The Writers' Cooperative

Sarah Stuart

Sarah Stuart, this week’s guest author has been compared to Harold Robbins, Jackie Collins and Jacqueline Susann. She writes thought-provoking novels and is not afraid to tackle sensitive subjects. Please read on to discover more, then check-out Sarah’s website via the link at the foot of this page.

Author Biography


Sarah Stuart lives on the edge of a quiet English village where wildlife sightings are common, though becoming less so. Hunting with dogs is now illegal in the UK: it goes on in secret and incidences of this are almost impossible to prove in court. Many of her dogs are, or have been, rescues and only those who aenjoy the limelight perform onstage. 50% of her royalties are donated to animal charities.

Dogs were Sarah’s opening into show business. During a period when she lived in Wales she supplied them to professional companies using Aberystwyth University’s Arts Centre Theatre during student vacations. Many musicals and plays performed there were on their pre-West End premiere run, which gave her an unrivalled opportunity to talk to directors, choreographers and the many other vital members of the backstage staff, and the performers. These ranged from actors and actresses in their first, or early, roles to worldwide superstars of stage and screen. That experience, and her association with the Northern Ballet, underpins the vivid portrayals of show business triumphs and heartbreak.

Sarah has studied English language and literature, and history, with delight since her early teens. She is a qualified adult literacy tutor and has written short stories, in addition to other resources, for her students. Her published articles have been in magazines dedicated to wildlife and dogs. The Royal Command series, her debut into full-length fiction, has been well received. Book One, Dangerous Liaisons, is a Romance Finalist in the Independent Author Network Book Awards 2015 and Book Two. Illicit Passion, gained a five star rating from Readers’ Favorite within weeks of publication.

Sarah’s hope is that readers will enjoy her novels as an escape from reality, but be left understanding that fame and fortune often comes at a high personal cost. Also, an increased perception of the threat to animals: those shot in the name of sport for trophy heads, endangered species, many poached for their fur and ivory, and tragically discarded pets.


Review Rating – Five Stars!

Reviewed By Janelle Fila for Readers’ Favorite

Illicit Passion (Royal Command Book 2) by Sarah Stuart is the romantic suspense sequel that tackles the taboo subject of incest. The Book of Hours is a diary from Margaret, James IV of Scotland’s queen, which was passed through the female generations, with the message to love honestly without regard for whomever that love is bestowed upon. That is the central theme to this story, that love cannot be controlled. Characters love whom they love, even if it means being blackmailed or hated. Showbiz superstar Lisette Marsh is dealing with her own nightmare of abuse that started in the first book of this series. Eighteen years ago Lisette had an affair with her own father which produced a child, Harriet. When Harriet comes to own the Book of Hours, she struggles with the meaning of true love as she is in love with Kit, who may or may not be her twin. Trying to keep these secrets safe from the paparazzi just might bring the whole family empire crashing to the ground.

Author Sarah Stuart handles the serious nature of this theme with sensitivity and readers will love the soap opera quality of this story. The characters are larger than life, beautiful, glamorous and glitzy, but obviously have their demons and secrets. Getting to know those secrets and peeling back the layers of dirt and grit that lie beneath all of the superstar glamour is the fun of the story, and readers will really appreciate this incredible journey.


Book Details

Showbiz superstar, Lisette, flees a blackmailer threatening to reveal to the scandal-hungry media that she bore a child of incest. Michael, her father, and ex-lover, initiates an audacious plan to set her free that leaves the whole family hovering on the brink of emotional and financial disaster.

Their adult daughter, Harriet, learns the truth and vows vengeance on all who conspired to hide her birth by registering her as the twin of the man she loves. “The night will end in death.”

Illicit Passion is available as an eBook and it will be reduced from $2.99/£1.99 to 99 cents/99 pence from November 25th to December 1st.



I hope the author won’t mind my describing this book as a great soap opera, centred around the lives of a glitzy and theatrical family. It reminded me of elements of Dallas and books by Harold Robbins but at the same time remained uniquely different. It is the first book I have ever read where the taboo of incest was at the heart of the story but I thought the author handled it really well, not sensationalising it but simply making it integral to the plot, which is full of suspense.The characters are vivid and their emotions fully revealed, helping make them seem very real. This is a well written book and though I have become aware it follows on from a previous book by the author, at no time did I feel I was missing anything by not having read the first book.


