Elin Gregory’s Signal Boost blog tour!


We’re delighted to announced that Elin Gregory is off on another, more extensive tour as part of launching her charming novel, ELEVENTH HOUR. Today you can find her with the kind peeps at My Fiction Nook.

Do follow her about! Her articles are always worth reading, and she’s organised a cool giveaway as well.

Manifold Press paperbacks

The Press doesn’t issue paperback editions of all our titles, as the decision to do so is driven by the individual authors. That being said, we’re delighted with the twenty titles that have made it into print thus far! There are new ones on the way, so it seemed to be a good time to take stock of what we have so far.

A veritable rainbow of books from Manifold Press!
A veritable rainbow of books from Manifold Press!

Our current paperback titles are listed here, along with Amazon US buy links:

The Apothecary's Garden paperback coverAlways With Us by Morgan Cheshire

The Apothecary’s Garden by Julie Bozza

Between Now and Then by Adam Fitzroy

Butterfly Hunter (#1) by Julie Bozza

Of Dreams and Ceremonies (Butterfly Hunter #2) by Julie Bozza

The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3) by Julie Bozza

The Butterfly Hunter Trilogy (incorporating all three novels plus the free short story Like Leaves to a Tree) by Julie Bozza

Dear Mister President by Adam Fitzroy

Make Do and Mend paperback coverThe Definitive Albert J. Sterne (incorporating the novel and the stories published separately in the eBook Albert J. Sterne: Future Bright, Past Imperfect) by Julie Bozza

Ghost Station by Adam Fitzroy

Homosapien … a fantasy about pro wrestling by Julie Bozza

Make Do and Mend by Adam Fitzroy

Mitch Rebecki Gets a Life by Julie Bozza

A Pride of Poppies Modern LGBTQIA Fiction of the Great War – anthology including stories by Julie Bozza, Barry Brennessel, Charlie Cochrane, Sam Evans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Wendy C. Fries, Z. McAspurren, Eleanor Musgrove and Jay Lewis Taylor

A Pride of Poppies - paperback coverRavages by R.A. Padmos

Solemn Contract by Morgan Cheshire

Stage Whispers by Adam Fitzroy

A Threefold Cord by Julie Bozza

The ‘True Love’ Solution by Julie Bozza

The Valley of the Shadow of Death by Julie Bozza

We hope you’ll enjoy these paperback editions and – like us! – are looking forward to more titles coming soon.

Spies and Blackguards!

Eleventh Hour by Elin GregoryAn author guest blog
by Elin Gregory

Spies are fascinating. From the earliest times there have been men and women who risk their lives by sneaking into enemy territory to try to see what’s going on there and establish how much of a threat there is. There are even spies mentioned in the Bible, reconnoitring before invading Palestine and establishing a safe house in Jericho. The Romans had their speculators, men who could sound out possible supporters in territories ripe for annexation and spy on enemy forces. Sir Francis Walsingham had an enormous network of spies in the 16th century, and the European powers cultivated promising young officers who might prove to be good players in The Great Game.

But it wasn’t until the 20th century that anything like a formal secret service was established in the UK. Partly this was due to a lordly assumption that the Brits didn’t NEED to spy, they were just that good, but it was coupled with a very damaging attitude that spying was ‘not playing the game’ and that we shouldn’t stoop so low. Between 1900 and 1909 a series of intelligence disasters, including the discovery of a very highly placed German mole in the Foreign Office finally convinced the powers in charge that some kind of overview was needed. Army intelligence didn’t speak to Navy and the fledgling air force reported to whoever it felt like. Someone needed to draw the threads together. A small room in the War Office, designated M05, was allocated and two Captains, one of the Staffordshire Regiment, invalided out of service due to his ill health and the other from Naval intelligence, were asked to form a formal Secret Service Bureau. Not a promising start yet they outstripped all expectations.

