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Coffee Grounds and Conversation – Fourth-Wall Friday with Zoe Brooks

Fourth-Wall Friday with Zoe Brooks - Coffee Grounds & ConversationSnapping the FWF Schedule closed before the waitress saw anything, I realized I was not sure where I was. Playing it cool, I stirred a cup with a nice dollop of soy  milk and RAW sugar while doing a bit of people watching, a shadow cast across my log book for my Fourth-Wall Friday visits, I knew something was going down today but was not sure. The printer just said to be at this cafe in Oxford this morning, so here I am and there he is. Wait, he is not an author in my book? Wait… ummm where did he go? 

Please welcome Zoe Brooks as she showcases herself and a character through the specialized author spotlight of Fourth-Wall Friday!

Coffee Grounds & Conversation

Morning Coffee

The tall gaunt man stands in the door and looks around the cafe. He walks across the room, glancing at the other customers huddled over their mugs of coffee and half-eaten plates of fried breakfast, but always turning his mocking eyes to me. I, like everyone else there, flinch slightly as he examines me.

He eases himself on to the high backed bench seat opposite me. “Zoe, this does feel familiar,” he says. “Couldn’t you imagine somewhere different for your book? Had to base it on somewhere you knew.”

All writers do. We take what we know and elaborate.

And do you know me?” His eyes are on my face. They are yellow and grey, like a snake’s. Or so I imagine. “Who am I based on?” he pursues.

I shift in my seat unable to reply. Who is the Rottweiler based on? I don’t know. He walked into my imagination as fully formed as he is now.

It seems you are ambiguous about me,” says the man, unwrapping a packet of cigarettes. “Just like the heroine of your novel.” He taps a cigarette against the table top, before putting it to his lips. There are nicotine stains on his fingers.

You’re not allowed to smoke here,” I say.

Really?” He raises an eyebrow. “Why?

Health. Those cigarettes will kill you.

Well, you should know,” he replies with a smile.

And it’s against the law.”

In that case,” he says returning the cigarette to the packet, “I always uphold the law, even that one.”

The Chief of Police for the great city of Pharsis sits back as he puts the offending pack into his pocket. I breathe a sigh of relief. Having written of the reek of his cheap cigarettes I have no desire to smell them in reality.

So,” he says, “Where are we?

Oxford.” And when he says nothing, I continue: “A university town. But not a great port like Pharsis, we’re hundreds of miles from the sea.” Still he waits, forcing me to continue. “Historically there were violent clashes between students and townspeople, and yes I used that as inspiration for the attacks on Shadows. That and other historical examples.

He flicks open the menu and peruses it. I know it is an act, he only drinks black coffee. After all, he is my invention, but right now it doesn’t feel like it. He looks up.”As I recall, you wrote that the cafe on Carnival Road served the best coffee in the city, is that the same here?

I nod. He beckons the waiter over and places the order. When the steaming cup arrives, he says “Mmm, you’re right, it’s excellent. So, you were going to tell me about your ambiguous attitude towards me.

No, I wasn’t.

You rather like me, just as Judith does at times,” he says.

Authors often like the darker characters in their books.”

“Generalizing again, Zoe, that’s a very bad habit for a writer. I’m sure Stephen King would have something to say about it. And as a policeman I can tell you that it sounds defensive.”

I don’t think Judith likes you all the time.

Don’t think? Surely you should know. You wrote the book. Or do your characters get away from you?

Rather like you are doing right now. I think.

Let me make it easier for you,” he says putting down the nearly empty cup. “Am I a villain?

No, an antagonist maybe, but not a villain.

Be under no doubt, Zoe, I would hand Judith over for execution if it was necessary. If the law requires it. I am not a monster, but I have to play by the rules.” He pauses. “Your rules in fact. You’ve written me into a corner; you have no one to blame but yourself if you find Judith hanging from a gallows and you don’t want that, do you?

If you have to play by my rules, then I don’t have to endure this interrogation.

No, you don’t.” He takes the last sip of coffee, puts the cup down and sits with his large hands in his lap, watching me with a wry smile. “You could make me disappear, just like this.”

He is gone. Startled, I look around the cafe expecting a reaction from the other diners, but they all have their heads down over their food or are in some animated conversation. In a corner a man is talking loudly about being kidnapped by aliens. Another is singing to his food. A woman shuffles past, carrying her life in three carrier bags. It’s that sort of cafe.

David, the cafe owner, wanders over and gathers up the empty cups. “You should take a holiday, Zoe. You’re getting like them. You’ve been talking to yourself for half an hour.”

Love of Shadows (The Healer’s Shadow)

Love of Shadows by Zoe Brooks photo LoveofShadows_zps96986d4f.png

I had always felt most alive, when I was healing. Without healing I was a tin top spinning out of kilter soon to catch the ground. It took all my energy to hold myself from skidding into chaos.

In the city of Pharsis traditional women healers are banned from practising and the penalty for breaking the law is death by hanging. After being arrested and interrogated twice Judith is careful to avoid suspicion, but then scarlet fever breaks over the city like a poisonous wave, leaving in its wake the small corpses of children. What will the young healer do?

Love of Shadows is the second novel in The Healer’s Shadow trilogy, which began with Girl in the Glass, and follows the lives of Judith and her Shadow, Sarah. It is a study in grief, love and defiance.

Genre – Fantasy | Pages – 214 pages

(pssssst free on Amazon today!)



Zoe Brooks

Zoe Brooks is a British writer and poet, who spends half her life in a partly restored old farmhouse in the Czech Republic, where she writes all her novels and poetry. She aims to write popular books, which have complex characters and themes that get under the reader’s skin.

Zoe was a successful published poet in her teens and twenties, (featuring in the Grandchildren of Albion anthology). In May 2012 she published her long poem for voices Fool’s Paradise as an ebook on Amazon, which has just won an EPIC ebook award. Zoe has three novels published Mother of WolvesGirl in the Glass and her latest book Love of Shadows. 

Fourth-Wall Friday

Ever wonder what happens if you were to break into your world build and sit down and have a beer with? I think I would love to have tea with Jane Eyre, or discuss the best way to take care of vampires with Jane Yellowstone…maybe having Susie Shotgun take me out for some Angels Tears.

Interested in being part of Cabin Goddess’ Fourth-Wall Friday? I will soon be opening up my schedule from July through Christmas and have a few limited reserved Friday’s for special Fourth-Wall Friday spots (Sign ups for JULY-DEC 2013), such as book releases and tours. Contact me at [email protected] for more info. I hope everyone (authors and readers alike) takes time peruse the archives and find out just what other authors have done and enjoy a lot of amazing world builds!

Fourth-Wall FridayAllow yourself as an author to open up a new avenue of sharing your AUTHOR PERSONA & WORLD BUILD in a unique and creative fashion.. Just take a chance, write fluidly and from within that “place” you hangout at with your muse. Or perhaps walk in the door, tuck into a corner & watch your characters, or talk with them…



Coffee Grounds and Conversation - Fourth-Wall Friday with Zoe Brooks


  1. Nice, Kriss and Zoe. Zoe, where is your house in CZ? I’m Czech (my family is off the boat) and I lived in Prague for years. I’ve got family all over the place.

    • I live in a small village near Cesky Krumlov on the edge of the Sumava, Victoria.

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