Forge Newsletter - Tor/Forge Blog

Forge’s Summer 2024 Preview!

Summer is finally here! With it comes bright, sunny days and lots of time to relax by the pool, at the beach, or in the comfort of the AC! If you’re looking to take a vacation from your daily stressors by getting lost in gripping books that’ll keep you on the edge of your (beach) chair, we’ve definitely got you covered like sunscreen. Catch the wave of all these incredible books coming from Forge this summer!

Masquerade by O.O. Sangoyomi


Set in a wonderfully reimagined 15th century West Africa, Masquerade is a dazzling, lyrical tale exploring the true cost of one woman’s fight for freedom and self-discovery, and the lengths she’ll go to secure her future.

Coming 7.2.24!

Desperation Reef by T. Jefferson Parker

Desperation Reef

In this high-stakes thriller by three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker, (“A marvel…hits the high-water mark for crime fiction every time out.” —Gregg Hurwitz), a big wave surfer and her sons compete in the same contest that killed her husband many years before.

Coming 7.16.24!

A Certain Kind of Starlight by Heather Webber

A Certain Kind of Starlight

In the face of hardship, two women learn how to rise up again under the bright side of the stars in A Certain Kind of Starlight, the next book from USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber, “the queen of magical small-town charm” (Amy E. Reichert)

Coming 7.23.24!

A Farewell to Arfs by Spencer Quinn

A Farewell to Arfs

Spencer Quinn’s A Farewell to Arfs is a return to the adventurous New York Times and USA Today bestselling series that Stephen King calls “without a doubt the most original mystery series currently available.”

Coming 8.6.24!

Passion for the Heist by K’wan

Passion for the Heist

Two broken souls find themselves inescapably drawn into each other’s orbits, and begin their journey of finding lives outside the ones of poverty and sorrow that their worlds had condemned them to. But when shadows from both their pasts threaten their happiness, Passion and Pain set out on an adventure that would make them hunted by law enforcement and celebrated by the underworld. What initially starts out as a mission of vindication quickly turns into a fight for survival.

Coming 8.27.24!

And here are some great books coming out in paperback!

At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities by Heather Webber

At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities

From the USA Today bestselling author of In the Middle of Hickory Lane comes Heather Webber’s next enchanting novel, At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities! A mysterious letter. An offer taken. And the chance to move forward.

Coming 7.2.24!

Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge by Spencer Quinn

Mrs. Plansky's Revenge

Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge is bestselling author Spencer Quinn’s first novel in a new series since the meteoric launch of Chet and Bernie–introducing the irresistible and unforgettable Mrs. Plansky, in a story perfect for book clubs and commercial fiction readers.

Coming 7.9.24! 

Reliquary by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child


From #1 New York Times bestselling authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child comes the second spine-chilling novel featuring Special Agent Pendergast.

Coming 7.23.24!

One Wrong Word by Hank Phillippi Ryan

One Wrong Word

A heart-racing psychological thriller from USA Today bestselling and multiple award-winning author, Hank Phillippi Ryan.Gossip. Lies. Rumors. Words like that can hurt you. And Arden knows the reality. Sometimes one wrong word can kill.

Coming 8.6.24!

A Winter’s Rime by Carol Dunbar

A Winter's Rime

A harrowing and emotional novel set in rural Wisconsin—A Winter’s Rime explores the impact of generational trauma, and one woman’s journey to find peace and healing from the violence of her past.

Coming 8.13.24!

Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor by Patrick Taylor

Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor

The beloved Irish Country series continues in Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor, an enchanting novel by New York Times, USA Today, and Globe and Mail bestselling author Patrick Taylor.

Coming 8.13.24!


Letter by W. Bruce Cameron, Author of Love, Clancy

Love, ClancyFrom the internationally bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Way Home comes Love, Clancy: Diary of a Good Dog, a deeply moving story with a brand-new cast of characters, including one very good dog.

You’ve probably never met someone like Clancy. He’s keeping a diary, he’s falling in love, there are rivals for his affections, he lives with his best friend and his worst enemy – even taken together, these factors are maybe not that unusual, except that Clancy is a dog. His point of view is therefore perhaps…different.

