The Touched Blog Tour: A Writer’s Life guest post by Joanna Briscoe

Joanna Briscoe (c) Jason Alden

Joanna Briscoe (c) Jason Alden

Today I’m handing over the reins of the CTG blog to Joanna Briscoe whose latest novella TOUCHED is published today. Joanna is the author of Mothers and Other Lovers, Skin and the highly acclaimed Sleep with Me which was published in ten countries and adapted for television.

She spent her  early years in ‘the village of the damned’ – Letchmore Heath in Hertfordshire – which was the location for the celebrated 1960 film based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos – and the inspiration for her Hammer novella TOUCHED.

So, over to Joanna …

A Writer’s Life

There is much that is unglamorous about a writer’s life… and much that is privileged. At the moment, I walk through a King’s Cross that changes daily, and have a swim, on the way to the British Library, and this feels amazing.

It’s true that there are lots of publishing parties, award parties, and I hang out with lots of other authors, but I wouldn’t really wish this career on my children. It’s too solitary, neurotic, insecure… How I dream, so often, about being with other people, in an office, on a film set, in a school. Just being surrounded by people working, instead of labouring in silence, would be amazing.

Yet, as with most writers, I am driven to do this. It doesn’t feel like a choice, rather, a compulsion.

TOUCHED cover image

TOUCHED cover image

TOUCHED has collected some rave reviews and is an eerie ghost story, and a chilling and creepy tale.

Here’s the blurb: “Rowena Crale and her family have moved from London to a cottage in a picture perfect English village. But despite their efforts, the cottage resists all attempts at renovation. Walls ooze damp, stains come through layers of wallpaper, ceilings sag, and strange voices emanate from empty rooms. And then, one by one, Rowena’s daughters go missing….”

To find out more hop over to Joanna Briscoe’s website at and follow her on Twitter @JoannaBriscoe


CTG Reviews: The Woman in Black: Angel of Death by Martyn Waites

cover image

cover image

What the blurb says: “Autumn 1940, World War Two, the Blitz. Bombs are raining down, destroying the cities of Britain. In London, children are being removed from their families and taken to the country for safety. Teach Eve Parkins is in charge of one such group, and her destination is an empty and desolate house that appears to be sinking into the treacherous tidal marshes that surround it.


Far from home and with no alternative, Eve and the children move in. But soon it becomes apparent that there is someone else in the house; someone who is far deadlier than any number of German bombs …

The Woman in Black.”


I’ve long been a fan of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, having read the book and watched the play at the theatre, so I was intrigued to see how Martyn Waites approached the writing of a sequel.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Angel of Death is every bit as chilling, heart-thumping and edge-of-your-seat thrilling as the original.

The central character, Eve Parkins, is a courageous woman. Kind and fiercely protective of the children in her charge, she’s a more approachable teacher than her boss, Mrs Hogg. As they leave London she feels especially protective of one particular child, Edward, who has recently been orphaned.

It’s difficult to go into plot details without spoiling the story for you, but what I can say is that Eel Marsh House is every bit as scary as in the first story. Now it’s rotting, the mould eating away at its structure, decay destroying its contents. This story will have you looking at mould in a whole other way, and watching the shadows in case they start to follow you.

When Eve, Mrs Hogg, and the children arrive at the house bad things start to happen. Edward becomes increasingly distant from Eve, his only solace found in an ancient and mouldy Mr Punch puppet. It isn’t long before Eve realises that they are not the house’s only occupants.

And as for The Woman in Black, well she’s a menacing presence. Watching. Manipulating. Killing.

Given that this is a sequel the presence and identity of the Woman is not a secret from the reader. She has more ‘on the page’ time than in the original book – you see her before the characters do, and because of her history you can guess what she’s thinking and you know what she’s capable of. But Waites still manages to keep the tension high, building the suspense towards a nail-biting, hiding-behind-a-cushion-as-you-read conclusion as The Woman in Black turns what should be a safe haven for the evacuees into a place more horrific than their worst nightmare.

