Interviews, Book Awards & Articles

The Morrow Secrets is being translated into Czech and will be in Prague Bookshops in November!

The Morrow Secrets Trilogy has won the Bangzo Young Adult Fantasy Book of  the Year Award!


The Morrow Secrets

The Morrow Secrets is a brand new title in the young-adult gothic genre from British author Susan McNally. It is a spellbinding story which takes the reader on a rollercoaster of delight through the dark and mysterious world of the Morrow family.

The eerie first instalment of the trilogy is steeped in mystery and suspense, set in a rambling house with a host of characters and weird servants called shroves. It immerses readers, young and old, in a tale full of intrigue, mystery and the unknown.  It can be both scary and seductive, with hauntings and strange creatures galore; and keeps readers flicking through the pages as fast as they can!

Caedryl & SistersThe tale centres on Tallitha Mouldson, a headstrong girl determined to unearth the tantilising secrets of her family’s past. The Morrow Secrets contains over 50 delightfully depicted characters and the story’s setting is just as lifelike. From the rambling old house of Winderling Spires to the sinister castle, Hellstone Tors, Susan McNally’s book is filled with a wonderful sense of the macabre. She draws her inspiration from the hidden corners of the British landscape from the Lake District to North Yorkshire where she retreated to write the books. Her detailed descriptions allow the reader to imagine the ghoulish mausoleum, the terrifying Black Hounds and lose themselves in the Startling Caves.

TurretIt’s testament to Susan and the power of her imagination that she has managed to craft such a brilliant book within a genre that is so well-trodden. Her debut novel throws readers into the sublime and suspenseful vast world of magic and mystery, creatures and castles, whilst managing to sound fresh and unique at the same time.

Tallitha’s amazing adventures, accompanied by her brother Tyaas, uncover the eerie secrets of her family, eventually stumbling upon startling revelations.

Radio interview with Viv Oyolu on the Dream Corner Radio Show about the creative process of writing the fantasy children’s story, The Morrow Secrets.

The interview includes help and advice on creative writing and tips on how to write children’s fiction, the new e-book phenomenon,the ups and downs of self-publishing and how to develop your approach to characterisation

The Morrow Secrets is available in hardback, paperback and e-book  on all the Amazon territories and at The Book Depository

Click here to buy Book 1 in the trilogy  The Morrow Secrets

Buy from Amazon Click on the amazon icon to purchase The Shadow of the Swarm, Book 2 in the trilogy

The Shadow of the Swarm Cover
 The Morrow Secrets 


Both books are also available on line at Waterstones

Also at the on-line bookstore Bangzo



THE BLACK HOUND_halloween ebook

                                                   Breathing New Life into Gothic Literature

Morrow secret's halloween_ebook

 It’s testament to the power of Susan McNally’s unique and singular imagination that she has managed to craft such a brilliant book within a genre that is so well-trodden. Her debut novel throws readers into the sublime and suspenseful world of magic and mystery, creatures and castles, somehow managing to never sound stale. The first in a trilogy, The Morrow Secrets adheres to the best of Gothic fiction and adds Susan’s own brand of eccentricity that will delight readers young and old. So, in a genre that can be both scary and seductive, with hauntings, heroes and ghastly ghouls galore, how do we know which conventions are worth sticking with?

The Graveyard at Winderling Spires

On the surface, the main protagonist of The Morrow Secrets is Tallitha, a headstrong girl determined to unearth the peculiar secrets of her family’s past. We follow Tallitha on an incredible journey as she fights the forces of evil, and delves deeper into the mystery that is her family’s dark past. The Morrow Secrets contains over 50 delightfully depicted characters in total, but despite this the real stars of the show are the spooky settings. From the rambling old house of Winderling Spires to the sinister and aptly named castle, Hellstone Tors, Susan McNally’s book is filled with a wonderful sense of the macabre. Indeed the castle is an important setting for many Gothic classics. Notable examples include supposed Gothic fiction trailblazer The Castle of Otranto, and the iconic stronghold of Count Dracula high up in the Transylvanian hills, even though a well-worn gothic staple, no convention conjures up creepy quite like the castle. Even Mary Shelley’s famous book Frankenstein has seen the original setting of a university science lab revised to take place in a castle for big screen adaptations.

2020Interestingly, author Dean Koontz has crafted his own series named Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein that directly draws inspiration from Shelley’s work.  His books transplant the Gothic horror staple into present day New Orleans, creating a refreshing take on a literary classic.

