Press & Media

Novels by Mal Foster

Graphic: Courtesy - Steve Wheeler

Since I completed my first novel 'The Asylum Soul' in 2015, I have been fortunate enough to have had my books featured in a number of newspapers, magazines and on local radio. Granted, my novels may fall short of appearing in such titles as the Times Literary Supplement et al, but many aspiring authors don’t, for various reasons even get this level of exposure. I would like to thank Tina Jackson, Rob Searle, Beth Woodger, Jon Andrews, Jackie Whitley and Zahir Ahmed for kindly assisting me in my quest to get my books noticed.

Writing Magazine - An Invisible Nemesis

August - 2019

"Having just completed my third novel, 'An Invisible Nemesis' I think now is the perfect time to look back and reflect. Indeed, if someone had said to me just five short years ago that I would sit down and write a novel, I would have politely laughed at such a wild remark," says author Mal Foster.

"Fortunately, despite my early reservations, writing, publishing and then finally promoting my books has been an engaging and enjoyable experience which despite a few minor knock-backs has given me the confidence to carry on writing and ultimately produce my latest work. 

The concept for 'An Invisible Nemesis' remained on the back-burner for quite a while as I concentrated on other aspects of my writing. My first novel, 'The Asylum Soul' is an historical tale of incarceration set in 1929 while my second offering, 'Fly Back and Purify' is a paranormal drama set around a mysterious incident at a railway station in 1994. 

Set predominately in present day Malta, well, Gozo to be precise, my latest novel is a story of conspiracy and murder. My priority was to write something completely different to what I had done before. I also wanted to write a novel that was against the grain, something that would separate my story out from other so-called conspiracy theories. 

Only time will tell if the story works, but early feedback from professionals who have had privy to the final draft of the manuscript prior to publication, have used such words as “addictive” and “awesome” in their reviews and that’s encouraging!" 

'An Invisible Nemesis' is available now from Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.


Reproduced: Courtesy - Writing Magazine

Gozo News - An Invisible Nemesis

Tuesday
26 November 2019

An Invisible Nemesis: A tale of conspiracy and murder on Gozo

An Invisible Nemesis – is the title of the latest novel by Mal Foster. A tale of conspiracy and murder predominately set on the island of Gozo.

It tells the story of a Princess Diana look-a-like who goes missing in Venice, Italy in 1997 just a few short weeks before the death of the real princess.

The book’s protagonist, investigative journalist Jack Compton is on the case following the brutal murder of his former colleague Suzanne Camilleri.

Mal Foster, speaking about his latest novel said, “my priority was to write something completely different to what I had done before. I also wanted to write a novel that was against the grain, something that would separate my story out from other so-called conspiracy theories.”

Mal Foster was born in Farnham, Surrey in 1956, and now lives in Knaphill near Woking.

He produced his successful debut novel, The Asylum Soul in 2015. His second book, Fly Back and Purify a paranormal drama was published in 2017. 

Also an established poet, his work has appeared worldwide in a number of anthologies, newspapers, magazines and across the internet.

A former local journalist, he is an avid fan of progressive rock music but turns to the late Canadian singer/songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen when pressed about who and what inspires him.

An Invisible Nemesis is available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon.co.uk and Lulu.com.

Note: The above article also appeared via News Malta

PERMANENT LINK 

Reproduced: Courtesy - Gozo News 

Writing Magazine - Fly Back and Purify

October - 2017

"I believe there is a valuable therapeutic benefit to be gained from writing and this is something that I have always used as a way of coping with life’s often unpredictable challenges," says author Mal Foster.

"Whilst writing my second novel 'Fly Back and Purify; I experienced one of the most beautiful periods of my life, quickly followed by perhaps my darkest ever spell.  Seeing the light of day is something we all take for granted so it’s quite ironic and unnerving that I have inadvertently chosen the backdrop of mental-health for both of my novels so far.

My first novel 'The Asylum Soul' is set in 1929 and tells the story of a young man who was incarcerated because he had a simple speech defect which these days would be easily treated through elocution therapy. 'Fly Back and Purify' is set some years later in 1994 and tells the tale of young local journalist Jack Compton.

Jack is now back at work at the ‘fictitious’ Woking Tribune following a psychological meltdown brought on by his marriage split from the wayward Kazkia. He’s then seduced by the newspaper’s editor Nancy Salem who is described as a scruffy, man-eating, chain-smoking eccentric.

Eventually Jack gets his big break after an unusual incident occurs at a local railway station and he’s sent to investigate. What happens next is a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of implosion that will either make or break him. An event so strange that even those around him cannot explain or comprehend. But with Jack... is it all just a state of mind?

Some of the key characters in the new book are the descendants of those in The Asylum Soul which connects the two titles." 

