Catch up with what’s happening on our social media feeds, and find out about the latest authors to publish with The Book Guild… there’s also company news, the latest author events and a round-up of our latest reviews and media coverage.

Video introductions


Catch up with what’s happening on our social media feeds, and find out about the latest authors to publish with The Book Guild… there’s also company news, the latest author events and a round-up of our latest reviews and media coverage.

Liz Parker reflects on the year that her book was published

Liz Parker writes a blog post to reflect upon the year in which her memoir, A Life Lived was published:

I am astonished and delighted to have reached my 83rd year. Astonished, because, during my youth and time in the theatre I led a riotous life! This was curtailed when I developed Cancer. I am delighted that I have a few years left to live. When I visited a Palm Leaf Reader in India many years ago, he foretold the year that I would die – I haven’t reached that date yet, so I have a lot of living left to do!

Liz Parker meets visitors at her book signing earlier in the year

I am fortunate to be able to spend most of my time in sunny Greece and have tranquillity, which enables me to think about some ideas for my next book. However, the disadvantages about living in a country where English is not the common language, is that I cannot do book signings to promote my book. I have sold several copies to my English-speaking friends, but the majority of Greeks who have bought my book do not read it immediately. They save it up until they are not busy, when the summer season has finished. One friend dropped their copy in the bath and it’s still drying out.

In England this July I had a successful book signing at a pub in the area where I used to live and was included in my book. On the 23rd January 2018 I will be giving a talk at the Library in West Molesey. This will hopefully bring more interest in A Life Lived.

Reviews of my book have been in the 5-star category, which means that many readers have already appreciated it. My favourite reviews include the following:

“A life fulfilled as well as lived… I couldn’t put it down”

“Liz has a zest for life…what an extraordinary life.”

“…Made me laugh out loud and reach for the tissues.”

A Life Lived: Memories of the Famous and Infamous is available for purchase and shares extraordinary memoirs, which cover a myriad of topics and tragedies. Liz’s memoir is in turns harrowing, uplifting, fascinating and bittersweet. Stories of her flamboyant lifestyle during her time in the theatre and films, where she met famous starts are contrasted sharply by a life of struggle and hardship.

Peter Lyon receives prestigious Mountbatten Maritime Award presented by the First Sea Lord

On Wednesday 8th November 2017, author Peter Lyon received the Maritime Foundation’s “Mountbatten Maritime Award for best literary contribution Certificate of Merit”, at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall. The award was presented to Peter by Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord, and highlighted his great work in his book, Merchant Seafaring Through World War 1, 1914–1918.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones presents Peter Lyon with the Mountbatten Maritime Award Certificate of Merit for best literary contribution at the Maritime Media Awards 2017 in London on Wednesday, 8th November 2017.

The certificate thanks Peter for his dedicated work seeking to establish not only the contribution of British seafarers during the First World War but also their sacrifice. The British Imperial Mercantile Marine was an essential strategic arm of supply and defence, but the threats, privations and tragedy experienced by British seafarers are here documented through first-hand accounts and archive research. With 3,154 ships sunk and 14,428 lives lost to enemy action, this civilian aspect of maritime history has never been fully presented. This book makes an outstandingly original and disturbing contribution to maritime awareness.

Peter Lyon’s book begins by looking at the low status of the mercantile marine and the seafarers at the turn of the 20th century. Particular emphasis is given to the relationships between the merchant seafarers, the ship owners, the British Admiralty and the Government, with the consequential heavy losses of British, Allied and neutral merchant ships at the hands of German U-boats.Following this, Peter looks at the strain this put on Britain and how this affected their continuation in the war. He draws on various experiences including individuals’ accounts, ships’ logs, crew agreements, consular reports, press cuttings of the day and other publications, to create an authentic and fascinating insight into this area of history.

Merchant Seafaring Through World War 1, 1914–1918 is available to purchase!