Highly Recommended.


[With thanks to Arrow Books and Hammer for my copy of The Woman in Black: Angel of Death]


Review: Tortured Spirits by Gregory Lamberson

Tortured Spirits cover image

Tortured Spirits cover image

A guest review by YA Science Fiction Author, Imran Siddiq

What the blurb says: “The sign on Jake Helman’s office door says Private Investigator, but this ex-cop’s profession is more complicated than spying on cheating spouses. Over the course of two years, Jake has battled demons, zombies, even a cosmic monster—and he has paid dearly, both physically and emotionally, for his exploits.

Now on a quest to save his best friend’s soul, Jake embarks on his greatest and most terrifying odyssey yet: from the streets of New Orleans to the nightclubs of Miami to the jungles of Pavot Island, where undead slaves harvest narcotics for a ferocious dictator.

But this time Jake isn’t alone. Maria Vasquez, a beautiful NYPD homicide detective, joins him to rescue her former partner. With no backup and limited resources, Jake and Maria battle voodoo overlords, military troops, and an army of zombies. What will prove deadlier to Jake: the addictive drug called Black Magic, the return of an old enemy, or a vengeful demon plotting against him? Tortured Spirits is an action-packed, gore-soaked, supernatural thrill ride that will leave horror fans gasping for Jake Helman’s return.

This is my first read as part of the Jake Helman Series, and although Tortured Spirits is #4, the method of delivery gives enough for a newbie not to feel out of their depths or lost within the detail.  The author, Gregory Lamberson, guides the reader around what Jake already knows teases us with glimpses of the past. Sufficient backstory at relevant stages never feels like an infer dump and made reading this rather comfortable.

Jake Helman is a maverick of a one-man-band whose style is admirable when being considerate, but highly expressive when he needs to deliver the smack on goons and zombies. Heck – did i just mention zombies? Indeed; Tortured Spirits is a Supernatural Crime novel, but don’t let the supernatural aspect put you off.

Back to Jake – he can be described as a James Bond (likes the ladies) crossed over with Nathan Drake (of Uncharted Games due to his sense of adventure) and a bit of mystery solving Columbo (the glass eye). Scenes of extensive dialogue, although sometimes difficult to follow as to who is speaking, are rich with personality and bring across the risks associated within the novel … like zombies … and hellacious witchcraft. A fun part was Jake’s relationship with Edgar, his friend who’s been turned into a Raven. Again, don’t be put off by the supernatural aspect, because the human nature of caring for and carrying the bird around everywhere that he goes was a nice touch.

My only criticism is in places I received too much detail about the clothing Jake wore, and that zombies are referred to as zonbies. It takes some getting used to.

The crux of the novel is how Jake finds himself having to uncover a plot to save a man he cares little about in exchange for a solution to return the Raven back into Edgar (human form). What follows is gore of immense blood-appeal with scenes that will have you turning quicker than you can make contact with the page. Take out the supernatural aspect and this novel possesses a guest cop chase of uncovering crime, and some of the exchanges between the good and the bad took me back into top shows like NYPD and CSI. This isn’t your average Buffy – let’s grab some holy water and down these zombies – oh no, Jake needs to be cunning to win and … survive. Believe me, the author puts Jake is some gut-wrenching situations.

Gregory delivers a well written novel that is worthy of a read by any Crime/Thriller enthusiast, and adds his own spin on age-old notions; like using DNA from simply handing over a business card to place Jake under the control of witchcraft.

Overall, the world created and the glimpses into past events makes me want to read the previous entries to the series.


Tortured Spirits by Gregory Lamberson is available now.

About the Reviewer: Imran Siddiq seeks comfort at his desk with writing, drawing, blogging and socialising. His debut YA Science Fiction novel: Disconnect is on release now. To find out more, please visit: