Teatime with a Zombie

One of the best things about writing books and short stories is doing research about stuff you need to know in order to convince a reader you aren’t as thick as a bucket full of day old porridge.

When I wrote “A Solemn Curfew”, the biggest story in “A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales”, I did loads and loads of work on mushrooms and how to cook them. I discovered varieties with really great names like Black Trumpet, Scarlet Hood and Amethyst Deceiver, you can eat those three, and Lilac Bonnet, Brown Roll Rim and Panther Cap, all of which will kill you faster than you can say “cook quickly in hot foaming butter”

Currently I am working on a couple of projects, over and above the Scots one (see previous post), one which involves toxoplasma which I will leave for now as it is making even me go “yuck” and the other is about zombies.

As most of you undoubtedly know, zombies come in two types, there are the shuffling, infectious, brain devouring types…socially difficult, not good at dinner parties, but probably very amiable once you get to know them…and the Haitian sort who don’t eat brains, usually speak very good French and while being a little bit dead, don’t hog all the nibbles at a buffet.

For the purposes of my project, I have decided the first sort won’t do for London in 1934, but the second type will fit in perfectly. If nothing else, they won’t notice the weather, which might limit their conversation, but does mean they won’t complain the rain.

The research has been fascinating, you wouldn’t believe how much of the internet is devoted to zombies…one second thought, you probably would, it s not as much as there is about cats of course, but it is a fair chunk. BTW, I have been forced to introduce a damned cat to my Mrs Lillicrop stories. What is it about cats? They manage to slide themselves into any situation where there is a big sign saying “no cats.”

I’m not anti cats, we are currently allowed to be of everyday service to Fitzwilliam Big Chief Paddy Paws Our Cat Allen, an elderly Birman of uncertain temper and an addiction to the contents of a “Goody Bag”. Today’s favour choice is Mixed Grill which is okay, but I have been made aware that the absence of “seafood Cocktail” is not what he has come to expect and someone had better get down into the town and buy the right sort asap.

However, as the breed was probably unknown in London in the 1930’s and Fitz doesn’t require anything to further inflate his ego, I have chosen a black and white one. He was supposed to be just an ordinary moggy, like my very first cat Tim who came to live with us when I was four, but…of course…he promptly promoted himself to Chief Secondary Character II, named himself Hezekiah and looks a lot like this.

Back to zombies…see what I mean about cats, one second you are having a very reasonable discussion on a subject of cultural interest and the next second you are ankle deep in fuzz and fur…the important question I needed answers for is “can you invite a zombie for tea?” and if you can, should you ask him home or to a suitable venue.

If it is home, what do you serve? Would Gentleman’s Relish on toast be too salt, apparently you can kill a zombie with a salt sandwich. Are meringues acceptable? Would a Victoria Sponge be just a bit much for anyone who used to have some French blood running through their veins?

Come to that, what do they eat in Haiti? I see more research is required.


On a much more mundane, but important note, a certain very important small person has reached the amazing age of three and as such requires a celebratory quilt. In honour of this, I am have way through a “Cat in the Hat” one which I will post pictures of once I have sorted out the half square triangles whose points have failed to meet quite as well as they should. And I’ve done the quilting of course.

If you feel you can, please click the “follow” button and let me know if you want to hear more about what is going on in my writing, cooking, quilting world.


Ye banks and braes

To my astonishment and enormous delight, several people have enjoyed “Mrs Lillicrop Investigates” and it is possible the story will see the light of publication in the not to distant future. More later.

It has inspired me to write another tale about my lady occult detective. It is very much work in progress, but the working title is “Mrs Lillicrop Goes to Scotland.” The cast of characters so far includes a handsome laird, a nervous wife, a difficult mother-in-law and batty sister-in-law in need of a good slap, several manifestations of a disruptive nature and a very drafty castle. Add over cooked venison, under cooked mutton, porridge, lashing of single malt and some shortbread and all the components of the occult are present.

