CP29-05-15On Old Gaffers Weekend in Yarmouth there are tens of thousands of people milling around.

Hopefully some will go into Holdings or Off The Rails or The Wheatsheaf and see one or other of my Isle of Wight based books – Her Parents’ Daughter and A Set of Lies – and then buy them!

When I say ‘Isle of Wight based’ they do extend all over the country (and across the world) as the stories unfold.

And I’ve been told that they are very good stories…..

And another coming for next year…..

St Helena

JamestownAt the end of May in the year 1881 Sir Augustus Lacey and his future wife’s father are on their way back from The Cape to England when their ship spends three days anchored off Jamestown, on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic.

Sir Augustus knows nothing of his family’s connections with the island.

He does not know that his grand-father (Sir Bernard Lacey) visited the island several times between late 1815 and the Spring of 1821 as the charade was maintained.

He does not know that the uncle he does not know exists (William Lacey) had spent three years on the island in 1844. William was a geologist and his letters back to his family on the Isle of Wight were bound in leather by Claude and kept in the library of The Lodge. No one looked at them until they were discovered in June 2014 by Professor Carl Witherby and Skye Lacey (a distant cousin of Augustus’s) as they searched for clues they did not know exist to solve the mystery of A Set of Lies.

A year ago… In another world…

OxfordThis time last year the main characters in A Set of Lies had yet to set out on their task – to solve a mystery by finding clues they do not know exist.

Fergal Shepherd is just about to start working for Sir Arthur Lacey in Oxford. He had been employed to research Sir Arthur’s family history and is nothing to do with Sir Arthur’s political office.

Skye Lacey, having long ago give up any thoughts of doing anything else, is caring for her bed-ridden Aunt Audrey (Sir Arthur’s sister) in their old family home on the Isle of Wight.

Professor Sir Carl Witherby, respected historian, academic and media personality, is looking forward to a long and peaceful summer in Cambridge.

Little do they know what the next month has in store for them.

It’s not Summer yet

PrairialAlready people are complaining about the ‘summer’ weather – but it is not summer yet. Meteorologists have that season beginning on June 1 (to make their statistics easier to calculate and compare) but traditionalists have it beginning on the Summer Solstice – June 21 this year. In the French Republican Calendar the first summer month (Messidor) begins on June 19 (Seigle).

In the French Republican Calendar (used from late 1793 to 1805 in France (and it’s territories – but surprisingly enough nowhere else) there were 100 seconds (each one 86.4% of a conventional second) in a minute, 100 minutes (each one 144% of a conventional minute) in an hour and 10 hours (each one 240% of a conventional hour) in a day. Ten days made up a décade; three décades made up a month; three months made a season and there were four seasons in the year.

Today, Thursday the 21st May 2015, would have been duodi (the second day) of décade 25 (the 25th week) An 223 (the 223rd year).

Since every month and day was given a name (to replace religious Saints’ days) today is Hémérocalle Prairial (roughly translated as Daylily day in the month of Pasture.

In the current Catholic calendar (not the one the Republican Calendar replaced) 21 May is feast day of (amongst others) St Eugène de Mazenod, the patron saint of dysfunctional families.


Be careful what you wish for….

WishesWith the official publication date of A Set of Lies (29th June 2015) approaching swiftly I find myself fearing that it will sink without trace and very few people will buy it. Sixteen years of effort writing it (on and off) will result in maybe just forty or fifty ‘people days’ spent reading it. I really want what I think it deserves, which is that a large number of people buy, read and enjoy it. They can then buy, read and enjoy all the other five of my published titles.

There are times when I really wish that one (or more) of those people who will read it has connections in the television industry (a film of even two hours duration could not do the book justice). It deserves a mini-series at the very least and I would enjoy every minute of the casting process ( I know who I’d like to play the main roles), of seeing the script develop (and arguing over the bits of the book the scriptwriters deem redundant to the story) and of learning what locations had been chosen (I’d especially love a trip to St Helena).

But then what? There would be the critics, the popular acclaim leading to the lack of privacy. And then the money. Sales of my books would rocket and how would I deal with the sums generated and the tax issues? It would mean moving (with  husband and cat) from the Isle of Wight to the British Virgin Islands or somewhere only accessible by aeroplane. And I’m not good at flying. And I’d be no good at all on any red carpet.

So perhaps I’ll stick to just hoping that those who do find the book, however many or few there are, will linger over the subtleties, will appreciate the themes and will enjoy the mystery.

That will be enough for me.




A distant, disappearing, pheasant
A distant, disappearing, pheasant

I wish I had paid more attention during the (many) Latin lessons I attended while at school (sorry Miss Valentine, I did try). Then I would perhaps have a better understanding of prefixes. Dis for example. According to various dictionaries ‘Dis’ is a Latin prefix meaning ‘apart’ ‘asunder’ ‘away’ ‘utterly’ or having a privative, negative, or reversing force

If logic could be applied to the English language any word that was ‘dis’ could stand on its own with the ‘dis’ removed as in  Disability, Disadvantage, Disagree, Disappear, Disarm, Disconnect etc.

But have you ever been gruntled, or turbed, or mayed or hevelled or tant ?

I’m sure there are good explanations.

Then there are words where the ‘non-dis’ word is a word but does not necessarily mean the opposite

Discard , Disfigure, Disclose, Disconcert……

I love the English language – so full of idiosyncrasies – and I have the greatest admiration for people who have learned (learnt?) it as a foreign language. I suspect I never could have done.

Politicians and Spooks

Bee HiveNow that election is all over I can mention politicians, a group of people who play important, if sometimes secondary, roles in my books. From Arnold Donaldson in The Last Dance to Sir Arthur Lacey in A Set of Lies via Tim Johnstone in Her Parents’ Daughter none of them are particularly likeable characters. No, delete ‘particularly’, there is little to be said for any of them other than that they were ambitious and hungry for political power (especially Sir Arthur).

My spooks tend to be much more sympathetic.

Sir Bernard Lacey (A Set of Lies), Richard Mackenzie (Her Parents’ Daughter) and David Redhead (Walking Alone and Runaways) are particularly nice (if ambiguously painted) people – well, at least, I like them.

And the ones you cannot be sure of (could what they did be called espionage?) are people whose motives are generally good. Elizabeth and Jane (Her Parents’ Daughter) may just have been caught up in the lives of those close to them; Max Fischer, the central character in all three volumes of The Iniquities Trilogy, may just have been a man of his time (the 1930s) in his place (middle Europe).

I have lived with some of these characters for getting on for fifteen years and have got to know them well. Carl Witherby, for example (he is an academic neither a politician nor a spook – though he influences other characters who are) spans my books from almost the first chapters of The Last Dance to the last page of A Set of Lies and I think of him every day. There is so much to these people I write about that cannot be included in a book, however long it may be, and much of their personality and character must lie in the imagination of you, the reader.

I wonder whether you see them the same way as I do?