Writing Reference Book

Non-Fiction Picks

Writing Reference Book

[4.5 min read]

Hold on Posy, this reference book is for writing for children – you write for adults, over 18s …

Let me remind y’all what a tough audience children are. They won’t play along to massage one’s ego – if a tale is good they’ll be absorbed, if it’s weak they’ll tell you! The basic principles of writing are the same hence I refer to Writing A Children’s Book by Pamela Cleaver frequently.

She showed me I’m a “seat of the pants” writer – one who allows fiction to be character driven! Also its companion (above) Ideas for Children’s Writers is an inspiring source book. Nowadays many would use Google or Wikipedia  to check facts or investigate a topic, but the way Pamela groups things and the enthusiasm with which she encourages writers is of great assistance.

I have recommended both books to other writers and they’ve also fed back to me they’re great reference books.


Reading from pleasure, I often enjoy fictional detective stories and thrillers, particularly those which delve into the mindset and motivations of the killer. Sometimes I delve into true crime accounts to pull things into perspective. Below I’ve shared two which have stuck with me since reading them years ago.

The first focuses on the harrowing series of child rapes, killings and hiding of the bodies which happened in the 1960s and haunted a generation. Ian Brady was undoubtedly a cold-blooded psychopath,  but I found myself both fascinated and disgusted by how Myra Hindley was willingly sucked into his vortex of evil. Knowing what I do now about codependent relationships, I suspect that theirs was a D/s relationship between two very unhealthy people with twisted appetites.

Although I read Brady & Hindley – Genesis of the Moors Murders by Frank Harrison a few years ago, I have been unable to forget it. I’ve subsequently watched documentaries on the topic too because the duplicity, the defiance and the compartmentalisation of deeds and emotions utilised by this couple holds a sick fascination for me.

The second true crime book I recommend, which I couldn’t put down was A Pin to See the Peepshow by F Tennyson Jesse. I felt empathy for this young, vibrant  woman whose flirtation spiralled out of control. I read this exploration of the facts, which places a heavy focus on the love letters written by Edith Thompson to her young lover Freddie Bywaters (I’m a sucker for someone who writes letters) with rapt attention. It demonstrates the misogynistic attitude of the time weighing heavily against her, discriminating against Edith both for being a career woman and for being adulterous, worsened in the eyes of society because she fell for a younger man. 


I have since watched a documentary, and from a modern legal standpoint, experts agreed Edith had suffered a miscarriafge of justice. On this basis her body was exhumed and granted a family funeral, she’s now buried in a peaceful setting where she grew up.


My final non-fiction recommendation also records a terrible waste of life – the once-secret story of a rehearsal for the Normandy landings which went disastrously wrong. The Forgotten Dead is a recounting of one night in 1944 when hundreds of servicemen, some English but predominantly American, lost their lives. Maneuvers here, which ended in tragedy, were intended to prepare the allied forces for an invasion and rescue operation which later happened successfully in France, ending the war.

I bought this book from the author on a trip to Slapton Sands, a beautiful, peaceful looking beach in Devon. Yet this was the scene of the military disaster the book describes. A salt-damaged tank stands as a memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives on that coastline. It was dragged from the sea bed up to the beach thanks to his tireless efforts. (Proceeds from the sale of his books go to maintenance of that tank).

The Forgotten Dead by Ken Small  Recounts the events of that night, told in the voices and from the viewpoints of surviving soldiers involved in the covert maneuvers. Reading it, I felt similar emotions: dread, sorrow, and a tragic inevitability which the story of Titanic evokes.


I wonder if any of you will find my non-fiction choices of interest, I guess I’ll find out from the comments. This post is submitted for the meme #Book Matters so follow the link to find other’s who’ve written on the same theme, or other writing posts on #MasturbationMonday.



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7 thoughts on “Non-Fiction Picks”

  1. I know the Forgotten Dead and have delved into the macabre non fiction of serial killers myself – so totally understand why you have to.
    Thank you for sharing all of these. And we do find that in some non-fiction books it could be said “truth is stranger than fiction” …

    1. Thank you for commenting May – the Forgotten Dead made me cry and truth CAN be stranger than fiction, as you say.

    1. Oh I’m the same Kayla, but these really stuck with me, whereas some fiction is like a sandwich, consumed & forgotten! Thanks for commenting.

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