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To Reveal Its Shocking Nature

Author Interview
Colin McNairn Author Interview

Signs of the Times reexamines classic nursery rhymes through a contemporary and humorous lens. What inspired you to write this book?

My mother was an English teacher and a great fan of humorous poetry. She introduced me to the light verse of Ogden Nash and the nonsense rhymes of Edward Lear, kindling my enthusiasm for their writing styles. I have also been fascinated by wordplay, of one kind or another, and have written about it in earlier books. The light verse style offers considerable wordplay possibilities. It struck me that classic nursery rhymes would lend themselves to reinterpretation in this style and that they could do with some updating as it were.

What is the most memorable nursery rhyme from your childhood and how does that speak to you today?

One of the most memorable, if not the most memorable, nursery rhyme from my childhood is “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It speaks to me today because I now appreciate that a lamb represents innocence and purity and that the pure whiteness of the typical lamb’s coat reinforces the notion of purity. I now believe that this nursery rhyme emphasizes the faithfulness that a pet, endowed with the characteristics of innocence and purity, is capable of showing to a human companion. In the nursery rhymes, that faithfulness is reciprocated by Mary, to her enduring credit.

What nursery rhyme shocked you the most when reexamining it?

For me, the nursery rhyme “Goosey, Goosey, Gander” didn’t take much reexamination to reveal its shocking nature. It portrays someone throwing an old, presumably defenseless, old man down a set of stairs for the simple crime of refusing to say his prayers. For me, the shocking nature of the narrative wasn’t particularly dampened when I learned that what was being described here was likely the fate of a priest, hidden away in a “priest-hole” in a Catholic home, being rousted and punished for refusing to swear allegiance to the Protestant Queen. This would have been a not untypical occurrence in England during the Papist purge of the sixteenth century.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book will be another collection of light verse for adults. It’s to be titled What If Jack Wasn’t So Nimble: Mother Goose Characters Reimagined. I’m currently looking for a publisher. One of the poems from this collection, entitled “Time’s No Fun When You’re Having Flies” has been published in the latest quarterly issue (Sept., 2021) of the British Webzine Lighten Up Online (see

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Signs of the Times is good clean—or not so clean—fun in two ways. It’s a joy to be reintroduced to so many dearly loved and justly renowned nursery rhymes, long after their sparkle and pungency may have faded from adult memory. It’s also fun to see what an informed and somewhat sardonic modern sensibility makes of them anew in the context of these times we are all now living through.

—Bruce Bennett, Emeritus Professor of English, Wells College

Colin McNairn is clearly having fun as he rewrites nursery rhymes to comment on the wider world. With jabs and plentiful jokes (“hickory, dickory, daiquiri”), he happily draws readers into his imaginative wordsmithery.

—Warren Clements, Author, The Nestlings Press Book of Fairy Tales in Verse

If Mother Goose were writing her nursery rhymes to-day, she would no doubt
burnish her MeToo credentials by condemning Georgie Porgie for kissing the girls and making them cry,
have Billy Boy, a.k.a. Charming Billy, look for a wife online rather than by pursuing a ground game;
warn us against catching a tiger by the toe, given the dangers of nail fungus; and
recognize a twinkle, twinkle in the night sky as more likely to evidence a drone rather than a star.
These are among the revisionist scenarios portrayed in the 70 plus mature verses in this collection, all of which have been inspired, to some extent, by traditional nursery rhymes. The subject matter of the verses ranges widely and includes, politics, language, the law, dating and mating, social behavior, food and drink, health, sports, commerce, technology, travel, and the natural environment.


When reading Sign of the Times: Through Reimagined Nursery Rhymes you bring out your inner child, enjoy the text in the book and be grateful for literature in a different structure. Colin McNairn wrote an interesting book. This is the kind of book you read when in a dull mood as the verses will cheer you up. Signs of the Times: Through Reimagined Nursery Rhymes is an easy book to follow and readers will enjoy every page.

