Fluke's Cradle : Knaphill Magazine

When Knaphill author, Mal Foster completed his first book, The Asylum Soul, he thought the publication of his acclaimed historical novel would be a once in a lifetime experience. “I was really happy with just that,” he says.  Seven years later, he has just released his fifth title, Fluke’s Cradle, which tells the story of a local man who wakes up from a coma, believing he is the person he was in a previous life. Only published in April by Publish Nation, it has already received numerous five-star reviews and has been labelled as Mal’s best writing yet. 

Eddie Noble had always wondered who his father was. His mother had died shortly after childbirth, and those shielding him from life’s future challenges were not always forthcoming with any answers.

Following a mysterious medical episode whilst searching for his mother’s grave, Eddie becomes increasingly convinced he is the person he was in a previous life. He then undergoes an enforced period of regression therapy to aid his rehabilitation. 

Enter Marianne Borg, a beautiful psychic medium, Nathaniel Bream, a quirky psychiatric paranormal research specialist, and Professor Allan, a mental health scientist who all take a particular interest in Eddie’s plight.  

Mal also hosts the Woking Writes book blog which helps promote the work of other local writers as well as running low-key ‘Writing as Therapy’ sessions in the area for people with mental health issues.

‘Fluke’s Cradle’, is available in ebook, paperback, and hardback versions from Amazon.co.uk. The paperback is also stocked at the Lionsheart bookshop in Commercial Way, Woking.

Article Courtesy:  Sue Stocker, My Knaphill (June 2022)

Jude & Bliss : Writing Magazine

March 2021

"Some authors will tell you, there is no better feeling than receiving the proof copy of a new novel, particularly during these challenging times when many people are struggling to keep their mental health, and indeed their lives and livelihoods intact," says author Mal Foster. 

"When the proof copy of my fourth book, Jude & Bliss was delivered, it was with a sense of pride and fulfilment that I gleefully accepted it from a rather bemused postman who would never have understood the reason for my excitement. 

I’d been sitting on the concept of writing Jude & Bliss ever since the summer of 1994 when I first discovered the harrowing account of a young girl from Surrey who had travelled to London towards the end of the 19th century to enter domestic service. The story somehow stuck and I was inspired. This was the Victorian tragedy I knew I was always going to write… "

In 1896, Jude Rogers, a wide-eyed but vulnerable sixteen-year-old, from Woking, Surrey, secures a position as a domestic servant at a large terraced house in Half Moon Street, near London's Piccadilly. Following a brief settling-in period, she quickly realises everything is not quite as it seems. As time moves ruthlessly forward, what happens next is almost beyond comprehension. Jude finds herself in the most impossible of situations and finally succumbs to the pure evil dealt out by her employer. "I should add, this book is not for the faint-hearted."

"When meeting readers, book-bloggers, and indeed fellow authors, the conversation often leads to a character in one of my novels. In all my books, the characters are important to me and I like to introduce them as identifiable and colourful souls without being too over descriptive. Fortunately, the feedback is usually positive, and this makes the whole writing and publishing experience worthwhile. Proof, if needed, amidst all this gloom of contagion, global stress and uncertainty, there is a certain therapy in writing."

Jude & Bliss is available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon and from www.malfoster.co.uk

Reproduced - Courtesy: Writing Magazine  

Jude & Bliss : R&A (Round & About) #2

Woking & Chobham edition R&A magazine, February 2021

A good story can take root in the most unusual way. And the seed for Mal Foster’s latest book was planted back in 1994, thanks to the lady running a Surrey Museum stand at the annual Bisley Fayre. 

“It was a very informed conversation about this young local girl who was tragically wronged by her employer towards the end of the 19th century,” Mal tells me. “The story stuck, so much so that this was the novel I always going to write.” 

Jude & Bliss is Mal’s fourth novel, inspired by this real-life tragedy which ultimately contributed for calls of national reform to help protect young women and girls working in domestic service. 

“The death of Emily Jane Popejoy in 1896 was chilling in itself,” adds Mal. “It’s a sad tale.” 

