Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Author Emily-Jane Hills Orford

For those of you who have gotten to know me in the virtual realm, you’re aware that some of my areas of interest revolve around nonhuman animals, fantastical creatures, ghosts, feminists (I’d add on strong women, but I think ALL women are strong!) . . . and eating (though not of any of the aforementioned subjects *laugh*). If not, you do now, anyway!

So, let’s enter the cobwebby halls of Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s Victorian mansion, and perhaps we’ll discover what’s lurking in shadowy corners and hidden alcoves.

Aside from us, that is!

Willow Croft: I see from your biography on your website that you were a music teacher, and you also had a book out at one point that featured your rescue dog named Duke who was a “howling” good accompaniment to his new musical family. So, among the music pieces and/or instruments that you play, which is Duke’s favourite(s), and why do you think he likes them so much?

Emily-Jane Hills Orford: Good question. I love your summary of Duke being a “howling good accompaniment to his new musical family.” For Duke, it would have to be a choice between piano and voice, the only two instruments (and yes, voice is considered an instrument; it’s actually the oldest musical instrument, not surprising) Duke has ever heard. Perhaps voice, as he likes to add his own voice to the mix. Piano? Not so much as he tends to exit the room whenever the piano is being played.

Willow Croft: I think I was hooked by the “haunted Victorian mansion” you grew up in (who wouldn’t be, right?) and I’d love to hear more. So, what was the most spooky and phenomenal paranormal occurrence that’s ever happened to you?

Emily-Jane Hills Orford: People really didn’t believe me. They still don’t. But she was real. The ghost was real. And I saw her. Often. It scared me. At first, anyway. But then she became such a unique part of my home, that I almost didn’t notice her shenanigans, like banging kitchen cupboard doors, turning on all the lights in the middle of the night and moving things around in my room. She also hovered over me. Especially when I was sick. As if she were taking care of me. The old Victorian mansion that we moved into in 1967 was haunted. Complete with bats that flew around our rooms at night. I hated that. I have to admit that I slept most nights with a blanket over my head. Small comfort. Gran said I had a vivid imagination. I’m not sure if she really believed in the ghost. At least she listened when I talked to her about my ghost sightings. My siblings teased me relentlessly. Being the youngest and easily scared, I was an easy target. But my vivid imagination, and my ghost, served me well.

The story begins in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost,” Book 1 of the Piccadilly Street Series, with my memories of moving into this old Victorian mansion. I was ten, just like Mary in the story. And I was so overwhelmed with the fixtures, the wooden floors that creaked, the old 1920s telephones that connected to several rooms throughout the house, and, of course, the space. In my young eyes, the house seemed massive – like a castle. The first night in my new room was full of strange noises, creaking floorboards, banging cupboards in the kitchen, lights flickering on and off, and the shadows that lurked in every corner. I was terrified. But also fascinated. Until the bats appeared the next evening. My sister and I huddled together underneath a table or under the blankets of our beds, screaming as the bats swooped over our heads. Later, much later actually, Dad managed to seal the attic and the many chimneys that serviced the fireplaces that were found in most of the rooms. That slowed the influx of bats.

The next four books of the Piccadilly Street Series also combine actual memories, dreams and that vivid imagination that Gran always told me I had. Book 2, “Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure”, explores the theory I shared with my siblings that, if the house was haunted, there must be a hidden treasure. We did find the odd old coin buried in the garden. Certainly not a fortune. Book 3, “Mrs. Murray’s Home”, challenges the ghost and the other characters to define what and where they believe their home is. This is something my Gran and I always discussed. For me, home was always that grand old house. For Gran, having left Scotland as a child, part of her thoughts of home remained in her childhood memories and a place across the ocean. Book 4, “Mr. Murray’s Gun”, takes the adventure even further with the discovery of a vintage World War I gun and ammunition in the attic. I remember when we found that gun. Mom was terrified that we would accidently set it off. Dad called the local police and had it taken away. My vivid imagination even as a child had the gun marked as a murder weapon. Still to come, Book 5, “Mrs. Murray Goes to High School,” explores my grandmother’s long held desire, and that of many women of the early twentieth century (including Mrs. Murray), to have further education. So many women from their era were not allowed to go to High School, let alone college or university, because their fathers believed it was a waste of time and money to educate women.

