Signed and dusted!

Thank you to everyone who came to support me at the launch of Swimming with Sharks at The Shires Waterstones yesterday. It was amazing to see so many wonderful people: friends (including one I hadn’t seen in 18 years since we both left South Africa), family (including one who can’t read yet – ha, can’t walk either, but was there to hold my hand for a bit until he drifted to sleep), fellow author Alison Knight and my wonderful editor Greg Rees all the way from Cardiff.

And the winner of the champagne pulled out of the bottle by Greg is…. TARAAAA: Sarah Cobb! Congratulations!

Swimming with Sharks links:


A woman goes missing in Paradise

The sharks you are likely to encounter in the Maldivian waters are small, friendly and don’t really live up to their billing. You take one look at them and you breathe a sigh of relief. They aren’t that bad – those sharks. They can’t be. You are in Paradise. Even sharks wear halos here.


But appearances can be deceiving. And when your brain is baked under the equatorial sun, an equivalent of gas mark 8, it can be easily deceived. You begin to doubt your own judgment: is it all an illusion? It isn’t in a shark’s nature to be nice and friendly. Far away from home, everyone is a stranger. And under the umbrellas of palm trees beats a heart of darkness.


When Nicola Eagles wanders into this treacherous world, her first instinct is to fear it, but soon the sun begins to melt her defences and she lets herself drift a bit – a small fish in the deep blue sea.

Swimming with Sharks tells Nicola’s story.

She really existed. We met her on an idyllic Maldivian island a few years ago. She was a bland, unremarkable person, someone you’d never notice in a crowd, but there, on an island teeming with honeymooners, she stood out big time – she was on her own.


We first encountered her in the restaurant as she took a table next to us and smiled timidly at my husband. It wasn’t even a smile – it was a twitch of a muscle, a blink of an eye and a coy tilting of her head. Husband smiled back, being a well-mannered man. There was nothing to it, but I decided to leave nothing to chance. From that day on I had my eye on her.


I gave her a name and considered her personal circumstances. Who was she in the real world, in her real life? Why was she there on the island? But, more to the point, why on earth was she there alone?

I must say at first she was a cause of minor irritation to me. But then I got used to her. Like I said, she was one of those invisible people you’d never notice in a crowd, someone you’d never give a second thought to. I would endure her proximity in the restaurant where for some reason, known only to her, she would consistently hover near our table. Husband took to offering her his polite greetings to which she responded with the same grateful but bashful decorum. She avoided any eye contact with me and I ostentatiously ignored her. But, as I said earlier, I never took my eyes off her. Until, one day, she was no longer there. Gone. Vanished. Disappeared.

A lone woman who had gone swimming with sharks?


Swimming with Sharks is the first in the DI Gillian Marsh crime series. It’ll be published on 28th April 2016, and it’s available to pre-order now.


prerelppbkpre[1]When fortysomething Nicola Eagles goes on the holiday of a lifetime to the Maldives, she never dreams she’ll fall in love – she’s too shy, too set in her ways. But then she meets someone who changes her life for ever…

Just when things seem to be going right for Nicola, though, she disappears without a trace. Was it a voluntary disappearance, or was she abducted – or murdered? When her absence is noted back in the UK, DI Gillian Marsh is sent to investigate.

Gillian is a good detective but her life is dysfunctional to say the least – and as she delves deeper into the case, she realises that she may be out of her depth professionally too. For Nicola’s disappearance is just the start…




Jane Risdon – her life through books

It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome to my blog Jane Risdon, a novelist with a colourful past – someone who once upon a time rubbed shoulders with spies and diplomats at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; someone who acted as an impresario for entertainers and musicians. This is her life through the prism of books that made her into the writer she is today.


I think I was born with a book in my hand. I can’t recall a time when I couldn’t read and giving this some thought, Janet and John and Dick and Dora come to mind. Both books we read in class at my very first school and I was hooked.

I adored The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Little Women too.


Little Women.

Oh, and The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown. I am convinced her stories about ballet and the theatre had a huge impact on my future. I didn’t become a dancer or actress but my life has been spent mostly in the entertainment business.

I went on to Enid Blyton and Robert Louis Stevenson.



I adored adventure stories and when other girls were reading Anne of Green Gables and Black Beauty, I had my nose in Kidnapped, the Biggles series, The Mask of Zoro or The Man in the Iron mask.

However, I do recall having caused a melt-down at school by choosing Return to Peyton Place as one of my English Language and English Literature one year.


We had been reading To Sir with Love, A Taste of Honey, The Girl with Green Eyes and Cider with Rosie, so I didn’t see the problem.

Later I persevered reading a wide range of books, the usual Classics you are encouraged to read at school, but I can’t say I ever enjoyed them; even Thomas Hardy didn’t really do it for me.

I loved books about spies, espionage, murder and intrigue. Anything which made me think and puzzle over. Graham Green, Frederick Forsythe, Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie, and Raymond Chandler with The Saint, – another of my school prizes which raised eyebrows, along with Dashiell Hammett – I adored The Thin Man, and Ed McBain, Mickey Spillaine, and similar authors; Pulp fiction I guess, but for me as a young teenager they were wonderfully exciting.

Raymond Chandler.


My favourite Du Maurier books include Frenchman’s Creek, I adore it even now. It is a romance, a period adventure, and it has Pirates. I love pirates and I love history. I also love Jamaica Inn – dark, brooding and tense. And Rebecca which I think is a one of the most brilliant books I have ever read, like Frenchman’s Creek it has everything I love about a story and entertains as well as enthrals. These transported me, making a huge impression upon me, and still do. I just cannot get into ‘heavy, serious books.’ For me reading is sheer pleasure. I don’t want to be weighed down by ‘literature.’ Call me pedestrian if you wish.

