Like Knives Behind My Eyes

Suicide – or murder? Will scandal taint the Bank of Japan? Here’s Chapter one of Tokyo Summer – A Shig Sato Novella.


Chapter 1


“It feels like knives behind my eyes.”ssnovella1

Setsuko Usami said it so often her husband seemed deaf to it. She knew that their years together taught her that Taro would not understand it, not even try. Taro Usami’s indifference had become almost as painful as the migraines themselves.

At one time early in their marriage she was surprised and glad Taro asked about her headaches, if anything was wrong, but that stopped. Her migraines always returned and he was tired of feeling useless, and would say, “What could he do?”

He never had headaches. He didn’t know what to do.

Eventually Setsuko gave up. What could he do? He was a rising star at the Bank of Japan and they had a tiny four-room flat in Chuo and she was the mother of two teenagers. His life was outside the home. Her life had not changed since her 20s. She cooked and cleaned and shopped and succumbed to the incessant, unbearable beat of the never-ending demands of life in Tokyo.

Setsuko remembered when Taro would ask about her day, act like he cared. That was when they were young and the world held so much promise for smart young couples staking their claim to making a good life for themselves in the city. She sometimes thought that being young was the cause of that. Now they were in their 40s and she was weary and laid in bed for hours every day even when she didn’t have her migraines.

She held onto hopes, though. Like it being the year 1988, and thinking that perhaps this would be the year her luck would change. She had heard 88 was a lucky number.

But it was the end of May and she laid on her futon and suffered through her migraines and wondered if her luck would ever change, or if this really was her life. She wondered if she would ever get fed up and actually say something like “that’s the last straw.” She wondered what would it be, that straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

She wondered about it, idly at times, then forgot about it as a new day presented new problems. But the thought always returned. What would happen? What would it take?


The last straw came at the end of June. Plans for the children’s summer holiday had to be decided. Taro’s indifference infuriated her. He said he was busy at work. He said a promotion was in the works. He said he couldn’t get away because the timing was all wrong.

She kept asking. A trip with her sister and their children just didn’t happen on a whim. She needed to know. She needed to plan. Her daughter’s sullen peevishness was driving her mad – getting the girl to agree to anything was a battle in itself, now that she was 15 and in full rebellion mode. Her son was pulling away from her, as boys do when they become teenagers. He was 13 and had sprouted up and seemingly overnight his voice had dropped an octave. His charming little boy self was disappearing. Getting them both to agree to go with her sister and their children to Okinawa had been like moving heaven and earth. And in another year she knew it would be impossible to get anyone to agree on anything.

Setsuko Usami clung to the hope her plans had not gone to pieces. Then one evening Taro came home late and she was ready to have it out once and for all. But before she could get started he said, “I have to go to Singapore for the Pacific Rim finance ministers meeting.” He said it as if he was taking the car to a mechanic.

“What! When?” She prayed it wouldn’t interfere with their holiday. “When do you have to go?”

“You know when,” he said as he removed his clothes and left them where they lay and reached for the pajama bottoms she had laid out for him. He escaped to the bathroom.

“Taro! My plans! Why can’t–”

“It can’t be helped!”

Setsuko stared at the bathroom door until he stepped out. She collapsed onto her futon and watched Taro lay down with his back to her. A thunderbolt of nausea erupted from deep inside her gut and she ran to the bathroom.

Taro called out, “What is it now?”

“You know what it is!”

Taro turned off the light. A pink half-darkness beyond their window spilled into the room where they slept, the dim split in two by a rare moonbeam. Sleep came easily.




Aroused from his slumber, Taro Usami realized he sensed Setsuko’s absence. He sat up and saw her unmussed futon. He listened for any household sounds. He heard nothing. Then he realized a need to relieve himself.

Stepping to the bathroom, half asleep, he wondered why the door wouldn’t open fully.

And why the light was on.

Once he managed to get his head in for a peek, he saw why. Setsuko lay on the floor, her body twisted, eyes open, mouth sagging, tongue limp, strands of hair matted on her forehead and cheek. An empty prescription medicine vial lay inches from her fingertips.

Later, his children would say he shouted “Setsuko” over and over.

Taro Usami would say he didn’t remember.

To pre-order a copy of  Tokyo Summer, click here. To sign up for for great deals and advance notice of more great Shig Sato stuff, just click here. Be assured your information is safe – I hate spam and never share information.



