Wednesday 28 June 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Brittany Hester

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Brittany Hester. 

Brittany says "Growing up in the foothills of Tennessee, I have always been enchanted by nature, magic, and powerful stories. My one wish was that there were more characters that looked like me in the books I loved reading. 

My hope is to blaze a path for diverse, strong, and authentic characters of colour to enter the forefront of popular fantasy and science fiction in every medium."

What kind of books do you write?

I write character-driven stories that take place in big, diverse, normally magical worlds. Honestly, the more immersive I can make someone feel while they read, the better! As a reader, I’m pulled towards the stories that leave you connected with the characters--you know the ones where you feel like you could run into them when you’re walking down the street--and I strive to create those types of stories. 

Can you describe your writing why?

I want to provide an escape from reality so people can live out a different story in a different setting when they need a break. Honestly, I write the books I needed and wanted when I was younger. As a Black woman, I fill my stories with diverse characters that I would have identified with and who would have helped me identify myself. The world is a unique place filled with people of all different backgrounds and experiences. I do my best to echo that in my own worlds, because stories are windows for people to try and understand some of life’s hardest questions. Within and through them, you can often find the answers you’ve been looking for or even come up with something more. As an author, I’m motivated to tell stories that can do just that. 

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

This was one of my favorite scenes from book 2. I just love how their relationship has been building to this conflict for so long, and they finally had this blowup. It was drama, there were tears, and Ren finally saw some vulnerability from Akeno: 

That was all she needed. Ren sprinted into the night. She huffed as she looked around for Akeno until she noticed a small, almost forgotten pebbled path along a line of mid-calf hedges. Ren stared, unsure where to go next until she spotted marble-sized stones that glowed with fluorescent yellow light partially hidden between the plain pebbles of various sizes. 
Without taking her eyes off the path, she followed it until the lush green grass turned into patches of weeds and dirt. When she finally looked up, Akeno stood before a disregarded shed. Elastic-reinforced white bandages wrapped his hands, and a large bag as big as Ren was on his shoulder. 
The spot was ugly, bare, and somehow perfect in its forgottenness. From the way Akeno flung the bag down next to him when he saw her through the bright moonlight, Ren guessed there were no cameras. He would never show so much emotion if he thought people were watching.
“Nice spot.” Ren gestured at the space around them with an apologetic smile. “How’d you find another spot without any cameras?” She took a hesitant step forward when he didn't answer, afraid he would dismiss her. She was more afraid of what would happen if she didn’t try to mend the damage she had caused. 
He turned his back and kicked the bag until it rolled against the side of the shed with a thud. 
“I hope Conal isn’t in there,” she tried again. 
He kicked the bag harder. “What do you want, Ren?”
 He was the opposite of how he had been earlier when she had picked a fight with him. Then he had been a simmering pot of black anger firmly contained under an airtight lid. Now he was explosive. His anger, disappointment, and hurt were tangible, making the air almost too hard to breathe. She had said what she did, and there was no going back. How could she take back the hammer blow of her accusations when all that was left was the shattered glass of her destructive behavior? 
She looked around, suddenly aware that they were out in the open and that anywhere in the shadows around them, cameras could be focused on them. 
“You’re safe, okay?”
“How can you know for sure?”
“Someone I trust told me about this spot before I came.”
Akeno turned and fixed a pointed stare at her. 
“Another secret, huh.” She had meant to poke fun at their fight inside the manor, but the words had tasted too sharp as they came out. Too close to the pain she felt at the truth that there were secrets Akeno felt he couldn’t trust her with. 
You won’t trust him with all of yours, either. 
Akeno tilted his head to the stars as if they could help him conquer whatever emotions were so dangerously battling to come out. “Do you think it’s easy for me to be in this situation with you? Fresh off of carrying your too-still body in my arms? Of hiding those armored rings you still wear? Of watching you and Lennox?”
“What about Lennox and me?” Akeno brushed a hand in her direction like he could wipe away the traces of his words, but Ren only boiled with anger. “We didn’t do anything wrong.” 
Finally, he looked at her, and Ren took a step back from the intensity of his anger. “That’s not the point,” he yelled. 
“Then what is the point, Akeno? Why do you keep bringing it up?” Ren yelled. They were loud, too loud. Ren imagined Sky opening a window and watching from her room as Ebba watched from behind them, eating her stupid late-night snack. It all made her mad, and Ren wanted to let the anger consume her. 
She crossed her arms and stomped over to Akeno, the only sound between them the crunch of the rock under her feet and their panting. 
 “You’re reckless, stubbornly single-minded, and you don’t give a damn about who could get hurt as long as you get what you want.”
“That’s not true,” she whispered. 
“Yes, it is.” He ran a wrapped hand through his hair, and the world stopped. Even Ren stopped breathing as Akeno looked at her. “God, you run right through me, Ren. I can see your wheels turning. You’re not as difficult to read as you may think you are, oh stoic queen of masking—”
“I am not!” She interrupted, but Akeno kept going like he couldn’t hear her anymore. 
“You know the worst part? I’m okay if you want to use me, Ren. I’m okay with being a little pawn in your game, and I hate that. I hate how perfectly fine I am with repeatedly letting you do this to me.”
“It wasn’t real,” Ren protested, although she wasn’t sure which one she was trying to convince. “If you can read me as well as you think you can, you would know it wasn’t real!”
“It might have started out as an act, but somewhere along the way, you forgot you were pretending. You forgot it was me you were throwing punches at. For what?” His eyes were red now like he had spent too much time staring directly into a bright, artificial light. His words were a serrated knife’s blade slicing through her.

