Today I’m delighted to feature author Mel Sherratt. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Mel as she is a regular visitor to the author/blogger meet up I attend in Stoke-on-Trent.
Mel is the author of fourteen crime novels, all of which have become bestsellers. She works with publishers as well as self-publishing and has sold over 1.5 million books. She also writes under the pen name of Marcie Steele.
For the past four years, she has been named as one of her home town of Stoke-on-Trent’s top 100 influential people. Shortlisted for the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger in the Library in 2014, she regularly appears at festivals and is featured in newspapers and magazines.
She lives in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter.
Over to Mel:-
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
I chose five tracks from a playlist I listen to regularly when I’m exercising. It’s an eclectic mix that I call my inspirational list, and these songs sum me up perfectly.
Make Your Own Kind of Music – Paloma Faith. I’ve never been one to fit into a set genre writing wise. My writing is a mixture of women’s fiction and crime, or part crime thriller/part procedural. So this track really makes me smile. Do your own thing and be happy.
Pink – Perfect. I adore Pink’s song lyrics. One minute she is hard hitting; the next sentimental. I think that sums up my writing perfectly. But the song itself is all about believing in yourself. And it has an explicit version, which I love to sing out loud in private.
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now. This is about my publishing journey. It can be a rollercoaster of emotions – I’ll have published twenty books by the end of 2020 – but even so, I wouldn’t swap it for anything else. I’m planning on at least another twenty. So I can listen to this track when I have good news or when I’m feeling low to cheer me up.
Gabriella Cilmi – A woman On A Mission. This one has such an upbeat tempo and has to be listened to, and sung, at full volume. It tells me to keep going – I have a job to do, so get it done. Nothing can stop me.
Jo McElderry – The Climb. I was an avid viewer of The X Factor for many years, and having twelve years of rejection myself, I remember watching the finals thinking this will be me next year, succeeding when I get my publishing contract. Each year I blogged about the winner of the show but then went on to say I was still chasing my dreams. But then in 2011, my dream came true. But as well, I like this song because the words are about how you change as you get to your goal, learning, failing, being challenged and keeping on going. It’s all about the journey too – the climb.
What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Phone – I would be lost without it, although I hardly ever make a call on it. I use it to catch up on social media, stay in touch with friends, make appointments, read books on it when I am at said appointments rather than taking a Kindle too. And texting – I’m forever texting people.
Laptop – Although I use a desktop computer in my office, I love the freedom of being able to write anywhere on my laptop, and also to connect to the internet when I need to.
My lippie – I don’t leave the house without it!
A dog – I’ve had one, sometimes two, for most of my life, and I don’t think a house is the same without one. Although Dexter, our grumpy terrier, is a challenge at times, he is a loveable rogue too. He makes us laugh so much with his antics.
High Heels – Sadly I don’t get to wear them as much nowadays (and certainly not at the moment due to the coronavirus restrictions) but I feel so dressed up when I do get the chance. I have so many pairs that I will never throw away, even though they are far too high to wear nowadays. I used to wear at least three or four-inch heels all the time. Now I’m more of a Converse woman, but I love nothing better than a charity ball for an excuse to get a pair out for the evening.
Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?
Don’t think that everyone is your friend. We’re a friendly bunch in Stoke-on-Trent and sometimes we’re taken for granted, that friendship is pushed to its limits. Not everyone wants to know you for your sense of humour and good nature.
Don’t get hung up on someone who’s doing better than you. Their chapter twenty will be your chapter one. Everyone has to start somewhere – the main thing is to start! …
And finish what you start too.
You need to believe in yourself more. Actually, I still need to believe in myself more.
When you are fifty-three, you will still feel like you are that younger self.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
I’m scared of the dark. I know, I know – for a crime writer, that is a dreadful admission. But I imagine all sorts when I get up in the night, and I have terrible nightmares and then daren’t open my eyes. Every time I’m somewhere in the dark, I’m waiting for a hand to come around my neck or cover my mouth…
I’ve stayed overnight in Althorp House, the home of Lady Diana Spencer. I was taking part in their annual literary festival, on a panel for Amazon KDP, when the whole team were invited to stay over and have dinner with the Earl of Spencer and his family and guests. It was an incredible evening – Charles Spencer gave us a tour and told us tales of his ancestors. In the morning, we had breakfast with the family and guests of the literary festival again and then took a walk around the lake where Diana is buried. It was a very surreal experience, one I was honoured to have, and luckily for me, the first time I ever took my husband on a work trip with me! It was an incredible experience for us both.