Portsmouth’s rich history explored in historical novel

Author Tony Foot reflects on an evening of history with Portsmouth Waterstones…

I was delighted when Waterstones Portsmouth asked me to do a talk about my book, The Fortunes at War to accompany a book signing on Thursday 21st September.

Although much of the action in The Fortunes at War takes place in the Crimea, there are solid links with Portsmouth. It is from there that regiments sailed to the Crimea. Two regiments of the Light Brigade, the 13th Light Dragoons and 17th Lancers left from there, the latter causing quite a stir among the crowds whose numbers were swollen by Easter visitors, as they trotted through the town.

The Rifle Brigade were temporarily housed in the old Clarence Barracks within the original town fortifications, and also set sail on the Orinocco from Portsmouth Harbour. Each year in the 1890s, the mayor of Portsmouth would preside over the St. George’s Day Crimean Veterans Banquet. In 1904 for example, 115 survivors of the conflict attended where no doubt talk of the old campaigns and fallen comrades was very much part of the evening.

I included this in my talk as well as introducing the reign of Victoria as very much part of the change affecting not only the country generally but Portsmouth in particular. Portsmouth has an incredible history – from small Saxon communities, it grew as the potential of its harbour was noted to be one of the strongest most heavily fortified towns anywhere. I relayed to the audience that Portsmouth, in the time of the Fortunes, would in places still be recognisable – including the Round Tower, Southsea Castle and HMS Victory (the latter in the harbour rather than in dry-dock as now).

It was back to Portsmouth where many regiments returned including the Rifle Brigade. I informed the audience that among the survivors, was not only one of my book’s heroes, but my own great-grandfather, who would later settle in the town and attend those special banquets.

I was pleased that several of the audience members remained behind and offered their thanks for such an ‘interesting and informative’ evening, and the staff at the branch were also very complimentary with their comments over the way the evening had gone.

The Fortunes at War is available to buy from our bookshop.

When Freedom Fails by Sean Notyeats

In celebration of National Poetry Day, Sean Notyeats shares a poem called “When Freedom Fails”:


Sing a song of silence

For those about to die

Now no chance of seeing

Earth or sea or sky


Sing a song of silence

For those that ne’re were born

Never reached their mother’s breast

As from her body torn


Sing a song of silence

For the zealot with no eyes

Devoid of all compassion

For all those wasted lives


Sing a song of silence

For the child a soldier made

A pawn in power politics

His being now depraved


Sing a song of silence

For faith enforced by power

And the plight of the apostates

For whom all relations sour


Ring aloud redemption

Truth will find a way

Time will be the healer

Society will still pay


Sean Notyeats is the author of From Small Beginnings– a debut poetry collection!

Choices by Mark Cox

In celebration of National Poetry Day, Mark Cox shares a poem called “Choices”:


Make your own choices

Is how we all should be

Whether you have millions

Or live your life in poverty

The decisions that you make

Are only a chance really

But the right to make them

Is the thing that makes you free


If you don’t have this chance

Then you may not be free

Unless you were being guided

When you were only tiny

To be loved and protected

When you were more carefree

Helps you to not make mistakes

And learn more responsibility


But if you get to adult age

And choices are stopped constantly

Then you are being repressed

And being denied your humanity

A human should not be enslaved

Either physically or mentally

We should all have our freedom

No one should stop us being free


Mark Cox is the author of The Human Ape: A Magnificently Minute Moment – a debut poetry collection!

Freedom by Chloe Lee

In celebration of National Poetry Day, Chloe Lee shares a poem called “Freedom”:


“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness”. – Alejandro Jodorowsky


Steadfastly, stubbornly,

The prized nightingale stood

Behind the open window,

Shaking its fine, groomed head.


Its saviour, harbinger of freedom,

Flapped its wings continually,

Allowing the winds to exhibit

A few escaped feathers

A reminder of higher values,

Other than panem et circenses.