The house was such a big part of my life. As was the ghost. It was only a matter of time before the ghost became the subject of a big writing project.

Willow Croft: You published a fantasy book earlier in the year titled Beauty in the Beast. If you could magically transform yourself into a mythical creature, which would you choose?

Emily-Jane Hills Orford: I think Priya’s multiple mutations are fascinating. She’s my main character. I admire her courage and tenacity and her love of music. Surprisingly, though, I’m not sure how well I’d be as one of her mutations. With her owl gene, Priya can fly; with her dolphin gene, she swims like a fish (well, more accurately like a dolphin). I’m terrified of both flying and swimming, but perhaps her genetic mutations would give me the courage to overcome these fears.

Willow Croft: I always have a food question in these mini-interviews, so I was thrilled to see that you had published not one, but two, cookbooks. Which recipes remain your go-to choices for a fine feast?

Emily-Jane Hills Orford: Chicken and chocolate – all good dishes must have one of those two ingredients. I have a lemon chicken recipe that I make frequently, baking in the oven in the winter months and on the barbecue in the summer. For chocolate, well, chocolate chip cookies are a staple in my diet. All my recipes are made with soy-free, dairy-free ingredients to accommodate my two main allergies: soy and dairy.

Willow Croft: I’d be remiss without including a question about your books that capture the lives of, in your words, “Extra-Ordinary” women. I learned from the book’s description on Goodreads that F-Stop: A Life in Pictures is about your photographer mother, but among the cast of characters in Amazingly Extra-Ordinary Women, which would you most like to meet as you travel through space and time?

Emily-Jane Hills Orford: Some I’ve already met, like my mother, of course, whose story is “An Adequate Teacher,” my mother-in-law, whose story is “Christmas Joy on a Cart,” and Frances Hopkins, whose story is “Prisoner of War.” I also feel like I’ve met the others through my research, but to actually meet in person, I’d have to say, Rachel Carson, “Do Not Kill the Birds!” She really spearheaded the campaign against pesticide use and saving the planet. Her words have been quoted often by environmentalists since she first wrote them in the 1950s and 1960s. I think tea and a serious conversation with Miss Carson, while enjoying watching the birds, would be a great way to spend an afternoon.


I’d want to gatecrash that tea party, wouldn’t you? Since we can’t do that, feel free to “gatecrash” Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s website, and start up a conversation of your own (after you check out her books, of course!).

 Author Website:

Amazon Author Page:

Where to purchase Beauty in the Beast:


Twitter: @ejhomusic


Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Poet John D Robinson

Five Things Friday has returned! I interview poet John D no period Robinson about herbs and hoarding memories and housing and hope (in the time of crisis)–and we wrap up with the “Cs”–namely, classical music and cats!

Willow Croft: With a nod to a certain kind of herb that has cameos in your poetry, what would be your favourite culinary herb(s) you’d have in your kitchen, and why?

John D Robinson: Cooking is something that I enjoy: I refer here to British garden herbs:  Rosemary: Sage: Coriander: Mint: are the herbs that are always around and are used daily from adding a surprise in sandwiches and in almost every dish I cook there will be at least one or two of the above herbs within from sprinkling over the cooked food to adding them to home-made sauces – particularly mint: herbs and spices were a global trade and I guess still may be, but these days, given the technology,  we can grow just about anything we choose:

Willow Croft: In your interview on Horror Sleaze Trash (, your muse can have many forms, including a “distant memory”. Do you hold onto physical mementos that personify memories, or do you travel light in terms of personal possessions?

John D Robinson: I am a hoarder of such physical memento’s and each item will have it’s own time and place and when looking or handling them, I can recall those moments/times when the item first came into my possession: some of them bring a sadness to surface: from everyday ornaments/to books/pictures/paintings/letters/jewelry/collectible models/ – I can see/feel the muse all around – she is ever present – and I thank her – I love her and now again, she gifts me with a flow of words or paint that smoothly move with an energy of their own:

Willow Croft: Do you believe that cats have the ability to exist in multiple dimensions at once? Alternatively/in addition, what sort of magical powers do you want to believe cats have?

