Monday, 25 February 2013

THE BAD EASTER BUNNY Meet the author and illustrator behind this delightful Easter picture book


A children’s picture book you will not want to miss.

Written by Isabel Atherton and illustrated by Stéphanie Röhr

We give it  *****

Welcome readers. This week we are pleased to bring you news about a terrific children’s picture book. This is going to be a fabulous gift to give alongside the Easter eggs. Indeed, it may not be a bad idea to get a copy ahead of Easter and let the youngsters appreciate a good message, for life, not just for Easter.

This is a superbly well-written book by Isabel Atherton, who is none other than Keith’s own literary agent. (Actually, that isn’t quite true, since she is not my very own agent, since she runs  the highly successful Creative Authors literary agency, which has oodles of other writers, artists and generally creative types on their books.)

Going on from the success of her adult picture book Zombie Cat, which she did with Bethany Straker, and which we reviewed earlier on the West Uist Chronicle, she has this time teamed up with another very talented artist Stéphanie Röhr.

As a taster, have a look at THE BAD EASTER BUNNY – the movie!

And so I am pleased to welcome both Isabel and Stephanie into the office for a chat to tell you all about it.

Isabel, welcome back. For those of our readers who are visiting for the first time, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Thanks for having me back! I’m a literary agent at Creative Authors Ltd. You can see more about my company and the wonderful authors I represent at I also love collaborating with talented artists and this has led me to work on illustrated books. The Bad Easter Bunny aka BEB is my first children’s picture book. It’s been such a treat to team up with Steph and I am over the moon with how the book looks. I hope readers will enjoy it too!

Stephanie, give us the lowdown on yourself, please.

Allo. I’m an illustrator of children’s books and an Art director for Creature London. I moved to England from France four years ago, to immerse myself in London’s vibrant creative energy. Finding Isabel has been fantastic, and I’m looking forward to working with her on future projects. I prefer to let my work speak for me and you can hear it chattering away at:

Isabel, tell us about the book. I know that you are a very polite lady yourself and I suspect that you had a reason for writing this story.

My wonderful publisher, Julie Matysik at Sky Pony Press in New York, dropped me a line enquiring if I had any suitable scripts, as she was looking for a title for the Easter market and she also wanted to use Steph as the illustrator. This got me thinking and I decided to have a go at writing the story myself. Whenever I think of Easter I think of the Easter Rabbit and so I decided to develop a story around the bunny. I pondered the character for a few days and suddenly bingo! I thought of how in my life there have been occasions where I haven’t felt necessarily appreciated and how the Easter Bunny hands out gifts, but how does he feel? Is he appreciated for his efforts? The key message is the importance of gratitude. Something, I believe should never be underrated.

Stephanie, I love these pictures. How did you choose to draw the Easter Bunny this way? Did you decide between you?

Our publisher wanted to get me on board again after ‘Count the Sheep to Sleep’ by Phillippa Rae was released. She thought that a colourful Easter story would fit perfectly with the bright colours I love using, and the quirky ideas I punctuate my work with. The first time I read BEB, it was clear to me BEB had to be both cute and a little bit scary for kids to love the character. I always send early sketches to the authors I work with, believing it’s important they are happy with my interpretation of their work. My initial drawings were well received by Isabel and throughout the process I kept her involved with how the spreads were developing. 

Isabel, I know that you have other books in the pipeline. Can you share these with us?

Yes of course! I have one more book scheduled to be published in Fall 2013. It’s called ‘Smelly Ghost.’ It’s about a ghost who gives off a bad smell due to all the junk food he eats and how he eventually learns that eating good foods will lead to feeling healthier and happier. It’s illustrated by Bethany Straker. We’re also currently working on two more children’s books together to be published in 2014. These are ‘Springy Chicken’ about Martha a chicken, who has springs for legs, which initially ostracizes her from her fellow hens until she leaps into action to save a young chick from the mean Mr. Fox and finally ‘Mr Cow’s Deep Sea Adventure.’ Mr. Cow doesn't like to make cheese or yogurt like his cow friends - he'd rather be exploring and in his first adventure, he takes a trip to the bottom of the 
deep blue sea, where he finds all kinds of creatures and makes a friend along the way.

Stephanie, what are you working on next? Have you got other books coming out? Will you be collaborating with Isy again?

Currently I’ve been commissioned by creative agency Serious Comedy to illustrate a scooter safety booklet for six year olds, and I’m developing a series of funny, edgy, educational books for teenagers with award winning comedian and comedy writer Darren Ruddell. I always ways hope to collaborate with Isabel. It’s been a fantastic experience, and I adore her writing. Her stories are full of charm and allow me to play with bright colours and funny visuals jokes, which I love.

Ladies, it has been a pleasure. We wish you well with your future projects.

Thanks so much, Keith!
Merci beaucoup, Keith!

We really love this book and if you would like to hop over to the Amazon opposite, you can order your copy!