Captain Vernon Kell
Captain Vernon Kell

Plagued by illness from strenuous service, Captain Vernon Kell had served all over the world and absorbed languages like a sponge. He had a formidable intelligence that didn’t hesitate to use whatever means were available to fool the enemy. He even employed criminals, even ones in jail, to produce what is now called disinformation, sending out forged letters with inaccurate figures via the foreign powers’ own ‘letter boxes’.  He was also sensible enough to involve the police and worked with Scotland Yard to bring foreign spies to justice.  His organisation eventually became MI5.

Madison Smith-Cumming
Madison Smith-Cumming

Kell’s opposite number, head of the infant MI6, was Madison Smith-Cumming, later known as C. He was an incredible character in his own right. He had a monocle, walked with the aid of a swordstick and had his own personal tank. His wooden leg became a secret service legend, as he never told the same story of its loss twice.  Amongst other versions, he claimed that during a high speed chase he crashed his car and had to cut his own foot off with his pen knife to escape before he was caught by the enemy. But it is on record that he used to like to test the nerve of prospective spies by taking them out in his car and seeing how well they coped with being a passenger. He also used to startle people in meetings by stabbing himself in the wooden leg with a paperknife.  With such an original at the helm it’s no wonder that there was a ramshackle, ‘make it up as you go along’ vibe to many of their operations. C had to use whoever volunteered and while some were genuinely talented patriots others were venal or fools. “All my men are blackguards!” he complained after one spectacularly failed mission.  But they did enjoy some success and he encouraged technical innovation.

concealed weapon

Concealed weapons, waistcoat button cameras, even exploding pens were possible.  His men were also encouraged to improvise. Far from home and out of touch with their handlers, there would be plenty of times when they ran out of supplies and had to make do with whatever was to hand. For instance, C delighted in the discovery that semen makes an excellent invisible ink! However after a year or two of enthusiastic use – every man is his own fountain pen was one of his sayings – he had to recommend that it only be used with caution because the recipients of the notes complained of the smell.

If you are intrigued as we were to read Elin’s tale set in and around the British Secret Intelligence Service, do check out her novel ELEVENTH HOUR. It’s a cracking good yarn!

Elin will be off on a blog tour from Monday 22 August, during which she’ll be offering a giveaway of a backlist book plus a $10 gift card. We’ll post the links once they’re available.

Image sources:

  • Vernon Kell from the MI5 website.
  • Madison Smith-Cumming from a Daily Mail article (sorry).
  • The concealed weapon was from a now defunct eBay auction.
  • The photographers were unattributed at the source.

Elin Gregory’s blog tour

Eleventh Hour by Elin GregoryElin Gregory has been celebrating her very well-received new title ELEVENTH HOUR with a blog tour. Please do drop by and share the love with Elin and the lovely bloggers!

Elin will be conducting another, more extensive tour soon, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, if you want to read about what we got up to during our New Release Q+A on Facebook, celebrating Elin’s book and also Sandra Lindsey‘s UNDER LEADEN SKIES, check out our blog post!

New release Q+A!

The Press held a Q+A event on Facebook yesterday evening, in honour of new titles ELEVENTH HOUR by Elin Gregory and UNDER LEADEN SKIES by Sandra Lindsey. Unfortunately just as we got going, I realised I had mistakenly set up the event as private rather than public. As punishment, I have had all Cheesecake Privileges revoked until the end of the month. {woeful wail}

Meanwhile, I thought I’d copy across some of the more pertinent questions and answers. These are all from people who generally interact with us in public forums, and they are about (relatively) uncontroversial topics – but if there is anything that people would like removed from (or indeed added to) this post, please let me know!

Manifold Press: Hey everyone, how are we all? Welcome to our new release Q&A! Congratulations to Sandra and Elin on the publication of their new titles, both of which are making quite a splash with the readers!

Elin Gregory: Many thanks, Manifold. 🙂 How’s the test match going?