John D Robinson: Cats have been a part of my life for the past 54 years: one time I had 4 cats and the house could be quite frenzied and chaotic: I am obsessed with Cats – domestic and wild – there is a majesty about them – a mystery surrounding them, an energy and attitude that is unique and individual to that cat: I will very often stop and greet cats as I walk the streets: I don’t think, we, humans, ‘own’ the cat, it will do it’s own shit when it wants to but they are faithful and affectionate (mostly) –

As to whether Cats exist in multiple dimensions – I don’t know – but I’m guessing that if they do then every form of life on this planet would do so also –  ‘Mitakuye Oyasin’ ‘we are all related –

Willow Croft: In light of this climate change emergency, how would you envision our definition of housing/a home? What sort of adaptations does humanity need to make, especially when more and more people are priced out of having a livespace?

John D Robinson: This dismal horrific situation has been building pace for some years, here in the UK, back in the 1980’s when large swathes of ‘council properties’ were sold and were never replaced – the periods of economic boom and bust that followed – the hardship that young people are faced with today should never have been allowed to be, particularly in matters of housing, whether renting or buying – the latter almost damn near impossible now and when turned away from local High street banks and mortgage lenders there is the temptation to turn to small independent ‘firms’ whose interest rates on repayment can be astronomical – there is also the issue of where to build without destroying the surrounding area’s – the climate change is beginning to show itself and we’ve earnt it, polluting the skies and seas and oceans for a hundreds year’s and more – I don’t know what can be done now – fuel usage could stop today – again, the technology is there, available, but best keep the rich getting richer, sucking the life from the world’s blood, waters and forests: – I think water will become the next ‘gold’ – for my children’s children I can only hope that some very effective actions happen – it is important to keep hope alive at the very least – the rising costs of basic foods is shameful and criminal – heat or eat – decisions that families may make come winter – for the UK, one of the ‘richest’ countries in the world, that doesn’t sound to good – but in comparison to some countries the UK is a jewel, a beacon of hope and freedom and opportunities. We all know that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone:

 Willow Croft: This may be akin to trying to pick a favourite flavour of ice cream (unless you don’t have a sweet tooth), but what’s your favourite piece of classical music?

John D Robinson: This is a very tough one for me: Frederic Chopin: 1810 – 1849:  Prelude, OP. 28. No 15: (also referred to as ‘Snowdrop’)  –

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 1756 – 1791: Clarinet Concerto:

Arvo Part: 1935 –  Spiegel im Spiegel

I could have carried on for a few more pages:

Thank you:


That’s a wrap for this week’s Five Things Friday interview! I don’t have links available, but you can check out some of their poetry on Horror Sleaze Trash (search John D Robinson) as well as many other great poets!

(I haven’t been reading much poetry as of late, except for what appears on others’ blogs, but some of the poems here really reminded me why I read poetry–so I don’t feel so alone, so I don’t feel so lost, so the sounds of the “madding crowd” quiet themselves–almost like a meditation.)

It’s National Fortune Cookie Day!

fortune cookie
Picture courtesy of

*giveaway now closed*

It’s National Fortune Cookie Day! To celebrate, I’m offering a free tarot card reading to the first three commenters!

Good luck, and good fortune, today!

(In case it wasn’t clear, please leave a comment below for a chance to claim the free tarot reading.)

Eco Tuesday: The Grey and the Green

We’re not only going green in this week’s “Eco Tuesday” interview, we’re going (werewolf) grey!

It should be quite the adventure!

(We all need an adventurous escape at this point, wouldn’t you all agree?)

With no further ado, please welcome traveler, poet, and writer, Marc Latham!


Marc Latham was a vegetarian in his late ‘70s teens before lapsing until his late ‘90s university years. He has now been veggie for over twenty years. In the ‘80s he followed Kerouac’s hobo traveling path while keeping a journal. Over the last twenty years he’s cut down on his carbon footprint, and in the last two taken up cold showers, inspired by Wim Hof.
An eco theme was central to his core writing decade of 2005/6 – 2015/6, with a wolf symbol and protagonist star
inspired by the WWF panda…
which he likes to think may have inspired Greta!?