Keith Souter
Associate Editor

Calum Steele

Thursday, 7 February 2013


Welcome readers. This week we are pleased to bring you news of a remarkable book by Rae Andrew. It is a racy, Gothic fantasy that is reminiscent of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones. I am sure that is bound to whet your appetite.

It smoulders, it fascinates and it intrigues.


By Rae Andrew

We give it a ***** rating

And we are pleased to welcome Rae into the office for a chat to tell you all about it.

Rae, welcome. I hope you don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing your real name as Helen Cox. Tell us about yourself – or about you both!

Hello, readers. Well, I used to be an archaeological conservator and museum collection care advisor; then I met my husband and turned into a ‘writing housewife’ with a freelance publishing and lecturing business, Herstory Writing & Interpretation - Helen does factual history, and Rae makes it up! My special interest is the 15th century, and I’ve written three non-fiction books on the battles of Wakefield and Towton (you can find out more on my website, ). I also edit The Towton Herald, Towton Battlefield Society’s newsletter, act as Secretary of its Wars of the Roses re-enactment group, The Frei Compagnie, and I’m a pretty mean shot with a longbow!

Wow! You pack a lot into your life. Tell us about the book.

It’s an historical romance in a parallel world, more Gormenghast than Middle-Earth – dungeons without dragons and swords without sorcery, but plenty of black humour, political intrigue and nice juicy sex! The heroine, Princess Elinor of Gondarlan, is very moody because her father King Thorund is packing her off to marry a stranger – Jehan of Angor, a tattooed New Age hippie dressed in doublet and hose – and the running joke is the culture clash that happens when he arrives at the Gondaran court to woo her. Needless to say, the path of love doesn’t run smooth… not for Elinor and Jehan, at any rate.

And it is all in there, folks. How did you get the idea for the book? It must have taken a long time to imagine all that history.

Originally, from a rude story I wrote as a joke for a previous partner! His suggestion that I develop the characters and try to publish it got me thinking. I didn’t fancy writing contemporary erotica for the ‘adult’ market, or an historical ‘bodice-ripper’ tied to a real place and period - so I invented an Urth of my own, where I could bring in all sorts of personal interests and favourite themes from real-world history. I had the basic storyline roughed out in a couple of months – but it took nearly 10 years of further evolution, endless re-drafting and ruthless pruning to achieve the finished product!

How is the series developing? And how many books do you plan?

The second instalment, Breath of Gaia, has just come out on Kindle and Kobo, with the paperback to follow shortly. Book 3, Wolfsbane – which should be in print by early 2014 – is about a third of the way through. I’m planning one more, Children of Fafnir, to finish the saga, and I’d like to round off with an archaeological detective story linking a contemporary version of Urth with Princess Elinor’s world. But I could potentially write more - as Terry Pratchett has with his Discworld – if the demand is there! Meanwhile you can follow developments on the Lay’s own website or its Facebook page, The Lay of Angor.

We like that idea of the detective story and we are great fans of Terry Pratchett.  Your background in archaeology has clearly been a big help. The story drips with facts and has great atmosphere. As a history re-enactor I guess that has helped. Can you give us an idea of how you actually picture a scene?

Thank you! Yes – it’s given me loads of ideas, experiences and material to draw from. Lots of the environments are ‘real’, either places I’ve visited or seen on TV – for instance, Gondarlan is a hybrid of Scotland, Scandinavia and Iceland, and the architecture, costume and so on loosely based on European medieval. Within that framework, the details fill themselves in as if by magic – I see it in my mind’s eye, and hear the characters speaking, as if I’m watching a movie. They’ve taken on such a life of their own, I feel like more of a conduit, or a secretary taking dictation, than a creator; the main challenge is capturing everything on keyboard as quickly as it flashes through my head!

Rae – I mean Helen, it has been a pleasure. We wish you well with the rest of the series.

Gondarlan is available as an e-book for £2.99 on Kobo and Amazon Kindle (Kindle Prime members can borrow it free). The paperback is available at £7.99 plus p+p from York Publishing Services – order from, by phone on 01904 431213, email to or order through any good book-shop. UK readers can also buy signed copies at the discount price of £7.50 inc. p+p direct from Rae Andrew – email your order to

Sunday, 3 February 2013

DEATH IN TRANSIT - coming soon


By Keith Moray

The next novel in the West Uist crime series - to be released 30th April 2013

The lack of light pollution made West Uist an idea place for astronomical observation.
            The Heavens Above show, a regular Scottish TV review of the latest news about astronomy, is being broadcast from the island and there has been an influx of amateur astronomers. At the same time, the West Uist Astrological Society has staged a series of lectures by a celebrity astrologer.
            Tension between the two groups is clear from the start and when a body is found floating in Kyleshiffin harbour it is unclear whether there has been a tragic accident or a cold-blooded murder. A chalked astrological sign on the harbor wall   gathers significance when a second body and another sign is discovered. This time there is no doubt – it was murder most foul.
            And the signs are that there will be more deaths, unless Inspector Torquil McKinnon and his team can solve the case and find the Zodiac Killer.