In a desperate, final attempt,

The dove dragged the nightingale

Away from its captivity,

Right into the open air,

A triumphant, proud expression

Gliding across its face, though


Almost immediately frozen in horror

As it realised, when the nightingale

Peacefully laid permanently

On the few scattered white feathers, that


Not every one might be the same.


Chloe Lee is the author of The Metropolis of Glass – a debut poetry collection!

Winning a publishing contract with The Book Guild

To complete a novel is one thing but it is not the end of things; there is still a very long way to go before the first reader reads the first copy.


Children of Fire was envisaged as a possible first novel in a series, though I tended not to admit to that aspect of its creation. Having self-published the sci-fi novel I wrote on my MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, I wanted to get on and write another. I chose a Victorian who-done-it genre for the job and picked 1841, in the period when new local police forces were being formed along the lines of the Metropolitan Police Force in London. 1841 was far enough back to mean that I wouldn’t be tempted to get bogged down in CSI style detail. As a retired research scientist, too much scientific detail would probably mean the story would never see the light of day.

What the 1840s had in abundance was a hubbub of social change: in industry, religion and immigration from the countryside or from Ireland, into the cities of the North of England, especially Manchester, the first truly industrialized city in the world.

My first step in getting Children of Fire published was to try to find an agent to help me finish, perfect and sell my creation to a publisher. I made many approaches and got a few comments as well as a lot of silence.

As time went on I decided that I might be better to go along the route of crowd funding. I had completed the first draft of a second Victorian novel Circles of Deceit. So perhaps I should move on but at that point I noticed the Writing Magazine competition and thought it was worth a shot. I had a complete novel that had been copy edited, and I had the marketing plan that I’d already developed for the attempt at crowd funding. I could easily fulfil the terms of the competition which included a marketing plan.

To my astonishment I won! The astonishment was not so much in the sense of belief in what I’d written, but in being able to finish the race. Children of Fire was going to be published! I’ve been walking around since I found out with a sort of glow and the mantra running in my head I’ve got a publishing contract.

I will now see how it goes. Relationships with Writing Magazine are excellent, helped in no small measure by my experience of self-publishing. I met the Editor, Jonathan Telfer, at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School who was warm and friendly. Working relationships with The Book Guild are developing well and are already very good. The cover design is agreed, the final proofs very nearly complete and publicity is taking shape.

I am deeply grateful for my good fortune. Without the combination of the Writing Magazine and The Book Guild putting on the competition, I would not have got this chance.

It might seem that I’ve been lucky, and I have to say that I have been, but as I used to tell my PhD students, luck is really preparation meeting opportunity. Winning this prize has been a matter of great good fortune in exactly that sense.

Children of Fire will be published by The Book Guild on 28 November 2017!

An afternoon with Valerie Mendes

Philippa and Jack went to spend an afternoon with Valerie Mendes in Woodstock, Oxford to discuss her upcoming teenage novel, Where Peacocks Scream.


What inspired you to start writing Where Peacocks Scream?

I enrolled in a creative writing course with Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education about ten years ago. When I first started writing novels for teenagers, the distinguished novelist Ann Schlee was my tutor. She was a marvellous teacher and editor of my first novel, Girl in the Attic. I’d missed her such a lot after she retired that every now and again I’d enrol in another class, looking for another Ann.

This particular class wasn’t going very well, but one morning our tutor took some cards out of her bag and handed them round. Each contained the name of a type – princess, pilot, smuggler – and we were asked to write a short story about them. My card said “Con man”. I remember feeling startled and excited, and the villain in Where Peacocks Scream leaped immediately into my imagination. Tall, thick-set, wearing a navy blazer, white trousers and a white cap, I saw him in front of me standing by a river. And Frank Jasper was born.

At the time I lived in Wolvercote, in north Oxford, within walking distance of a famous pub called The Trout. I realised this would be the most wonderful setting for a teenage novel.