'Fly Back and Purify' came out in July 2017 in both paperback and e-book formats and is available from Amazon.co.uk or Lulu.com  

Reproduced - Courtesy : Writing Magazine

Woking News & Mail - Fly Back and Purify

Author's second novel published

Published in July Woking based author Mal Foster's new novel Fly Back and Purify is a psychological/paranormal drama set in 1994. Since its release the book has already reached No.1 in the Lulu.com general fiction chart and has attracted a number of five star reviews at Amazon.co.uk and elsewhere. 

Recovering from a severe psychological meltdown young local journalist Jack Compton returns to his job at the (fictitious) Woking Tribune after a twelve week period away. 

In July 1994 he gets his big break. An ‘unusual incident’ occurs at Brookwood railway station in leafy Surrey and he’s sent to investigate.

What happens next is a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of implosion that will either make or break him. An event so strange that even those around him cannot explain or comprehend. But with Jack... is it all just a state of mind?'

Fly Back and Purify by Mal Foster whose debut The Asylum Soul accumulated numerous five star reviews on Amazon and at Goodreads is now available from lulu.com and amazon.co.uk in both paperback and Kindle formats or can be ordered from all good shops.

Mal told the News & Mail, “Following the success of my previous novel, The Asylum Soul, I was always a little apprehensive about releasing my second title. I’ve often used writing for therapeutic reasons mainly to escape from life’s sometimes harsh realities. I needn’t have worried though; early feedback has been very kind and I’m pleased that readers are connecting with the characters in the book. To gain a No.1 chart placing is obviously a very pleasant surprise and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has bought the book so far.”

Reproduced Courtesy Woking News & Mail - July 2017 

Radio Woking - Fly Back and Purify

WE LOVE WOKING SHOW

October 2018

Mal talking about 'Fly Back and Purify' and his new writing on Radio Woking with Zahir Ahmed and Jackie Witney - LISTEN  

Writing Magazine - The Asylum Soul

January - 2016

A tale of incarceration

“In 1994 I was alerted to the fact that during redevelopment an old tin had been found in a hollow tree in the grounds of what was left of the old Brookwood Lunatic Asylum in Knaphill, near Woking Surrey. The tin contained a number of artefacts belonging to a young male patient who had resided at the asylum as far back as 1929. These included some scribbled diary notes, not enough to simply reproduce, but enough to inspire me to eventually write my debut novel, The Asylum Soul some twenty years later,” says author Mal Foster.

“I am a keen advocate of self-publishing and have been consistently enlightened and inspired by the many authors whose success stories have appeared in Writing Magazine across the years. Now was the time to follow suit I thought.

I knew I would need some assistance and I had no hesitation in going to PublishNation whose advertisement I had previously seen in Writing Magazine. They provided a quality and cost effective service. I was also aware that despite that old saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ I would need something special to draw people to the story inside the book. I went to a company called Spiffing Covers whose professional design based on an early synopsis of my book was spot on.

The most challenging part of my publishing journey so far however has been in the promotion of the book. I began looking at alternative angles and where I should send my press releases. Quite soon local radio and newspapers were in contact and I also enjoyed a very successful book launch at my local pub. As a result a bacon and leek pie which is mentioned in the novel is now on their new winter menu!

Next I feel that I need to expand my marketing approach beyond the local boundaries and this is where social media such as Facebook and Twitter has already helped. I believe the marketing of any book is on-going and that no title should have a ‘sell-by date’. After all, from my own experience, having written and then self-published my first novel I believe that I owe it to myself to continue peddling the book as best I can.”

The Asylum Soul is available in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon.co.uk and Lulu.com

Reproduced - Courtesy : Writing Magazine

Woking News & Mail - The Asylum Soul

Walking in the Land of Ghosts

Published in the Woking News & Mail on 24 September 2015, an article set around the former Brookwood Lunatic Asylum grounds entitled ‘Land of Ghosts’ by columnist Ann Tilbury mentions The Asylum Soul. My special thanks to fellow author Phil Whittick for bringing this piece to my attention. The whole article is reproduced below...

'What ancient feet trod Knaphill and Brookwood lands? Certainly in Victorian times and subsequently, the asylum at Knaphill housed in various names which feature in modern literature. Names for example that are hinted at in a book called The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale. The life story of Julie Andrews also had a relative linked to the venue.

'More recently local writer Mal Foster shed some interesting light on the life of an inmate at Brookwood Asylum in a fictionalised but well researched book entitled The Asylum Soul. 

Another book of great interest to researchers is From Asylum to Community Care - A history by those who lived and worked there by Alison Craze which was published in 2014.

In earlier times the poet John Donne resided with friends near Pyrford, doubtless explored the locality of these parts on horseback perhaps, being inspired by the topography to compile some of his renowned muse.