Told in Cameron’s signature style, a tremendous cast of wonderful characters find themselves jointly and separately navigating the challenges of life, of love, and…other pets, including Clancy’s “worst enemy” – one very disdainful cat. It’s a lot to keep track of, especially when things start to spin hilariously out of control, but fortunately, we’ve got the observations of Clancy, a very good dog, who shares a valuable perspective on what is really important.

Hi, it’s me, Clancy.

My diary pages are included in the new novel, Love, Clancy, which has W. Bruce Cameron’s name as the author even though I wrote it and deserve the credit (though I would settle for chicken treats). Let me ask, do you have any idea how hard it is for a dog to keep a diary? I mean, every time I get started someone sends me an email. (I’m a sucker for puppy videos.) And the computer mouse—a real mouse would be more helpful.

Here’s another question: what’s the deal with cats? I can see keeping one in a tree or under a car or something, but letting it live in the house like it’s a dog? Feeding it lobster and fish and foie gras while I get dog food? You have every right to be outraged about this.

I say Bruce is a # 1 New York Times bestselling author because of dogs. People don’t buy a book with a dog on the cover because of the author photo in the back, for heaven’s sake. They buy it because they want to know what dogs are thinking about, which is, okay, mostly bacon but sometimes we’re pondering far more weighty matters, such as why there are doors on the refrigerator. Maybe this would make sense if people stored their cats in there, but otherwise, why not take the door off for easier canine access? You know I’m right about this.

Am I obsessed a little about cats? Well just read Love, Clancy and you’ll discover just how justified my exasperation is. I love my person very much but he is afflicted with house cat syndrome. So part of what happens in the novel is that I come up with several brilliant ideas on how to eliminate the annoying feline from both of our lives. I know you’re interested in that!

If you’re a cat person, well, I urge you to seek help.

You’re going to love this book!



Click below to pre-order your copy of Love, Clancy, coming January 3rd, 2023!

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The Zen of Horses

Image Place holder  of - 8 Written by Orly Konig

I learned at a young age that, unlike people, horses don’t judge. They don’t care what you look like or how you talk. They care about how you treat them and how you behave around them. So when I wanted to write a story about fitting in and finding yourself, the setting was obvious – it had to revolve around horses.

When you’re working with a horse, you have to be present in the moment. If you’re nervous, they feel it and get tense. If you’re distracted, they notice and will happily deposit you in the dirt. Communication is through your hands, your voice, your body. For that period of time, it’s only you and him.

Years ago, after long days at work and a crazy commute around the Washington, DC beltway, I’d get home frazzled and cranky. My husband would take one look at me and announce, “You need to go to the barn.” Within moments of getting there, I’d become a different person, calm and centered.

One of the characters in The Distance Home is an ex-marine battling the ghosts of active duty. He explains his involvement with the therapeutic riding program that is an instrumental part of the book: “A horse doesn’t judge what you’ve done wrong. They give you the opportunity to do right. Here, it doesn’t matter who I was. Michael the marine doesn’t exist. I can’t think about those days. If I do, Taco reminds me to stop. Through him I can feel my tension and I can find my peace.”

Another young character in the book is an 11-year old cancer patient. He explains to Emma, the main character in the book: “It’s the only time I’m not a cancer patient. At school, kids are weirded out by me. They treat me like I’m contagious. At home, my parents are terrified of me. They treat me like I’m going to break. I can’t play soccer anymore because I’m too weak. I can’t even walk my dog alone because he’s big and he pulls when he sees a squirrel or bunny. … But here I’m just a kid on a horse. Yeah, I’m in a special program and all, but the horses don’t know that. They don’t treat me any different than they do Caitlin or you.”

Then there’s Emma who’s struggling to put together the pieces of a life that’s crumbled around her. She returns to the stable where she found her confidence as a young girl and discovers that the magic still works, sixteen years later. With the help of her equine friends and re-immersing herself in helping with the therapeutic program, she rediscovers her happiness.

It’s been a few years since I’ve spent regular amounts of time at a stable (we’ll blame it on available time and money) but through writing the horse scenes in this book, I could almost feel the magic seeping through the pages.