The book is set in an area you know well. How did this help with your research?

It was essential: I could never have invented this magical place. The gardens of The Trout lead to the river and a bridge which links up to a wild island patch where the peacocks used to roam. I talked to the manager of The Trout who kindly showed me around the whole house so I could see the private rooms. One rainy morning I had coffee with the man who became Phil the Boatman in my novel: he looks after the yard and its swirl of river. I asked The Dragon School if I could watch their students at work there, and they took me out on the river one wonderful autumn morning. It was a joy to see them in action, and to listen to them talking together.

The audience for this book is slightly different to your other four teenage novels. Did you enjoy writing for a younger audience?

Yes, of course, although writing for eight-to-twelve year olds is the same as for any age: you have to tell a really gripping story that your readers don’t want to put down. You have to limit the level of violence you can use, but make what you do have utterly believable. There’s a real sense of David and Goliath between my Daniel and Jasper. My villain is a wealthy, powerful man with a cunning, criminal mind. Daniel fights back and in doing so he not only defeats Jasper, but he grows as a person and becomes more confident. I wanted to give him a real sense of empowerment, so he can take on the fight he has with his parents to stay in Wolvercote and to go on living near Chloe with whom he has fallen in love.

Is writing for adults a very different process?

Writing historical novels for the adult market involves a great deal of research, often in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Linguistically it can be the other side of the teenage coin. When I’m writing for the teenage market, I need to know the language I use is current, but not dated slang. When I’m writing historical fiction, I need to strip away all modern phrases, and be very careful that I’m not quoting from songs that haven’t yet been written! Each presents its own problems – and its own rewards.

Have you enjoyed working and publishing with The Book Guild?

Yes, I have. I particularly appreciate the fact that you produce books to the highest standard without making editorial changes.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a third historical novel which is set in 1911, one of the hottest years that England has ever endured. It has major medical themes – my two American brothers are doctors, my heroine is told that she can’t have children, the sub-plots include typhoid fever and appendicitis – so I have quite an ambitious job on my hands. But it’s amazing how tackling big ideas inspires me to return to my desk and soldier on. I am sure that more novels for teenagers are on the cards.

Where Peacocks Scream will be published by The Book Guild on 28 October 2017.


People are falling in love with Isabel

Paul A. Mendelson writes a piece upon reflection of his recent book signing for “In the Matter of Isabel”.

The best-book-written-almost-entirely-in-Costa award

Forget the Costa Book award. This was the real thing. A launch of my new novel, In the Matter of Isabel, in the place where most of it was actually written – Costa of Pinner.

It was meant to be a small, intimate affair. To kick-off BookShuk, the book-site of a friend, who actually specialises in books of a Jewish interest. Mine isn’t, although happily quite a few Jewish people have been interested. But it was a lovely opportunity for me to sign some books and do a reading.

And that’s where the nerves began.

Firstly, what words do you actually use on the signing page? And, for that matter, on what page do you actually sign – the title page, the dedication, the cover? Even more crucially, how should your signature look? Wildly imaginative as suits a storyteller – or suitably distinguished as befits a man of letters? I tried out a few test-signings at home and my disturbing scribble looked like a cross between late primary-school and early serial-killer. How would I ever manage “to Geoffrey, with warmest wishes”, or “hope you enjoy it Doreen, cos you’re not getting your money back”?

Then of course there is the reading itself. A lot of people know me from my TV work, which has been predominantly long-running comedy series for the BBC. So the expectation – unsurprisingly – is laughter. Yet as well as ‘wonderfully funny’ (The Independent) my novel has been variously called, by gracious advance reviewers, a ‘cracking courtroom drama’, ‘deeply touching’, a ‘sexy coming-of-age story’ and a ‘legal thriller’. As you can’t very well cry out ‘spoiler alert’ then happily read a passage that gives away one of the many plot-twists, the reading for the day seemed obvious. That moment early on when my young legal hero (and narrator) meets his client, the exotic and enticingly more mature Isabel Velazco, for the first time. With all the comic yet raw awkwardness that ensues.