'Much could be said about the inmates of this establishment prior to its closure in recent times. Inmate’s hardships, worsened by spurious detention in the first place, leave something of a dark shadow still clinging to these parts. But where tragedy once reigned, the ghosts of the old grounds are now being assuaged and former asylum farm lands, transformed into country parks. The first of these was opened on the completion of recent housing development around Redding Way more than 20 years ago.

'But what currently excites nature lovers in the wake of more building on land near Sainsbury’s is the walk through now afforded by a further country park recently completed around the Bagshot Road area, and following in the wake of The Carla Homes' new builds. This new country park affords not only picturesque views but an enjoyable walk through to Brookwood railway station. No longer are pedestrians required to skirt the hard pavements and dodge busy Bagshot Road traffic - And never a ghost they will see!' 

Article by Ann Tilbury – Reproduced Courtesy Woking News & Mail   

Radio Woking - The Asylum Soul

WE LOVE WOKING SHOW

August 2015

Mal talking about his debut novel 'The Asylum Soul' and what inspired him to write on Radio Woking with Zahir Ahmed and Jackie Witney - LISTEN

Surrey Advertiser - The Asylum Soul

Patient's diary notes inspire debut novel

Diary notes written by a patient at a mental hospital in the early part of the 20th century, and secreted in a hollow tree, provide the basis for a Knaphill man’s debut novel.

The Asylum Soul, by resident Mal Foster, tells the harrowing account of Thomas Compton, whose life was ‘ripped apart’ when he was sent to Brookwood Hospital by his mother because he had a speech defect. Mr Foster said: “There is some horror in it, some happier parts and a little bit of spicy stuff as well.  

“There is some fact and fiction, because some of the diary notes were missing and you couldn’t read all of it. Essentially, though somewhere between the lines and within the surviving script, there was a unique and harrowing story waiting to be told.”

It was more than two decades ago that a tree surgeon discovered a rusty old tin containing the diary entries of the 23-year-old patient while clearing part of the former Brookwood Hospital grounds during the redevelopment in 1994. Contained in the tin, there was a lock of red hair, a dictionary and most importantly, some leather bound books filled with diary notes of Mr Compton, who resided at the asylum as far back as 1929.

Upon the discovery, the tree surgeon handed it to his foreman, who returned it to its rightful owners in Camberley.

Mr Foster said: “I have been sitting on the story for years and I retired last year, so I thought now is the time to write it.

“I’ve never written a novel, let alone a 330 page-long novel. I took a writing crash course, which also taught me how to proof read – I’m not saying it’s flawless.”

But the Knaphill-based retiree is no stranger to writing. Between 1976 and 2014, he wrote a selection of poems, published in 2012 as Travelling with Strangers and Knaphill (All in One Place), which tell the a history of the village.

Mr Foster began writing The Asylum Soul in July last year and completed the novel in six months.“I’m excited and nervous for people to read it,” Mr Foster said. “My former wife has read it and she has been a big help. I have actually had quite a lot of interest from people saying they can’t wait to read it.”

“I knew there would be quite a lot of people interested in it because I haven’t stopped talking about it,” he added.

The paperback is available from www.lulu.com and www.amazon.co.uk 

Brookwood News - The Asylum Soul

Our attention has been drawn to The Asylum Soul, a debut novel by local author, Mal Foster, which is available in paperback and on Kindle.

Lunatic asylums were an inescapable hangover of Victorian Britain and they harnessed a certain stigma borne from an environment of fear and shame as well as the great unknown. For many families the asylum system helped create their darkest 'skeletons', and for Thomas (Tommy) Compton, it was unforgiving. In 1929 he was 23 years old when his mother had him sent to the Brookwood Lunatic Asylum in Surrey, his only ailment – a simple speech defect. Based on Tommy's own diary notes, The Asylum Soul is a disturbing account of an innocent young life ripped apart by unthinkable institutional failings, false hope and ultimate family betrayal.

Amongst the customer reviews is this one by David Pennant - ‘I bought this e-book because I live near Brookwood Hospital, where the action takes place, and have been interested in it for twenty years. It's also nice to support a local author. I did not have high expectations for the book itself in advance, to be honest. My prejudice has been shattered. I am almost halfway through, and I am finding it compulsive reading. The story is well told, and the picture that emerges of the institution is fascinating. It is easy now to rant against the former practice of locking up supposedly mentally ill people without the opportunity for appeal. In reality, there must have been good sides as well as bad to life there. I ­ find the treatment of the day to day running of the place utterly convincing. I am also intrigued to discover how the story ends. The account is a diary of an inmate, from 1929 onwards. He shares his thoughts and feelings as well as recounting the events of each day. I ­ find I care what happens to him – always the mark of a good read, to my mind.'

