Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Blue Rinse Brigade Great New Book!

If you’ve enjoyed the adventures of the Blue Rinse Brigade in My Weekly, you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve now brought their four serials together in a new ebook that finds the four harmless-looking old ladies talking on an increasingly outlandish parade of villains from murderous circus stars to psychotic pirates.

Here’s how Evelyn first described the gang to her long-suffering son-in-law, Inspector Mervyn Pickles:

“Think of all the skill and experience going to waste,” Evelyn pleaded. “Thirty years at Scotland Yard. Ten of them leading the Murder Squad. And it’s not just me.”
Inspector Mervyn Pickles glanced nervously towards the door. “You mean there are more of you?”
“What about Maude?” said Evelyn.
“Maude?” Mervyn burst out laughing. “She’s ninety-one!”
Evelyn leaned forward, furious. “Maude was one of the top code-breakers during World War Two. She’s a mathematical genius. If it wasn’t for Maude, you’d be speaking German. Then there’s Pam...”
“Who’s eighty, with a dodgy hip...”
“.... who’s a former army medic and police pathologist,” Evelyn corrected. “What Pam doesn’t know about forensic science isn’t worth knowing. Then there’s Jane. And you know what she used to be, don’t you?”
“Surprise me,” Mervyn sighed.
Evelyn glanced over both shoulders, then muttered, “Special agent in the Cold War. Secret missions behind the Iron Curtain.”
She lowered her voice still further. “Licensed to kill.”

The Blue Rinse Brigade
as serialised in My Weekly.
Using hundreds of years of combined experience, the Blue Rinse Brigade finds our four plucky heroines tackling a a parade of increasingly outlandish villains from crazed circus performers to psychotic pirates in four thrilling comic adventures: Trouble In Store, Murder At The Circus, Murder On The Broads and Who Killed The Easter Bunny.

Available to download now from the Kindle Store.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Prepare to be scared...

Do you believe in ghosts?

Nicola doesn’t, until she visits a fading West End theatre on an outing from drama school. From that point on, nothing can break her obsession with the theatre’s hundred-year-dead founder, Sir Charles Ducrow.

But will she ever see him again?

In May, My Weekly ran my two-part serial, Forever Together, in
Nicola and Brett
as they appeared in My Weekly
which students Scarlett and Brett watch Nicola’s increasingly weird behaviour following her trip to the theatre.

But that serial only told half the story, because Scarlett could mostly only guess at what was really going on.

Now you can read the full haunting tale in a compelling novel-length version of Forever Together that tells the story from Nicola’s point of view.

Click here to read the first couple of chapters and download Forever Together from the Kindle Store. Prepare to be chilled... and inspired by the lengths to which two hearts will go to fulfil their destiny.

Friday, 23 August 2013

A vintage date for your diary

Bettina Scarlett
photo: Reapfolio

If you’ve read about the adventures of vintage girl Natty Smalls in Polka Dot Dreams - and if you haven’t, you’ll find the paperback in your local library now, while the e-edition will be coming out very soon - then you may be tempted to ditch your modern dudes and slip into some fabulous 50s fashions of your own.

But where would you go to find the right look?

The perfect place to start will be The Mid Century Christmas Market in London on December 14. It’s at the Hammersmith Club, 11 Rutland Grove, Hammersmith, London W6 9DH and will be an Aladdin’s cave of reproduction mid-century clothes and life-style choices.

The organiser is Bettina Scarlett, pictured here in a sneak preview from a photo-shoot for a feature on her vintage events management company, Bettina Scarlett Presents, that I’ve written for a forthcoming issue of a leading magazine.

Be there or be square!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The story behind Polka Dot Dreams

The new issue of Writers' Forum is out, and in it you’ll find the first instalment of a two-part feature on how I wrote the vintage clothes romance Polka Dot Dreams - which is available to borrow from your local library now.

In a bit of a bumper issue for me, you’ll also find an article on pen names, including a bit about why I became Julia Douglas to write romance.

Finally, with my Douglas McPherson hat on (a thinking cap, perhaps?) I’ve been interviewed by Phil Barrington about the secrets of finding time to write.

Having no telly and turning the phone off are just two of my tips...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Classic American - Vintage Style!

