Stats are boring – right?

Not being a mathematical sort of person (and being married to someone whose degree was in Statistics and with three children who have all been inclined to the sciences) I’ve always contended (on principle) that stats, and mathematics topics generally, are boring.

But today, while updating my ‘Events’ page on my website, I was seduced into gathering the statistics for the last four years, since I moved from being traditionally published to first of all Indie and now a hybrid author, with a foot in both the traditional and Indie camps.

And I have to (reluctantly) admit that I found them rather interesting (don’t tell my family).

In the hope that you might too – here they are:

Numbers first –

Author events: talks, presentations – 55

: workshops – 5

:panellist in shared events – 4

: 5 minute reads (open mic events / shared festival events) – 11

Chairing events: involving others – 10

Book Launches: 2 launches for each of 3 novels, 1 x Short story collection

And one (wonderful) month-long writer’s fellowship. For those who might find it interesting –  a link to some reflections on my time  at Hawthorden Castle.   

And if I haven’t totally bored you with the figures, some detail:

Author presentations – (I love making up Powerpoints, but I so wish I really knew what I was doing, as it would be a much more efficient use of time…)

I love talking about writing, about my books and a wide variety of related topics – from the trials, tribulations, and sheer joy of research, to the historical context for Macbeth. Macbeth

From Food Standards Agency 16th century-style                          What's in this meat pie copy

to the influence of place.  From my (long) road to publication to the impact of faith on fiction.

Brother wordprocessor Salt and Light


And many more. Some are very personal, some focused on history and the historical background both to my books and the 16th century in general. And while I feel very at home in the 16th century now, I’m quite glad I don’t have to actually live there!

Workshops  range from the more general He said She saidHe said, she said. Writing Effective Dialogue.’ and ‘Stealing Stories – Where fact and fiction meet.’ to the specific ‘Writing authentic historical fiction.’  Always good fun, and the more attendee participation the better they are.


Chairing events has included the joy of being in conversation with a fantastic writer, Robyn Young (Brethren / Robert the Bruce trilogy) and historian David Crane (Went the Day Well – Waterloo), as well as introducing many writers in the context of Open Mic events.

Highlights as a panellist –  It’s Nae the TudorsGrantown – a new historical fiction festival at Grantown in the Scottish highlands, and taking part in an Amazon Academy Day at Newcastle upon Tyne (yes I am happy to stray over the border from time to time and it was lovely to meet and share a platform with L J Ross – a fantastically successful author who writes crime set in Northumberland). Newcastle Panel One - closer in

The book launches have been exhilerating and daunting in equal measure and I am very grateful to Waterstones, Edinburgh, Blackwells Edinburgh and Mainstreet Trading, St Boswells for hosting me.

I could hardly believe when I counted them up, that I had more than 80 events under my belt, and with some exciting new opportunities already booked ahead, I am looking forward to 2019.

An average of just over 20 events per year doesn’t really seem very many (especially not when compared to Kate Mosse’s 60+ appearances in connection with her newest book) but it’s a start…

Why I write WW2 fiction by Clare Flynn

This week I received a forwarded email from Corazon (my ebook publisher) to inform me that Amazon had decided to offer Turn of the Tide as a monthly deal for October. I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant until I posted a question on FB. Clare Flynn was one of the folk who responded – and when I discovered her book, The Chalky Sea, also the first in a series, was on offer too, I was delighted to welcome Clare onto my blog to explain why she chose to write about WW2. Over to you, Clare.

Clare Flynn Author photo

Why I decided to write about WW2

I used to say I’d never write about war. The idea didn’t appeal, and I doubted I had anything to add to the huge body of existing WW2 fiction.

Then in 2016 I moved to Eastbourne, after twenty years in London. Knowing nothing about the history of Eastbourne, it was a surprise to discover it was the most heavily bombed town in SE England. 199 people were killed in sustained bombing raids on Eastbourne between July 1940, a month before the London Blitz began, until March 1944.

The first raids were probably to ‘soften up’ the town ahead of Hitler’s planned invasion, Operation Sea Lion, on the Sussex coast. When that was called off Eastbourne saw no respite. It was subject to “tip and run” raids, where bombers flew under the radar then, as they reached the coast, soared over Beachy Head, banked and swooped on the town before nipping back across the Channel.

In July 1941 Eastbourne had its first influx of Canadian soldiers. Volunteers, they were eager for action, but had spent the first years of the war in reserve, doing exercises and manoeuvres and seeing nothing of the enemy. Their arrival was not announced officially, but within a week the local newspaper was already referring to “our guests”.

This concentration of Canadian soldiers was another reason for Eastbourne being a target, especially in the run-up to the catastrophic Dieppe raid. Intelligence may have been leaked to the Germans about the forthcoming attack, as the residential area where numerous Canadians were billeted was heavily bombed.

The Canadians must have been frustrated by their lack of combat. Instead they scaled the cliffs, practised on the firing ranges on the Downs, and undertook large scale manoeuvres and tank movements. They made use of the leisure activities including dances at the Winter Garden. The town produced 150 war brides.

My interest was heightened when I discovered many Canadians were billeted in the area where I live, Meads – with an officers’ mess in a house in my road and gatherings around the piano in the local pubs, The Ship and The Pilot.

The idea of setting a book here became irresistible. Within two months of arriving, I began The Chalky Sea. It’s set mostly in Eastbourne, as well as the Aldershot garrison and Ontario, Canada.

Chalky Sea cover image

The Chalky Sea is the story of Gwen an Eastbourne woman, alone and refusing to evacuate the town after the departure of her officer husband to war; and Jim, a young Canadian farmer, who joins up to escape a broken heart. The book follows their individual journeys and examines the impact of war on them and how it changes them profoundly.

My home is above the town with views of the Downs and the sea. Each morning in the kitchen making tea, I imagined Gwen looking out at the ever-changing chalky sea. Instead of tankers and container ships in the Channel, she would have looked out for those low-flying planes. Instead of a lawn, the garden would have been a vegetable patch, along with an Anderson shelter.

Wherever I went in the town, I pictured it in the 1940s. The famous Carpet Gardens on the promenade became vegetable plots, the pier was cut in half and mined to impede German landing-craft, and the beaches were covered in barbed wire and tank-traps.

I wrote The Chalky Sea, as a standalone book – but many questions about what befell Gwen and Jim after the war, so I wrote a sequel, The Alien Corn, set in Canada and on the Italian front. This year The Frozen River followed. Writing about World War 2 has proved fascinating so I’m working on an unrelated novel set in 1938/39. This time the sea and the merchant navy are at the core – and I’ll take the characters on into the war itself in a subsequent book.

The Chalky Sea is available on Amazon (UK, USA and Europe) for 99p (99c) throughout October.

Brief biography

Clare Flynn is the British author of eight historical novels. Her books deal with displacement – both physical and emotional and have a strong sense of time and place. They draw on her extensive travels and experience living in many different places.