Short Story: Footprints

He tentatively tries the stairs. A couple of creaks but they seem solid enough. A bit of woodworm on the treads, but they’re not going to give way under him. Two rooms open off the cramped landing. Stevens ducks to the right under a lintel low enough to scalp the unwary, and straightens to lookContinue reading “Short Story: Footprints”

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”

He Cromwell

A reprise of my review of Hilary Mantel‘s trilogy. I have finished The Mirror and the Light. It’s huge, deep, intricate, mesmerising and probably a marmite book – you’d either love it or hate it. I loved it, although that sounds too bland for my response. It took me a while to read it, notContinue reading “He Cromwell”

Back and Forth; prequels and sequels

I love reading book series. My shelves are filled with them, from Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles to Poldark via John le Carré’s Smiley books and Earthsea. There is something comforting about being able to follow one story as it winds on through the years, or one character who keeps marching on down different alleys. But thoughContinue reading “Back and Forth; prequels and sequels”

Gwen and Other Names

A choice of names for characters is always tricky. Never have too many characters with names starting with the same letter. And never use the same name twice, even though, in real life, you probably know half a dozen Janes and Jameses. Maybe go for names that have a certain significance, athough sometimes the author’sContinue reading “Gwen and Other Names”

History in the Remaking

I’m generally listed as a crime writer – psychological crime, admittedly, so there’s no detailed police investigation, just people muddling through and falling apart – but my books have always been part historical novel. The first three, although following contemporary women, harked back to earlier eras. Not necessarily very distant eras. The Unravelling links backContinue reading “History in the Remaking”

So Clear, So Obvious

There’s a difference between writing history and writing historical fiction, but sometimes the two can overlap. Write about a real historical character and the author has to do all the research that an academic historian would. The facts are there and cannot be changed. The difference is that the author of fiction is free toContinue reading “So Clear, So Obvious”

Shadows: what lurks behind the wainscot?

In the house where I was born, on what was then the rural fringe of Luton, we had gas brackets for lamps in the bedrooms. They were no longer connected to any gas supply (which didn’t stop me bunging mine up with plasticine, just in case), but I liked them being there, because they wereContinue reading “Shadows: what lurks behind the wainscot?”

History: getting it right

and another old post finds a new home. Yesterday is history. It’s the past. I am informed that for a novel to qualify as “historical,” the past has to be at least 60 years ago. So my first novel, A Time For Silence definitely falls into that category, as it begins in 1933, but myContinue reading “History: getting it right”

The Covenant and the World of Tom Mathias

When I first moved to Pembrokeshire, back in the early 1980s, a fascinating discovery had just been made in the area: a cache of negative plates taken by a local photographer, Tom Mathias, 1866-1940. The plates had been rescued and restored by another photographer, James Maxwell Davies, and were put on display in the village whereContinue reading “The Covenant and the World of Tom Mathias”