I blame it on the cats!

An author guest blog by Chris Quinton.

GAME ON, GAME OVER happened because of cats. And Avebury, but mostly cats. Many years previously, the fur balls were a ‘thing’ in the fan fiction I was reading at the time. All of them were cutesy, fluffy, adorable, and they charmed the heroes with their irresistible appeal – well, you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a sucker for the feline kind, canids and equines as well, but I wanted something more than the saccharine sweetness of those stories, and none were to be found. So I decided to write my own.

My cat wasn’t cute. Wasn’t fluffy, either, regardless of what some poor deluded human had named him way back when he was a kitten. Though in all honesty, he probably had been appealing back then, the way all kittens are, no matter what they grow into. This one grew into an autocratic, battle-scarred and cynical tom, based on a rather large ginger and white individual I saw in the courtyard of the Red Lion, Avebury’s pub. The humans he interacted with were fleshed around two characters from a TV series. Yes, I wrote fanfiction and I make no apologies for it: fanfic got me through some difficult times in my life.

I didn’t use the characters’ screen names in the original story, as Aidan was very good at creating new identities, had gone into solitary ‘retirement’ in the sleepy little village in the heart of Wiltshire, and was determined to stay there. Scott was as determined to forge a relationship with him. And TBC, aka That Bloody Cat,  merely wanted to live in his old home again.

The setting of Avebury reflected my love and fascination with the place, and its unique archaeological history. Then there are its ghost stories: the barber-surgeon, Florrie the Barmaid, the ghostly coach to name but a few.

Some time later, when I’d had a few titles published, I remembered that decades-old fanfic. Other than a few mentions of their shared past and their physical appearances, there was nothing at all to show its original inspiration, not even their names. So I began to put together a new backstory for them. To misquote a soccer commentator, it would be a tale of two halves, and the new title was a natural choice: Game On (where and how they met and parted), Game Over (where and how they got together again and reached their HEA).

I’d recently read a fascinating article on the Silk Road, and anyone who knows me, knows how I am addicted to archaeology. Add in the political situation of the area, plus a hint of Kipling’s Great Game, and I had the first part nailed. Aidan Whittaker would be an MI6 agent, undercover at an archaeological dig in Tajikistan, near the border with Pakistan. Scott Landon was a photographer tagging along behind a journalist, and we all know how much trouble a determined newshound can get into without really trying.

The second part would be entirely different in pace and setting from Part One, and its setting was Avebury. Thanks to family and friends prepared to drive me to one of my favourite places in England, I already had a large folder full of photos, but I wanted more of specific areas. This time, though, no one with a car was available, so I resorted to the buses. Getting to Avebury by public transport wasn’t easy, involved changes, and took forever. I had only a limited time before the return trip. So I chose the field where the pair of fictional cottages would sit, took many photos up and down the street, and had just enough time for a sandwich and a cuppa at the Red Lion before I caught the only bus back to where I could pick up the return bus to Salisbury.

Incidentally, the weather was glorious. Few things can beat summer sunshine in a tiny English village with thatched cottages and an excellent pub.

Above, I said I was addicted to archaeology – that isn’t an understatement. In Game On, Game Over, when Scott asks Archaeologist Aidan, ‘Why?’ his answer is as much from my heart as Aidan’s.

“… But you, these kids, you’re out here in a strange land, living in tents with basic amenities, no real freedom to come and go, watched over every now and then by the army. Just to dig holes in the ground. Why? What’s the point of it?”

Why?” John rounded on him ferociously, taking Scott’s breath away. “Do you think we live in a vacuum? That present and future are the be-all and end-all of two-dimensional lives? The point is, Mr Landon, you, me, those postgraduates, the lecturers, the cooks and drivers, are linked to the past as surely as we are to the present. We are no different to the people who travelled the Roads and stayed in the caravanserai. We are no different from the Roman soldier on Hadrian’s Wall who wrote home to his mother asking her to send him more socks. And yes, before you ask, he’s genuine. Every minute fragment of the past found in excavations enriches the present. Every translation of newly discovered writing expands our knowledge and strengthens the links to our past. Human nature has changed very little in the millennia we’ve walked upright, and we’re faced with the same choices today as our ancestors were. The only differences now are our enhanced abilities to create and destroy.”

So, yeah, that’s my one and only ‘Mary-Sue’ time (apart from that one I wrote when I was fourteen, starring me and Elvis…). Come on, I was fourteen, for the gods’ sake…

 

Our three new titles are released today!