Happily, all went well. People listened, laughed, clapped and bought. I bowed, smiled and signed. The lovely staff at Costa, who had nourished me throughout the process, served coffee and cakes to Pinner’s thirsty readers.

And the next day I absent-mindedly signed one of those electronic machines delivery people bring to your door, “warmest wishes Paul A Mendelson.”

So I’m clearly a natural.


Photo credit: Asher Dresner

An interview with Robin Le Mesurier

Philippa and Jack went to visit Robin Le Mesurier in London to discuss his auto-biography, “A Charmed Rock ‘n’ Roll Life“, and to find out a bit more about his publishing journey with The Book Guild:

Hi Robin, thank you for joining us today. Please tell us, why did you decide to write the auto-biography?

I’ve been nagged…so many people, my friends and my remaining family said “Why don’t you write, you’ve got such a great story to tell?” Then, after Andy wrote my Mum’s biography, it was so good and he did a lot of research, so I decided to ask him if he would help me… and he did.

How did you find the experience of putting together the book?

When I was on the road and on tour I used to make notes all the time, and then I just started writing it and would send Andy transcripts, and he’d say “That’s great, can you elaborate on this little bit…” and then he said “Why don’t you write a letter to your brother?” I thought this was a great idea. Andy put it all in chronological order and did a lot of research and interviews. I never found myself with writer’s block; I just used to write for hours upon hours on my iPad.

How did you decide on what to put in the book? There must be plenty of things that didn’t make the cut.

There were so many things that I forgot to put in the book that I’m still thinking about now, great experiences etc. I find myself saying “Damn, why didn’t I write about that?” I think I knew when it was time to stop, but since it’s been published I’ve thought about so many stories that I could have put in there.

I can imagine that it was very difficult to remember everything from your past and childhood, and put it down into words.

It was cathartic actually – it opened up a lot of memories and one would lead to another, and that would lead to another story and I just took it from there.

There are lots of lovely photos of you and your family in the book, what was it like to arrange these and sort through them?

Well, I see a lot of them in our hallway at home so they’re there already. One photo that I hadn’t seen before was of my great-grandfather, Robin, who sadly died in a plane crash.

One of our favourite photos from the book is the one of you with all of your guitars – which one’s your favourite and how do you pick names for them?

That’s difficult – the Strat’s and the James Trussart’s are my favourites. They’ve all got names. It’s funny actually, I didn’t even realise when we listened to Keith Richards’ book that he named all of his guitars too. I just think of the first names that come to mind – Norman, Ernest etc.

How did your friends and family react when they knew you were going to publish this book?

They were so pleased and couldn’t wait to read it!

How have you found working with some of the “big names” in the book, with some of them providing contributions to the book too?

I just asked and they said yes! I love the foreword by Rod Stewart – it’s very funny.

How have you found the response so far?

I’m very happy; everybody who has read it or is reading it loves it. It’s got some great reviews, which I’m really happy about.

What are your next plans?

Well, if everybody has got time we’ll do a Faces reunion, but that really depends on Rod and Ronnie – everybody’s up for it. Next year, I’ll be out on tour with Johnny Hallyday again which will run until 2019. April and May is going to be international – we’ll do Canada, hopefully the Royal Albert Hall again, and the Far East. Then we’ll have a break, before doing the festivals in France in the summer and then we’ll start up again in September. I love touring, it’s my life and it’s my favourite thing to do.

I’d also like to record classical hymns, but without the vocals, using the guitar to play all of the melodies.

Thanks, Robin!

For in stock titles, the last recommended order date to receive your order in time for Christmas is: UK delivery: 19th December European delivery: 11th December USA delivery : 4th December ROW delivery : 1st December Dismiss