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Welcome to my newsletter... - Issue #3

Mal Foster
Mal Foster
Welcome to my 3rd newsletter, which I hope you will enjoy.
Please remember to subscribe to ensure you don’t miss out on any future issues…

Greg Freeman, Yours Truly, Woking Mayor Saj Hussein, Lelita Baldock and JRC Cox
Greg Freeman, Yours Truly, Woking Mayor Saj Hussein, Lelita Baldock and JRC Cox
On Saturday, 23 July, I was joined by Lelita Baldock, James Cox, and poet Greg Freeman at the Lionsheart Bookshop in Woking as we all turned up to sign copies of our latest books. The event was something of an experiment as a multiple signing by four authors had not really been attempted before. We needn’t have worried, it turned out to be a great success, with each of us selling a reasonable number of copies.
I would like to thank everyone who came along (Trudi, I owe you a Fluke’s Cradle mug), especially Woking Mayor Saj Hussein, who gave the event his full support despite a heavy schedule.
After congratulating us all on our writing, he even bought copies of all our books, which was a brilliant and unexpected gesture and then gave us all a very generous mention a few days later in his weekly column in the Woking News & Mail.
The Lionsheart Bookshop in Commercial Way stocks many books by local authors, so please pop along and check it out!
The Asylum Soul Walk
The original Asylum Charity Walk in November 2015 in aid of the Bowel Cancer charity
The original Asylum Charity Walk in November 2015 in aid of the Bowel Cancer charity
Saturday 13 August - 10.50 for an 11 am start
Meet @ Car Park opposite The Vyne, Broadway, Knaphill
The meeting point is in close proximity to the site of the old Farm Bailiff’s house, Almond Villa and North Lodge, which was the Fireman’s cottage. The car park itself once formed part of the hospital’s pig farm, which housed pigs of the Middle-White breed; these were favoured by the hospital bursar for their fine pork. Bacon from the pigs was used to make the famous Knaphill Pie (Bacon, Leek, Cheese, and Garlic with a mash topping). 
Proceeding along Redding Way to the former hospital chapel and mortuary, we’ll pass the site of the old water tower. We’ll then pause for a photo opportunity at Florence House and its iconic clock tower. 
We’ll then proceed along a footpath and down a gully, through the woods towards the Basingstoke Canal, following the course which originally pumped water from the canal. Later, after the water tower was built, it took sewerage down to the canal, where it was dispersed. Part of the pump station by the canal remains. 
We’ll then walk along the Basingstoke Canal towpath until we reach the original hospital pond, often referred to back in the day as the Grey Lady Lake. Three new purpose-built ponds were excavated in the 1990s to take water from the tower, which was later demolished amid angry local protests. 
The walk will finish at the Nags Head Inn, its history is well documented in Knaphill (All in One Place), and the pub is featured in my novel, The Asylum Soul. The pub is also a key location in my latest book, Fluke’s Cradle
Here, the option is to pop in for a well-deserved drink or return immediately to the starting point.
Note: I will not have any books on the day, but please check out my website at All novels are available in paperback and Kindle formats, with Fluke’s Cradle also available in hardcover.
New writing
Here with my old friend, the artist Jonathan Webster, Freshwater Isle of Wight  c.2003
Here with my old friend, the artist Jonathan Webster, Freshwater Isle of Wight c.2003
You may have seen on social media that I’m researching material for a sixth novel. Everything is very much in the early stages, but my thought process has already taken me to Freshwater on the Isle of Wight, among other places, as I explore ideas for the main plotline.
One problem, with it being a crime and mystery novel, I need to know the real truth first if I’m going to loosely base anything on a true story. I’m still looking for answers, and so the research continues. The back story is already proving to be very interesting. I’ll keep you updated!
Talking of Research...
Gozo Sunset ~ An Invisible Nemesis
Gozo Sunset ~ An Invisible Nemesis
Research is one of the early aspects of writing any novel, which is something I thoroughly enjoy. The Brookwood Asylum in Knaphill was virtually opposite where I live. Fortunately, some of the original buildings remain.
I spent many hours at the Surrey History Centre in Woking, digging through old hospital files, it really was quite amazing what I found, and this eventually enabled me to publish my debut, The Asylum Soul.
A meeting with Carol Baker, a pub landlady and psychic medium, helped me complete Fly Back and Purify, while a visit to the grave of Emily Jane Popejoy in Bagshot and a trip to London’s Old Bailey inspired me to pen the haunting and whimsical Victorian tale of Jude & Bliss.
