JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Michael. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

ML- I’ve lived in the Middle East for the past decade, with a years’ sojourn in Penang, Malaysia. We’re in Dubai at the moment. Fun sometimes seems like a distant memory in the times we’re all living through, but I like to run and travel. At the moment the travel is all in the planning stage but we’re hoping to get back to the UK to see family later this year and maybe return to Malaysia and Singapore. The perfect writing day at the moment is getting a thousand words finished of the next book in The Isaac Alvarez series, ‘The Apothecary’. It’s going well and I’m about a quarter of the way through and hoping to publish in July. The perfect non-writing day would be spent eating nasi lemak, char kuey teow, and satay in Penang with friends and family.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

ML- It would be a choice between Andalusia at the turn of the 15th century, when ‘Blood Libel’ is set, or the Mughal period in India which lasted from 1526 to 1857. Both periods are characterized by multicultural exchange and economic dynamism powered by globalization. I find the stories of individuals and families living through such times fascinating. This fascination is the one of the main drivers of my writing.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

ML- At the moment it’s Avicenna. He lived at the turn of the 11th century and was a key figure in the Islamic Golden Age. He’s regarded as the forefather of early modern medicine, but he was much more than that. He was a polymath and published 450 books. He made significant contributions to astronomy, medicine, mathematics, theology and poetry. He’d memorized the Holy Qu’ran by the age of ten and was a fully qualified physician at eighteen. He’s the inspiration for Ali Abu Sina, the apothecary of Book Two of The Isaac Alvarez Mysteries. Considering how much he achieved in his life I’d like to ask him what he believed was his most significant discovery or contribution to humanity.

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

ML- By accident! Like a lot of people, I’ve always wanted to write but real life kept getting in the way. Then in 2013 I visited Andalusia and spent time with Moises Hassan, a scholar, who shared with me the little-known stories of Jewish Seville. My imagination was fired by his knowledge and his passion. And only (!) seven years later ‘Blood Libel’ was published.

JMR- Michael you are both a teacher and a world traveler, how have your life choices shaped you as a writer?

ML- As an English teacher I’m endlessly interested in language; how it shapes us and how we use it to communicate our thoughts and feelings. I was fortunate to begin travelling to various parts of the world when I was eighteen. Since then, I’ve visited many countries in Europe, the Middle East and South-east Asia. Jordan and Nepal are real highlights. The furthest I’ve travelled from the UK is Perth, Australia, to see a Bruce Springsteen concert. I think travelling has enabled me to see the world from many different angles and to develop greater empathy. The ability to think and feel your way into a character’s perspective is invaluable for any writer.

JMR- Michael, tell us about your new book, Blood Libel.

ML- It was launched at the end of January 2021 at the Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai, having been awarded a prize at the 2020 event. It’s set in Seville in 1495 during the Spanish Inquisition and is, on the surface, a murder mystery. A child is brutally murdered, and the Jewish community is accused of using the blood ritually – the ‘blood libel.’ Isaac, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, reluctantly investigates in order to protect his family and his faith. But what exactly is he prepared to do as the Inquisition closes in? I hope that readers will enjoy the mystery but also see the parallels with contemporary events: the rise of anti-Semitism, the difficulty in discovering what’s really true, and holding onto your faith in troubled times.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

ML- I’m working on the next volume in the series, ‘The Apothecary,’ and also Book Three. I hope to publish both by April 2022. This will be a complete trilogy. I’ve got ideas for further books that will take the same characters through to the Spanish Empire, but we’ll see.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

ML- A good way into the series is to go to where you can sign up for my newsletter and receive a free short story, ‘The Lost Book of Hours’. This makes a really good introduction as it’s a little ‘cozier’ than ‘Blood Libel’. Feel free to email me any questions at: and you can find me on Twitter: @MLynesAuthor and on Facebook at

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

ML-  This is a pretty comprehensive list of questions but I guess you could have asked me about which writers I admire. In terms of style and voice it has to be Richard Ford. I constantly return to The Bascombe novels. I always look forward to the new Donna Leon every year – I’m halfway through ‘Transient Desires’ and it’s very good. I admire Abir Mukherjee’s Sam Wyndham series set in Raj era India. The book I’m most looking forward to reading is ‘Klara and the Sun’ by Kazuo Ishiguro.

JMR- Thank you, Michael for stopping by. Readers, if you'd like to check out Michael's book, Blood Libel, I've include a link below.


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