I enjoyed this book for three reasons. One – It is a compelling story; Two – I never knew what the next twist would be and Sarah continuously surprised me; Three- It is well-written with everything from raw unfiltered sex, blackmail and kidnapping to tender hearts The Book of Hours is a diary passed down through many generations in the female lineage of Queen Margaret of Scotland from the 1400s. The message to each one is the same – to find love where you may and that love is a gift from God, not kings. But, each pair of hands this book passes through finds challenges to decipher code and read the messages hidden within the book.Superstar, Lisette Marsh, is trapped in a nightmare of sexual, physical and verbal abuse from an evil actor whose career had been destroyed by Lisette’s father in the first book, Dangerous Liaisons. He threatens to expose the illicit affair Lisette had participated in eighteen years ago with her father, Michael Marsh, which had produced a daughter. Michael Marsh is also an international superstar and constantly under the radar of the paparazzi.Lisette and Michael’s daughter, Harriet, the one who gains possession of the Book of Hours in this story, deals with her own despair when she falls helplessly in love with her supposed twin, Kit. She is torn apart when the truth comes to light that her mother is indeed Lisette and not Lizzie, who is actually her grandmother.The plot takes many unexpected twists and turns as the family struggles to free Lisette from the bitter and evil Kevin Tyrone as well as avoid the paparazzi and mend the many lives hurt by all.If you like a thriller with unbridled complicated sexual encounters, you will like this book. The ending took me by surprise as did many of the plot twists along the way. Sarah brings all of the characters to life and even though this book is a sequel to Dangerous Liaisons, it is a standalone as she weaves that story through this one.


I enjoyed this book for so many reasons. It was filled with drama, one juicy twist after another. It had mystery and action, the plot thickening at every twist and turn. The author tackles a controversial topic — incest — but she handled it so well, and I admired her guts for the way she wrote the story. She didn’t condone incest, but she managed the topic in a way that felt real and believable. Also, I had no idea I was reading the second book of a series until I saw the first book online. But it didn’t matter because the story worked as a standalone, and held my interest throughout. The author’s writing style is flawless. She did an unbelievable job at characterization in this novel. I was able to understand the characters as though I were each of them, feelings their feelings and thinking their thoughts. Major kudos to the author for this! This is a must read, filled with so much drama and intrigue that I dare you to try and put it down!!! And now….I’m dying to get my hands on the first instalment of the series!! 5 glittering stars for this book! I highly recommend this edgy read.


Having read Dangerous Liaisons and been bowled over by Michael and Lizzie’s antics, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Illicit Passions. The answer is more of the same only better. Yes, there is a lot of sex, and it has a controversial storyline, but the author tells the story so well, it all seems acceptable. Basically the story is about a theatrical family and their amazing lives. It reminded me of Jackie Collins, Jacqueline Susann at the their best. It’s a bit of a posh soap opera but it’s so well done, you wouldn’t know it. I must congratulate the author on a super novel. Looking forward to more.


I had read and thoroughly enjoyed ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, the first ‘Royal Command’ novel, so I was fairly confident that I would enjoy this sequel too. As it happens, I think ‘Illicit Passion’ is even better! Time has passed and Michael and Lizzie, who were teenagers at the start of ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ are now in their fifties. Their children Lisette and James are now in their thirties and the younger children, Harriet and Kit are eighteen and Greta, the youngest, is eleven. One of the most satisfying things about these two books has been observing the characters and their relationships change as the years have passed.

All members of the Marsh family, plus a few new characters, have their moment in the limelight in this book, as the relationships and sub-plots cross back and forth. This makes for a very varied and interesting read, but somehow everything still remains very close-knit, moving the story forward.

I don’t want to provide spoilers, but suffice to say the story has a few twists and unexpected developments.

Two characters in particular stood out for me: Harriet, with her storyline, is very well written as her moods and plans veer believably back and forth, chopping and changing her mind, hardly surprising on the journey she undertakes. And James Marsh, a boy in the first book, has really come into his own as the Laird of Kinloch and developed into a strong character.

Will there be a third book? I don’t know, but there’s still plenty of potential in this family…


Book One in the series, Dangerous Liaisons, is a Romance Finalist in the Independent Author Book of the Year Awards. Book details:

Lizzie, daughter of a wealthy Scottish laird, inherits a secret diary first owned by Margaret Tudor. Decoded entries reveal treason, the birth of a lovechild whilst Margaret was married to a reigning monarch, and a message: I direct and beseech my heirs to find love where they may. Lizzie meets Michael, a charismatic wannabe actor from the backstreets, and they fall in love. Lizzie contrives to influence a famous impresario, Clement, to cast Michael in the lead of a new musical in London’s West End. The global smash-hit leads to worldwide concert tours, leaving Lizzie to bring up two children alone. She passes the diary to their daughter, Lisette, who is influenced by Queen Margaret’s manipulative, self-seeking granddaughter. When Lisette is eighteen, Clement casts her in a musical opposite her superstar father, sparking dangerous passions and betrayals. Can Lizzie outwit the paparazzi or will the scandal of adultery and incest end in tragedy for them all?

Website –

The Writers' Cooperative

Jana Petken

Today I’m delighted to welcome award winning author Jana Petken to my website. Jana recently won the silver medal at the Readers’ Favourites Awards. Jana writes wonderful historical novels with strong characters and a great sense of time and place. Her books are top quality and an excellent read.