Manifold Press: Decently, thanks; looking at a possible declaration and setting Pakistan a target for the final day. Consensus seems to be that a draw is inevitable, depending on the weather …

Eleventh Hour by Elin GregoryManifold Press: We’re getting a lot of positive comment about the covers, both of which are absolutely spectacular. Creating covers is always a bit challenging, but this time I think our art team totally ‘knocked it out of the park’!

Tigg Cooper: Oh definitely, they’re gorgeous!

Manifold Press: I think we were extraordinarily lucky in being able to source such brilliant images – but that’s all down to hard work and diligence (and a certain amount of persuasive power) on behalf of our artists!

Elin Gregory: Super covers. And I really wish I could paint water like that.

Anna Butler: The covers are lovely.

Jay Lewis Taylor: Congrats to Shell.

Tigg Cooper: Oh, for anyone who doesn’t know, I’m Sandra Lindsey 🙂 Haven’t yet set up a FB account in my author name…

Under Leaden Skies by Sandra LindseyElin Gregory: I’ve got a question for Tigg / Sandra about Under Leaden Skies. Why Sunderlands? Why not one of the better known aircraft?

Tigg Cooper: Oh, that’s a long tale, with many different versions….

….I saw a Catalina (American flying boat) in RAF Museum Cosford, decided I wanted my airman to be a flying boat pilot, because I’ve always been rather intrigued by them myself, not having been around at the time they were operating…

…but then I found that Catalinas entered service quite late in the war, but there was another kind of flying boat, called a Sunderland, which operated for the whole war, giving me more flexibility with when the story could be set – and once I found there’d been some based at Pembroke Dock, it seemed reasonable that an airman based there could easily visit a ‘friend’ who was a miner in the South Wales valleys.

Of course, that’s not the part of their relationship I ended up writing about though!

Manifold Press: Did the RAF actually use Catalinas? I wrote some fan fiction once featuring a PBY Catalina …

Tigg Cooper: Yes, RAF Coastal Command used Catalinas – with their foldaway wheels, they’re more of an amphibious craft, whereas Sunderlands are “true” flying boats

Elin Gregory: Pembroke Dock, wow. I didn’t know that.

Manifold Press: They had mini-subs at Pembroke Dock, too IIRC.

Tigg Cooper: There’s a Sunderland on the bottom there still, which a group is raising money to try & recover & restore…

Continue reading “New release Q+A!”

Sandra Lindsey’s blog tour

Under Leaden Skies by Sandra LindseySandra Lindsey has been on a blog tour to celebrate the launch of her novel UNDER LEADEN SKIES this week. Please do drop by and share the love!

Don’t forget to join the Press’s authors and friends at the Q+A event on Facebook! It runs from 6pm BST / 1pm EDT / 10am PDT for two hours, today 6 August 2016.

Release day for our new titles!

It is the first of August, and our new titles are now available at last! The last month – from our official announcement through to release date – always seems unbearably long, and we feel sure many of our readers have felt the same way.

Under Leaden Skies by Sandra LindseyThis is the Press’s first novel from Sandra Lindsey, and we certainly hope it won’t be the last! UNDER LEADEN SKIES begins in the early days of the second world war. ‘Teddy’ Garston is finally prompted to confess his love for his friend Huw Roberts, and they spend a few hours together before Teddy must travel north to Shetland to take up his duties piloting Sunderland flying boats. The story follows Teddy throughout the war, while all the old certainties seem lost in the turbulence of change and loss – until at last he can head home again, and try to find a way of building a new life with those he loves.


Eleventh Hour by Elin GregoryElin Gregory has long been a good friend to the Press and all who sail in her – not to mention a well respected and much loved author of all things historical – so we are dead chuffed to be publishing her delightful novel ELEVENTH HOUR. Elin lovingly evokes old adventures of espionage and derring-do in this tale set in 1920s London. If you are nostalgic for ‘couples only’ boarding houses and nosy landladies, bath houses and suave gents spying for foreign powers, not to mention the necessity of tea and a good overarm bowling action, then this is the yarn for you!