Horses force you to put aside the frenzy, the frustration, the disappointments of life. They require you to be in the moment, to focus on the here-and-now, something many of us forget to do. For people with emotional or physical disabilities, therapeutic riding provides opportunities to learn new communication skills, increased confidence, and self-esteem. Regardless of what draws you to horses, it’s hard to deny the healing magic in the unique relationship between human and horse.

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Follow Orly Konig on Twitter, on Facebook, and on her website.


Interview with Jenni L. Walsh, author of Becoming Bonnie

Poster Placeholder of - 38Becoming Bonnie is the story of Bonnelyn Parker, a young woman who has her whole life ahead of her – until she meets the young Clyde Barrow. We asked Jenni L. Walsh some questions about her upcoming book about half of the famous criminal duo.

Will you tell us a little about Becoming Bonnie and what inspired you to write it?

Becoming Bonnie is the story of how Bonnie becomes the Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde. The novel begins with her as Bonnelyn, a fictional name I dreamed up to depict her as a wholesome, church-going gal. By the novel’s end, she’s Bonnie, half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo.

That transformation is the crux of the story, taking a young girl who was promised the American dream but who was instead given the Great Depression. The circumstances, hurdles, and obstacles she faces all lead to the pinnacle moment where she falls for a convicted felon—and turns to crime herself.

Interestingly enough, this story isn’t the one I first sought to tell. Driven by my desire to write the story of an iconic figure, I first began writing my own version of Bonnie and Clyde’s 1930s crime spree. I quickly put on the brakes, realizing I first needed readers to understand who Bonnie really was. What made her tick? What was her background? Why was she so loyal to Clyde Barrow? So I put what I’d written aside, hoping to one day use it in a sequel, and started over, going back five years to tell Bonnie Parker’s origin story, which also allowed me to drop Bonnie into a 1920s speakeasy in the middle of a foxtrot. Now that was a good time.

What did you enjoy most about writing it, and what was most challenging?

Both these questions can be answered with the same answer: Not much about Bonnie Parker’s background is known.

Sure, we know some things about Bonnie’s upbringing and her passions in life, along with how she met Clyde Barrow, but ultimately, I had a lot of leeway to tell the story I wanted to tell. I took what realities I could find, though one person’s account often contradicted with another’s first-hand anecdote, and I used those ‘truths’ as guideposts. Then I took the reader from point A to point B with whatever my imagination dreamed up. This was a lot of fun, but being Bonnie Parker is an actual person, I also had fears of misrepresenting her—and that I’d get called out for it. Even though Becoming Bonnie is fictional, I want those familiar with her real-life story to feel satisfied with my spin on it.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned while researching Becoming Bonnie?

Along with Bonnie’s background, I also dove into Clyde’s. While his violent and criminal actions are inexcusable, it was fascinating to see how he got to a place where crime was his answer, and maybe, just maybe, how his story would’ve gone differently if life wouldn’t zigged instead of zagged. I don’t want to go into too much detail, as my book touches upon these elements, but as a boy Clyde got a sickness that took some of his hearing. In his teens, he tried to apply to the Navy, however he received a medical rejection. But what if he hadn’t? What if Clyde joined the Navy? Would it have been the structure he needed? Would it have been a way for him to get what he wanted out of life? And ultimately, would he ever have met Bonnie Parker? You’ll see in Becoming Bonnie, that Bonnie has a very large role in Clyde becoming who he is, as well.

What’s your favorite word?

So, there’s one word I had to use when I set my book in the 1920s. Heebie-jeebies.

That word, or maybe its a phrase, has stuck with me for nearly twenty-two years, ever since witnessing this adorable back and forth on Boy Meets World:

Topanga: Why are you looking at me like that?
Cory: I will always look at you like this.
Topanga: Well, stop.
Cory: Why?
Topanga: Because you’re giving me the heebie-jeebies.
Cory: Good.

What’s the first book you remember loving?

One of the first books I bought for my kids because of a vague remembrance was Are You My Mother? My own mom said she used to read it nonstop to me when I was a youngster.

What’s your favorite method of procrastination?

