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.



Glass Tulips

After all the stuff about the new book and soldiers and muskets, I thought I would show you a bit more of what I do when I’m not writing.

My husband says I was probably attracted to quilting because of the toys…so many things with sharp blades and steely points where always going to be right up my street.

Ignoring him and moving on… I went to a show on Sunday where the quilters had done a class I had done, Stain Glass Patchwork with Gail Lawther. you can find her and the wonderful things she can do here


I wish I could say my skills are up to her standards, but I did my best and I was not displeased with what I produced. Here is my version of Tulips.

Quilts Are Love

A surprising announcement perhaps for a writer like me, but there you go, I really believe and I need to do something in between conjuring up stories about…okay let’s skip my weird writing ways and talk quilts.

A hand made quilt starts with the pleasure of picking fabrics. Either you raid your stash or, after a five second struggle with your conscience, a trip to your local fabric shop. I love this bit, the feel of cloth under my fingers and the colours and the designs.

Then there is laying out what you have chosen on the work table and deciding just what you are going to make. Sensible quilters obviously start with a pattern in mind and fit fabric to that, I on the other hand, have no resolution and no moral fibre, can be seduced by fabric and then need to find a pattern to fit what my fancy has found. Then, of course, I have to go and buy more fabric to match what I have just bought in order to have enough to do what I have now come up with.

Now comes the beginning and the pleasure of the rotary cutter slicing through cloth and a buzz of the sewing machine as you piece.

And once the top is finished, there is quilting to be done.

Then the binding.

I love all of it (except perhaps the basting, but I don’t know a quilter who loves basting), but once the quilt is made, it is time to spread the love.

We all start making quilts for those who are nearest to us, our family and friends, but very soon that isn’t enough and quilters start looking further afield and they begin to make quilts for people beyond their immediate circle. They make them for strangers who need a little love.

I know people who make quilts for wounded soldiers and for victims of disaster and violence, people they will never know, but for whom they send their skill and their love.

They make them for teenagers who have been shown the door and who now have nothing.

They make them with lots of textures and accessories and trimmings  for those suffering with dementia as touch therapy.

In my group we make quilts for Project Linus


And we make little quilts, 16 inches by 20 inches for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at our local hospital. Tiny quilts for tiny babies made with love and given with our love.

Here is one I made for my godmother who lived and worked in Africa. Made with love for someone I loved.




Why I’m Not Writing

At the moment I can’t concentrate.

Why I hear you cry.

Because, in a moment of total madness I said I would organise our next quilt show. I think I’ve done it, more or less, but as a famous general once said, no plan survives its first encounter with the enemy.

Done it or not, its keeping me awake at night. And I don’t mean tossing and turning, I mean laying in the dark staring at the ceiling. I usually get up when the birds begin to warble.

However, judging from what contributions I have seen so far, the ladies of Market Square Quilters have done me proud and there will be some glorious quilts on show.

This year’s charity ( we raffle a full sized double bed quilt made by us, its the one in the back ground of the picture. Made from American Civil War reproduction fabrics) is Living Paintings.


Not a famous charity, but check out what they do, I think you’ll be impressed.

If you are anywhere near, come along and see us…okay, I know its a bit far for you lovely followers in America and India ( love you guys), but should you feel the need to jump on a plane and come, there will be cake and I’ll buy the tea.

Keep watching quilt lovers, because once the show is over I will posting pictures.

Quilts and Me

When I’m not writing or cooking or pretending to do housework, I make quilts. Unfortunately quilt making is highly addictive and comes with the additional hazard of fabric buying.

My name is Bev, I’m a fabricoholic. It’s less than a week since I last bought fabric.

Well…I was feeling rotten and it was only two half metres. I screwed up my anthology being a bit of a techno idiot, so “A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales” won’t be back on Amazon until 23rd Feb. And I just got such a good review,

“Drippy, oozy, sometimes funny, often scary and very original”

Wasn’t that just about the nicest thing anyone could say about a collection of weird stories? I was chuffed to bits. I really liked the “oozy” part.

Back to quilting. apart from the sewing part, it is a bit like story writing, you take a lot of not necessarily harmonious parts, cut them about a bit and then try and make something whole out of it. I would have liked to say “perfect” there, but I am an “oh-sod-it-that-will-do” quilter.

I try very hard not to be an “oh-sod-it-that-will-do” writer.

Anyway, bear with me, I will get the anthology back up and I will publish “The Tattooed Tribes” for 6th March.

And, if all goes according to plan ( stop laughing at the back), I will bring you my new novel “The Lord of the Faran Hills” sometime in April.

In the meantime, here’s a quilt I made earlier.wedding-etc-013