I’m very much a romantic at heart. Most people know I write crime, but I also write women’s fiction under a pen name, Marcie Steele. I love writing about love and romance, friendships and relationships. It makes my heart sing.
I’ve been married twice. The second time is much better than the first.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
Raise more money for charity. So far I’ve raised £3000 for local charities and I’d like to raise more. I had planned a party this year to celebrate my 20 books in 2020. I’ve bought lots of my books to sell at a ticketed event but it can’t go ahead now. It’s on hold until next year.
Be on the Sunday Times bestseller list. The list is all about how many copies you sell in a given week. I missed out by 84 copies with my first traditionally published book, Hush Hush. It was supposed to have been stocked by Morrisons on publication but their order for a fair few thousand copies was delayed. I blame them for me missing out – better luck next time. (I don’t blame them really)
Have an Amazon number one on the Kindle Store. All of my books have entered the top 100, most the top ten, and I’ve had two at number two. But I have never reached the overall number one.
TV. As most writers, I imagine, I would love to see one of my books adapted for TV. I love watching the gritty crime shows I enjoy writing.
I’d like to reach my seventies and still be writing books.
Thanks for joining us today Mel. Had I not been so hesitant and star struck I would have had the gumption to speak up ask you sooner – maybe I need to believe in myself more! As someone else who is scared of the dark, I can sympathise. Once I’m in the dark I think of every horror story, or ghost tale I’ve been told. It makes me a wimp in my reading choices! Your stay at Althorp sounds amazing – definitely a memorable occasion. I definitely agree that a house seems empty without a dog, ours still has a dog shaped hole in it, that needs to be filled. Well done on the amount you’ve raised for local charities, that’s a fantastic sum. I’m sure next’s years event will be even bigger and better after this year’s chaos. Here’s hoping that your Sunday Times bestseller and Amazon number one aren’t too far away.
(NB book links are affiliate links – see more here)
DS Grace Allendale series
Hush Hush (1)
A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.
All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.
To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?
Tick Tock (2)
In the city of Stoke, a teenage girl is murdered in the middle of the day, her lifeless body abandoned in a field behind her school.
Two days later, a young mother is abducted. She’s discovered strangled and dumped in a local park.
DS Grace Allendale and her team are brought in to investigate, but with a bold killer, no leads and nothing to connect the victims, the case seems hopeless. It’s only when a third woman is targeted that a sinister pattern emerges. A dangerous mind is behind these attacks, and Grace realises that the clock is ticking…
Can they catch the killer before another young woman dies?
Liar Liar (3)
The truth can be a dangerous thing…
When a young boy falls from a balcony in a block of flats, DS Grace Allendale witnesses the shocking aftermath of the tragic event. But strangely, no one will admit to seeing anything – and the parents will only tell the police that it was an accident.
Determined to sort the truth from the lies, Grace is thrown into a case that takes her to the darkest corners of the criminal world – and strikes closer to home than she could have ever imagined…
Detective Eden Berrisford series
The Girls Next Door (1)
One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.
Six months after the stabbing of fifteen-year-old Deanna Barker, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more?
Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mountford, goes missing, the case gets personal.
With the kidnapper threatening Jess’ life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?
Don’t Look Behind You (2)
She got into bed but sleep didn’t come easily. Every creak in the house made her alert. She was waiting for him to come and get her.
The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet.
The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. Her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes but, now he’s out and coming for her.
As Eden starts to close in on the attacker, she also puts herself in grave danger. Can she stop him before he strikes again? And can Carla, terrified for her life, save herself – before the past wreaks a terrible revenge?
DS Allie Shenton series
Taunting the Dead (1)
How far would you go to protect the ones you love? And how much further would you go to betray them?
Nine out of ten murders are committed by someone the victim knows. So when Steph Ryder has her head bashed in within earshot of her family and friends, DS Allie Shenton begins her investigation close to home.
Soon the lies, backtracking, and secrets multiply as each of the suspects tries to cover up their actions on that fateful night. Before long, Allie homes in on Steph’s ambitious and powerful husband, Terry. Convinced he’s hiding something, she interviews him again and again—only to find that she is falling, despite herself, for his smooth charms.