Besides the obvious answer of social media, I procrastinate so much by rereading what I’ve already written, instead of writing brand new words and continuing my story. I’m sure there are worse forms of procrastination out there, but it eats up huge chunks of time, when I already have such small windows of time to write, thanks to my very demanding but very cute one-year-old and three-year-old.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently busy writing the sequel to Becoming Bonnie called Being Bonnie. I’m excited to get the chance to write the story I first set out to tell, and to continue Bonnie and Clyde’s story into the 1930s. The contrast of the settings from one book to the other has been a fun challenge to tackle, along with how I’m going to bring Bonnie’s story to an end.

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Follow Jenni L. Walsh on Twitter, on Facebook, and on her website.


Interview with Sherri Smith, Author of Follow Me Down

Follow Me Down by Sherri SmithMia Haas has built her life far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she is forced to return home. Back to the people she left behind, the person she used to be, and the secrets she thought she’d buried.

We sat down with Sherri Smith to talk about recent reads, writing rituals, and how her research made some pharmacists a little suspicious. Get a preview of the first chapter here!

Will you tell us a little about Follow Me Down and what inspired you to write it?

Follow Me Down is about a woman forced to return to her hometown after learning that her twin brother has disappeared the same day the body of his high school student is pulled from the river.

I was inspired to write it, because it was the sort of book I love to read. It’s full of small town secrets, a troubled main character, guilt, addiction and the complexities of sibling relationships.

What kind of research did you do for Follow Me Down?

I did learn a great deal about different prescription drugs and their varied effects on the body. I also figured out that pharmacists find you to be pretty sketchy when you keep asking about the sort of pills that make an appearance in Follow Me Down.

What’s your favorite word?

I am not sure I have a favorite word, more so word combinations like, ‘happy hour’ or ‘nap time’ or ‘buy one get one.’ All of those work for me.

Which books are currently in your to-read pile?

I have a never-ending tower of books. Right now I am reading Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinsborough (I am halfway through and can’t tell where it’s going.) I am reading my first Peter Swanson, Her Every Fear, and I can’t wait to read his other books. I am also just finished reading While They Slept by Kathryn Harrison, a true-crime story about a son who murdered his parents and younger sister. It’s a brilliant and insightful book on how this sort of heartbreaking tragedy can unfold.

What’s the first book you remember reading?

By grade 5, I was reading my mom’s books: Danielle Steele, Mary Higgins Clark, Jackie Collins (should not have been reading Jackie Collins at that age,) Sidney Sheldon. I loved being able to access these sophisticated adult worlds so different from own, and I think this initiated me into being a voracious reader.

What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

The loose hours. Working in my PJ’s. Being home with my children. Leading a double life, because that’s what writing can feel like when you get sucked into the lives you’re creating.

If you could only recommend one book, what would it be?

I would recommend picking out a book that makes you uncomfortable, for whatever reason, at least twice a year. Don’t play it safe when it comes to reading.

What’s your favorite method of procrastination?

With two small children I am no longer allowed the luxury of procrastination, which is too bad because I do think it’s a useful tool when it comes to writing. Some of my best ideas have come to me, when I’ve been doing anything but sitting in front of my computer.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Coffee and sitting.

What’s next for you?

I am currently writing another suspense novel. I don’t want to say too much about it at this point other than it takes place at a wellness retreat, involves psychotropic tea and murder.

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You can find Sherri Smith on Twitter (@SL_Smith), Facebook, or visit her website.


Finding Inspiration Inside a NYC Courthouse

Poster Placeholder of - 92Written by Kevin Egan

A Shattered Circle is my third thriller set in the New York County Courthouse in lower Manhattan. The iconic courthouse is a magnet not only for lawyers and litigants but also for tourists and movie production crews. In my two previous novels, the courthouse functioned as a character. Midnight focused on the self-contained world of a judge’s chambers. (The judge was dead, a minor fact his staff concealed for three days.) The Missing Piece featured the search for a stolen trial exhibit – a Roman urn worth $5 million – and took the reader to little-known corners of the complex building.

A Shattered Circle also explores the interior design of the courthouse, from the private assignations in a hidden room at the bottom of a back stairwell to the very public grand rotunda and its brilliant History of the Law mural arching 75 feet above the marble floor. But deep in its beating heart, A Shattered Circle is the story of a marriage.