It’s release day at last! We’re sure just about everyone will find something to love in our new titles – they are each so different, and cover such a range of style and content.


First up is Alexa Milne’s first novel with the Press. We were intrigued as soon as we heard that the romance features two older characters – the sort of main characters we feel are under-represented in our genre. WHILE YOU SEE A CHANCE sees Sion returning to his childhood home in South Wales – and finding that his best friend Phil has recently returned home as well. They are both approaching their sixtieth birthdays, but is it ever too late for a chance at love?

Adding further depth to the tale, Alexa also explores two other romantic relationships in different generations of Sion’s family. Love is love is love, but our society has changed over time, and that has huge implications for the individuals who don’t quite fit into the ‘norm’.

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords; Barnes & Noble; Kobo.


Chris Quinton’s stories often touch on the fantastical, and COINS NOT ACCEPTED is no exception. Here we’re introduced to a world which exists in parallel with our own, and to the political machinations which spill through the tightly-controlled portal between them. Against this background of danger and intrigue Miles is reunited with old friend Allan, and together they’re pitted against powerful forces that threaten the safety of both worlds. Getting out of this situation alive will already be a challenge; getting out of it alive and together seems almost impossible…

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords; Barnes & Noble; Kobo.


In A NIGHT WITH THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE, Julie Bozza does something different again. As if Francis Beaumont’s original play wasn’t chaotic enough, with two-plays-within-a-play, Julie wraps another layer around the whole, following the actors backstage in a modern-day production. Dale (who plays Rafe) and Topher (who plays Jasper) have worked together before – and Topher wants to celebrate the last night of this run in the same way they celebrated last time. This doesn’t fit into Dale’s plans at all, but perhaps Beaumont’s play “full of mirth and delight” has something to teach him.

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords; Barnes & NobleKobo.


We hope you’ll enjoy these tales as much as we do!

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Three (very different) new titles for 1 May!

If there’s one thing that our next three titles have in common, it’s that they’re each so different!

This new novel from Alexa Milne is her first with the Press. We were intrigued as soon as we heard that the romance features two older characters – the sort of main characters we feel are under-represented in our genre. WHILE YOU SEE A CHANCE sees Sion returning to his childhood home in South Wales – and finding that his best friend Phil has recently returned home as well. They are both approaching their sixtieth birthdays, but is it ever too late for a chance at love?

Adding further depth to the tale, Alexa also explores two other romantic relationships in different generations of Sion’s family. Love is love is love, but our society has changed over time, and that has huge implications for the individuals who don’t quite fit into the ‘norm’.

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


Chris Quinton’s stories often touch on the fantastical, and COINS NOT ACCEPTED is no exception. Here we’re introduced to a world which exists in parallel with our own, and to the political machinations which spill through the tightly-controlled portal between them. Against this background of danger and intrigue Miles is reunited with old friend Allan, and together they’re pitted against powerful forces that threaten the safety of both worlds. Getting out of this situation alive will already be a challenge; getting out of it alive and together seems almost impossible…

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


In A NIGHT WITH THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE, Julie Bozza does something different again. As if Francis Beaumont’s original play wasn’t chaotic enough, with two-plays-within-a-play, Julie wraps another layer around the whole, following the actors backstage in a modern-day production. Dale (who plays Rafe) and Topher (who plays Jasper) have worked together before – and Topher wants to celebrate the last night of this run in the same way they celebrated last time. This doesn’t fit into Dale’s plans at all, but perhaps Beaumont’s play “full of mirth and delight” has something to teach him.

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

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Vampires in Barcelona, 2042

FOOL'S ERRANDAn author guest blog
by Chris Quinton

About eleven years ago, I wanted to write a vampire story. This was when that particular genre took off in the world of ebooks, and I didn’t want to follow the established tropes that closely. I’d watched films, read books, both vampiric and science-fiction rather than whichever branch of the paranormal vampires occupy, and a tentative idea began to form. I talked it out with friends, especially the biology of vampires. Luckily, I have a forensic scientist among my contacts, and her input was invaluable.

At the end of all that, I had a six page ‘thesis’ on the biology and history of the vampire, and the vampire communities. Admittedly, it did get tweaked a bit once I got deeper into what would end up being Fool’s Errand … And because of the various political situations I wanted to play with, I set it in the near future – 2042. Thanks to various movies and documentaries, plus the photos taken by my self-employed son who’d spent a lot of time there on a contract, I chose Barcelona, in that fiercely independent region of Spain, Catalunya.

