Home, Hearth and Murder: domestic drama

Back in 1816, Jane Austen (yes, I always try to bring her into anything if I can) commiserated with her nephew when he reported that he had lost two whole chapters of his own tentative novel. She hadn’t stolen them, she promised. “What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited Sketches, full of VarietyContinue reading “Home, Hearth and Murder: domestic drama”

Horseshoe Nails and other consequences

2020 is drawing to an end and not before time. Things will change. Once we have finished wiping out our elderly, infirm and vulnerable by being stupid over Christmas, vaccines will be administered and Covid 19 will recede. Hope is on the horizon and so is the great unknown. Time to reprise my post fromContinue reading “Horseshoe Nails and other consequences”

Long Shadows: historical minds

Although I write crime novels, I feel happiest writing historical fiction. History was always my favourite subject at school – not the history of kings, generals and politicians but the history of everyday life and the exploration of a past when people thought, felt and believed differently. When I wrote Shadows, I set it inContinue reading “Long Shadows: historical minds”

Drawing a Likeness: describing characters

How much detail do you give in describing a character’s appearance? Do you convey with precision the shape of their nose, their eyes, their lips, their hair, the quality of their skin, the size of their waist, or do you leave it vague? I have read and enjoyed cinematic book in which every detail isContinue reading “Drawing a Likeness: describing characters”

Sealed with a Kiss: The End

I often have difficulty knowing how to start a book, even when I have the whole story clear in my mind. But it can be even more difficult knowing when to stop. Don’t spoil the impact of the natural ending by drifting on into slow sludge. Sorry, Shakespeare, but you should really have stopped whenContinue reading “Sealed with a Kiss: The End”

Believe It Or Not: paranormal fiction

When my father left the air force at the end of World War II with a bit of money in his pocket, he spent some of it on a complete set of the latest edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. I still have it, well worn, with some of the 24 spines barely legible any more.Continue reading “Believe It Or Not: paranormal fiction”

In Praise of Dots…

“He threw his manly arms around her, carried her to the bed and …” That was how scenes involving people, you know, DOING IT, used to end. Dot dot dot. Leaving school girls giggling and fantasising about what the dots actually implied. Then baldly honest liberation intervened, the dots disappeared and we readers were draggedContinue reading “In Praise of Dots…”

11 11. A Short Story – Too Short

Meet William Thomas Marshall, my great uncle. Actually, I’m not absolutely positive this is William. It might be one of his brothers, but it’s generally assumed it’s him. I can describe him. He was 5’4”, weighed 10 stone, with a fresh complexion, brown eyes and black hair, a scar on his right forehead and aContinue reading “11 11. A Short Story – Too Short”

The House that Time Built

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, I like houses. I like to treat them as characters in my books, sometimes even the central character. Just as dogs are supposed to resemble their owners – or is it the other way round? – houses reflect the people that live in them. It’s something that has long beenContinue reading “The House that Time Built”