ELEVENTH HOUR buy links:

The release date is a workday Monday, so we will host our regular Q+A on Saturday 6 August on Facebook. That seemed to work very nicely last time! We’d love for you to drop by for a chat with Elin, Sandra and our other friends at the New release Q+A event, from 6pm BST / 1pm EDT / 10am PDT.

In the meantime, we very much hope you’ll enjoy reading our new titles!

You may remember that we also announced another title for release today: LIKE PEOPLE by R.A. Padmos. Unfortunately the author and the Press have come to a mutual decision to withdraw this title from publication at this time due to unforeseen circumstances, and the rights have reverted to the author.

We apologise for the disappointment we know many of you will feel.

GHOST STATION paperback giveaway

Ghost Station by Adam FitzroyAdam Fitzroy very kindly made two copies of his paperback GHOST STATION available, hot off the presses, for a giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered!

This morning, we drew the two lucky winners at random from the entries … and they are Carolyn and Dianna! Congratulations to both of you. We have emailed you to ask for your postal addresses, and Adam is waiting with pen poised to sign your copies, if you wish it.

Thank you again, and we trust everyone’s Sunday is going swimmingly.

GHOST STATION paperback giveaway!

Ghost Station by Adam FitzroyManifold Press stalwart Adam Fitzroy has very kindly made two copies of the paperback edition of GHOST STATION available for a giveaway!

There are no hoops to jump through. Just click here for the entry form, fill in your first name and email address, and click the Submit button. (All information will be treated strictly confidentially, though unless you request otherwise, we will publish the first names of the winners on this blog.)

The giveaway will run from today, 23 July, through to Saturday 30 July.

Blurb: It’s 1976, the Cold War is still at its coldest, and retired agent John Dashwood is persuaded to return to supervise one last mission. However nothing at Ghost Station is quite the way he remembers it and everybody seems to have something to hide – including his two valued colleagues, Rick Wentworth and Harry Tilney, and his enigmatic boss Sir Charles Grandison. When operational necessity requires Dashwood to send Rick and Harry into a dangerous situation, the boundaries between friend and enemy begin to blur and he’s left isolated and wondering which of his so-called allies he can really trust.

GHOST STATION received an Honorable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2012, and reviewer Sirius at Jessewave called it “An exciting and fun spy thriller, which had me on the edge of my seat …”

Please do take this opportunity to enter this giveaway, dear Readers!



GHOST STATIONIt would probably not be letting too many cats out of too many bags to admit that books in general and characters in particular are usually inspired by someone or something the author has encountered in the course of everyday life.  It may be a poem, a snippet of history, a person met at random at a bus stop or in a hospital corridor, a picture discovered on the Internet – or, indeed, just about anything else.  (More than one book, for example, has been written as the result of someone playing a quest-type game, either online or with pencil and paper and a series of multi-faceted dice.)

My inspirations, on the whole, tend to be visual.  It would be disingenuous to pretend that I haven’t, in my time, written a considerable amount of fan-fiction, some of which I’m extremely proud of, but the problem with fan-fiction is that it only works if both the author and the reader are familiar with the source material.  That way there’s a kind of shorthand operating by which, for example, the name ‘Spock’ immediately conjures up a set of known reference points – he’s a Vulcan, his blood group is T-Negative, his parents are Sarek and Amanda, etc. etc. etc.  It isn’t necessary to explain why Spock does certain things in a fan story, because his character is so well established already that the reader knows what to expect from him.

When you want to branch out and start writing your own original fiction, it’s immediately necessary to explain things about your characters that the reader can’t possibly know in advance.  If you call your character ‘Tock’, say that he’s from a planet called Eros, his blood is X-Positive and his parents are Derek and Nora, you need to give your reader a chance to get to know him; the short-cuts offered by fan-fiction are no longer possible and, although you may have taken the TV (or indeed film) version of Spock as your inspiration, the reader has no way of knowing that and you are basically starting out to create your character completely from scratch.