Q + A

Tell me about your past careers.

I joined the (British) Royal Navy at the age of seventeen. I was a leading Naval Policewoman, equivalent to a sergeant in the Military Police. After the Navy, I went to work for a travel company as an overseas representative. During the first Gulf War I was a security guard at the BBC World Service radio station. After I left the BBC, I spent twelve years as a bodyguard for a Saudi Princess.

My final career outside the house was with British Airways. I was a cabin crew member on the worldwide fleet, which allowed me to travel extensively to every corner of the world, at least two or three times. Unfortunately, I had an accident on board a flight. The aircraft, a Boeing 747, was flying at 39,000 feet above Africa when it was caught in clear-air turbulence. As the plane dropped my body flew upward causing my head to hit the cabin’s ceiling. As a result of this accident, I have had three major operations on my spinal cord and am now retired. I missed the busy and interesting experiences that my job had brought me, thus turning my attention to writing.

I’ve lived in so many countries, I’m dizzy. I’m a jack of all trades but master of none. I’ve made so many mistakes in life that I often wonder how I managed to survive all these years – But, I feel blessed to be able to call writing, my last stand. Long may it last x

Why historical fiction?

I can still picture the day my passion for history was ignited. I was a little girl, sitting with my mum in a cinema watching a re-run of, Gone With the Wind. Whether it was the costumes, dialogue, accents, or horses that caught my attention, I don’t know, but that was the moment my love affair with the past began.

Do you stick to the same historical period, and do you have a formula?

No. I don’t really have a favourite historical period, or event. I’m a Gemini, and as changeable as the weather. It will be impossible for me to cover all the historical periods that I would like to write about, in my lifetime, but I’ll get through as many as possible, because I want to share as many historical stories as I can. There’s an old saying: We are only passing through. That’s so true when you think about thousands of years, full of historical events that we can only read about.

When choosing my books’ themes, I think about where I’d like to be and what I’d like to be involved in. When I write, I see, feel, and go with gut feelings. I enjoy the journey, and rarely plan ahead. There are no outlines, notes, or list of characters. My preparation is negligible, and I rarely follow rules. Right or wrong, this is my method, and I guess I’ll continue adhere to the proverbial saying, ‘going with my flow.’



The Guardian of Secrets

“An epic in every sense, The Guardian of Secrets is War and Peace for a new generation. Jana Petken is a natural storyteller and in The Guardian of Secrets she weaves an engrossing, passionate tale of family life, of love, of betrayal, of war and redemption. These are classic themes and they are combined here to produce a classic tale in the finest traditions of historical fiction.”


Dark Shadows: Mercy Carver Series

“Dark Shadows, is the first five-star book in Jana Petken’s exciting Mercy Carver series. This meticulously crafted and riveting tale had me captivated from the very first page.”


Blood Moon: Mercy Carver, Book Two

“The author did a fantastic job weaving this story. I admit I was surprised at some twist and turns. Many times, I found myself holding my breath!”


The Errant Flock

“A glorious read, I was totally captivated by this story. Her descriptions of the people, the country and the history put me right in the picture and I couldn’t put it down. She is a great storyteller with lots of depth to her writing.”


Amazon page

Twitter @AuthoJana



The Writers' Cooperative

Diana J Febry

Diana J Febry

This week I am delighted to feature the very talented Diana J Febry on my website. Diana writes intriguing mysteries that hold your attention from first page to last. Her latest book is Point of No Return, and here are some details, supplied by Diana.

Point Of No Return is the third outing for DCI Peter Hatherall and DI Fiona Williams but as with the first two each book can be read as a stand alone mystery. They are called to James Palmer’s farm to investigate a spate of vandalism on his property. After a bomb explodes in the garage and a prime suspect disappears they realise this is much more sinister than it first appeared. As with all my books my primary intention is to entertain and write the type of books I like to read. The underlying theme in this book is disguise and the double-life we all lead to some extent playing the different roles that make up who we are. The reader should realise by the mid-point of the book who the culprit was but not who they are today. Yes – I do like to play with my readers but I always play fair and leave a trail of clues hidden within the story.


Questions & Answers

Do you use a pen name?

Yes. Diana J Febry was my mother’s maiden name. She died when I was in my early twenties and it somehow seemed appropriate and a way to remember her.

How do you enjoy to spend your time when not writing?

Now my children are grown up (or think they are) my constant companion is Albert my dog. I also have two horses Mr Paddy and Jaeica who are stabled on the Duke of Beaufort’s Badminton Estate. The four of us wander through the woods and parkland on the estate while I daydream thinking up new story ideas.

Name someone who had a strong childhood influence on you.