Why Scotland I hear you cry…okay I don’t, but bear with me I’m in composition mode and its hard to turn it off. Two reasons…first,  my BFF has just up sticks from Kent and the roar of planes overhead for the tranquil beauties of Argyll and sea loch views. She tells me she is still getting used to the lack of noise, except for when the dog considers it is his duty to bark at all passing boats in case they are carrying invaders.

And second, because I fell in love with the Highlands when we visited a few years ago and I wanted to set a story there. And this is in spite of nearly being killed by a gentleman who’d had a liquid breakfast and decided to sleep it off while driving along the A96 straight at me. We left our written off car at a garage by Culloden, which some how seemed appropriate.

Even this excitement didn’t put me off and I really wanted to write something set in this beautiful land, but until now, nothing came to mind. I admit that Fara in “The Lord of the Farans Hills” is a thinly disguised Scotland, but it isn’t the real thing.

Its not just the beauties of the Scots scenery which calls to me, it is tradition and one particular tradition more than any other. More years ago than I like to remember, I married a military historian and got corrupted by The British Army. I was a little corrupted already, having been seduced by Regency Romances into reading up on the Peninsula War and falling for such characters as Johnny Kincaid, Sir John Moore and Harry Smith…there will now be a brief pause while I and the previously mentioned military historian who is reading this over my shoulder have our usual fight over what he has the audacity to call “a bunch of cocky little bastards in green jackets” and I call my beloved Rifle Brigade…hang on, there maybe hitting.

Back to Scotland…you can guess where I’m going, all those glorious regiments with their wonderful names…The Black Watch, The Gordons, The Cameronians etc etc.

Someone once asked me if I was going into battle (please god it never happens, read military history, it will make you a pacifist faster than anything else) who would I want surrounding me. Membership of my army has changed over the years, but one choice always remains, I want Highlanders in front.

Who goes on the right and left flank…go for it Macaulay!

Then out spake Spurius Lartius,—

A Ramnian proud was he:

“Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,

  And keep the bridge with thee.”

And out spake strong Herminius,—
  Of Titian blood was he:

“I will abide on thy left side,

  And keep the bridge with thee.”

I’d apologise for that if I had any restraint or a grain of conscience.

So who will be on the flanks or even bringing up the rear? My adored Rifles, any regiment of Sikhs or Gurkhas you care to name and the Brigade of Guards…all of them, we aren’t doing this by halves. With a Highland regiment advancing, pipes sounding, I think there would be a good chance of surviving the day.

The Highlands, the mountains and the lochs, the forests and the heather, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and if you have never seen it, you should. Robert Burns said “My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,” and English as I am through and through, I think he might have been right.

“A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales” is BACK.

After the self-inflected hiccup the above is back on Amazon.

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales.


Purchase or read with Kindle Unlimited here:



New Book Release

“A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales is now available on Amazon.

Big thank you to all of you who pre-ordered copies.

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales Cover




New Anthology


Some news.

I know I promised several people that my next post would be one of my dark fantasy stories (or, as my husband calls them ‘the weird b*llocks’), but after much deliberation and not a little panic (as I once explained to someone, I have the confidence of a cat in a room full of rocking chairs and the back bone of a  whelk) I have decided to publish all of them in an anthology.

The title is still a matter for debate, but it will include “A Solemn Curfew” as well as seven other stories.

Just to tempt you, these will be

  1. The one about the man who had sex with his garden pond.
  2. The vile kid who wants to hear a dying swan sing.
  3. The one about the cheese. Here is some cheese. cheese_on_shelf_1914081
  4. Maud and the Garden
  5. The snoring bishop one.
  6. The Stalker and the Sea
  7. Custard Cream one. And here is a custard cream




So, while I won’t be sharing the ‘weird b*llocks’ here, I will continue to share other stories I have written and would love you to enjoy. See the next post for the first.