Gee's annual bash has just popped through my door and yule love the line-up.

Top of the bill is "The best young Elvis in the World" Travis Le Doyt. Also appearing are boogie woogie man Mike Sanchez, 80s hit-makers The Jets, and a whole host of others including the Rock-a-toons, the Bobcats, Some Like It Hot and many, many more.

But it's not just the bands that make the Wildest Cats in Town the party to be at. I've been to one of Ritchie's Teddy Boy festivals before and the atmosphere is amazing, from the ball room to the classic cars to the dining hall, where the nosh is top notch. 

It's all happening from Friday 29 November to Monday 2 December at Pontins Pakefield, near Lowestoft and you can get an apartment and meals for the positively 1950s price of just £159 per person for the whole weekend.

For details, say Hi-de-hi to Ritchie on 01530 455657 or 07976 964086 or visit

For a fictional view of the British rock'n'roll scene, meanwhile, meet rockabilly girl Natty Smalls, Edwardian Ted Cameron Swoon and rock'n'roll band Duke & the Boptones in Polka Dot Dreams by Julia Douglas. Click here to read a sample chapter on Amazon.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Tootsie Rollers - Queens of the Vintage Scene

Singing sensations
The Tootsie Rollers

You can't get away from the vintage scene at the moment. I was in Southwold yesterday, and there by the boating lake, just along from the pier, was a vintage market set up in a row of beach huts. What a fabulous idea!

But who is going to take the vintage revival into the pop charts? My money's on The Tootsie Rollers, a spirited sextet who describe themselves as the Andrews Sisters meet the Spice Girls.

I've just interviewed one of them for The Stage. The article will be out in the next week or so. In the meantime, check out their video for their theme song Tootsie Rollers - The Boys Go Wild on their website . It's the catchiest song I've heard in years.

For the story of a fictional vintage girl hoping to make it as a singing sensation, meanwhile, read about the adventures of Natty Smalls in Polka Dot Dreams by Julia Douglas. Click here to buy the ebook from Amazon for the positively 1950s price of just £1.97.

You can also borrow the paperback from your local library.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Blue Rinse Brigade Great New Book!

If you’ve enjoyed the adventures of the Blue Rinse Brigade in My Weekly, you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve now brought their four serials together in a new ebook that finds the four harmless-looking old ladies talking on an increasingly outlandish parade of villains from murderous circus stars to psychotic pirates.

Here’s how Evelyn first described the gang to her long-suffering son-in-law, Inspector Mervyn Pickles:

“Think of all the skill and experience going to waste,” Evelyn pleaded. “Thirty years at Scotland Yard. Ten of them leading the Murder Squad. And it’s not just me.”
Inspector Mervyn Pickles glanced nervously towards the door. “You mean there are more of you?”
“What about Maude?” said Evelyn.
“Maude?” Mervyn burst out laughing. “She’s ninety-one!”
Evelyn leaned forward, furious. “Maude was one of the top code-breakers during World War Two. She’s a mathematical genius. If it wasn’t for Maude, you’d be speaking German. Then there’s Pam...”
“Who’s eighty, with a dodgy hip...”
“.... who’s a former army medic and police pathologist,” Evelyn corrected. “What Pam doesn’t know about forensic science isn’t worth knowing. Then there’s Jane. And you know what she used to be, don’t you?”
“Surprise me,” Mervyn sighed.
Evelyn glanced over both shoulders, then muttered, “Special agent in the Cold War. Secret missions behind the Iron Curtain.”
She lowered her voice still further. “Licensed to kill.”

The Blue Rinse Brigade
as serialised in My Weekly.
Using hundreds of years of combined experience, the Blue Rinse Brigade finds our four plucky heroines tackling a a parade of increasingly outlandish villains from crazed circus performers to psychotic pirates in four thrilling comic adventures: Trouble In Store, Murder At The Circus, Murder On The Broads and Who Killed The Easter Bunny.

Available to download now from the Kindle Store.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Prepare to be scared...

Do you believe in ghosts?

Nicola doesn’t, until she visits a fading West End theatre on an outing from drama school. From that point on, nothing can break her obsession with the theatre’s hundred-year-dead founder, Sir Charles Ducrow.

But will she ever see him again?

In May, My Weekly ran my two-part serial, Forever Together, in
Nicola and Brett
as they appeared in My Weekly
which students Scarlett and Brett watch Nicola’s increasingly weird behaviour following her trip to the theatre.

But that serial only told half the story, because Scarlett could mostly only guess at what was really going on.

Now you can read the full haunting tale in a compelling novel-length version of Forever Together that tells the story from Nicola’s point of view.

Click here to read the first couple of chapters and download Forever Together from the Kindle Store. Prepare to be chilled... and inspired by the lengths to which two hearts will go to fulfil their destiny.