My maternal Grandmother was very much before her time. She had been a nanny for the Codrington family & travelled the world with them in the early 1900s. She told wonderful tales of her adventures & believed in “doing your own thing.”

Do you know what is going to happen at the end of the story before you sit down to write?

I don’t right at the start but because of the type of books I write once I’ve completed the first draft it is difficult to make major changes. To be fair to my readers I am very careful with the time-line and make sure when all is revealed at the end that characters were in the correct place at the relevant time for events to have happened the way I’ve suggested.


The rural setting for Diana’s stories

Some quotes from reviews

“A Classic Mystery to Keep You Guessing.”

“Point of No Return is a wonderful tale of murder, revenge, and suspense. The characters are full of the flaws we love to empathize with. The plot is full of misdirection and red herrings that make the mystery a real page turner.”

“Point of No Return is an excellent read, a fast-paced police procedural with a strong sense of place. Indeed, the sights and sounds of the countryside are evident on every page and draw you into the intimacy of a rural setting.”

“Point of No Return is a great British mystery – a highly enjoyable read. You will enjoy it even if you usually prefer fast-paced reads.”

“A very suspenseful story with a great cast of characters, plus a complex plot that will keep you guessing till the very end.”

Twitter ref –

Diana J Febry (@DianaJFebry) | Twitter
The latest Tweets from Diana J Febry (@DianaJFebry). An accidental writer of mysteries with quirky characters. Avid reader & reviewer. Hobbies – live theatre, horses and dogs. South Gloucestshire, England

The Writers' Cooperative

Truth, Lies and Propaganda

Today’s featured author from the Writers’ Cooperative is Lucinda E Clarke, a fascinating lady who has led an adventurous life, chronicling many of those adventures in her best-selling books.

Truth, Lies and Propaganda

Do you want to be writer? Work in television or on the radio? Meet lots of famous people? It will be glamorous, exciting and scintillating right? Wrong. If you’re young, think again. If you chose a different career, consider yourself lucky you were spared.

Truth, Lies and Propaganda is the first of two books about how Lucinda ‘fell’ into a career in writing for radio and television.

#1 in genre in the US on Saturday (and not for the first time) with 4.9 from 30 reviews.

There was the case of the condemned rat: the embarrassing interview with a world famous sportsman she’d never heard of: the days spent crawling over rubbish dumps: getting lost in a helicopter over the mountains: the presenters who never learned their lines and swore on camera: the cookery programmes when the food went rancid under the hot lights: the clients from hell.

These are just a few of the hilarious stories in Truth, Lies and Propaganda book one. It’s a memoir that reads like fiction.

You can of course look up the reviews for yourself, but to make it easier for you, here are a couple.

An amazing lady has written another very astonishing book. Truth, Lies, Propaganda details Lucinda E. Clarke’s thirty years of working in the media in Africa. I used to think that working in radio would be a glamorous job, but working while surrounded by bayonet welding soldiers tends to take the glamour out of the job. The stories Clarke tells are fascinating and intriguing. I loved the story about the rats, and trust me; I don’t like rats. Her sense of humor is over the top as she finds a way to keep a smile on your face. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out. Lucinda E. Clarke has once again written an amazing piece of literature which you will love.

It is remarkable that she has managed to deliver such a comprehensive exopsé without resorting to vindictive outrage or to personal criticism of individuals in positions of influence or power. This adds to the believability of her account and makes what is already a fascinating read a very powerful account.

I very rarely read non-fiction or memoirs but I find this author’s books, about her life in Africa fascinating. Her time working within media is told in an informative, but humorous way. Some of the situations are hilarious while at the same time the book gives an interesting insight to media practices and life within South Africa. Throughout the book, the writer’s energy and zest for life bounces off the page, and it is easy to imagine how she met all the challenges sent her way.

You know sometimes people ask you, “If you could invite a guest to dinner who would it be?” Up until recently I couldn’t tell you but now I unequivocally know, Lucinda E Clark. What I wouldn’t do to have a meal with this woman and spend hours listening to her stories about her life.

The technical stuff
Available on Amazon price US$3.05 £1.99 CDN$ 3,52 au$ 3.99 in kindle and paperback. Also for free in Kindle Unlimited.
Available in paperback: £6.36 US$ 9.99 CND$25.85
253 pages
Web page:
Amazon author page:
Twitter: @LucindaEClarke
Link to a radio interview about her first book

Lucinda E Clarke

Lucinda’s life has not been boring. She was born and raised in Dublin, dragged into her teens in the Cotswolds and finished off in Liverpool. She has lived in 8 different countries, in a croft in Scotland, a mansion in Libya, a farm in Botswana, a boat in South Africa and other dwellings in between.

She dutifully trained to be a teacher, despite bleating she wanted to be a writer. She worked as a radio announcer in Benghazi and then, years later, after being from her teaching job, she crashed out in an audition with the words “Go home and write.”