The married couple are Bill and Barbara Lonergan. Bill is a judge and Barbara was his secretary before becoming his wife. Bill is a kind of courthouse raconteur – a story-teller, a jokester, the perfect hale-fellow-well-met. But after falling off a ladder, he has shown signs of dementia, and Barbara has drawn a protective circle around him to preserve his health, his reputation, and his career. Though the new Bill is more quiet and remote, he still shows flashes of his garrulous personality. Though he no longer confronts lawyers directly, he still issues rulings with the help, and sometimes the prodding, of his law clerk. The circle seems to be holding the outside world at bay, but as the Lonergans’ story opens, outside forces are massing. A disgruntled litigant files a judicial complaint, which could lead to a hearing that will expose Bill’s mental decline. A private detective investigating the murder of a lawyer in upstate New York badgers chambers for an audience with Bill. And a court officer, looking into a 25 year old courthouse murder as a favor to a friend, begins to ask Barbara uncomfortable questions.

I have spent most of my court career as a law clerk for two different judges. Working for a judge is a particular kind of job because you essentially meld your intellect, your legal philosophy, sometimes even your personality with those of the judge. The judge’s friends become your friends. The judge’s enemies become, well, not exactly your enemies but people you might rather avoid. And if the judge is married – and both of my judges had exceptionally solid marriages – you treat the spouse with the utmost respect and deference.

My two judges, and their spouses, became the models for the Lonergans. Not factual models; neither judge was a bird-watcher or had been, even briefly, a professional basketball player. But both spouses were exceedingly devoted and ferociously protective.

In Barbara, I needed to create a spouse who was even more devoted and more protective than her two real-life analogs. After Bill’s fall, she not only builds the protective circle but also manages every aspect of his life. It is exhausting work, even when doing something as mundane as taking a midday walk near the courthouse. As she reflects:

“She constantly worried about what he might do, what he might say, who they might encounter at an inconvenient moment. She constantly needed to think ahead, wargame the most routine activities to foresee any potential problem.”

Barbara believes that she can handle the private investigator simply by ignoring him. She believes she can prepare Bill for his disciplinary hearing by hiring a lawyer and arranging for cutting-edge therapy that will temporarily mask his dementia. To repel the inquisitive court officer, she drops her role as judge’s secretary and summons the high dudgeon of a judge’s wife. But ultimately, the protective circle shatters, and it shatters because of secrets the two spouses have kept from each other – secrets Bill cannot remember and secrets Barbara thought she had buried.

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Find Kevin Egan on his website.


Bringing Lincoln and His White House to Life

Place holder  of - 81 Written by Burt Solomon

I’m basically a nonfiction guy, a journalist by trade. The Murder of Willie Lincoln is my first novel. Before this, I wrote three nonfiction books about U.S. history—one about baseball in the 1890s and two about Washington in the 1900s. And in researching and writing each one, there has come a moment when the time and place I’m writing about come alive in my head. And therefore—if I do my job right—in the reader’s.

For this book, the magical moment happened at the Old Soldiers’ Home in Washington, where Lincoln spent a lot of his summers. I have a couple of scenes set there, including a séance, so one day I was climbing the stairs to the second floor, where Tad, the surviving son, is stashed for a while in my story. I asked the guide about the banister. Yes, this was the original, and I’m thinking: Wow, Lincoln’s hands slid up and down this banister, and some of his molecules are probably still on it. That was the moment that Lincoln and my story came alive.

But these moments don’t happen by themselves, or easily, and it’s the job of the historian, and the historical novelist, to make them happen. They take a lot of work. Research.

In The Murder of Willie Lincoln, I changed a single fact—how 11-year-old Willie Lincoln died. I left almost everything else —the characters, the events of the day, even the weather in Washington City—exactly as they were. I hoped to make it as easy as possible for the reader to suspend disbelief.

Indeed, many things in Washington are still the same. The Capitol was there, though without a dome. The Washington Monument was there, though only a third of it. The White House was there, with a big greenhouse and without the West Wing. Many of the buildings were the same, and the landscape—and the political dynamics that we all know and love. Really, only the decimal points have moved.

Even so, the Washington City of 1862 smelled and felt and sounded different than it does now. I needed it to come alive, and the way to do this was just like for nonfiction—research, research, research. Reading the newspapers of the time, magazine articles, plowing through books about Washington. The trick is in the accretion of details. To get the hogs in the gutter, and the smells of the wretched canal that was really an open sewer—it’s where Constitution Avenue is now—with what an olfactory savant described as “70 separate and distinct stinks.”