Friday, 23 August 2013

A vintage date for your diary

Bettina Scarlett
photo: Reapfolio

If you’ve read about the adventures of vintage girl Natty Smalls in Polka Dot Dreams - and if you haven’t, you’ll find the paperback in your local library now, while the e-edition will be coming out very soon - then you may be tempted to ditch your modern dudes and slip into some fabulous 50s fashions of your own.

But where would you go to find the right look?

The perfect place to start will be The Mid Century Christmas Market in London on December 14. It’s at the Hammersmith Club, 11 Rutland Grove, Hammersmith, London W6 9DH and will be an Aladdin’s cave of reproduction mid-century clothes and life-style choices.

The organiser is Bettina Scarlett, pictured here in a sneak preview from a photo-shoot for a feature on her vintage events management company, Bettina Scarlett Presents, that I’ve written for a forthcoming issue of a leading magazine.

Be there or be square!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The story behind Polka Dot Dreams

The new issue of Writers' Forum is out, and in it you’ll find the first instalment of a two-part feature on how I wrote the vintage clothes romance Polka Dot Dreams - which is available to borrow from your local library now.

In a bit of a bumper issue for me, you’ll also find an article on pen names, including a bit about why I became Julia Douglas to write romance.

Finally, with my Douglas McPherson hat on (a thinking cap, perhaps?) I’ve been interviewed by Phil Barrington about the secrets of finding time to write.

Having no telly and turning the phone off are just two of my tips...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Classic American - Vintage Style!

This month, wearing my Douglas McPherson hat (a 50s Trilby with a press card in the hat band, in case you’re wondering) I’m starting a new series in Classic American magazine called Vintage Style.
Classic American is the number one mag for fans of American cars from the 40s, 50s and 60s, right through to the present. Nothing goes better with a chrome-laden classic Yank tank than a cool set of threads from the same era. So Vintage Style is dedicated to icons of vintage and reproduction vintage clothes.
In the September issue, out now, I’m talking to colourful Queen of Swing Kai Hoffman about her music, her Live And Let Jive club night at Ronnie Scott’s and, of course, her fabulous clothes. Being sponsored by Vivienne of Holloway certainly helps Kai maintain her status as an icon of 40s and 50s fashion.
For a fictional look at the vintage clothes and rockabilly scene, meanwhile, read the romantic adventures of Natty Smalls in Polka Dot Dreams by Julia Douglas. The paperback is in libraries now, and the ebook will be out shortly!

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Funniest Show On Earth!

The first seven days of August were International Clown Week, so what better way could there have been to round off the week than with a visit to Britain’s funniest clowns, father and son funnymen Clive Webb and Danny Adams in Cirque du Hilarious - Daredevils and Clowns?
The comic twosome usually work in theatres, with extensive engagements in the Butlins resorts of Minehead, Bognor and Skegness this year, so it was great to see them in a proper circus tent where they are appearing, in Southwold, for one month only, until August 31.
With 1950s rock’n’roll playing and creating a fairground atmosphere as we took our seats, the big top has been divided internally with a proscenium arch to create an intimate cabaret-style space. The semi-circle of tiered bench seats brings the audience much closer to the half-circle stage than you’d normally find either around a normal-sized in-the-round circus ring or in an ordinary theatre - and the intimacy of the set-up made every aspect of the show even better.
The show is called Daredevils and Clowns and some genuine daredevilry was provided in the first half by Sascha Williams who built a high-altitude rola-rola tower on an already tall platform... then proceeded to play a Led Zepplin electric guitar solo while balancing precariously on the summit! A slick juggler added more circus in the second half, while the Cirque du Hilarious Dancers performed in a number of classy costumes to give the show a fast-moving variety show feel.
As always, though, it was ringmaster Clive Webb and clown Danny Adams who dominated, with a non-stop barrage of genuine belly laughs. The thing with both performers is that their anarchic delight in everything they do is both palpable and infectious. Never just going through the motions, you can feel them pushing and pushing themselves and each other to new heights of cheekiness.
Danny Adams takes a fall
The bit where Danny torments a singer by squirting her with a water pistol, covering her in toilet paper and spraying her with foam? Of course it’s scripted, but Danny plays the part with such a mad gleam in his eye you’d really think he was making it up as he went along. Surely he won’t really squirt it up her skirt, you think. And the moment when you can almost see him thinking about it, like a naughty kid wondering if he’ll get away with it, makes it all the funnier when he does.
“How do you get a fat girl into bed? Piece of cake!” quipped Danny in an opening salvo that set the tone for his endless stream of one-liners.
The humour was cartoonishly visual, too. A piano and a Punch and Judy tent are blown up in gleefully noisy explosions. Two of the funniest moments come when Danny, dressed as Elvis, is first shrunk to a couple of feet tall then blown up to sumo wrestler size.
Then again, some of the biggest laughter comes from embarrassment and tension, and Danny milks every drop of Mickey-taking from an eye-wateringly funny skit involving four audience members and a unicycle.
Add a custard pie fight, a royal baby fart gag that’s a literal blast, and a musical climax by clown rock band Clown Force, and you have the funniest afternoon or evening you could ever enjoy in a circus tent.
If you are within 100 miles of Southwold, Suffolk, DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!
Show times are 3pm daily and 3pm and 6pm Wed, Thur and Sat until Aug 31. Box Office: 01775 764777.