She did, for radio, then television and later for government and industry. Before leaving South Africa to retire in Spain, she ran her own video production company, winning 21 awards along the way.

Her career in the media had its highs and lows but there was never a dull moment and lots of laughs along the way.

Since retiring Lucinda has published 5 books, thrilled to write as and when she wants. She is also learning more about the technical side of the internet than she ever wanted to know.

Her other books include: Walking over Eggshells, Amie an African Adventure, Amie and the Child of Africa and More Truth Lies and Propaganda.

Her next book is a political satire.

A word from Amie about Lucinda.
Honestly, she is a real pain in the neck. She’s obsessive about her writing, lives, eats, breathes it. It wasn’t so bad when she was rabbiting on about her memoirs, all 3 of them, but then she had to create me and she’s put me through hell. It might be alright for her, she spent more than half a life in Africa, but she uprooted me and took me to live there too.

OK, her memoirs are fun to read, and I did giggle a lot, and she assures me it’s all true. I’ve suggested she slows down, she’s really getting on a bit, but no, she’s fiercely ambitious, even though she is, in my opinion a bit of an idiot. No, she’s a lot an idiot. It was better before two people compared her to Wilbur Smith, who also wrote about Africa, and now there is no stopping her.

Anyhow, do the ‘look inside’ thing and make up your own minds, don’t take my word for it.

Extract from Truth, Lies and Propaganda

I had visited several factories producing food, but it was when I made a couple of programmes about a large bakery chain that I learned another lesson.
There were a couple of interviews with one of the managers when I carefully wrote down all the information they wanted included in the programme – how many vehicles there were, the number of loaves baked per day and so on. I scurried off home and wrote the script, and returned to their offices a few days later, feeling that they would probably be quite pleased with my efforts.
They weren’t.
We were all sitting in an imposing boardroom, a range of directors and managers and I. As I gazed at the impressive art collection, the shimmering reflections leaping off the huge table and the photos of past presidents adorning the walls, these eminent men read it through in front of me. I began to get an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach as they all began to shake their heads. One by one, they took pens out of their top pockets and began to strike out scene after scene after scene.
Now, had it been a programme on a subject such as atomic fusion or even that sisalation one I mentioned earlier, I could understand it. But how could anyone go wrong writing down the facts about a bakery? I was about to find out.
“Wrong number of trucks,” remarked one guy.
“I agree, and we don’t bake as many loaves as that either.”
“And too many ovens as well,” added a third important man.
I was astounded. I sneaked a look at my notes, surely I could not have got those facts and figures so wrong? The numbers I had written down in the interview tallied with those in the script. Had I been daydreaming?
“Come back next week with the correct figures,” I was instructed and I tried to crawl invisibly out of the room, which incidentally, is not an easy thing to do.
The following week I was only confronted by one of the managers, who again trawled through the revised script.
“Tsk, tsk, no, it’s 159 trucks,” he muttered, “only 40,000 donuts a day, and we don’t make fairy cakes anymore.”
“Can we synchronize these figures?” I asked tentatively. We did.
The following day I was back in and this time I was shown into a different office occupied by a different manager. He pointed to an uncomfortable looking chair on the other side of his desk and perused the script.
“No, too many trucks,” he murmured, scoring his pen through the relevant paragraph. “And where are the fairy cakes? They’re one of our best sellers. Why haven’t you included them? Didn’t you see them on the production line when you were shown around the factory?”
“Well, yes, but…” I was lost for words. I knew nothing about the world of big business and the boardroom directors and the various managers of different divisions and their day to day interactions.
“Can you please tell me the exact number of trucks, and how many fairy cakes, and can I make a list of all the products you want included?”
“You will have to check with the transport division on the trucks, but these are the lines I want you to mention….”
So, he wasn’t sure about the number of trucks, so why did he say I’d got it wrong? I escaped back to the office and wailed to the producer. What was the matter with me? I couldn’t even take a simple list of products and vehicles and ovens and workers, without getting them all wrong! I just knew I had the early onset of dementia.
Bob laughed at me. “And what did it say on the tape?” he asked.
“What tape?” I replied.
“On your tape recorder,” he said.
“I don’t have a tape recorder.”
“Then go get one.”
In all the to-ing and fro-ing, it had not entered my head that these top executives could be wrong and I could be right! I dug into my meagre savings, walked into the next meeting and plonked my new tape recorder firmly on the boardroom table in full sight. They did a double take and their faces were a picture. One by one they left the room, returning with piles of paper, files and spreadsheets. Finally, I was given the correct figures, which was a big relief as I had forgotten to buy batteries for the tape recorder.

The Writers' Cooperative


Welcome to a new feature on my website. From time to time I will be featuring talented authors from The Writers’ Cooperative. These authors cover a range of genres and styles so I hope some, if not all, will pique your interest. I start with historical novelist, Mansel Jones, and his wonderful romantic mystery, Tangwstyl.