I really enjoyed the unique contemporary twist given to these classic nursery rhymes. While I believe the content of the book is geared more towards adults, I think that it will really appeal to anyone that is mature. The colorful literature covers a variety of social issues in poignant yet humorous ways. Some of my favorite topics in the book touched on politics, running homes, climate and sexual revolution.

Reading this book makes you appreciate classic literature once again, but we reexamine these stories with a modern lens that shows just how far we’ve come, or at least changed, since they were written and last fully appreciated. Author Colin McNairn covers serious issues in an amusing way that provides context to issues many see as abstract. Which is funny to me considering these nursery rhymes were abstract to me as a child, I never really sat and thought about the words and the story behind it. Author Colin McNairn has obviously put much more thought into these stories than I ever have and in so doing has given me a different kind of appreciation for the kinds of stories we tell children and what the underlying messages are in the stories we tell.

Signs of the Times: Through Reimagined Nursery Rhymes can be enjoyed in one of two ways; as light and fun reading that will certainly make you chuckle, or as a deeper examination of classic literature. In either case, it will certainly be enjoyable.

Pages: 102 | ISBN: 1954353693

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A Twisted Fairy Tale

Liz Butcher
Liz Butcher Author Interview

Never, Never puts a dark spin on the Peter Pan story and follows Wendy Darling as a veteran detective hunting down the elusive Pan. What inspired you write a story based on this children’s story?

I was originally asked to write a twisted fairy tale for a short story anthology, when I first came up with the idea for Never, Never. The more I thought about it, the more I felt it needed to be a full-length novel. What drew me to doing Peter Pan was the simple concept of an entity sneaking into children’s bedrooms in the middle of the night and luring them away. What’s not scary about that?

Wendy’s character evolves in a way that is still believable but very compelling. What were some aspects of her character that you had to keep the same and what were some aspects you wanted to change?

Yes, she’s quite different to the Wendy people would remember, but she needed to be in order to realistically convey the lasting effects of her trauma. Yet at her core, she’s still the loving and caring sister, though the relationships with her family are more strained than she would like.

What scene in the did you have the most fun writing?

It’s difficult to say without giving away any spoilers! But the first scene that comes to mine is the introduction of the Lost Boys.

Do you have plans to continue Wendy Darling’s story in other books?

Originally I’d planned Never, Never as a stand alone, but I’ve had so much interest in creating a sequel that I’m now giving it some serious thought! Though I would only write a sequel if I felt I could really do Wendy justice.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

More than 20 years after her abduction at the hands of the elusive Pan, Wendy Darling is all grown up and a successful detective. But when a local girl vanishes in the middle of the night, her past comes rushing back.Grieving the death of her mother, Detective Darling wants nothing more than to throw herself back into work. When the Lord Mayor’s daughter, Rosalie, vanishes, she insists on taking the case, triggering memories of her own past abduction. For years, Wendy struggled with her nonsensical memories of her captor, who she only knows as Pan. Yet the more she uncovers about Rosalie’s disappearance, the more Wendy is convinced her worst nightmare has come true—Pan’s back. Her fears are confirmed when the girl suddenly reappears and Wendy realises she’s walked straight into Pan’s trap…

To Kill a King

To Kill a King: A Hollystone Mystery: Book 4 (Hollystone Mysteries) by [Wendy Hawkin]

To Kill a King by W. L. Hawkin, is the fourth installment in A Hollystone Mystery series following an enchanting archeologist named Sorcha O’Hallorhan, who is trapped in iron age Ireland. With a spellbinding blend of magic, treachery, love, jealousy and a game of gods, Hawkin has woven a captivating tale that readers will surely fall in love with. On a journey through time, with the horned god at their aid, Sorcha is determined to save the man she loves. While breaking barriers and ignoring the rules she stubbornly does everything she is advised against and that, in my opinion, makes this book a tale so thrilling, yet so tragic!