Ah, Washington—literally, a swamp to be drained.

I also spent days at the National Library of Medicine’s wonderful history section, delving into the technical details about embalming—by the method that was probably used on Willie Lincoln. (I have a really gross scene about that.) And I found a medicine-slash-poison common at the time that mimicked the symptoms of typhoid fever in all but one respect. That exception, which you’d rather not read over breakfast, I’ve used in the plotline.

Things I found in my research I worked into the plot. Stuff actually happened that I never could have made up. Maybe my favorite example involves John Watt, the White House gardener, who blackmailed Mary Lincoln for $20k and walked away with $1,500 and a military commission. Watt was an expert in padding his invoices, and he taught this skill to Mary Lincoln, who needed the money to supplement what Congress was willing to give her for all the redecorating, the new china, the new servants’ uniforms, her clothes, the grand parties. John Watt accompanied her on shopping trips to Philadelphia and New York and showed her the ropes. Apparently she wrote three letters to him that acknowledged her transgressions, leaving her open for blackmail.

Research also informed my characters. For some of them, such as John Watt, very little is known, so I made it all up. For the characters known to history, I tried to stick as close to what is known as possible. But the trick is to understand them from the inside, so you can figure out how they speak and act. So that they sound right—and different from one another—and so their actions make sense. Mark Twain once said that fiction is harder than nonfiction because it has to make sense.

The hardest character, of course—the most intimidating of all—was Lincoln. The idea of writing dialogue for Lincoln scared the hell out of me. For one thing, his voice is so complex—both homespun and august, vulgar but biblical, sly and witty but solemn and serious. And for another, he’s … Lincoln. The grandest we’ve got.

So how do you do it? You read about him—but you can’t read all 15,000 books, nor do you want to—and you touch the banister and you handle a paper with his signature and you close your eyes and try to imagine.

But for Lincoln in particular, something else is going on. He has seeped so deeply into Americans’ consciousness that I think we all have a bit of Lincoln inside of us. There’s the penny and the $5 bill, but that’s not all of Lincoln we carry around with us. We carry him inside of our heads. We know what he sounds like. We know him as the best part of ourselves.

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Excerpt: An Irish Country Cookbook by Patrick Taylor

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Told from the perspective of beloved housekeeper Kinky Kincaid, one of the cherished starring characters in Taylor’s An Irish Country series, An Irish Country Cookbook explores Ireland’s rich culture through its delicious dishes and stories of its charming people. These authentic tried-and-true family recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, and are the original comfort food for millions. Organized into sections such as: starters, soups, breads, mains, sides, sauces, desserts, cakes, candy and treats, and Ulster Christmas recipes, this cookbook brings the magic of Irish cooking and time-honored Irish traditions to life.

The ten short stories starring Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, Dr. Barry Laverty, and the colorful village of Ballybucklebo will delight fans of the series and new readers alike. From starters to sauces, Irish soda bread to Christmas dinner, these memorable dishes will bring a taste of the world of the Irish Country books to every kitchen.

Start cooking with An Irish Country Cookbook on February 7th. Please enjoy these sample recipes.

Irish Potato Bread

This is a great way of using up leftover mashed potatoes and takes no time at all to make. Also called potato farls, Irish Potato Bread is traditionally served with an Ulster Fry (here) and may be frozen until needed.

 Makes 4

  • 1 lb/455 g potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 4 oz/113 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz/28 g butter, softened
  • ½ tsp salt

While the potatoes are still warm, mash together with the other ingredients, then knead and roll on a floured board into a flat round. Cut into four farls (from the old Scots word fardel, meaning “fourth”), and place on a hot, lightly greased frying pan of a size large enough to accommodate them. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Reheat in a dry pan or toaster, or in the microwave.

 Oven Soda Bread

Traditionally, soda bread was shaped into a round and placed into a greased iron pot called a Bastible. This looked rather like a Dutch oven and was hung over the fire in the hearth.