Are the Kobayashi twins in trouble again?

ss3new5smIf you’ve ever read a Shig Sato Mystery, you know the hapless Kobayashi twins can’t buy a break.

Will their luck change in Traitors & Lies? This is how it begins for them:

Sweat and grime was all Ishi and Joji Kobayashi had to show for their long hot weekend in an Osaki Police Station cell. Fatigue reduced their consciousness to a dim awareness, so that Monday morning in August, after an insurance fraud and murder case veered in another direction, the powers that were decided to get the twins out of the building. Startled awake by the “on your feet, on your feet” a bored police officer rattled keys and stomped his boots just to frighten to two rat-like creatures as they wiped sleep from their beady eyes.

“What?” Joji whined.

“You’re leaving,” the officer said, unable to muster any concern.

“What?” Ishi’s suspicion was of a practical nature. Being caught breaking and entering in a copier repair shop where a body lay dead, he was sure prison was in his future, not freedom.

“Get up and get out of here,” the officer said. “Go see the sergeant on your way out.”

The twins found their way to the Sergeant Hiro, plump and with a wise owl countenance. Hiro looked down at the boys over the top of his half-moon glasses. He knew the boys were held that weekend because they had broken into a copier repair shop where a dead man was discovered. The twins had no idea of what had happened and had pleaded their innocence until the interrogations stopped. But that had been on Saturday. This was Monday. Hiro saw the suspicion in their twitching eyes.

“Seems like you boys got lucky. Forensics decided you two had nothing to do with killing that copier repair shop guy,” Hiro said. “And you’re little breaking and entering escapade is being ignored …”

“Really?” Joji twitched, unable to believe his freedom was only a few feet past the station’s front door.

“… thanks to Inspector Sato. And the chief. So do the smart thing. Get out of Gotanda as fast as possible. And stay out of Gotanda.”

“But…” Joji began, but Ishi only said, “What day is it today?”

Hiro cast a worried glance at the boys. “Monday, August 19.”

Joji began to count on his fingers how many days they had been locked up. He lost count after two.

“Okay,” Ishi hissed as he grabbed his brother by the arm and followed a waiting officer out a back door of the station. A minute later, the twins were walking down Yamate-dori, free to go where they pleased.

“Something’s not right,” Joji said.

“They let us go,” Ishi replied.

“You think Katsuhara had anything to do with this?” Joji doubted getting out of jail for no good reason. What he doubted more was the benevolence of Fat Katsuhara, a top captain and right-hand man to yakuza kingpin Ses Fujimori. Katsuhara occasionally had the twins do small jobs. Usually it got the boys in jail.

“I hope not,” Ishi said. “I think we’re in trouble, maybe not with the cops, but with the fat man.”

“Yeah. I don’t want to go anywhere near the fat man.”

“What about going back to the garage?” Joji’s question worried Ishi. He knew that when a cop like Sergeant Hiro said stay out of Gotanda, he meant it. His brain ached from the thoughts invading his brain: No place to go. No money. No food. All of their belongings at their cousin’s machine shop and no way to get there except by foot. Hot, tired, hungry and thirsty, the twins faced a long walk to a place where they were sure they would not be welcome.

Despite the sergeant’s warning, the twins agreed only place they could think of to go was their cousin’s machine shop on the other side of Gotanda station. It was the last home they had, two cots off to the side of a greasy work area. Sure of Katsuhara’s fury if he caught sight of them or knew where they were hiding, the twins walked, talked, tried to think of how to stay out of trouble, but came up with nothing other than getting their bag of a few clothes and the bar of soap and they towel they shared.

Ishi said, “Lets go.” Joji fell into step by his side.

A dozen yards behind the twins, slow and steady, a white Toyota panel van followed the twins as they walked east side toward the Yamanote elevated commuter rail line. At a red light it sped to the corner, a door opened, a man jumped out, grabbed the twins, shoved them into the van, and as the van sped off as the door slid shut and the lock clicked.

When the twins overcame their bewilderment, they saw the faces of Katsuhara thugs, young men snarling under punch perms and willing to knife their prey without blinking. The twins had been assigned one thug each. The driver was equally fierce. But it was the man in the passenger seat that got the twins’ attention.