As we left, it was impossible to resist the romantic image of the stripy big top against the setting sun, with its brightly lit box office wagon to the front, vintage lorries and caravans parked to the rear.
But what’s life really like for those who run away with the circus?
Find out in the 1930s romance The Showman's Girl by Julia Douglas, available to borrow in paperback from your local library or to download from iTunes for the Circus Ridiculous price of just 49p!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Spread the love!

One of the reasons I write is to share my love of things. I wrote The Showman’s Girl - and my non-fiction book Circus Mania - to celebrate my love of the circus in the hope it would inspire readers to investigate the fabulous world of the big top.

I wrote Nashville Cinderella to celebrate the Nashville song-writing community, to show how hard the song-writers and musicians in that world work, how they all know and support each other, and how they craft songs from their own lives and relationships. I suppose, really, it came from my love of country music.

So it was great to read a couple of customer reviews of Nashville Cinderella on iTunes from people who were inspired by the story to discover country music:

“A great read from JD, inspires me to get some country on my ipod!”

“Loved reading this book, really inspirational. From reading this I found a new love for music that I never thought I’d find. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a new romantic novel to bury your head in.”

Reviews like that really warm my heart because they show I achieved what I set out to do. So if you’ve read the ebook and enjoyed it, do please post a review and spread the love!

(and, as they say in the circus, if you didn’t enjoy it... keep it to yourself!)

The Showman’s Girl and Nashville Cinderella are available to download from Amazon and iTunes, or to borrow in the Linford paperback edition from your local library.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Royal Approval for The Showman's Girl!

From Afghanistan to Vietnam, Italy to India and Peru to China, participants in 47 countries around the globe staged special events to celebrate World Circus Day on April 20. I was proud to do my bit to represent the UK and celebrate the day by giving away my newly launched ebook The Showman’s Girl as a free download on iTunes.
And, to prove my involvement, it was an honour to receive the above certificate from HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Honorary President of the Federation Mondiale du Cirque.

The Showman’s Girl follows the adventures of Emily, who runs away with the circus in the 1930s.
If you missed the free download, you can still buy it from iTunes for just 49p!

Or you can borrow the Linford edition paperback from your local library for free!

World Circus Day 5 will be celebrated on April 19, 2014. But if you can't wait until then for some circus slapstick, International Clown Week begins this August 1st!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bullet bra and ice-cream!

as I drew her

For Natty Smalls, the star of Polka Dot Dreams, it’s all about the look: 50s hairdo, vintage clothes and, living up to her name, even retro underwear in the form of a bullet bra and girdle. As she puts it, a period-perfect figure requires the right foundations; for Natty, there was no stinting behind the scenes.

While thinking about some of the rock’n’roll outfits Natty wears in the story, I found myself drawing her. So I was knocked out to see how closely the cover illustration of the Linford large print paperback edition resembles my original sketch, even down to the ice-cream, courtesy of her boyfriend Matt’s rock’n’roll-themed ice-cream parlour.

Check it out in... or, rather, check it out of your local library now!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Easy Tiger!

After my previous post with a picture of a lady and a very relaxed leopard, here's one of a gal and her tiger in a rather more playful pose. The game girl is Mabel Stark, one of the most celebrated big cat trainers from the golden age of the American circus in the 1920s. Wrestling with her favourite kitty, Rajah, was all part of her act, hence her tough leather suit. Mabel and Rajah got on so well that he used to share her bed on the Ringling Brothers circus train, although there were several ocassions when life in the big cat cage got out of hand and she was badly mauled by less house-trained lions and tigers, both in training sessions and in front of the public. Her life is told in fictional form in Robert Hough's novel The Final Confession of Mabel Stark. It's a rollicking read, similar in many ways to Water For Elephants but far, far better in it's depiction of blood, guts and sawdust and its evocation of Stark's spunky, spiky voice. Click over to the Circus Mania blog to read my review of The Final Confession of Mabel Stark among my pick of 5 Great Circus Books for Summer Reading.