For someone who wishes to travel the world, Hawkin transported me to Ireland. The culture she portrays is so vividly written. Hawkin writes To Kill a King with a uniquely artistic and flowing style that conveys the story from various points of view. We catch a glimpse of all our characters and what they feel. This is a character driven story that provides so much depth to its backstory and unique lore that it blends seamlessly with modern mythology; mixing Celtic legends with fey, witches, vampires and more. I love a fantasy tale that is bursting with imaginative and striking mythical creatures. Because there is so much going on I feel like it could overwhelm some readers. But if you are looking for a well defined fantasy novel written with depth and intelligence than you will be engrossed in this supernatural adventure.

I’m not familiar with Irish folklore, so I found this aspect to be exotic, and it is conveyed so eloquently that it leaves me wanting to learn more. The most magnificent thing about this book was the polyamorous nature of characters. I love reading steamy romance and Hawkin is able to capture the love the characters felt for each other beyond the physical aspects. The sweetness of Conall’s love for Ruairí, the passion Estrada feels for Micheal and his lovers, Sensara, it is truly meaningful and memorable. I never imagined a relationship, or love that could expand horizons in such a way and I am glad I read this book, because it has earned a special spot on my bookshelf.

To Kill a King has a bittersweet end, but I really look forward to the next part of the series. If you’re looking for a well defined young adult historical fantasy then you’ll find plenty to enjoy in W.L. Hawkin’s emotionally charged sword and sorcery adventure story.

Pages: 292 | ASIN: B08YP712DP

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You’re Not In Control

L B Arthur
L B Arthur Author Interview

Ariessy of Midgard follows a young woman who finds her world turned upside down by a series of events that will challenge her like never before. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I think all kids feel like they don’t belong or fit in at a certain point in their teens. It feels as though you’re not in control of anything, and I wanted to portray that in Ariessy’s life.

Ariessy is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

I used to be a host mother to some wonderful foreign teenagers who were studying here in the UK, and each of them made up a part of Ariessy’s character. It isn’t easy to adjust to a new country, with a different language, social expectations, food, traditions etc. Ariessy finds out there’s a good reason why she feels the way she does, which in some ways comes as a relief, but it’s also tough for her to adjust to a whole new way of seeing herself and the world. I think every teenager finds it difficult to accept restrictions, even when they’re put in place for their own protection, and it takes some time for Ariessy to adjust, so her development could only go so far in book one. We see her transform completely in book two.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Self-acceptance, Belonging, Respect and responsibility for the natural world, and accepting our limits. Ariessy fights as hard as she can, she saves a life and avenges her attacker, but she needs a bit of help to get to the finish line. We all need someone to help us walk that extra mile sometimes, and that’s okay.

What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?

My next book is the follow up to this one. It’s titled Ariessy of Odinstone, and I’m hoping to publish it early next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Two Races — One Law — Zero Tolerance

On the verge of losing her father to a mysterious illness, seventeen-year-old Seiva Ariessy Taylor must take drastic measures to cure him.
When the authorities question her, matters take a turn for the worse and the Veurrulfar — a shapeshifting race from Nidavellir — reveal a long-held secret that changes her life for ever.
Ariessy must learn who she can trust before it’s too late.

Is freedom worth dying for — or can her secret save her?

Set in South Wales, United Kingdom. Ariessy of Midgard is an emotional urban fantasy adventure with hidden magic, mythical creatures, and a fantastic combination of mystery and mythology that will keep you turning pages.

A Stranger in the Clearing

A Stranger in the Clearing: In the Woods Series by [Victoria Smith, Marcela Werkema]

A Stranger in the Clearing is a wonderful children’s picture book that follows a golden retriever named Sequoia who comes across a Piebald Deer in a forest clearing. The young deer is hiding and doesn’t want to return home. After some investigation Sequoia realizes the deer ran away from home to keep her family safe because her unique look makes her stand out to hunters. They both soon realize that what makes the deer unique is not its color but its boundless courage.

The illustrations in this children’s book are absolutely phenomenal. Each page has a sprayed graphic art with a soft color palette and striking contrasts, giving each piece an artistic look but ensuring the faces of the many adorable creatures throughout the story are all emotive. This is a perfect children’s story for parents to read to their kids at night. It reminds me of classic pieces of fairy tale literature, poetic lines coupled with the beautiful art to deliver a sentimental but enchanting story.