This month, wearing my Douglas McPherson hat (a 50s Trilby with a press card in the hat band, in case you’re wondering) I’m starting a new series in Classic American magazine called Vintage Style.
Classic American is the number one mag for fans of American cars from the 40s, 50s and 60s, right through to the present. Nothing goes better with a chrome-laden classic Yank tank than a cool set of threads from the same era. So Vintage Style is dedicated to icons of vintage and reproduction vintage clothes.
In the September issue, out now, I’m talking to colourful Queen of Swing Kai Hoffman about her music, her Live And Let Jive club night at Ronnie Scott’s and, of course, her fabulous clothes. Being sponsored by Vivienne of Holloway certainly helps Kai maintain her status as an icon of 40s and 50s fashion.
For a fictional look at the vintage clothes and rockabilly scene, meanwhile, read the romantic adventures of Natty Smalls in Polka Dot Dreams by Julia Douglas. The paperback is in libraries now, and the ebook will be out shortly!

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Funniest Show On Earth!

The first seven days of August were International Clown Week, so what better way could there have been to round off the week than with a visit to Britain’s funniest clowns, father and son funnymen Clive Webb and Danny Adams in Cirque du Hilarious - Daredevils and Clowns?
The comic twosome usually work in theatres, with extensive engagements in the Butlins resorts of Minehead, Bognor and Skegness this year, so it was great to see them in a proper circus tent where they are appearing, in Southwold, for one month only, until August 31.
With 1950s rock’n’roll playing and creating a fairground atmosphere as we took our seats, the big top has been divided internally with a proscenium arch to create an intimate cabaret-style space. The semi-circle of tiered bench seats brings the audience much closer to the half-circle stage than you’d normally find either around a normal-sized in-the-round circus ring or in an ordinary theatre - and the intimacy of the set-up made every aspect of the show even better.
The show is called Daredevils and Clowns and some genuine daredevilry was provided in the first half by Sascha Williams who built a high-altitude rola-rola tower on an already tall platform... then proceeded to play a Led Zepplin electric guitar solo while balancing precariously on the summit! A slick juggler added more circus in the second half, while the Cirque du Hilarious Dancers performed in a number of classy costumes to give the show a fast-moving variety show feel.
As always, though, it was ringmaster Clive Webb and clown Danny Adams who dominated, with a non-stop barrage of genuine belly laughs. The thing with both performers is that their anarchic delight in everything they do is both palpable and infectious. Never just going through the motions, you can feel them pushing and pushing themselves and each other to new heights of cheekiness.
Danny Adams takes a fall
The bit where Danny torments a singer by squirting her with a water pistol, covering her in toilet paper and spraying her with foam? Of course it’s scripted, but Danny plays the part with such a mad gleam in his eye you’d really think he was making it up as he went along. Surely he won’t really squirt it up her skirt, you think. And the moment when you can almost see him thinking about it, like a naughty kid wondering if he’ll get away with it, makes it all the funnier when he does.
“How do you get a fat girl into bed? Piece of cake!” quipped Danny in an opening salvo that set the tone for his endless stream of one-liners.
The humour was cartoonishly visual, too. A piano and a Punch and Judy tent are blown up in gleefully noisy explosions. Two of the funniest moments come when Danny, dressed as Elvis, is first shrunk to a couple of feet tall then blown up to sumo wrestler size.
Then again, some of the biggest laughter comes from embarrassment and tension, and Danny milks every drop of Mickey-taking from an eye-wateringly funny skit involving four audience members and a unicycle.
Add a custard pie fight, a royal baby fart gag that’s a literal blast, and a musical climax by clown rock band Clown Force, and you have the funniest afternoon or evening you could ever enjoy in a circus tent.
If you are within 100 miles of Southwold, Suffolk, DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!
Show times are 3pm daily and 3pm and 6pm Wed, Thur and Sat until Aug 31. Box Office: 01775 764777.

As we left, it was impossible to resist the romantic image of the stripy big top against the setting sun, with its brightly lit box office wagon to the front, vintage lorries and caravans parked to the rear.
But what’s life really like for those who run away with the circus?
Find out in the 1930s romance The Showman's Girl by Julia Douglas, available to borrow in paperback from your local library or to download from iTunes for the Circus Ridiculous price of just 49p!