Tell us about your latest project

Sunrise and Ashes, book 4 in The Chosen Legacy series is out 30th June 2023. Here's the blurb:

Ren uncovered the council’s deadly secret, and it means make or break for the resistance.

After experiencing the devastating capabilities of the combat-ready bioadvanced machines firsthand, the resistance and their allies realize that the council created the CAMs to wreak destruction wherever they cannot control.

The choice is clear: annihilate the technological monstrosities and their masters, or lose everything they’ve fought for.

Ren always knew getting out from under the thumb of the council carried a huge risk for everyone involved, but the price of overthrowing their overlords has become too high.

The oppressive rule of the council hangs heavy over Ren's head and the entire world. With the CAMs in their arsenal, innocent lives will be sacrificed, hopes destroyed, and families torn apart forever.

While some of the factions are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to prevent the council from succeeding, Ren refuses to spend the lives of the people they’ve been trying to free from tyranny.

Love is a choice Ren never believed she would make. The freedom she’s been fighting for is closer than ever, and so is her destruction.

Ren’s desperate search for hope uncovers an unexpected bond that could provide her with the answer she’s been looking for. But her solution could turn out to be more dangerous than the resistance’s plan.

With freedom within reach, she must make a decision that will define humanity’s future.

Can Ren bring an end to the council’s regime without paying for it in blood? If she can’t make the right choice, is she ready to lose someone again?

This series and its diverse cast of characters will resonate with readers because Ren wrestles with the same problem we do today: what do I do if the future I’m moving towards isn’t the future I want? 

What is your favourite cake?

That one is HARD because I love desserts. If I had to choose one, I would have to pick chocolate lava cake. Oh my lanta, the warm chocolate cake, the melted chocolate in the middle…then top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Connect with Brittany here:

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with J R Lancaster. 

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please get in touch. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. Never miss out on future posts by following me

Thursday 22 June 2023

An Extra, Extra Slice of Cake With... Tim Walker

Today I am delighted to have an extra, extra slice of cake with author Tim Walker.

Tim is an independent author based in the UK. In March 2023 he released his first audiobook, Thames Valley Tales, a collection of nine stories narrated and produced by actor Richard James. These stories cut across a range of genres - historical fiction, crime thriller, contemporary drama and comedy. 

His latest novel is a thrilling dual timeline, Guardians at the Wall, published in June 2021. Archaeologists uncover artefacts that connect them to the life of a Roman centurion in second century Roman Britain.

Tim lives near Windsor - close to the River Thames - the inspiration for his first book of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (2015, revised second edition, 2023). In September 2017 he published a second book of short stories, Postcards from London. These stories draw on the local history and current affairs of towns and cities along the course of the Thames where the author has lived and worked. A new collection of poems and short fiction, Perverse, was published in April 2020.

In early 2017 he published his first children's book, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy - The Adventures of Charly Holmes. Another adventure story was published in 2018 - Charly & The Superheroes, followed by Charly in Space (2020).

What is your latest writerly news that you are bursting to share?

After a quiet 2022 in which my muse was on extended holiday, I decided that what my portfolio really needs is an audiobook. I went back to my short stories and identified nine that I felt would be suitable for audio. Then I contacted an actor/author acquaintance, Richard James, and asked if he had experience of voicing audiobooks and if so, would he do mine. He answered yes, and yes. Once a fee had been agreed, he set about breathing life into my Thames Valley Tales, adding value by nuancing the dialogue and adding sound effects and relevant genre music. I’m delighted with the outcome, and Thames Valley Tales audiobook launched at the end of March.

What has been the best book you’ve read this year?

I really enjoyed Robert Harris’s Act of Oblivion, set in the aftermath of the English Civil War, and it inspired me to write a short story set during the Great Fire of London in 1666. This will be added to my other stories set in London, for my next project, London Tales.