The story conveys some very important lessons told in a direct and easy to understand manner. We learn that it is not what we look like that defines us, but our actions. Sequoia, ever welcoming and loving, encourages the young deer and ensures her that the animals in the forest will love her for who she is.

A Stranger in the Clearing is an inspiring and colorful children’s book that teaches a valuable lesson in an easy to understand and heartwarming story.

Pages: 38 | ASIN: B08PDQF2Q3

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Against All Odds

Against All Odds by [Luis Ammerman]

Luis Ammerman’s Against All Odds is an interesting remake of the Cinderella fairy tale. It follows the life of Hazel, an orphan who is continuously mistreated by her stepmother and two stepsisters. Set in England in the regency era, it is full of colorful language, characters, and events.

Hazel seems to be primarily concerned about getting a well-off husband to whisk her away from her troubles. Even her stepsisters Anna and Mary seem to be obsessed with attending soirees and getting betrothed. And like in every regency romantic piece, the honorable knight, Stephen, does eventually come for the helpless princess.

Stephen is described as tall, dark, handsome, reputable, and wealthy -exactly what you expect from the male romantic interest. Once he enters the plot the story follows their love and all its dramatic ups and downs. The plot will appeal to anyone looking for romantic regency era melodrama in the same vein as the show Bridgerton.

While the plot line is well know, it is still filled with interesting moments that test our main characters in different ways and places them in intriguing situations, but I would have appreciated some unexpected twists.

This book is written for ardent fans of the historical romance genre. It is very easy to read and is quite emotionally charged. It draws you into Hazel’s circumstances and makes it easy to relate with her. It is hard not to root for her, especially after all she has gone through.

Apart from love, the book clearly depicts the themes of family, belonging, friendship, loyalty, and resilience. At the heart of it, it is a story of a girl who refuses to give up on life, love, and hope amid painful circumstances.

If there is one thing the author does a good job of though, it is highlighting the cruelty of Hazel’s stepmother and stepsisters – they are literally the worst people in the book. And while that does paint them in a unidimensional way, it stays true to the Cinderella narrative.

Against All Odds is a well-written Victorian era love story that sets riveting characters against an exquisite backdrop where the drama is high and so is the entertainment value.

Pages: 359 | ASIN: B094RK1DKT

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Voyage of Pearl of the Seas

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas by [Ruth Finnegan]

Ruth Finnegan’s Voyage of Pearl of The Seas is more than meets the eye. It is the story of two kids and a beloved dog – Chris, Kate, and Holly. They build a boat from a log they find in the sand of a beach and embark on what they hope will be a thrilling adventure.

They face unprecedented challenges, ultimately finding themselves in a fantastical land with a King much reminiscent of God. He has many names and speaks of creation and wisdom. He particularly tells stories that seem to be related to those included in Biblical text. But what is even more intriguing about him is that he gives gifts that come in handy in some of the most unlikely of situations.

While this story is full of much of the awe and wonder that you expect from a fairytale, there are some unexpected concepts here. For instance, one of the main characters, Chris is hailed as a hero yet many of his mannerisms don’t portray him as such. He seems to be inconsiderate, entitled, and even condescending, particularly to women. Several times in the story, he has disparaging thoughts about Kate. At some point, he even forgets about her and abandons her in a “wilderness”. Yet through it all, she seems to be very concerned about his needs, putting them first in many situations. And while he did eventually sacrifice his dream to save Holly, it is not much of a voluntary grand gesture but rather a last-minute decision made in a crisis. However, it must be said that the author does a great job at weaving together the different facets of this story – the physical, emotional, and the fantastical.

That aside, the language used is poetic, adding a creative lyrical aspect to this story. There are songs, poems, and unexpected dialogue embedded within the flowery prose.

There is one thing that’s clear though- Kate’s timidity seems to increase across the narrative, most times directly proportional to Chris’ arrogance. To some extent, it feels that they are symbols. Voyage of Pearl of The Seas is an emotive and intellectually-invigorating fairy tale that is creative and deeply thought-provoking.

Pages: 134 | ASIN: B079GPQMG1

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