Tangwstyl is a medieval romantic mystery based on historical fact. The printed book runs to 536 pages and is available from all leading bookstores and Internet outlets as a paperback and as an eBook. An audio book is planned for the new year.

From 28.10.2015 to 3.11.2015 the ebook will be on offer for £0.99/$0.99

The blurb

Tangwstyl is a story of love and murder, of loyalty and betrayal. Set in the medieval town of Kenfig in the year 1399, the story centres on a prophecy made by Merlin and the birth of a girl, named Tangwstyl. Based on historical fact, Tangwstyl tells the story of King Richard and a plot to assassinate him, of Owain Glyn Dwr and his struggle for personal and national justice, and of the medieval Church and its desire to suppress all forms of heresy. Tangwstyl also tells the story of the common men and women of Kenfig, ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events, events that would alter long held beliefs and reshape lives.

The Prophecy: From an English Chronicle – The Welsh habit of revolt against the English is an old-standing madness…and this is the reason: the Welsh, formally called Britons, were once noble crowned over the whole realm of England; but they were expelled by the Saxons and lost both the name and the kingdom. The fertile plains went to the Saxons, but the sterile and mountainous districts to the Welsh. But from the sayings of the prophet Merlin they still hope to recover their land. Hence, it is that the Welsh frequently rebel, hoping to give effect to the prophecy.

The Main Characters

Euros – Euros is a lord who returns from a pilgrimage to discover that revolution is in the air and that the common men and women of Wales are poised to take up arms against the English Crown in their fight for justice. Born of an English father and a Welsh mother Euros must reconcile his loyalty to the English Crown with his love for Anest, a woman who believes in Merlin’s prophecy and the need for revolution.

Anest – Anest is a healer. While the men and women of the castle indulge themselves to excess, Anest has to tend to the needs of the wider community. Despairing at the degree of suffering she encounters she realises that drastic action needs to be taken. When she is told of Merlin’s prophecy – that the man who fathered Tangwstyl is to be their saviour – she sets out to find that man.

King Richard. Mistrusting his friends and suspecting his enemies, Richard is on his way to Ireland to quell a rebellion. As he journeys he discovers that treason resides at the heart of his court and that soon a usurper will claim his crown.

Owain Glyn Dwr. Loyal to the Crown, yet not welcome at Richard’s court, Owain Glyn Dwr is made aware of Merlin’s prophecy. Denied justice by the Crown, should he stand by the king or should he lead the rebellion?

Biography: Mansel Jones was born in Glamorgan, Wales, home to numerous castles, folk legends and tales of King Arthur. His words have appeared in publications as diverse as Country Quest, Dragon’s Tales and the Seaside News. He has a profound knowledge of Kenfig and is the author of A History of Kenfig. His views on the medieval town have been sought by leading scholars and have featured in academic publications.

Contact details: and


Extract From Tangwstyl – Chapter Seven of Sixty

13th March 1399 – Tangwstyl is born

“In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, Mary gave birth to Christ, Anne gave birth to Mary, Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. Mary gave birth to Our Lord Jesus Christ without shame and without sorrow. In his name and through the merits of St Mary the Virgin, his mother, and of St John the Baptist we ask you to come out, child, whether you be male or female, from your mother’s womb, without dying or causing her death. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Anest intoned the prayer, hoping that her words would find favour with St Margaret of Antioch and that she, a patron saint of childbirth, would intercede and smooth the passage of Tirion’s labour.

The healer had already decided that if a cut were necessary then Tirion would require some form of sedation. Prepared for such an eventuality, Anest possessed a beverage called dwale, a mixture of lettuce, briony, opium, henbane, juice of hemlock and the gall from a sow, all mixed in a measure of wine. From her medicines, Anest produced this concoction, handing the phial to Madog.Then, she proceeded to wash her hands, along with the belly and the genitalia of the pregnant woman.

The preparatory stage over, it was time to assist in the birth of Tirion’s baby.

Tilting Tirion’s head forward, Madog was about to administer the dwale when the young woman’s eyes opened. She stared wildly at her clothing: “The dagger…you must ensure that Payn de la March gets the dagger…promise me…promise.”

Mystified, Anest moved to Tirion’s side. “Does the dagger belong to Payn de la March?”

Crying out in pain, Tirion was unable to answer. She gripped the straw as yet another contraction consumed her. This was swiftly followed by yet more blood loss. The intensity, and the regularity, of the bleeding proved to be far greater than anything Anest had ever seen before. This forced the healer to reconsider her options: dangerous at the start, the cut seemed impossible now; any incision and subsequent blood loss would surely drain Tirion of all life. In conclusion, Anest decided that the dwale would not be required; she would have to find another way.