Missing Link movie may be more likely, as that was a bigfoot searching for its roots from America’s north-west, as the Greenygrey werewolf had done a decade earlier; becoming the enlightened greenYgrey along the way!

The Interview

Willow Croft: In your trilogy of books, you write from the perspective of a vegetarian werewolf called greenYgrey. What’s their favourite veggie-filled foodstuff or recipe they tried on their journey?

Marc Latham: Being a werewolf on the road, the greenYgrey just ate what it could. This usually consisted of foods inspired by place names, traditional local food newly discovered, or foods I remembered and fed it from my travels. In Oz it remembers the berries of Beridale (with a McCandless/Krakauer’s Into the Wild warning) and buns from Bunbury’s buried bunneries with particular fondness.

In your current home state of Kansas it enjoyed smoked Red Hot Chili Peppers from the Red Hills and Smoky River, with musical inspiration. In Tartu, Estonia, it had a ravishing rhubarb tart, while in Moldova it discovered the national dish was mamaliga from a hospitable mama; who wasn’t in league with anyone.

Willow Croft: If you could travel through time where (or when, rather) would be your first stop, in terms of a more nature-orientated era?

Marc Latham: Growing up on Western movies  I liked the ‘Indians’ (later defined to Lakota Sioux and Crazy Horse in particular!) with their wild horses culture, and then learning about Native Americans I was impressed with them being at one with nature, and especially nomadically traveling the plains with the seasons. Recently I’ve liked learning about how ‘star people’ are part of Native American culture, so it would be great to meet them too! So their last great era in the early 19th century would probably be my first stop; if I was to be welcomed, and not cause harm through disease! The California ‘60s movement was partially inspired by them and their attitude to nature, so it would be good to spend time there also, ending with a trip to Woodstock!
Learning more about European tribal culture in university I found they had a similar respect for nature and animals, with totems and tree worship, so I guess most places were okay with nature before industrialisation. They were still cutting trees and clearing forests though; although nothing compared to today’s mass clearing.

The further back in time, the more nature (and danger, thinking of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine!, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Land That Time Forgot or Michael Crichton’s Jurassic World) generally, although they’re finding many lost civilisations in the American jungles, so maybe in the future nature will reclaim everything?

Willow Croft: I enjoy your sunrise/sunset photos on your blog. Have you ever seen a green flash at sunset?

Marc Latham: Yes, funny you should ask that, as I have once. It was a year or two after first hearing about it through watching The Green Ray (Le Rayon Vert) French movie. It was set in Brittany, and when I visited there in 2013 I think I remembered it, but had forgotten about it on the evening I saw the green flash.

I was getting cold on the beach waiting for the sun to go down, to finish off my photo sequence, when I saw the green light flash as the sun finally went down, and thought that must be it! I didn’t get a photo as I’d just taken one of the last of the sun, and wasn’t expecting anything else. A photo from the sequence; of a seagull flying past on the beach; and the sunny Saint Malo panorama in the distance, became the cover shot for the blog (link below), so it was quite a special night. As was the first night of that holiday, when I bought a box of beers and drank them sat against a tree watching the sun go down on the edge of town, reliving my hobo travels on their 25th anniversary; which basically started in France.

Thanks for this interview, which has been the writing equivalent of a trip down memory lane.


Want to continue the trek down memory lane with Marc Latham and the greenYgrey? Catch up with them via these internet pathways:

Smashwords – About Marc Latham, author of ‘Werewolf of Oz: Fantasy Travel by Google Maps’ and ‘242 Mirror Poems and Reflections’: Free to download in July, 2022.Amazon page:

Blog post about the green flash light night: Saint-Malo Beach Sunset Photos, Brittany, France | Travel 25 Years… and more (

fmpoetry poetry hub: mistYmuse | Art, Poetry, Writing Winter Festival (

Kansas episode of the Greenygrey in North America: GreenyGrey Rambles Around the World: Can suss in Kansas

Main greenYgrey website for a decade: greenygrey3 (

The Shifting Sands…

Shifting Sands
Photo Courtesy of

Welp, I put so much energy into trying to create something stable, but it seems that the sands have shifted yet once again from underneath me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to living in an almost continual state of flux–hence the inspiration for the name of my business (A Chaos Fairy)–but I really tried to build something permanent over the past year, and it didn’t work out too well, to put it mildly.