Share your favourite book cover from the books you have written

I was pleased to find Canadian book cover designer and author, Cathy Walker, to give my five-book A Light in the Dark Ages series a consistent themed look. For my story of a youthful King Arthur, I found an artist who had created a picture that matched the title of my book – Arthur Dux Bellorum, depicting a scene from my book. I found the author and negotiated a fee to use his picture on my book cover. Cathy Walker matched the fonts to make it consistent with the  book series. It’s my favourite book cover, and possibly my best novel.

How has your writing changed over the years?

I started my creative writing journey by writing short stories. After a year and a half I plucked up the courage to attempt a novel. My first novel was a British dystopian darkly humorous work, Devil Gate Dawn. I began its life a weekly blog, The Life of George, where I focused more on the central relationships between father, son, and father’s new girlfriend, leading to tensions. This was an important step forward for me in my fiction writing, and now I feel that character driven fiction works better than having an obsession for driving a story through the narrative arc.

What was the last cake or pudding you had whilst out and about?

I had a delightful lemon muffin at Café Nero today – the perfect companion to a cappuchino.

You can connect with Tim at his website:

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with Brittany Hester. 

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please get in touch. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me virtual tea & cake at Kofi - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. Never miss out on future posts by following me.

Thursday 15 June 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Bernadette Rowley

This week I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Bernadette Rowley.

Bernadette is a lover of epic fantasy who is a veterinarian by day and an author by night. She is currently published in the genre of fantasy/paranormal romance with eight books, all set in her fantasy world of Thorius.

Along with sword and sorcery, dashing heroes and stunning heroines, Bernadette includes strong healing themes in many of her books - an element which is central to her everyday job.

Bernadette lives in Brisbane, Australia, with the four heroes in her life - her husband Michael and three grown sons. She is a member of several writer organisations including Queensland Writer’s Centre, Romance Writers Australia, Vision and North Queensland Romance Writers. Bernadette’s other interests include watching and scoring cricket, singing and music.

What kind of books do you write?

I do write fantasy but my special niche is epic fantasy romance so think Game of Thrones but with the romance front and centre. Political intrigue, magic, healing and battles are major sub plots to the romance. My character Alecia Zialni is the pivotal protagonist in my Queenmakers Saga of eleven books which follows her ‘hero’s journey’.

We get to see a new couple (other than Alecia and hunky shifter Vard) exploring their relationships in six of the books and then an epic finale in the last three in the series.

Can you describe your writing why?

It’s a compulsion and a goal all in one. I do get itchy when I’m not penning a new story so there’s that. However, the process I really love is the editing. I find draft a bit of a grind much of the time but there’s an incredible sense of accomplishment when you get new words on the page.

And the goal is to retire from my day job (veterinarian) and write full time. At the moment, that’s just not possible, so the juggling continues.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Oh my goodness! I can’t imagine picking one but my mind immediately leapt to The Lord and the Mermaid. I’m incredibly proud of this story so let’s see… 

A sneaking, murdering mermaid. Fury swept him and he clenched his teeth to hold in the shriek that fought its way from his throat. At last he’d found a small piece of revenge against the sea nymphs; a life for his brother’s. He stared at the perfect features: full pale lips, high cheekbones, long reddish lashes, placed in a heart-shaped face that had likely lured dozens of sailors to their deaths. And that bosom! No man could gaze upon it without wanting to touch the luscious curves. Oh yes, this monster had all the tools of the trade, but she’d not kill another man if he had anything to say about it.

Nik pulled the knife from his boot and raised it, ready to deliver a fatal strike. Something stayed his hand. A kernel of sanity urged him to use this being to discover what happened to Jon. Suddenly, he was looking into brilliant sea-green eyes. A keening song sliced through his skull and he stiffened, the knife falling from his hand. 

Tell us about your latest project

My latest project is called To Wed A Queen and is a novella about Alecia’s marriage to Vard Anton, the sexy shifter I mentioned earlier. I figured this couple needed an actual wedding to seal the deal so readers can have that ‘ah’ moment. I’ve put my faithful readers through quite a lot, wondering if this couple would ever have their HEA, so I want to make it up to them. But even so, the road to the altar isn’t smooth for Alecia. Sorry!

What is your favourite cake?

Great question! I actually love cheesecake of all sorts. If you want to know a real cake favourite, then I love Black Forest Cake for the cherries and cream…and I would have to eat it with a good strong cappuccino.

You can connect with Bernadette here:

Instagram - @rowleybernadette
Twitter – @bt_rowley
BookBub -
Website -
Facebook -
Pinterest -

Join me next week when I will be having an extra, extra slice of cake with Tim Walker.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please get in touch. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake at Kofi - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. Never miss out on future posts by following me

Wednesday 7 June 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Joanna Maciejewsja

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Joanna Maciejewsja.