Sobbing, Tirion took hold of Anest’s cloak; her fingers, white, translucent, gripping the cloth with surprising force. “The baby…will be a girl…and she is to be called Tangwstyl.”

In compliance, Anest nodded. She would carry out Tirion’s instructions. But she had so many questions: where was Tirion‘s home? Why was she trying to reach Ty Maen? And in relation to the baby: what was the father’s name? And how did she know of its sex? When Tirion subsequently spoke, Anest considered that, maybe, some of those questions remained, etched upon her face.

“The seer…he told me about the baby…believe, and you will all be saved.”

Consciousness had once again deserted Tirion leading Anest to fear that all hope might soon be lost. She was aware that action had to be taken swiftly, or the baby would not take its place in this world. But what to do? Looking at Madog, she was struck by an idea.

“Can you lift Tirion and stand above me on that straw?” Anest pointed to a series of bales, akin to a set of grain steps, arranged neatly, placed near the undercroft door.

Madog nodded vigorously: “That will be no problem. Stand clear, we will see this child born yet.”

Anest watched as Madog raised Tirion by her armpits, the stump of his left arm supporting, the strength in his right arm taking the strain. He climbed the straw steps until he found the third level. There, he sat, holding Tirion, dangling her legs over the edge, in a position where the baby’s weight would take maximum effect; Anest had come to realise that there was little more that Tirion could do; the baby would have to find its own way out of the womb.

Panting, but unable to respond to the contractions, Tirion remained cloaked in perspiration; lucent, her skin shone like glass in the moonlight.

Anest realised that she too was perspiring. She looked up at Madog, wondering: how much longer could he take the strain. But the ease upon his face told her that, in this quarter at least, she had no need of worry; the labour could go on all night if necessary and he would remain there, as solid as a rock, as secure as the Pope’s faith.

However, Tirion could not wait, and so it was with relief that Anest saw the first sign of the baby emerging: the bulge of its head pressing against Tirion’s pelvic floor. The head itself followed, moving forward with each contraction, only to slip back a little, before making more progress. Then, Anest saw that the umbilical cord had looped itself around the baby’s neck and so, carefully, she slipped her fingers under the cord and hooked it over the baby’s head. With the head now fully engaged, Anest manoeuvred the baby backwards until first one shoulder, and then the other, appeared. Two more contractions saw the delivery of Tirion’s baby and, with only a mild measure of astonishment, Anest noted that the seer had been vindicated; Tirion had indeed given birth to a girl: blue, crying, streaked in blood, Tangwstyl was born.

The birthing process over, Anest took the knife and cut the umbilical cord. Then, she washed Tangwstyl with fresh water before covering her in salt and honey, the better to dry up her humours and prevent any premature loss of moisture. Next, Anest dipped a finger into the honey, rubbing this over the baby’s mouth, both to cleanse and to encourage suckling. Finally, she swathed the baby in swaddling bands, offering support to Tangwstyl’s unformed and malleable limbs.

Taking the baby, Anest placed her in Tirion’s arms. The young mother opened her eyes, smiled and kissed Tangwstyl before lapsing into an everlasting peace.

“She needs to be shriven.” Madog climbed down from his position upon the straw. As Anest took Tangwstyl into her arms, so the steward attended to Tirion’s body, wrapping her lifeless form in the blanket, providing her with a degree of grace and dignity, showing total respect for her sacrifice. “The child needs to be baptised; I will seek a priest.”

“She should not have died.” Anest felt a sense of grief, a sense of contrition; she had failed. Yet, had not the Holy Spirit failed them also? After all, had not Anest invoked the support of St. Margaret of Antioch? “I offered up prayers,” she complained.

“Sometimes, our prayers contradict God’s wishes. And being wise to those wishes is the ultimate belief.” Stoically, Madog walked over and placed a comforting hand upon the healer’s shoulder. He smiled at the baby, who lay oblivious, content in Anest’s arms. “You should not reproach yourself. After all, you saved the child’s life.”

Anest cast her eyes down to the ground; she knew that Madog was right but, in that moment, she found Tirion’s passing hard to accept. She was reminded of her limitations, reminded that her skills could have only a finite effect.

“Who will care for the baby?” Madog patted Ci upon the head, calming the animal; he had been present at the birth, occupying a place near the undercroft door. Silent at first, Ci now appeared agitated, excited, as if knowing that he had been privy to a special event.

Considering her answer carefully, Anest found an image of Ceinlys, Meredydd and their baby presenting itself. What was it that Meredydd had said: “If at any time we can help you, you will make use of our labours?” Maybe now was the time to hold him to his word. Not that Ceinlys would be burdened by such a request. Anest had learned through her dealings with Ceinlys just how keen she was to surround herself with children: she would be overjoyed at the prospect of tending a foundling as well as her son. “I will take Tangwstyl to Ballas.” This solution sat comfortably with Anest, allowing a shaft of optimism to filter into her mind. “She will be safe there. She will be well looked after.”