Then I needed characters, and again, I wanted to avoid the usual take on a vampire, on when and how he was ‘turned’. After various name and nationality changes, I ended up with Andreas Rousakis.

Here’s a clip, as Mark Kermode says in The Film Review:

Barcelona by urformat via Pixabay
Barcelona by urformat via Pixabay

Nearly a century ago, war had swept across Europe. Germany invaded Greece in 1941 and like many of his countrymen, Andreas had managed to get to Canada, where he was trained to fly sorties against the enemy. He ended up flying Spitfires out of Malta, providing fighter cover for the bombers and striking back at the German bombers and their Messerschmitt escorts. He’d been shot down over Italy, and after a month on the run, he’d been captured. He’d ended up in a concentration camp in Austria, close to the Hungarian border. The regime was brutal, the determination to survive so he could gain some kind of vengeance was the only thing that kept him alive for the next year.

Then Benedek Nagy had been brought to the camp. Benedek was a member of a small Hungarian Resistance group, and he had a couple of secrets. Like Andreas, he preferred men in his bed, something they both made sure their captors never discovered. They had become lovers, and it wasn’t long before Andreas learned the greater secret. Benedek was a vampire.

When news came that they were all to be shipped out to the notorious camp at Stutthof, Benedek had offered the men a devil’s bargain. He would make into a vampire whoever wished it, and they would spearhead a breakout, killing as many of the camp guards as they could and ultimately releasing all the prisoners. Andreas had been one of the ten volunteers.

My second main character, and one Andreas ultimately connects with on various levels, is Xavier Peres Escuderos, a small-time crook and gigolo, on the run from the police and the bad guys after he’d witnessed a murder and become Suspect Numero Uno. Xavi is – complicated. He’s stroppy, egotistical and a bit of a narcissist. He doesn’t need anyone or anything, least of all an overbearing, controlling bodyguard attempting to keep him in protective custody.

Another clip:

Narrow street, Barcelona by 495756 via Pixabay
Narrow street, Barcelona by 495756 via Pixabay

Xavi liked gold. Solid sunshine, it lay on his smooth, tanned skin and glowed. He smiled at his half-naked reflection in the cheval mirror, and hazel eyes gazed back at him, eyes that could look guileless or seductive with equal ease. His thick dark hair was combed and styled into place, and his mouth had a sensual swell to the under lip and a crisp shape to the upper. He turned his head a little and gauged the effect. Xavi had always considered his profile was like that of a Roman god-hero.

He touched his fingers to metal that was rapidly warming to his body-heat. It was a heavy curb chain, diamond-cut, its facets etched with fine arabesques, and it looked very good on him. There was more gold on Sophia’s dressing table, a careless tangle of necklaces and pendants and other assorted glitter that cost several fortunes, all treated with the same insouciance. But this one had been bought for him. She’d said she had a gift for him when she picked him up at their usual meeting place, but he hadn’t expected anything like this.

Sophia finished fastening the clasp at the back of his neck and kissed his shoulder as she came to stand beside him. “Beautiful,” she murmured.

“Yes,” Xavi said huskily. “You are.” But his eyes weren’t on her. He knew he looked good, knew that women were drawn to him like mares in season, and he revelled in it.

FOOL'S OATHTo be honest, I didn’t intend to write a sequel to Fool’s Errand, let alone turn it into a trilogy, but Xavi wouldn’t shut up. He wasn’t entirely settled into his relationship with Andreas, not to mention his new life in the public eye. They still had issues between them that needed to be worked out – and let’s face it, Xavi needed to grow the hell up and take responsibility for himself and his actions.

By the time I finished Fool’s Oath, I’d accepted that, yes, I had a trilogy on my hands. Months later, I completed Fool’s Rush, and gave the three books the overall title of Fool’s Odyssey.

However, I knew I wasn’t entirely finished with the vampire genre. There’s Fox Hunt, an entirely different setting and and entirely different people, but that’s for another time …


If you’re as intrigued as we were, you can find all the details about FOOL’S ERRAND, FOOL’S OATH and FOOL’S RUSH on the Manifold Press website!

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!”

Review of CARAVAGGIO’S ANGEL

Elaine White has reviewed CARAVAGGIO’S ANGEL by Chris Quinton for Divine Magazine – and it seems fair to say that she was impressed! There are so many parts of the review that we’d love to quote here, but we’ll content ourselves with the conclusion:

Overall, this was a beautiful story of love, life, and self-discovery. Paul had one incredible journey, and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more. The Caravaggio art work, history and the man himself were treated with great respect and care. The research was both well done and nicely twisted to fit the story. Fantastic!