I don’t usually do much of a crossover between my pen name/writing ventures and my other professional endeavours, but, needs must, I’m afraid.

So, I’m having one of my storm ravens drop a little message that they’ve carried over from my alter ego on LinkedIn:

Storm Raven
Picture courtesy of

(I might change my mind, later, about putting the word out over here in the Realm of Nightmares and Storms, because my Willow Croft alter-alter-ego can be as changeable as the shifting sands I referenced with the photo above, but if you know somebody who knows somebody…you get the drift…)

Speaking of “alter egos”, check out my July Horror Tree horoscopes on your sign’s evil alter egos!

And, because I’ve been getting a sense it’s been a challenging month above and beyond an already challenging year, my Horror Tree tarot card reading is geared towards nurturing and supporting other writers/creators:

Have a “soaring” Sunday! Thanks for the support!

Eco-Monday is now Eco-Tuesday, apparently . . .

Okay, so I forgot to post up the blog I had planned for yesterday.

Good thing it wasn’t actually an interview post!

I didn’t have anyone lined up, but I got so busy with life and the day job and, to be honest, sucking up every last dreg of the three-day weekend (I don’t celebrate the 4th, but it was nice having that extra day to get caught up on things) that I just forgot.

So, I’m still looking for people to interview for the Eco-Monday-now-Eco-Tuesday feature, so if you’re involved in environmental conservation, including wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, or even if you’re turning your once-turf lawn into a pollinator-friendly haven, reach out to me at croftwillow [at] yahoo [dot] com and we’ll set up a mini-interview!

Stay green!

Eco-Monday Premiere: Learn all about the Green Stars Project!

For my first-ever Eco-Warrior post, I’m going to interview the creator of one blogs I started following waaaaay back when I was newbie blogger.

I’ll start these Eco-Monday posts off with a bio about the Eco-Warrior I interview that week, then comes the interview, and I’ll wrap it up with links to find out more about the week’s interviewee!

I hope you’re excited as I am to learn more about these eco-minded individuals and discover new ways to get involved in environmental causes!


James is a research scientist who studied microbiology in Ireland, then did a PhD in molecular biology in Scotland and now lives in California. Having worked as a research scientist for a couple of decades, James now dedicates a lot of his time to projects related to ethical consumerism. As well as blogging, he’s currently working on a book project that provides guidance on how to address our most pressing social and environmental issues. Working title: The Consumer’s Guide to Modern Life. That title will probably change 😉

The Interview

Willow Croft: What amazing lightning strike of inspiration caused you to create the Green Stars Project (and your newer blog, Grocery Outlet Ethical Bargains)?

James: Well, my interest as a scientist was always to work on solutions to environmental problems, such as sustainable fuels. The idea of the Green Stars Project developed slowly, to be honest, but it started to take shape as a plot element in a novel I was writing! I tested it out in my spare time, not even blogging, just writing reviews of the stuff I bought, trying to figure out how useful the information would be to others. It turned out that other people did find it useful and I decided to keep going.

I guess you could say that clincher for me was I realized that there are many research scientists with my skills but not that many people with PhDs writing about ethical consumerism. One of the top skills that a doctorate gives you is how to research any topic and distill it down to the essential information – I mean a conclusion that you can have high confidence in. So, my decision was based on the idea that I can probably be more useful researching and writing about ethical consumerism than anything else. It was a gradual realization that this is my path.

Willow Croft: Can you share your favourite products/foodstuffs you’ve reviewed on your blog(s)?

James: I’m a big fan of Beyond Meat and I found their burgers especially comforting during lockdown. I’ve made them for omnivorous friends while camping and they really liked them. The key is really good ketchup, some crunchy Napa cabbage (or lettuce, but I think the cabbage is better), a slice of heirloom tomato and a soft bun, toasted! I also like the Beyond Sausage – I think it’s a nice example of a sustainable product in minimal packaging that tastes great.