“You two have been busy.”

Ishi and Joji glanced up saw demonic black mane of Dragon Matsumura, nephew of a Fujimori captain and their nemesis from the days when Dragon recruited potential Fujimori foot soldiers from the bosozoku motorcycle gangs. Matsumura made sport of the likes of the Kobayashis. The twins both had the same thought at the same moment: “We’re dead.”

Matsumura had seen to it that no police were following the twins. He also was sure they only thing any onlooker would do after seeing to boys hustled into a van is stop, stare, and go on about their business. He was told the cops would let the twins go after realizing they were small fry not worth housing and feeding for another day, but then, the cops were liable to do anything. When a Fujimori contact at the station said the twins were being set free, Dragon got the word: Pick them up.

Joji, too nervous to speak, glanced at Ishi, who managed to say, “Where are we–”

“Shut up.”

Matsumura kept his eyes on the road.

The twins then recognized the driver. Shiro Nakano, a motorcycle gang delinquent who acted tough and wanted to prove it. The Kobayashi twins knew him from Kenbo’s motorcycle shop in Shinjuku, a teen gang hangout where the twins were treated like vermin.  

Joji and Ishi glanced at the back of Matsumura’s head, then at the rear-view mirror. Nakano’s fierce scowl unnerved them.

They clutched each other’s arms.

“You little shits. You can’t stay out of trouble for a day without fucking up big time,” Matsumura’s disdain spewing from his angry lips.

“We didn’t -”

“Shut up.”

Unable to see out a window, Ishi and Joji glanced at the floor, each other, Matsumura, and Nakano, their breathing quickening, their nerves fraying.

“You two are costing me a morning when I could be doing something else. Certainly not driving you around,” Matsumura snarled. “But I’m here to give you a message. Stay away from anything Fujimori. You have nothing to do with the Fujimori clan, the Fujimori name, nothing, nothing to do with Fujimori. Nothing. You do not say the name, you do not talk about anything you know, you think you might know. You don’t talk to anyone about anything you’ve said or done. Got it?”


“I hear of anything, you’re dead. Fat Katsuhara hears anything, you’re twice as dead. No associates, no riding clubs, no one. You’re through. Got it?”


“Now get out.”

Joji’s minder opened the side panel door and the soon Joji and Ishi found themselves pushed to the ground in front of their cousin’s machine shop.

What little native intelligence the twins’ possessed had by now lead them to realize the men was not going to beat them.

“But…” Joji began.

“Don’t forget,” Matsumura said, his finger running across his throat. It was the last thing the twins saw before the van pulled away.

Picking themselves up and brushing themselves off, Ishi and Joji Kobayashi notice huge bay door into the machine shop is closed. Furtively looking about, they quickly walk along the side of the building to the back of the garage. They know the book door alarm latch had been broken and unrepaired the last time there were at the shop. Each wished it remained so.

As the peeked around the corner they saw the door shut. But the alarm still appeared broken.

“What are we going to do?” Joji asked.

“We have to try something, ” Ishi replied as he slowly crept to the door and turned the knob.

It opened.

With no alarm sounding.

The twins scampered into the shop as fast as they could, shut the door behind them and for the first time that morning, began to believe they were out of trouble.

Traitors & Lies
A Shig Sato Mystery
Look for it December 16
at Amazon
and other vendors Jan. 1

Discover the World of Shig Sato. Tokyo Summer, a Shig Sato novella, is yours when you sign up for my mailing list. No strings attached. Just click


Inside, outside, in between

ss3new5smHave you ever noticed how sometimes events outside your world cause you to turn inward?      To reflect?  Maybe even give you the time to summon the courage to take action?

I have been living inside myself for several weeks now, finishing Shig Sato book 3, Traitors & Lies. I have to be honest: the events of the last few weeks did not encourage me to go outside myself. Truth is, I think writers and everyone who create must live inside themselves in order to exist in the world.

Traitors & Lies continues the story of former Tokyo police Inspector Shig Sato, now a private investigator and a reluctant one at that. It is August 1991. Turmoil in Moscow brings the Soviet leadership to the brink of a coup d’etat. And it is seven weeks after the death of Shig’s beloved wife, Miki. Our story begins the day after Miki’s shijūkunichi, her 49th day memorial. Shig finds out a mutilated body has been discovered in Tokyo Bay. This gives his crime-solving instincts a spark: who is this person, and why are they in the bay? Upon returning to Tokyo to resume his P.I. work, he is asked to find a missing person: a U.S. Navy officer who has not reported for duty at the American embassy.