The plotline for Fluke’s Cradle was staring me in the face as I reached out to my childhood and adolescence to cultivate my latest novel. My own upbringing, with all its shortfalls, rubbing shoulders with Angola-bound mercenaries in seedy Camberley pubs when I was just seventeen, gave me the nucleus for the story.
Regarding An Invisible Nemesis, I simply wanted to write something against the grain of any existing conspiracy theories about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. My knowledge of Malta, particularly Gozo, gave my third novel its unique location. Strangely, I very nearly didn’t publish the book…
While halfway through writing the manuscript with my plotlines already prepared, the real-life assassination of popular journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia took place on mainland Malta which was very much parallel to my main storyline. Ultimately, I went with my gut instinct and published the novel, which was later featured in the Gozo News.
Novel Popularity
Jude & Bliss, my personal favourite
Jude & Bliss, my personal favourite
I’ve recently been asked which of my novels is my personal favourite. I understand The Asylum Soul has many people’s votes, but others, such as Fly Back and Purify and my latest, Fluke’s Cradle, have the heart of others.
Whilst all my books are close to my heart, Jude & Bliss is the one which has given me the most pleasure. The book contains some of my best and most colourful characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed creating the likes of Scarlett Moynihan and Lord Justice Sir Thomas Penycate. The marvellous feedback I’ve received about them has been brilliant and greatly appreciated.
Jude & Bliss also went on a virtual book blog tour last year, and this has attracted many new readers to my work.
Knaphill (All in One Place)
All sold out... Knaphill (All in One Place)
All sold out... Knaphill (All in One Place)
In 2012 I published a 64-page short history of Knaphill, where I live. It brought together all the pieces of local history from the area, some of which had already been recorded elsewhere but in publications appertaining to the whole of Woking. I decided Knaphill, and its rich history, deserved its own identity, so the concept of Knaphill (All in One Place) was born.
Last year, just after Christmas, believing the book had run its course, I decided to take it out of print as so much more has come to light since it was originally published. The book received new interest on Facebook in early July, including unexpected calls to reinstate it.
In response, I secured an exclusive limited edition print run from the original publisher. Unfortunately, this edition has already sold out, and no more will be printed, mainly due to cost, logistics and my desire to update its content. So please bear with me; I intend to bring out an updated version in due course.
Poetry Corner
With the new football season already upon us, it seems appropriate to mention my poem, Death of a Football Club, which was published in the 1993 football poetry anthology Verses United.
The poem, written in the wake of the demise of my beloved Aldershot in March the year before, appeared alongside the work of many famous poets, including Michael Horovitz, Wes Magee, Adrian Henri (The Mersey Sound), Tony Harrison and Attila the Stockbroker to name but a few.
The book published by Northern Arts carried a foreword by the late England football manager Bobby Robson, and an introduction by Melvyn Bragg.
Sadly, this great anthology is now out of print
Sadly, this great anthology is now out of print
(Aldershot F.C. 1926-1992)
As an old faithful
he’d been here for every game.
Sixty solid years
and then this grief
that brings a harsh ensuing wind
around the ground
as men in reluctant suits
prepare his coffin.
More proud undaunted ghosts
glide across the pitch
towards the East Bank stand.
Memories of Melia, Howarth.
A courteous shroud
hovering where the floodlights
gleamed and flickered. Memories
of Charlton, Best, the Shots one up!
Dads who came as children
with their dads
mourning their lost Saturdays
and a thousand other friends.
Reality forms its own cortege:
circumstances of guilt and suspicion,
a climate no one
wished to comprehend.
But now just as we feared
there is an end,
a bitter tear that reaches from the heart
at this strange funeral.
A moment
when the stillness is complete
and all that’s left
are memories.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter. In the next issue, I will be talking about my 2nd novel, Fly Back and Purify, which was published in 2017 and highlighting the books of Lelita Baldock, JRC Cox and Greg Freeman, who joined me for the recent book signing in Woking.
All Good Things!
Fluke's Cradle: Out Now!
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Mal Foster
Mal Foster

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