Joanna might be a bit too cautious to do anything even remotely daring or dangerous herself, so she writes about daring adventures and dangerous magic instead. Yet, she found enough courage to abandon her life in Poland and move to Ireland, and then some years later, she abandoned her life in Ireland to move over to the US. She’s determined to settle there, once she finally chooses which state to reside in.

When she’s not writing or thinking about writing, she plays video games or makes amateur art. She lives the happy life of a recluse, surrounded by her husband, a stuffed red monkey, and a small collection of books she insisted on hauling across two continents.

What kind of books do you write?

I write about strong friendships and found families in settings full of magic and intrigue, topping off my stories with a healthy dose of friendly banter.

Can you describe your writing why?

My stuffed monkey looks at me funny when I don’t write. He gives me the “I’m not impressed” kind of look, and I hate to disappoint him. But, on the more serious note, my why is probably similar to other writers. Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed telling myself stories, and at some point, I started writing them down, so others could enjoy them as well. Knowing that someone enjoyed my story and that it offered them a few hours of escape or entertainment is one of the priceless rewards of writing and strong motivation to keep going. I also have a wonderful husband who fully supports my writing and wonderful friends who cheer me on: with motivation like that, I can’t “not write”.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

The book I’m enjoying writing the most is either the book I’m writing at the moment or the next book I’m going to write, so at some point, all of them were favorites, so I’ll pick something from my current project.

When I finally stopped in front of the three-story building with a crude sign saying “Max’s”, the lights at the shop were out, but a single window on the top floor glowed yellow. I gave a firm tug on the bell chain, and the chimes above me rang with urgency. It took another ten minutes of persistence before Max stopped ignoring the noise and looked out the window.
His mouth opened, but he didn’t say a word, and the enraged expression faded from his face. Within seconds he was away from the window, and the light went out. I waited outside until the shop’s interior brightened, and at the backdrop of a magic lamp’s glow, Max’s silhouette opened the door for me.
“I guess you vouldn’t bother vith the social call. Something vrong?” he said with his heavy German accent.
Before the war, Max was a chemistry student, and he made money on the side by mixing experimental and not so legal substances, and come to think of it, the Magiclysm didn’t change much in his life, save preventing him from getting a degree. This thin, dark-haired German embraced the returning magic and its effects with the excitement and curiosity of a mad scientist. Every new substance or liquid, every weird plant that sprouted in places warped by curses made their way to Max’s shop, and he brewed them into potent salves and elixirs... and drugs, because his work ethics didn’t bother with the substance’s purpose so long as it was useful in some way.
If Max wanted, he could be a drug lord, or even the drug lord of Dublin, but instead of running his own crime organization, he devoted all his time and energy to chemistry and let others play the power games. His position remained unshaken since the first years of the war, and both humanborn and mythborn sought his services.
That’s not to say he was an angel either. I had no doubt that the tale of how he’d poisoned five members of a humanborn gang when they had tried to force him to work for them was every bit true. Max offered courtesy only to paying clients. The rest could either leave him alone or die by one of his alchemical experiments, whichever they preferred.
“Please tell me you have something for that mythborn poison,” I pleaded as soon as I walked in. The other business I had with him had to wait.
“Mythborn poison?” He arched his eyebrow. In the lamp’s light his eyes looked even more sunken than usual. “You need to be more specific.”
I didn’t want to be more specific, but he had a point. “I kissed a mythborn,” I muttered. I really, really hoped I didn’t blush, and I chased Riagán’s memory away from my thoughts.
“Don’t give me that ‘you’re pregnant and drinking’ look.” I waved him off. I came for an antidote, not a lecture.
“It’s vorse than drinking vhile pregnant.”

Tell us about your latest project

My latest project is Humanborn, the first book in Shadows of Eireland series. It’s contemporary fantasy set in Dublin, Ireland that suffered from a magical cataclysm and a war that broke out with the newcomers from another world. The main character, Kaja, an information broker and a veteran, has to work with her former enemies to uncover the conspiracy behind a series of recent attacks that could cause the war to break out again. And while she chases the new threats, old secrets and life debts resurface, forcing Kaja to juggle her allegiances.

What is your favourite cake?

Now that’s a tough question! I’m from Poland, so I immediately think of my childhood favorites. One of them is “skubaniec” which is a layered cake of white and dark dough, topped with fruit, meringue, and crumble. The other is a cake which at my home we call a “coffee cake” (though it has nothing to do with American coffee cake), and it’s coffee-infused biscuits layered with butter-based coffee-flavored filling. When it comes to American cuisine, a certain pecan pie might have stolen my heart...

You can connect with Joanna here:

Join me next week when I will have a slice of cake with Bernadette Rowley. 

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please get in touch. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me virtual tea & cake at Kofi - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. Never miss out on future posts by following me.