Just to start off with – I am going to extol Penn’s virtues as a talented author (in particular as she’s an independent author and has self-published her books). As well as publishing fiction, thrillers mostly, and a series with a paranormal twist, she publishes books on writing and independently publishing and marketing them. This author is a true inspiration to anyone who might be thinking about making the step into independent publishing. (Okay, that’s my little writer crush over, but seriously if you want any tips on doing any of the above – check out her website TheCreativePenn because she ensures all her work is produced to a professional standard and happily shares so many tips of making a go of it in this industry).

I am currently looking at getting my Arete trilogy out independently and I know Penn’s books, videos and whatever other format she releases her tips in, are going to guide me along the way. Another recommendation of Penn’s for independent authors is to join ALLI – The Alliance of Independent Authors, which I will be doing when I get things polished up in the final manuscript and off to an editor. A very quick run down of my process over the next little while is: finish redrafting last book in series, ‘Rites of Passage’, research and employ an independent content editor, copy-editor, proofreader, making changes from these, get out to beta-readers, get cover designer, decide on marketing strategy. Easy bit – boom – PUBLISH! I’ll be coming up with a cost plan soon and will be able to share a timescale. I will be updating and sharing along the way on this journey and hopefully get some tips that may prove useful to other writers out there.

Onto Penn’s book: Desecration! Although I’ve been following Penn as the Creative Penn a while, I hadn’t read any of her fiction yet. I chose Desecration (The London Psychic Series) as it had the supernatural/fantasy slant to the thriller and thought it would likely be the series I would prefer. I wasn’t wrong! What a fantastic read!

It’s not just that it’s fast-paced, lots of mystery and conflict throughout, but that her prose and the summation of her characters is beautiful, and has a lot of depth to it.

It starts in the Huntarian Museum, in the Royal College of Surgeons. The museum has a collection of specimens on human anatomy. In the very opening chapter a woman is murdered at at the museum, the collection providing a suitably garish and disturbing backdrop. Next we meet Jamie, a detective in the Metropolitan police, who is tasked with solving the woman’s murder, which in its surgical nature seems to be connected to the setting where it was carried out.

We go with Jamie on her journey to find the killer, from the West End where we meet some of London’s wealthiest aristocrats to East London, with artisans and artists. There are more gruesome scenes with plastination as art (where the water and fats in a cadaver are replaced with plastics to create a body that can be preserved and displayed). We also get an insight into the world of extreme body modification. Both subjects provide tension and interest to the developing story and characters, but Penn also delves deeper into these subjects. She asks questions about the body as art, about the right of the dead and about the living’s relationship with them.

I won’t give anything else away! Just know that it is a thrilling and thought-provoking read.

(Plastinated heart with pulmonary arteries and veins from Body Worlds)