Shig knows he must set aside his mourning. But outside events overtake him as he regains a sense of himselfs while pursuing the answers to two questions: where is the missing American? And who is the body in the bay?

Traitors & Lies. Be ready for it this December.

Discover the world of Shig Sato. Get the Shig Sato Book 1  The Gangster’s Son  at no cost – just click here. And for more on what’s happening in the World of Shig Sato, click here for my newsletter.



Freebie Weekend – The Gangster’s Son : A body identified

CanvaJBpicAmazLogoThe Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake are free Labor Day Weekend – it’s a great way to discover the world of Shig Sato. Just click here and then once more – or twice!  – for your copies – yep – for free. And be sure to look out for Shig Sato No. 3, Traitors & Lies, debuting this fall.

Here’s an excerpt from Shig Sato Mystery Book :1 The Gangster’s Son

(The parents of Kimi Yamada learn of their daughter’s death and must go identify her body.)

gangster3Mysterious knocking ended Yosh and Miyako Yamada’s summer slumber. Even as they tightened their robes as if to protect themselves from what the two policemen were saying, a slow ballet of shock and grief stirred in their hearts as they tried to comprehend words like “dead” and “Kimi” and “Roppongi” and “a short time ago” and “can you identify the body right away?” Time shifted to a meaningless state, and they took no notice of their actions or their surroundings as they fell into hell.

Before they realized what they were doing, Kimi Yamada’s parents found themselves driving from their home in the western suburbs through dimly lit, unfamiliar streets, looking for the place where the police said they could find their daughter. Searching kept their minds occupied as an incomprehensible torment squeezed their souls.

Eventually they found the building they were directed to go to, the building caped in the dark of night, surrounded by harsh streetlights. They parked their modest sedan as close to the shiny glass doors as possible, and it took some time before the couple was aware that a tall man chewing a toothpick was standing by the large glass doors.

As they approached the doors the man opened one and held it open for them as he said, “My name is Kato. I’m a police officer. Please follow me.”

Without saying anything, the Yamadas meekly followed Kato to where the unthinkable would become real.

Kato watched Kimi Yamada’s parents arrive to identify the body of their daughter in the small hours of that Saturday morning in June. He saw life extinguished from their eyes, their bodies bent, hands shaking, the mother clinging to the father.

They dutifully followed Kato down a hallway no different from any other building in Tokyo, but in their minds the Yamadas were now capturing each step they took, frame by frame  like a torturous slow-motion moving picture. They tried to will time to stop long enough for them to flee their fate, but no matter how hard they tried, they found themselves in that horrible place, following the tall man.

“Is she here?” Mrs. Yamada whispered as they walked down a corridor.


“Did she –”

“Come with me,” was all Kato said.

The silence became unbearable.

“She’s such a good girl,” Mr. Yamada whispered. “She’s such a good student. She plays the piano.”

“Yes,” Kato said.

“She is our only child,” the father whispered. “She never gives us any trouble.”

“Until she took that job…” the mother began, but fell silent.

“She speaks English. She wants to …” but words failed the father.

Kato said nothing as his solid footsteps pounded a beat on the linoleum under the Yamada’s hesitant shuffle, a miserable rhythm filling the corridor, punctuating the stillness sad government buildings inhabit.

The inevitable turned out to be quite simple: Kato pulled back the sheet covering Kimi Yamada’s face. Her parents took one horrible look and their mournful tears affirmed her identification.

Kato asked his question anyway.

“Is this Kimi Yamada?”

“Yes,” the father croaked, fighting a new wave of grief, but resolved not to look away.

“Her face,” her mother screamed in a hollow voice with no volume, no depth. “Did that man do that?”

“Which man?” Kato asked as he gently covered Kimi and led the pair to standard, hard plastic chairs meant for anything but comfort.

“The black foreigner,” the mother said, ashamed that she had to say the words out loud.

“We’re looking at everything, checking every fact,” Kato replied, wondering how the inspector was getting along with that.