As the trail grows hotter, along with Allie’s feelings, the web of deceit pulls tighter and more bodies begin to pile up. Allie must race against time to uncover the shocking truth before she becomes the killer’s next victim.
Follow the Leader (2)
A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a magnetic letter in the shape of an E.
Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing.
As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert.
The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next. The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must follow the leader.
Only the Brave (3)
When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion.
DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies.
As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realises she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.
Set over forty-eight tension-filled hours, Only the Brave is the latest gut-churning book from acclaimed author Mel Sherratt.
The Estate Series
Somewhere to Hide (1)
WHAT IF YOU HAD NO ONE TO TURN TO AND NOWHERE TO RUN?
With the death of her husband and a tragic secret she is desperate to bury, Cath opens her home to young women who need a roof over their head and a sympathetic ear. No woman is beyond Cath’s helping hand. The only problem? She lives on the notorious Mitchell Estate, where temptation and trouble lurk on every corner.
When malicious notes are posted through her door and precious things go missing, Cath reckons it’s just part of daily life on the estate. But when those she cares about most fall prey to violence, she begins to suspect her past mistakes are catching up with her.
Can Cath finally confront her own troubled history before it engulfs not only her but also the women struggling to rebuild their lives?
Behind a Closed Door (2)
Two women. An unlikely friendship. A bond that will never break.
Working on the notorious Mitchell Estate, housing officer Josie Mellor faces challenges every day, but not nearly as many as those of her tenants.
Kelly Winterton is scared and alone after her partner has been jailed. A victim of domestic abuse, Charlotte Hatfield has fled from her violent partner four times already. He’ll probably kill her if he finds her this time. Disowned by her family, someone is taking advantage of Amy Cartwright’s vulnerability. Who can she turn to for support?
But Josie has her own problems to deal with too. As her home life deteriorates and she struggles to escape her controlling husband, she realises only a thin line separates her from the people she’s trying to help.
Fighting for Survival (3)
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…
When Caren Williams finds herself back on the estate she fought so hard to get away from, little does she realise she’ll be living opposite her arch-enemy, Gina Bradley. Gina thinks she and her family rule Stanley Avenue so when Caren starts to become popular, she decides to hit her where it will hurt the most – she wants her husband.
Lonely and depressed, Ruth Millington finds it a constant struggle to get through the dark times. Spiralling out of control, maybe she should let Gina’s husband help her out when he comes calling.
Twins Rachel and Claire Bradley, took control of the girl gang, the Mitchell Mob, when their leader was sent to a juvenile detention centre for assault. But Stacey Hunter is out now and wants to hold the position of top dog again.
Secrets and lies, brawling in the street and conforming to peer pressure – it all comes down to holding your nerve. But this time not everyone will survive the notorious Stanley Avenue…
Written in the Scars (4)
After years of living as a single parent, all Donna Adams longs for is someone to make her smile, to share hopes and dreams with, to keep her warm at night. But when that certain someone gives her the attention she craves, he turns into her worst nightmare.
Home from the army, Lewis is a changed man. Angry and consumed by grief, troubled by nightmares and flashbacks, his mind is worse now than ever. Shutting out what he’s seen isn’t easy, but he risks losing everything he’s come back to if he doesn’t, including his sanity.
If the past could be erased to make a better future, we’d all want that, wouldn’t we? But life is never that easy for residents on The Mitchell Estate…
Watching Over You
Following the death of her husband and unborn child, Charley Belington sells the family home and bravely starts life over again. On moving into a new flat, she is befriended by her landlady, Ella, who seems like the perfect friend and confidante.
But, unbeknown to Charley, Ella is fighting her own dark and dirty demons as the fallout from a horrific childhood sends her spiralling down into madness—and unspeakable obsessions.
As Ella’s mind splinters, her increasingly bizarre attentions make Charley uneasy. But with every step Charley tries to take to distance herself, Ella moves in a tightening lockstep with her, closer and closer and closer…
The Lies You Tell (previously – She Did It)
She said it was an accident. But reinventing yourself can be murder…
Working for Parker-Brown PR will be the perfect job for Esther. Along with a false name, fake references and qualifications, it’s just the new start she desires. But she also has a plan for revenge.