Jude & Bliss is set In 1896 and tells the story of Jude Rogers, a wide-eyed but vulnerable 16-yearold who secures a position as a domestic servant at a large terraced house in Half Moon Street, near London’s Piccadilly. 

Following a brief settling-in period, she quickly realises everything is not quite as it seems. Jude finds herself in the most impossible of situations and finally succumbs to the pure evil dealt out by her employer... This book is not for the fainthearted! 

Who is Mal’s favourite author? “Leonard Cohen. I have always been enthralled by his novel The Favourite Game which I have read more than once." 

What advice would Mal give anyone reading this who wants to write their own book? “If you have an idea, stick with it and persevere,” he advises, “Become your own protagonist as if you were playing that person on stage or in a film. You will find your other characters will form themselves and help build the very essence of your book.” 

An established and award-winning poet and former local journalist, Mal was born in 1956 and has lived in Woking since the late 1980s. He loves the area’s rich history, adding: “When you dig deep, you will find it fascinating... My favourite haunt has to be the Garibaldi pub in Knaphill. Always good food and drink and excellent service.” 

Jude & Bliss is available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon.co.uk. and other online outlets. It can also be ordered from all good bookshops. ISBN 979-8550129265. 

For more information about Mal & his other books, please visit malfoster.co.uk

Reproduced: Courtesy Liz Nicholls, Round & About Magazine


Jude & Bliss : R&A (Round & About)

Sometimes a true crime, especially one set within earshot of our own neighbourhood really stays with you. That’s what happened to Woking author, Mal Foster whose fourth novel 'Jude & Bliss' is out now. Set towards the end of the Victorian era, it tells of a wide-eyed 16-year-old Jude Rogers who secures a position as a domestic servant at a large terraced house in Half Moon Street, near London’s Piccadilly. “I’ve been sitting on the concept of this book since the summer of 1994 when I first discovered the real-life story,” he tells me. “The story stuck, so this was the novel I was always going to write.” Watch this space for a longer article in a future edition.

Above taken from Editorial by Liz Nicholls, January 2021

Jude & Bliss : Knaphill Magazine

Knaphill based author Mal Foster has just completed his fourth book ‘Jude & Bliss’ which is scheduled for publication at the end of November. Readers may remember his debut novel, ‘The Asylum Soul’ set at Brookwood Hospital which has gone on to receive many accolades including scores of five-star ratings and reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and elsewhere. It has also been a big hit with local readers on social media, with Mal hoping his new historical novel will do the same. 

In a recent interview on Radio Woking’s Breakfast with Lara Show, Mal shared his hopes for the new book, however, with his feet firmly on the ground, he has no illusions. “If I were in this for the money, I would be extremely disappointed. However, if just a few people read and enjoy my work, then the whole journey through to publication has been worth it,” he said.  

‘Jude & Bliss’ is set towards the end of the Victorian era and tells the heartbreaking story of a young girl who lived in Knaphill. In 1896, Jude Rogers, a wide-eyed but vulnerable sixteen-year-old, secures a position as a domestic servant at a large terraced house in Half Moon Street, near London's Piccadilly. Following a brief settling-in period, she quickly realises everything is not quite as it seems. As time moves ruthlessly forward, what happens next is almost beyond comprehension. Jude finds herself in the most impossible of situations and finally succumbs to the pure evil dealt out by her employer.

Mal has lived at his present address in Knaphill since 1993, although his ties with the village go back much further. His other novels are ‘Fly Back and Purify’ and ‘An Invisible Nemesis’.

Mal’s books can be found for sale worldwide on Amazon and from many other outlets across the internet. You can also find out more about his work from his website at www.malfoster.co.uk

Reproduced courtesy: Sue Stocker, My Knaphill village magazine - November 2020


An Invisible Nemesis : Writing Magazine

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 a 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

Fly Back and Purify : Writing Magazine

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

The Asylum Soul : Writing Magazine

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 ongoing 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

The Asylum Soul : Brookwood Magazine

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

The Asylum Soul : Writing Magazine #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