'I also enjoy the ambiguity in the title: is this a book about an individual, or is it a book about the soul of the hospital? You don't need to have an interest in mental health to enjoy this book. I would commend it to anybody interested in human relationships of any kind. The language used is straightforward making for easy reading. Enjoy!'

May - 2017

Writing Magazine - The Asylum Soul #2

October 2016

Who wrote all the pie?

"Many of us see self-publishing as the most obvious route to getting our work in print but what happens after that? How do we market our books?" Asks author Mal Foster. 

"In the lead up to the publication of my debut novel The Asylum Soul and given that much of its content could be of local interest, I was more than aware of the need to promote the book on a local platform. A follow-up article in my local newspaper picks up on the Knaphill Pie, an old local recipe which is mentioned in the novel and is a typical example of the marketing avenues that I have recently been exploring. The result, a renewed interest in the book and increased sales!"

The Surrey Advertiser reported that... ‘Literature is being brought to life and put on the menu at a Knaphill pub thanks to a collaboration with an author in the village. A pie recipe featured in a book... Mal Foster published his debut novel, The Asylum Soul, in May and is thrilled with its five-star reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. Readers have praised the writer for his work and said that they can really identify with the fictitious characters and appreciate the diary format of the novel.’

The book tells the story of twenty-three year old Tommy Compton who was incarcerated at the Brookwood Lunatic Asylum in 1929. The asylum was closed in 1994.

The actual recipe for the Knaphill Pie came from a family in Queens Road, Knaphill, near Woking in Surrey whilst I was researching material for the novel. They lent me some old books and there were some loose leaf pieces of paper inside and one fell out with the recipe on. There was a list of ingredients, bacon, leek, cheese, garlic and mashed potato, so all I had to do was to work out how to make the pie.’

In the book the bacon comes from pigs slaughtered in the grounds of the old asylum. I made a couple of my own pies at home and then the landlady at the pub put her own take on it.

The landlady at The Crown, Sarah Nubeebuckus-Jones who has read the book had a conversation with regulars in the pub about the pie. She then decided to make a version of it and now it’s top of the list on the pub’s main menu.

My advice to everyone is to interrogate their book’s subject matter, try not to overlook the finer points; there could be something there which might just warrant that extra publicity.


Reproduced - Courtesy : Writing Magazine

Surrey Advertiser - The Asylum Soul #2

Pie offers a slice of history...

Literature is being brought to life and put on the menu at a Knaphill pub thanks to a collaboration with an author in the village. A pie recipe featured in a book by Knaphill man Mal Foster and now the words are literally jumping off the page and into punter’s hungry stomachs after staff at The Crown decided to recreate the Knaphill Pie for customers to enjoy.

Mr Foster published his debut novel, The Asylum Soul, in May this year and is thrilled with its five-star reviews on Amazon. Readers have praised the writer for his work and said that they can really identify with the fictitious characters and appreciate the diary format of the novel.

It follows the tale of Thomas Compton, who was a patient at Brookwood Hospital as far back as 1929. The book is loosely based on diary notes, which were discovered in leather-bound books in 1994 during redevelopment works at the hospital site. Thomas, who works on the pig farm at the hospital, is invited to dinner by the head pig farmer’s wife who cooks up the Knaphill Pie.

Mr Foster, 58, who has also had poems published, said: ‘The actual recipe for Knaphill Pie came from a family in Queens Road, Knaphill. They lent me some old books and there were some loose leaf pieces of paper inside and one fell out with the recipe on. All we had was a list of ingredients, bacon, leek, cheese, garlic and mashed potato, so we had to work out how to make the pie.

In the book the bacon comes from pigs slaughtered in the grounds of Brookwood Hospital. I made a couple of my own pies at home and then Sarah at the pub put her own take on it.’

As autumn begins the Knaphill Pie has been added to the array of dishes available at The Crown in Knaphill’s High Street. Its ham hock, leek and cider recipe with a cheesy mash topping is the perfect choice for a cosy filling meal.

Pub owner Sarah Nubeebuckus-Jones told the Woking Advertiser ‘I have read the book and then there was a conversation in the pub about Knaphill Pie. One evening I just said that I would make a version of it and then it went from there and people asked if it would be on the menu. I thought that it was coming into autumn so we could put it on the menu. Once I made my first batch I asked Mal to try it and he said it was spot on.’

And the pie is definitely a popular choice for diners as the second batch has already sold out and more will be made. Mrs Nubeebuckus-Jones added: ‘It is nice to have a dish with a story. People ask about the Knaphill Pie and we can tell them the story behind it.’

Article by Beth Woodger - October 2016

Radio Wey - The Asylum Soul

BREAKFAST WITH JON ANDREWS

July 2015

Mal talking about his debut novel 'The Asylum Soul' and what inspired him to write on Radio Wey with Jon Andrews - LISTEN