Historian, novelist and crime writer… Mal Foster

Born in 1956 in Farnham, Mal Foster grew up in nearby Camberley. He left his secondary modern school at just fifteen years old to help support his single mother and younger brother. It was around this time that he began writing, and his first poems were published soon after. 

Mal is an avid fan of progressive rock music and, when pressed, cites late Canadian singer/songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen as the person who inspires him.

In 2006 his most widely read poem ‘The Wedding’ was unexpectedly published in the Australian Secondary Schools anthology Poetry Unlocked, a book which formed part of the country’s literature exam curriculum for that year. The irony of its inclusion has always amused Mal considering he left school before gaining any formal qualifications himself.  His work has continued to appear worldwide in a number of anthologies, newspapers, magazines and across the internet.

In 2005 Mal launched The Knaphillian, which he ran as an independent website that was a popular source of news and information for local residents. As well as supporting local charities and events,  publicity through the site helped the push for recognition of Knaphill’s historical border. Mal tells us that in collaboration with Phil Stubbs and the Knaphill Residents’ Association this was achieved. It also championed and publicised the need for a Knaphill memorial garden and in collaboration with councillor Melanie Whitehand, this was also achieved. The Knaphillian was also a popular source for people researching history of Knaphill and Mal’s fascination for local history saw his first book Knaphill; All in One Place publish in 2012.  

Mal’s continued research as a local historian put him in the path of an incredible find by a builder developing what had been the Brookwood Hospital site, during the development of Sainsbury’s and the Brookwood estate. In the bough of a tree that was being felled, a metal box containing letters, diary notes and a lock of red hair was found and passed on to the family whose address was on the letters. The letters and notes were written by Tommy Compton, a patient at Brookwood Asylum (as it was then known). Tommy’s family, knowing Mal was so interested in local history passed the find on to him and Mal wrote his first novel, The Asylum Soul, that was published in 2015. The book cleverly pieced together Tommy’s own diary notes and Mal wove a remarkable novel that is both compelling (particularly for older local residents who will remember many of the buildings and businesses mentioned in the book), sometimes harrowing, as it tells of the story of Tommy’s life ripped apart by unthinkable institutional failings, false hope and ultimate family betrayal, but also contains a lot of humour.

Mal’s second book, Fly Back and Purify was published in 2017 and is a paranormal drama set around an unexplained incident at a railway station in Surrey. Thanks to its unique storyline and unexpected twists, the book has rapidly become a firm favourite among those who embrace the ‘acquired taste of the supernatural’. The book also features Jack Compton, Tommy Compton’s (the protagonist  from Mal’s first novel The Asylum Soul ) nephew and answers some of the questions that his first novel left readers wanting to know. So, we would recommend you read the books in the right order! 

STOP PRESS 

Mal’s third novel , An Invisible Nemesis published in the same week as The Knaphillian re-launched. There must be some karma there!

An Invisible Nemesis is a tale of conspiracy and murder. It tells the story of a Princess Diana look-a-like who goes missing in Venice, Italy in 1997 just a few short weeks before the death of the real princess.  Predominately set on the Maltese island of Gozo, investigative journalist Jack Compton is on the case again following the brutal murder of his former colleague Suzanne Camilleri. Early reviews say that Mal brings a unique twist to standard conspiracy theories with an “addictive” and “gripping” novel of extraordinary proportions. Mal explains ‘My priority was to write something completely different to what I had done before. I also wanted to write a novel that was against the grain, something that would separate my story out from other so-called conspiracy theories.’

Mal’s reviews continue with, ‘Once in a while, a writer comes along with a different story to tell. Mal Foster is one such writer. There is a unique simplicity in his work that his readers find addictive and engaging. He is an author of the ordinary man who has already proven he can hold his own when it comes to being matched against much bigger, household names in the literary world. His third novel, An Invisible Nemesis is an explosive story of conspiracy and murder and is wonderfully told through its main character, the endearing Jack Compton who you will be rooting for all the way.’

Mal says, ‘I write primarily for my own enjoyment and if just a few people enjoy my work along the way, then the whole journey through to publication has been worth it.’

The Knaphillian says;  ‘Keep ’em coming Mal’. 

For further information, contact malfoster1956@gmail.com or visit Mal’s site www.malfoster.co.uk

Books are available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon.co.uk and and Lulu.com

Other book signings for Mal’s latest novel An Invisible Nemesis are arranged for Malta in September and in London in October. Contact Mal for further details.

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