Makes 1

  • 1 lb/455 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 oz/28 g butter
  • 20 oz/590 ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. Grease a 9 by 5-in (23 by 12-cm) loaf tin or a flat baking sheet.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the buttermilk and work gently but quickly into a soft dough. Place in the loaf tin or make into a round shape and place on the baking sheet. If you are making a round cake you need to mark a cross in the top to let the Devil out or to make it easier to cut into four segments. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will sound hollow when the bottom is knocked. Turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool and cover with a damp tea towel.

Kinky’s Note:
Sometimes Ma would add currants or raisins just for a change. I loved this bread sliced and toasted (using a long-handled toasting fork shaped like a trident) in front of the fire and smothered with butter.

Copyright © 2017 by Patrick Taylor

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Lawyers Should Not Write Romance Novels

Placeholder of  -54 Written by Erin Lyon

Truly. Because we do cruel and terrible things to commitment and everlasting love. Things like, say, replacing marriage with seven-year contracts so that relationships can be managed via contract law. And putting an expiration date on that contract so that couples get to decide whether or not to continue the relationship every seven years. Tragic, really. Psh. Lawyers.

Or (hear me out), maybe it’s actually an awesome idea. I’m pretty sure I would have had Elizabeth Taylor’s full support on this. She was married eight (8) times – two of which were to the same man. Tell me that wasn’t a woman whose life would have been vastly simplified if each time she fell in love she had only been committing to seven years!

Even in the literary world, so many relationships would have benefitted from my proposal. Case in point:

Catherine and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is a poor nobody so Catherine marries boring old Linton. Then Heathcliff comes back all rich and sexy but Cathy’s already hitched. In my world, a few years after Heathcliff came home, Cathy and Linton’s contract would have expired, leaving Catherine free to choose Heathcliff (like she should have done from the beginning, obviously). She would then have opted to not re-up with Linton and, voila, no one is dying of a broken heart or plotting generations of revenge. (Seriously, Heathcliff – find a hobby that doesn’t involve torturing your enemies and their descendants over a 20-year period. That might be going a tad overboard.)

Romeo and Juliet. This one is too easy. Warring families, a secret marriage, dual suicide. Yikes. Under my idea? Everyone knows that minors can’t legally enter into contracts and Juliet is only 13! Ergo, no contract is ever (legally) signed. Romeo and Juliet grow up a little bit and Juliet realizes she wants to be a writer (which Romeo doesn’t support) and Romeo ends up hooking up with the girl from the Verona market. Everyone parts ways without all that unnecessary suicide stuff.

Jane and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. Scandal ensues when Mr. Rochester falls in love with his daughter’s plain-Jane governess, Jane Eyre, and he marries her. Spoiler alert! He was still married to his first wife! In his defense, Wife #1 had gone completely mad years before so he locked her up in the tower (probably prudent for the safety of all involved given that she did slip past her nurse one night and do her best to flambé Mr. Rochester while he slept). Ah, but the simplicity of contracts. Mr. Rochester’s contract would have had an incapacity provision so that once his first wife’s elevator stopped going to the top floor, so to speak, the contract would have been null and void and poor Jane would never have been publicly humiliated by accidentally marrying a married man.

Mrs. de Winter and Maxim in Rebecca. Maxim de Winter is married to the cheating, narcissistic Rebecca – at least until she dies under mysterious circumstances. Then Maxim meets our mousy-but-delightful, never-to-be-named heroine and marries her (allowing us to simply call her Mrs. de Winter). Sure, we find out later that Rebecca was a manipulative bitch who sparked Maxim into a rage and he actually shot her and dumped her body. (Perhaps a bit of an overreaction.) Anyway, point being, the night Maxim killed Rebecca, she had been rudely confessing to being pregnant with another man’s baby and claimed that she would raise the child as Maxim’s and there was nothing he could do to stop her! (If you’re anything like me, you’re oddly at peace with Maxim getting away with murder in this book.) But! Under contract law, Maxim would have sued her for breach of contract, taken her for everything she was worth, and sent her lying ass to go live with her baby-daddy. (Yes, yes. I am well aware she wasn’t actually pregnant, but she still admitted to the infidelity which would be sufficient for breach as long as you have a good lawyer.)

So, to conclude, lawyers probably should write romance novels. Just think of the second chances at love we’d be providing! (Not to mention all the literary lives we’d be saving.) I rest my case.

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