Owning a successful PR company, Tamara enjoys her champagne lifestyle to the full. At least, that’s the image she displays to the world. As well as being lonely, she’s running out of money. A promising new member of staff could bring the injection of fresh blood needed to win the contract that will turn things around.
Sensing Tamara’s vulnerability, Esther uses their acquaintance as a way to get close to someone who hurt her in the past. But when she takes things too far, mistakes begin to catch up with her and someone ends up dead.
And that’s not what she had planned at all.
Writing as Marcie Steele
The Hope Street series
The Man Across the Street
Hannah wasn’t looking for love. Neither was Doug…
Hannah has been her mum’s sole carer since she was eighteen. Now alone after Martha’s sudden death, she’s coming up to her fortieth birthday and wondering what her purpose in life is. When a letter left by her mum reveals a family secret, it shocks her to the core. Hannah’s sister left over twenty years ago – could this be the reason why?
Doug is a workaholic, but a mild heart attack gives him a wake-up call. Now on the mend, he needs to de-stress his life and focus on living it, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He moves to Hope Street, number 35. Hannah lives directly opposite him. From the moment they meet, there’s a spark.
But just as things start to look up for Hannah, she finds out that Doug has a secret too, and this one threatens to destroy everything. Will she ever get the happy ending she yearns for? Or will the path of true love stop at the cobblestones…?
Coming Home to Hope Street
Step across the cobblestones, pull back the curtains and peek behind the doors in the second instalment of The Hope Street Series. Catch up with old friends and fall in love with new ones in a story of friendship, second chances and new beginnings.
Livvy has no choice but to return to Hope Street, the childhood home she left over twenty years ago. Along with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Pip, she turns up on the doorstep, hoping for forgiveness from her sister.
Hannah thought she’d never see Livvy again. She’s overwhelmed with emotion but locks away her real feelings. How could Livvy stay away without any contact? And why has she come back now?
It isn’t long before the charm of the market town of Somerley begins to work its magic. Hannah is opening a book shop in the square, adjoining The Coffee Stop, and Livvy’s offer to help out brings the sisters closer together.
But when someone from Livvy’s past arrives unannounced too, he threatens everything she’s built up since her return. Can Livvy convince her sister, and her new friends, that her intentions to return were good ones? Or will her dreams of settling down and being happy again become nothing but a closed book?
The Somerley Series (can all be read as standalones)
Stirred With Love (1)
After the end of her marriage, thirty-something Kate is trying hard to mend her broken heart.
Chloe, a young woman with the world at her feet, is struggling to know what to do with her life.
Still grieving after the loss of her beloved husband, Lily is determined to do something with the time she has left.
As Lily embarks on a new venture in the picturesque town of Somerley, the three women come together to open The Coffee Stop, the most charming café for miles around. But opening a coffee shop is never as simple as it seems, especially when you add local neighbouring competition, secrets and heartbreak to the mix.
When tragedy strikes, can the three women pull together to make the new business fly, or will Lily’s last chance disappear down the drain along with yesterday’s coffee grinds?
Secrets Lies and Love (2)
Sophie loves running her market stall with her friend Beth by her side. They’re right at the heart of the Somerley community – and always one step ahead on local gossip. But Sophie’s marriage is in a bit of a rut, and handsome stranger Damien has her wondering if the grass might be greener…
Beth is the life and soul of every party, but she’s hiding a broken heart, and worries about her beautiful but secretive daughter Charley. All she wants is someone to love – but could Mr Right be nearer than she thinks?
Just when Sophie and Beth need each other most, they suddenly have reason to wonder whether they ever really knew each other at all. Can the two best friends put the past behind them, and help each other find love and happiness again?
Please note – this book was previously published as The Little Market Stall of Hope and Heartbreak, so do check to see if you have already downloaded it.
Second Chances at Love (3)
All Riley wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, she believes she’ll never find love again.
Nearly a year ago Sadie’s whole world was shattered when her husband died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief.
Sadie and Riley work at Chandler’s Shoes in the market town of Somerley. But when the shop is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network – the glue that binds them when they are close to breaking.
As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just around the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet…
Please note – this book was first published as The Second Chance Shoe Shop, so do check to see if you have already downloaded it.
The Somerley Series Collection