The mother brushed back a strand of her hair, but kept her eyes on the floor, shame and anger in her words. “We insisted she break things off with that, that soldier. We insisted! I wouldn’t be surprised if he had something to do with this!”

“We’re looking into it.”

“He’s an American, just a common soldier,” she said, giving way to fresh anger. “She deserved better than him! She deserved better than …” But her grief swallowed her whole, and she dissolved into her husband’s arms.

“Mr. Yamada?”

The man looked at Kato.

“Do you have someplace you can go, other than your home?”


“Do you have someplace you can stay for a few days? Other than your home?”


“Sometime soon, reporters and photographers will find out who you are and where you live, and you don’t need that kind of bother right now. Do you have a relative or friend you can stay with for a few days?”

“I don’t know …”

“Mr. Yamada, your daughter was killed by someone. We’re working the case. Eventually people will find out that it was your daughter who was killed, and then they will come looking for you for a comment. Do you want that?”

“No!” Mrs. Yamada sat up, fierce and determined. “The jackals. Why can’t they leave us alone?”

“I have a sister …” Mr. Yamada began.

Kato said, “I suggest you go there, straight from here, and stay there for a day or two. Let things play out.”

“Why are you telling us this?” Mr. Yamada asked.

Kato knew if the GI did have something to do with the murder, pandemonium would fall on everyone, especially the Yamadas. Kato wanted them one step ahead of the television crews and newspaper photographers.

But all he said was, “Sometimes, things can only be made worse for you two at a time like this. Please don’t say anything to the press or anyone else until we have a chance to check our facts and find a suspect. I promise to call you when we have made an arrest. Okay?”

“Yes, yes,” the father said wearily. “We’ll go to my sister’s place. In Chiba.” As he wiped his tears, he said, “We have to make arrangements …”

Kato wrote down the several phone numbers the Yamadas recited. Then he escorted them out of the morgue and watched as they walked the way people do when leaving a terrible place. The woman’s last words to him rested uneasily on his mind.

“Find that man. He killed my Kimi.”

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Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – an interview with Anita Kovacevic

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his momma): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s an eclectic collection of stories by authors from around the globe.
Twisted Tales 15LitLiesEpicYarnsFINAL

In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Anita Kovacevic. Anita is an author and a teacher of English. She writes various genres, and has self-published and illustrated an urban-legend novella (The Threshold) and three children’s books (Winky’s Colours, The Good Pirate and Mimi Finds Her Magic). Anita’s stories, poems and illustrations appear in the anti-bullying e-book Inner Giant. Her story ‘Passage’ is published in Awethology Light, and her poem ‘Christmas Surprise ‘ opens the December Aewthology Light. She lives with her husband and children in Croatia and doesn’t know the meaning of ‘free time.

Your story ‘Active vs. Passive’ appears in the Readers Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology Twisted Tales. What made you decide that story?

It is a weird thing when people invite you to write a short story, any topic you want and no word limit at all. I was honoured, then nervous, then I started overthinking. Overthinking never does my writing any good; it may help my editing, but only up to a point.

Anita Kovacevic

Eventually, I remembered that I already had some stories written, lurking in my files in their rough form, waiting to be spruced up. I chose Active vs. Passive because it is dear to my heart for several reasons. First off, it deals with unnecessary violence and simple kidness, which I both consider relentless, and am always shocked by the first and grateful for the second. Secondly, as a parent and teacher, I consider the story relevant, having witnessed myself how many things go by unnoticed, till it’s too late, for simply not talking about them or listening properly and hearing what the other person has to say.

The story was initially written for my blog challenge, which I organized with some fellow authors at the brink of my writing career adventures, and the mood of the story follows the Inner Giant, an international anti-bullying charity ebook project I participated in with various amazing, selfless educators and artists from around the world. I just had a feeling Active vs. Passive had earned its place in this collection. People ignore the signs of bullying and abuse, sometimes truly not knowing, sometimes burdened by their own issues, sometimes blinded by survival despair. We cannot afford not knowing, especially when it concerns our children.

Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?

Well, I wrote plenty of short stories before, so I never gave it a second thought.

Actually, I never really set out to write a certain format at all. When a scene or character start haunting me, and won’t go away till written out of me, then I write them. It makes no difference to me if it’s a children’s story, a poem, a limerick, a short story or a novel. Some may say writing multiple genres and format means dabbling and still searching for my own author’s voice. In a way, that is true, because I haven’t officially been a (self-)published author for that long, but I have never thought an author had to write one type of texts all the time. But I do believe that different stories have different voices and perspectives, and I try to write them down as I hear them.

Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?

Oh so many people, events and things. First of all, I believe all the books I’ve ever read, and still am, all the stories I’ve ever heard or seen, people I’ve met… everything influences us.

When I was a school kid, I actually wrote a lot, mostly in Croatian, although I dabbled in English as well. As a teenager, I threw away every notebook with poems and stories I’d ever written. My parents rescued them, in secret, but when I found out, I got rid of the notebooks again. My parents were my first fans, he he he, and I treated them like a proper diva.

I am sorry now, of course. It would be fun to see what I wrote about at the age of 10, even 13. And it is funny to think I’d forgotten my writing for a long time, during my university years. It all came back to me later on, as I started teaching and writing stories for my lessons. Once I had my first child, my urge to write again, just write, not for work, but to write the stories out of my head, became simply natural and a necessity. It only became stronger with my second child. Having children who are no fans of sleeping may have contributed – insomnia had me reading a lot and spurred The Threshold.

I have to say I was lucky, and still am, to have the support of my family, friends and colleagues. It was actually my teaching colleagues, both from the school where I teach English, and from an international teaching community (the wonderful people from esl.printables who participated in the Inner Giant), who pushed me into trying to publish. My husband, my best friend and my sister were the ones who gave me the final push when I was on the verge of giving up. They still do. And then things evolved.

Nowadays, in my life there is a group of likeminded authors I am happy to have met through some writer groups and am proud to call my friends. These people have raised the bar for me, challenged and taught me a lot, and are always there to give me an earbashing or pep-talk. You know who you are. Thank you all.

What’s your next project?

After having participated in the #Awethors’ anthologies and the RCAP Twisted Tales, I am looking forward to any future projects they dare to invite me for. They are all amazing, inspiring people with astounding amounts of energy and ideas, and a wonderful support network.

As for my own work, I am currently writing a light chicklit novel about a garrulous young lady looking for love in her daydreams. (Again, one of those who wouldn’t be quiet.) I am hoping to finish that by midsummer.
There are several children’s stories, a preteen fantasy novel, and a full-length adult novel I have written out, still cooling till I am ready to edit them. There is also an editing challenge an author friend has set for me, inviting me to work on her novel, which is almost finished. Blogging author interviews and book reviews has become a routine I enjoy, my own book promotional activities have become a constant struggle, but are vital.

My writing is (only) a passion. I teach full-time, which takes up a lot of my time and energy, so I write far less than I would like to. Still, there is a time and place for everything, and I am still learning.

Please share a little more of your write background.

My first story and poems were published years ago in an ESL charity book Teaching Children from the Heart. Sadly, the book is no longer available, as the publishing company went under amidst all the financial turmoil in the world. Inner Giant is an amazing anti-bullying e-book I collaborated on with artists and teachers from all over the world, as proofreader, contributor and even illustrator.

I have three children’s e-books available on major purchase sites, all fruit of my teaching experience, and two of the stories have been nominated for Best Indie Summer Award in the category of children’s books. Winky’s Colours, The Good Pirate and Mimi Finds Her Magic all have a positive educational message, with additional activities to help the children enjoy, and the adults read and engage children.

The Threshold, my adult novella, is available as e-book only, although I am working on a paperbook as well. It’s a moral parable with slight elements of horror and paranormal. It was actually the first book I wrote considering it writing, not teaching.

My story Passage is featured in the Awethology Light, and my poem The Christmas Surprise opens December Awethology Light. Active vs. Passive is featured in this amazing new collection of the TwisAwethology.Passage.Anitated Tales. Having collaborated on so many books with authors from around the world has been a huge honour and challenge.

Where can readers reach you?

As time-consuming and tasking as it can be, I try to be active on various social sites and groups, although I may not reply instantly. My links are listed below, so feel free to drop by and say hi. You may even stumble upon an interview with the authors from Twisted Tales, Joseph Mark Brewer included. Have fun reading and don’t forget to review books – your opinion counts.


FB BLOG – Anita’s Haven






INSTAGRAM @anitas.haven



Stay tuned for more Meet the Author interviews. If you like what you read in Twisted Tales you’re invited to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!


Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Kurt Wallander and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake – and sign up for my monthly newsletter at

Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – An interview with Jean Gill

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his mom): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s a collection of eclectic stories by authors from around the globe. Twisted Tales 15LitLiesEpicYarnsFINAL

In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Jean Gill, author of The 13th Sign in Twisted Tales, for a chat about her story and her writing life.  Jean is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a scruffy black dog, a Nikon D750 and a man. Her claim to fame is that she was the first woman to be secondary Head Teacher in Carmarthenshire. She has published 18 books, and is mother or stepmother to five children, so life is hectic.

Your story ‘The 13th Sign’ appears in the Readers Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology Twisted Tales. What made you decide on that story?

I think ‘Twisted Tales’ will appeal to adventurous readers who want to be surprised and entertained so I submitted a story that I hope does both. Will a naïve but gutsy youngster complete his coming-of-age ritual and be given his rightful place in a parallel universe? When the youngster is the constellation Ophiuchus, and the twelve established zodiac signs are stacking the magical odds against him, nothing can be taken for granted.

jean sm

Jean Gill

I’ve always loved the idea that, astronomically speaking, there should be a thirteenth zodiac sign but astrologers didn’t like the number thirteen – or any change at all. My zodiac sign is in fact Ophiuchus the Serpent-bearer and 13 is of course my lucky number. My books are now published by my own Indie imprint ‘The 13th Sign.’

Comic fantasy gives endless opportunities to poke fun at the world we live in and the personalities of the various Zodiac Signs might remind you of people you know. My ambition with this story is to follow in the steps of the master, Terry Pratchett. As he said, ‘writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.’

Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?

I’ve written and published many short stories, and was even a double prize-winner one year with London Inc’ International Writing Competition. My collection ‘One Sixth of a Gill’, free to those who subscribe to my Newsletter contains poetry and shorts ‘to fit everyone’ and I enjoy the freedom of experimenting. I was first published as a poet and I like breaking rules in my work.

I was once part of a performance group of three writers in Wales, The West of Whitland Poets, and my friend, a short story author, was asked, ‘Do you think you’ll ever manage to write a novel?’ The idea that start with short stories and you write novels when you grow up as a writer is daft. What I’m after is the perfect marriage between content and form; I have hundreds of ideas and some have to be poems; some short stories; some novels; and I’ve written plays too.

Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?

I’ve been published every which-way, traditional and self-published, and have learned from many writers and editors over the years. Influences have been bad as well as good and I have my share of horror stories which put me off writing – but I always carried on and I’m so glad I did. You never forget your first acceptance from a publisher. Mine was when Outposts Poetry Journal published my poem Note from Guinevere to Lancelot. As poetry publishers get thousands of submissions each week, this was a big deal. My first editor and publisher (Johnathon Clifford of The National Poetry Foundation) was exceptional; he was one of those rare editors who can put their finger on what is wrong in a line of poetry and suggest an improvement. He encouraged me but was also fierce in rejection so I learned the three important lessons for any writer, from him: my work is good, it needs to be edited and improved, and rejections happen – get over it.

What’s your next project?

I’m researching Book IV of my 12th century Troubadours Quartet, historical fiction that tells the adventures of my fictional couple, Dragonetz and Estela, in the context of real events and characters in 1150 -1154. I’m feeling the pressure now because Book 1 won the Global Ebook for best Historical fiction and Book 3 is shortlisted for the Wishing Shelf Awards – the last book has to be good!

Book1, Song at Dawn is free so you can visit 12th century Provence and see whether you enjoy ‘Game of Thrones with real history.

Please share a little more of your background as a writer.

My writing had to run alongside my career in education, and my family, until 2003 and I’ve now published 18 books, including three translations (from the French). I write in many different genres, from modern family sagas, and historical novels to dog stories, poetry and a cookbook.

I never found a traditional publisher who loved all my work and it is both time-consuming and depressing to start submitting work afresh each new book so self-publishing suits me down to the ground. I do use a professional editor and cover-designer.

Where can readers reach you?

I love hearing from readers and anyone who reviews one of my books can send me a dog photo, with brief description, to go in my Readers’ Dogs Hall of Fame .


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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Kurt Wallander and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake – and sign up for my monthly newsletter at