The Entrance to Startling CavesAnother important element of any Gothic fiction is the use of fantastical and supernatural characters. The Morrow Secrets is awash with the paranormal, from Tallitha’s growing supernatural powers to the troops of weird servants called shroves. This is something that contemporary writers of the popular True Blood, Twilight and Beautiful Creatures series’ also deal in heavily. Although not gothic fiction as such, these books have crafted a new range of supernatural fiction for teen audiences. They have twisted traditionally ghoulish creatures like vampires, werewolves and witches into something altogether more alluring, and in the process have added a new dynamic to customs that were starting to feel just a tad outdated.20

However, all these links are fairly straight forward and there are, in fact, novels that you wouldn’t instantly think are gothic works, but are. Stories like Wuthering Heights for example on the surface appear simply as tales of romance, but look a little deeper and all the traditional gothic elements are there; stormy weather, nightmares, dramatic landscapes, excessive cruelty and supernatural goings on. Yet another common convention of Gothic literature is the way in which it often contains a hero whose true identity is revealed at the end of the novel. This is especially true of this book, as Tallitha spends the novel trying to uncover the eerie secrets of her family, eventually stumbling upon startling revelations.

malin_squareWhat marks The Morrow Secrets out as head and shoulders above the rest however is the panache with which Susan McNally explores the genre, knowing which well-worn elements to embrace and which ones to discard. However, what’s best is how vividly she brings this fantastical world alive, so perhaps in years to come we’ll be celebrating this as another classic of Gothic.


Susan McNally – The debut Gothic authorimage-2

A childhood spent roaming the rugged landscapes of the Lake District and theYorkshire Dales, exploring the castles of Northumberland and investigating the wonderfully secluded island of Lindisfarne clearly left a lasting impression on author Susan McNally. Her debut novel, The Morrow Secrets, invites readers into an alternative world,

depicted with a spellbinding vibrancy and inspired by the many pretty landscapes and peculiar quirks from her happy upbringing. But she hadn’t always wanted to be a children’s author. “I always wanted to write a novel but couldn’t find my genre until I began The Morrow Secrets,” she states.

A few years ago the purchase of a children’s illustration
by the artist Edward Ardizzone rekindled memories of her favourite childhood authors and her favourite childhood day. “We’d been to a place called Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire for a picnic,” she says. “Later I went home, jumped in bed and I started reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I look back now and think life doesn’t get any better than that.”Esmerelda

Her early imagination was nourished by her parents and ignited her life-long love of fantasy and mystery genres. “My father told me many made up fairy stories about a princess that I named Varnaseen,” she tells us. This, along with a childhood love of literature, helped spark her vivid imagination. As a child she was surrounded by weird and wonderful characters. “My grandmother used to have a friend who would go into a trance and two or three times she predicted my mother’s future,” she laughs. “My mother liked having her fortune told too so I think my family was into spooky things.” Despite this decidedly eerie influence, Susan didn’t initially set out to write a work of Gothic


fiction. However, setting main character, Tallitha’s story in Winderling Spires, a “strange rambling house where you are never quite sure where the staircases might lead,” meant that “the Gothic atmosphere just fell into place.”

At the heart of her book lies the heroine, Tallitha Mouldson, a headstrong girl caught up in the sinister web of her eccentric family. Susan may have based aspects of Tallitha on a long tradition of inspiring females. “Women who defy convention, who are brave enough to step outside the confinesThe Cat, Slynose in Pursuit

that society places on them, women who do rare and extraordinary things,” as she puts it. “I admire the musician Joni Mitchell, the Brontë Sisters, the suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, and in literature, Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games for contemporary readers. These are women who are compelled to do things that are outside the norm, challenging society.”Embellsed before The Withered Tower

Susan wanted to defy the norms of literary convention too by focusing on strong female characters. “It is often boys in literature who get the adventurous plot lines and lead the story forwards. I wanted to challenge that stereotype.” However, in other respects she is very much your classic writer. This includes an almost fanatical love of writing. “I find writing quite compulsive at times. If I’m particularly gripped by a scene then I’ll get up at 2 o’clock in the morning and carry on writing”.

This passion for literature is something she thinks is important to share with the younger generation. “I think reading develops their inner world and their imagination
and helps children see the world from many different perspectives. Keen readers develop into clever articulate children. It also helps children empathise with the characters and their plight.” Susan sees the importance of reading, not just as escapism, but also as a tool for learning. The Morrow Secrets is “written in a way that will stretch children’s comprehension in relation to use of vocabulary.”Sniper's Edge

So what tips does she give to young aspiring writers?
“You have to write the book that you want to read,” says
Susan. “There is no point struggling to write something just
because it’s in vogue”. Equally, she says that there’s no point
labouring over something like some writers who have to sit
at their computer until they’ve written 1000 words a day,
however, “The more you write the more it flows… Get the
plot down on paper and even if the writing is not fantastic
first time round just keep on going because you can go back
and revise it”.

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