Jude & Bliss : Woking News & Mail

Promo Shot : Jude & Bliss

Mal’s fourth novel inspired by a real-life story

A Knaphill author’s latest book, Jude & Bliss has received glowing reviews... “I’ve been sitting on the concept of writing Jude & Bliss since the summer of 1994 when I first discovered the real-life tale of a young girl from Surrey who was tragically wronged by her employer towards the end of the 19th century,” Mal said, “It somehow stuck, so much so that this was the novel, I was always going to write.”

Readers have certainly taken to the story, which has attracted a series of five-star reviews on Amazon. “The feedback has been brilliant,” Mal added.

Jude & Bliss relates to the experience of Jude Rogers, a wide-eyed but vulnerable 16-year-old who in 1896, secures a position in domestic service at a large house in Half Moon Street, near Piccadilly, in London. After a brief settling-in period, she quickly realises everything is not as it seems.

“In the synopsis, I did say that the story is not for the faint-hearted, but that’s really because of the descriptions of the autopsy,” Mal said.  “It is not a spoiler to say that there is a death in the book.”

“I spent a lot of time reading through reports of Victorian autopsies, and they were so graphic, I had to tone them down for the book. Research is important to me, and I enjoy that part of the process.”

Mal has drawn widely on local events and locations for his previous novels, including Brookwood Hospital, for his first novel, The Asylum Soul, published in 2015.

Previously, he had concentrated on poetry. A talent he had discovered before having to leave school at 15 to support his single mother and younger brother.

He soon had his poetry published, although the greatest accolade came in 2007 when his most widely read poem, The Wedding, was published in the Australian Secondary School’s anthology Poetry Unlocked, which was part of the country’s English Literature exam curriculum for that year.  

“I always thought that was quite amusing, considering I left school without any formal qualifications,” Mal said.

14 January 2021 (Reproduced: Courtesy Woking News & Mail)  

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An Invisible Nemesis : Gozo News

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

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Reproduced: Courtesy - Gozo News 

Fly Back and Purify : Woking News & Mail

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 

The Asylum Soul : Woking News & Mail

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   

The Asylum Soul : Surrey Advertiser

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 

The Asylum Soul : Surrey Advertiser #2

Mal with pub landlady, Sarah Nubeebuckus-Jones

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