Agatha Christie, anything by her. I can’t say I have a favourite. I adore the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot stories because they tease and mislead and are so cleverly written. I understand that a University once ran her sentences through a computer to try and work out what it is about her way with words which makes her the best-selling author of all time. It was decided she wrote perfect sentences crafted to entice and hold the reader. She has succeeded with me. I would love to be able to write like her.

As I got older, at the height of The Cold War, I found myself drawn to John Le Carre, Robert Ludlam, Ken Follett, devouring anything in this genre. Smiley’s People is an amazing piece of writing and story-telling. I began to dream of writing, but I knew that advice to writers was always ‘write about what you know.’ What did I know worth telling?

I am an avid fan of Kathy Reichs and her career in Forensic Anthropology, so much so I have taken two Forensic courses recently. I love her writing. I want to write with the same authenticity about crime scenes and detection.

Patricia Cornwell introduced me to this genre and I am a big fan of Tess Gerritsen too – they’ve really opened my eyes. Peter James is another fantastic writer who has researched police procedures so intensely you can be assured what he writes has a solid basis in fact.


Michael Connolly, David Baldacci, Nelson DeMille, Stella Rimington, Karin Slaughter and James Patterson are all favourites of mine and I have learned so much from reading their work. Keeping sentences and chapters short and to the point, keeping a good pace throughout and above all keeping writing simple.


I’ve spent most of my life in the international music business, creating artists and their product (music), mentoring and shaping their careers and building their success. Now, as a writer, I have to try and do this for myself. Quite a challenge. I love crime writing, and I nearly always have some music or espionage in my stories somewhere. I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when younger and became fascinated with the murky world of spies. Write about what you know…

In addition to writing several short stories and pieces of flash fiction which I enjoy a great deal, I have been working on a series of novels – Ms Birdsong Investigates – featuring a fortyish former MI5 Officer who was ‘voluntarily’ retired following a disastrous mission, who finds herself in rural Oxfordshire bored silly and missing the excitement of her former life.

She can’t help keeping surveillance on those round her, and soon finds herself involved in the search for a missing woman which leads her into some very familiar territory; Russian Mafia and Oligarchs, Ukrainian gun-runners and drug dealers, all under her nose in Ampney Parva, proving irresistible to her. I have been working on this for quite a while and hope to have the series ready for publication by the end of this year.

There are several other WIP on the go, mostly crime and a couple of what I call ‘Observational’ comedies. Enough to keep me busy for ages to come.

Sometime this summer my co-written novel, Only One Woman’ with Christina Jones, is due to be published by Accent Press with whom I signed in 2014. It is the story of two girls in love with the same musician; not my usual genre.

Christina and I go way back to when she was Fan-Club secretary for my husband’s band and a Rock journalist, and our story is based in 1968/69 and full of music, fashion and the vibe there was around those days.

It is a love triangle but so much more, influenced by the world events which shaped our lives back then, and what it was like being a teenager in love with a musician in the heady  of the late 1960s.

I am published in several anthologies including:

Pic7           Pic8

Margot Kinberg Pub.                                         FCN Pub.

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Accent Press                                            Accent Press    

Anna, thanks so much for inviting me to share my favourite books with you and for letting me ramble on about my writing too. I really appreciate it.

For information about me, my books and where to buy them, take a look at my author page on Amazon:

Accent Press:




You are what you read

You are what you read and, in my case, that’s immeasurably better than if ‘you are what you eat’ were true! But we won’t go there – improvements to my diet remain consigned to my To Do List.

What follows is another list – a list of writers who changed my life and made me into a person – and a writer – that I am. That’s not to say that I am even a fraction as good as they are, but thanks to them, I am a hundred times better than I could ever be without them.

Jules Verne  

Travelling back in time to my childhood, I find myself in a place where no-one has ever been before: an other-worldly place, somewhere in the centre of the earth or perhaps on the Moon. I read all there was to read of Jules Verne and I believed in everything he said because he had made me realise that if I could imagine it than it had to be real. He taught me to live dangerously and never ever settle on a life inside the square.

Joseph Conrad

I was a teenager when that brooding man left his mark on my soul. He had burnt into it. He didn’t take prisoners in his writing – it was raw, touching every nerve, uncompromising. It was clear to me that every internal battle he described in his prose he knew intimately, and, by God, he had fought many demons in his day! His moodiness would rub off the places and the characters he evoked so vividly in his writing. His world was eerie, thick with suspense, haunting. He taught me to bare my soul, to never give in to embarrassment, to drag into the light all that delicious evil, and fear, and doubt that a writer should not dare to ignore.

Anne Rice

She swooped into my life in my twenties. No, let’s rephrase that: it was I who entered her world. And what a world it was! An ancient world that existed outside time and matter, populated by beings not quite human and yet brimming with humanity, worthy of redemption despite their unspeakable sins. The supernatural was the reality, believable and deeply rooted in human psyche. Anne Rice showed me that settings had to be made of thoughts and people, of depths of meaning rather than descriptions. Places had to live and breathe, not be merely put on display.

Ruth Rendell

I matured with Ruth Rendell. Under her tutelage, I explored the darkest recesses of human nature whilst at the same time discovering – to my surprise – its redeeming features: the vulnerability behind a crime, the reasons for insanity, the logics of obsession. Ruth Rendell taught me to understand my characters and never to judge them. They are who they are; it’s not their fault – not entirely… I know now to just let them be.

Agatha Christie

With all that angst and darkness, you need a friend. Agatha Christie’s mysteries provided some light – cosy – relief. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple became family members. We were solving crimes while sipping lemon tea and knitting mittens. All would be well, criminals exposed and their motives unpicked. And the world would go one, regardless. Agatha Christie taught me to like my characters, to find what we had in common and cherish it.