One of the very top things that you can [do] to reduce your impact on the planet is to give up beef and other red meat. I’ll share an excerpt from my book proposal that I wrote just this week:

“Let’s say you eat 1 lb of beef per week – that’s 52 lbs (23.5 kg) per year. The carbon footprint (using the average value of 100 kg CO2 per kg of beef) would be 2.35 metric tonnes CO2 per year. If everyone on the planet ate 1 lb of beef per week, our collective carbon footprint, just for this beef, would be 18.8 billion tonnes of CO2. Current greenhouse gas emissions for the entire planet are around 59 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, so that 1 lb of beef would increase the planet’s entire emissions by almost one third! Beef consumption per capita in the US is actually a little over 1 lb per week – if the whole world followed suit, we would have little chance of keeping climate change or deforestation under manageable levels.”

The book isn’t all numbers, however – I’m taking the approach of convincing people that it’s in their self-interest to make their lives more sustainable. I think that many of us are feeling a bit lost or aimless and that fixing our lifestyle gives us a greater sense of purpose, and actual happiness! I’ll be on the lookout for a publisher soon 🙂

Willow Croft: If you could visit any eon/era/period on the Geologic Time Scale, which would it be and why?

James: Hmmm. I think I’d like to visit the late Paleolithic Era, rewinding to around 20,000 years ago. I find the Paleo Diet movement to be nonsense, scientifically. Even worse, it’s nonsense with an agenda: to get people to eat more meat. I’ve already written a few posts on the diet, including a rebuttal on the misinformation on legumes, so it would be nice to go back there and see how Paleolithic people really lived.

Where to find James in the Internet Time Scale

The Green Stars Project – my original blog, which deals with many social and environmental topics. The goal is to encourage readers to include an ethical rating (0-5 “Green Stars”) when they write reviews, online. I’m confident that this kind of grassroots movement is the most effective way to encourage corporate responsibility, and to educate ourselves on ethics. Please join in and you can win a subscription to Ethical Consumer!

Ethical Bargains – reviews of new food products, with Green Stars ratings for social and environmental impact. There’s an emphasis on keeping up with the plant-based food movement. It also encourages folk on a budget to make good purchasing decisions, as I’ve purchased the items on discount at the Grocery Outlet.

It’s a (compostable) wrap!

A big thank you to James and the Warrior work he’s done for the environment and in areas of social change.

Now it’s your turn! I’ve done some Green Star Reviews myself, so I encourage people to learn how to write your own!

Because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to cover the world in eco-friendly, sparkly, Green Stars? Right? RIGHT?!?!

Binge-Watching with the Spirits!

Stay cool this summer by binge-watching your favorite shows in the a/c! This fun astrological guide will help you find the perfect show to accompany your mint-julep-sipping!

Mint Julep
Photo courtesy of

Don’t forget about your animal friends! Help them beat the heat by putting ice cubes in their water. Putting water outside in shaded areas can help birds and other wildlife life, too! Keep fresh, cool water in birdbaths, as well as containers of water on the ground for those critters that can’t reach the birdbath.

I always try to help out animals when I can, so I’m considering adding another feature to this blog. I might do interviews similar to my Five Things Friday blog, where I interview people involved in environmental and animal rights activism. Probably under an “EcoMonday” tag.

That’s all for now!

At the Drive-In…

I got pretty off track yesterday. It was a strange day/evening in a not-very-exciting-but-very-busy way.

I’ve probably missed a bunch of your blogs, but I tried my best to catch up!

I hope you all have some great summer plans in the works–feel free to share any forthcoming adventures in the comments!

If you want a fun little getaway, come join me and Horror Tree at the (spooky!) drive-in…if you dare!

Tarot Readings Full of PRIDE!

Before I get cold introvert-feet on the whole tarot reading gig, I figured I’d do a run via my blog to see how it goes!

So, for Pride Month (the month of June), I’ll offer a fifteen-minute reading for five dollars via email, phone, or (if I’m feeling brave enough!) a Zoom call. (I can take payments via PayPal, but we can discuss other options.)

If you’re at all even remotely interested, send me a message to or via the blog’s message form, with “Bringer of Nightmares and Storms” somewhere in the email.

Happy PRIDE Month, either way!

Pride Blog