“And what of Tirion’s vision?” Madog continued to soothe Ci, continued to prevent him from leaping up and so lick the child. “Is a prince’s daughter held within your arms?”

Anest smiled at the notion. “Do you believe in such prophecies, Madog?”

“I believe in what I can see, in what is real.”

“This baby is real.” Anest held Tangwstyl on high, as if to confirm that fact. Adding her voice to the discussion, the baby emitted a soft gurgle; the talk of a princess, or the talk of a commoner, there could be no sweeter sound.

“What you say is true,” Madog replied, soberly.

“Tirion’s words were real.”

“That also is without question.”

“Then who are we to disbelieve her?” Anest spoke with conviction and, she would have to admit, with no little hope, for, whatever the truth of the matter, this much was clear: Tirion believed in the seer’s prophecy, for she had been in no condition to invent such a story. If omens were required, Anest could point to the comet, seen burning in the sky earlier that night. Still, more than anything, Anest held on to her intuition: her intuition was her best friend, her greatest ally. Furthermore, her intuition told her that there was something special about Tangwstyl, it told her that the man responsible for this baby’s being held a quality, held an aura that few other men could possess. It told her that he might well be the new Arthur. And that thought sent a shiver down her spine.

A thoughtful silence ensued, the peace eventually broken by Madog’s deep growl: “If that is so, and there is a truth to Tirion’s story, then the child is in danger.”

Anest nodded in agreement. “And that is why we must keep the secret to ourselves.”

Ci’s whimpering caught Anest’s attention and, understanding his disquiet, she knelt so that he could take sight of the newborn child. This pleased the dog greatly, for he sat, mouth open, panting his approval.

“My lord, Euros, he will return from his pilgrimage shortly.” Madog stared to the east, as if anticipating his lord’s appearance; he was overdue and it could be only a matter of days before he arrived. “He is wise, learned; he will know what to do. We will share the events of this night with him.”

Anest complied with the steward’s wishes, once again nodding her agreement. Whilst comforting Tangwstyl, she glanced into the undercroft, catching sight of Tirion’s clothing and her purse, considering the fancy brooch, held within. That brooch was the link to Tangwstyl’s father. And a man who could bestow such a beautiful gift would not wish to be ignorant of such a beautiful daughter. He would learn of her being, and he would appear before them, maybe as himself, maybe in disguise. Nonetheless, Anest would be waiting and, if necessary, she would challenge him, learn of his hopes and his dreams for his child. Learn of his hopes and his dreams for his country, for all his children.

Q + A

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

“I start with the basics of the story: the theme, the time period, the location, etc. Then I develop the characters until they are in a position to suggest a storyline. Research adds more detail along with observation and my general knowledge of a subject. So, basically, it is a mixture of imagination, observation and research.”

“What was the inspiration behind Tangwstyl?”

“The initial idea to write Tangwstyl came when I was reading about Gerald of Wales and his journey through Wales in 1188. The first thought was to have Tirion steal the sacred cow. The cow features in the story, but the plot developed in a totally different direction as more characters were added, including Richard II. My portrayal of Richard II was praised in a Welsh Books Council review, probably my highest compliment to date.”

“Why are you so fascinated with Kenfig?”

“Because it is a beautiful, natural place steeped in history. I believe that local and family history are the cornerstones of history and the stories they have to tell are far more revealing and fascinating than tales of kings and queens.”

“Do you know what is going to happen at the end of a story before you sit down to write?”

“Before I start to write a story I make sure that I know the characters as well as I know my family. I write a profile of each character, which can be five or more pages long. Also, I map out every chapter in detail, so I have a good idea of where the story is going and where it will end. Of course, if fresh ideas suggest themselves during the writing process then I will use them, providing they fit the framework and the theme of the story.”

“What is your favourite period of history?”

“I am a medievalist, though I also enjoy the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and have an interest in the Second World War.”

Selected Reviews

From Amazon…For once I found that Tangwstyl portrays a true medieval village. The weather, scenery and characters, all resemble a true Welsh village at this era in time. The divergence between the Welsh and the English, as was the case during this period, is also made clear. The characters are believable, and it shows a side to King Richard that is not often seen. The plot is brilliant, and is filled with twists, as each page reveals a new piece of it. The timeline of Tangwstyl is perfect, as it stretches over only a few days. This helps the story feel more realistic and keeps the reader’s attention throughout.

From The Welsh Books Council…Mansel Jones has well imagined the details of life in the period. He obviously knows the landscape well and the evocation of this adds greatly to the book.

From The Kenfig Society…Tangwstyl is…a riveting story…moves along at a terrific pace…holds your interest from start to end and is a real page turner…offers a vivid insight into what it must have been like to live in Kenfig all that long time ago.