Thank you very kindly indeed, Elaine! We’re delighted with your detailed response to Chris’s wonderful story.

Go forth and prosper, new titles!

It being the first of May, we are delighted to release our two new titles into the wild, boldly flourishing their beautiful covers! We feel sure they will find their way into many good homes.


ACROSS YOUR DREAMSJay Lewis Taylor’s new book ACROSS YOUR DREAMS deals with a web of relationships among a group of young gay men who meet, love briefly and then part again – for varying lengths of time – during, and in the immediate aftermath of, the Great War. It’s a tale of love and loss, of beginning again, and of finding something worthwhile to cling to in the rubble of a world destroyed. Readers who liked Jay’s two short stories in our anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES will also enjoy this much more detailed portrait of some of the same characters.

ACROSS YOUR DREAMS buy links:


CARAVAGGIO'S ANGELWe are fortunate to also have a book by Chris Quinton which was recently relinquished by another publisher. CARAVAGGIO’S ANGEL, now amended and extensively re-edited, is the story of Paul. Arriving in Malta to deal with the estate of his great-uncle, he finds himself drawn to the enigmatically beautiful Angelo – who, intriguingly, seems to have been both model and inspiration for more than one of the island’s successful artists.

CARAVAGGIO’S ANGEL buy links:


It’s a Bank Holiday weekend in England, so we are hosting our regular Q+A on Monday 2 May – and this time we are trying something a little different, by hosting it on Facebook. We’d love for you to drop by for a chat with Jay, Chris and our other friends at the New release Q+A event, from 6pm BST / 1pm EDT / 10am PDT.

And of course we very much hope you’ll enjoy reading our new titles!

Two new titles announced today!

CARAVAGGIO'S ANGELOur two new titles this time accurately portray the broad scope of our output! Once again we are fortunate to have a book by Chris Quinton which was recently relinquished by another publisher: CARAVAGGIO’S ANGEL, now amended and extensively re-edited, is the story of Paul; arriving in Malta to deal with the estate of his great-uncle, he finds himself drawn to the enigmatically beautiful Angelo – who, intriguingly, seems to have been both model and inspiration for more than one of the island’s successful artists.

ACROSS YOUR DREAMSIn a very different vein, Jay Lewis Taylor’s new book ACROSS YOUR DREAMS deals with a web of relationships among a group of young gay men who meet, love briefly and then part again – for varying lengths of time – during, and in the immediate aftermath of, the Great War. It’s a tale of love and loss, of beginning again, and of finding something worthwhile to cling to in the rubble of a world destroyed. Readers who liked Jay’s two short stories in our anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES will also enjoy this much more detailed portrait of some of the same characters.

Both books will be published on 1 May; watch this space – and our website – for further details!

New review of CARLYLE’S CROSSING

CARLYLES CROSSINGOver at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews, Freya has been reading Chris Quinton’s revised version of CARLYLE’S CROSSING. Whilst it’s clear that the book didn’t entirely hit the spot with this reviewer, it obviously wasn’t a total ‘miss’ either – and some of the comments are truly treasurable!

Carlyles Crossing is an engaging tale. It didn’t give my emotions a huge workout, but I found it easy to follow, entertaining and it had a quiet intensity to it. The story has a subtle charm and believability that took me along on a sweetheart of a ride.

Thank you for your review, Freya – we’re sorry you weren’t completely wowed, but very glad you felt the book had merit; maybe we’ll find something that suits you a little better next time!

New review of CARLYLE’S CROSSING

No sooner had we posted news of the previous two reviews when in came an e-mail about another – a review of Chris Quinton’s re-release of CARLYLE’S CROSSING – which we thought we had better bring to you as quickly as possible, before we lose the plot completely!

Our friends at the Prism Book Alliance are, as always, very quick off the mark; we were particularly pleased with reviewer Josie Goodreads’s comment that:

Chris Quinton is not the most prolific of authors but with her books you know quality rules over quantity, she never fails to produce wonderful stories and Carlyle’s Crossing is no exception.

This would be praise enough in itself, but when she goes on to add ‘[t]o say I was captivated by the story is an understatement‘ we know for certain that the book has found its way to an appreciative reader. Thank you for your review, Josie – and congratulations again, Chris; you’re clearly doing something right!