On the other hand, this is also incredibly liberating; it means you get to discard features of the character you aren’t particularly fond of – you can get rid of an inconvenient spouse or partner or an irritating personal habit such as smoking – and reshape him or her to suit yourself.  At what point he or she ceases to be the one you remember and becomes an independent creation is, of course, a moot point; by the end, all you may be left with is a vague memory of a certain actor in a certain film or TV series – but the character on the page is no longer that person, if he ever was.  He has grown beyond that, and become uniquely himself.

This long preamble is by way of an explanation; I had unfinished business with the characters who eventually became Rick Wentworth and Harry Tilney, in the form of a piece of fan-fiction which was only ever half-written and was on my conscience for roughly thirty years.  I can’t begin to tell you the tumult those thirty years represented in my life – probably best if you don’t know, actually, since I’d like you to be able to sleep at night – but, when the dust settled and I began writing seriously at last, it was important to me to return to that world and finish what I’d started there.  Even if that meant going back to the very beginning and making the story over with characters who only superficially resembled the TV originals they’d once been.

If you start from scratch like that, it follows that you pretty much have to invent the details of the organisation the characters work for.  In both the original TV show and the book they are employees of a British organisation responsible for national security which is perpetually starved of funds.  They are cut-price James Bonds, the guys who do the day-to-day work and are more likely to end their day filling in forms than bedding a glamorous Soviet agent in a Mayfair hotel.  They have their American counterparts, too, who are always better-resourced – but which side they’re on is anybody’s guess!  And of course this is all set during the Cold War and it runs in parallel with John Le Carré’s ‘Smiley’ novels, because who wouldn’t want to write about the nitty-gritty of fieldwork in those days?  I once stayed in an East German hotel where the listening devices had only recently been removed; it isn’t difficult to imagine what it must have been like just a few years earlier.

Constructing the London headquarters of Ghost Station in my mind, however, was the best fun of the whole book.  I happen to be very fond of railways, and ghost stations in particular.  (If you’re not familiar with the expression, see abandonedstations.org.uk.)  Very few abandoned Tube stations seem to have been repurposed, at least as far as the underground sections are concerned, and it seemed that such a station would make an ideal secret base.  It would be very similar, in fact, to Western Approaches Command in Liverpool, which I visited when I was writing MAKE DO AND MEND.  Locating it involved a happy few hours poring over Tube maps, and inventing a spur line in a part of London I know reasonably well, to give my characters somewhere to operate from; Mr Le Carré has his famous ‘Circus’, and I have my ‘Ghost Station’.

It would be tedious to go into all the details of the book and describe the inspirations behind them – although a gentle online stroll around the abandoned sanatorium at Beelitz-Heilstätten is always worthwhile.  Suffice it to say that, for any book, ideas can emerge from a bewildering variety of sources; the trick is combining them into something that will entertain the reader without taking too many liberties with anybody else’s copyrights.

Ray Lonnen and Roy Marsden in 'The Sandbaggers'
Ray Lonnen and Roy Marsden in ‘The Sandbaggers’

On which note, I feel it’s probably safe to reveal that the original inspirations for the characters in GHOST STATION, thirty years ago when it was intended as fan-fiction (and pure action-adventure without any sex!) were Roy Marsden and the late Ray Lonnen in ‘The Sandbaggers’.  That Rick and Harry grew a very long way beyond them and became other people goes without saying, I hope, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind they still look rather like Roy and Ray – as they were in the late 1970s, anyway – and for those who are not familiar with them this is how they looked back then.  (That’s Ray Lonnen on the left, Roy Marsden on the right.)  I really hope this revelation hasn’t ruined the book for anybody, though!

We’re delighted to announce that the paperback edition of GHOST STATION has just been released!

You can find it at: