Having decided to self-publish rather than stay with my previous traditional publisher, I am now delighted to have the freedom to publish any number of books at any time. Whereas traditional publishers limit an author to publishing one book a year – I can be thoroughly irresponsible and publish two together!
And that is precisely what I have done. I am proud to introduce my two new publications, The Flame Eater, and Between.
These two novels are entirely different to each other. The Flame Eater is now my fourth historical novel In accordance with the others, this mystery-crime-adventure-romance is set in the late 15th century, the late medieval period which fascinates me and has become the period of my greatest research over the years. I may live in a small and very comfy cottage in the semi-rural beauty of Victoria, Australia. But I spend most of my time in medieval London, exploring the alleys and shadowed buildings, the winding power of the tidal Thames, and the palaces of the high clergy and the nobility. It is definitely my second home. Old London may exist purely in my head, but it is very real.
But inspiration varies for every book, and this one was actually born through the appearance of the hero Nicholas, fully formed in my head. The creation of any fictional character is a slightly strange process. People often ask, “Who is this character based on? Do you write about your friends or neighbours, disguising them under false names? Are all your characters secretly copied from members of your family, even the villains?”
Well – no – none of that. Perhaps some writers do this sort of thing, but frankly it is rare. Fictional characters are invariably born purely from the imagination. Some tiny seed roots itself in your mind and there it glues, takes shape and grows until it is a fully formed personality, quite separate from anyone you have ever known. After all, I make great efforts to present my characters as three-dimensional, but they can never be as multi-dimensional as anyone actually alive.
My initial idea stemmed from wondering how a very strong character might cope with being treated as beneath contempt and unworthy of attention by his arrogant family. Most books present such a man as angry, rude and vengeful, someone who will fight to prove his worth and lose his temper at the injustice of his treatment. Invariably he would be shown as impatient and furious. Authors seem to think such a young man will push and shout in order to vindicate himself.
But the haughty, rude and angry personality of so many books does not correspond to how I have discovered reality. I therefore decided that a character sufficiently strong and confident in spite of his family’s stupidity, would actually use humour as his defence rather than his temper, and would simply laugh at any attempts to undermine him. Thus Nicholas was born in my head, and I fell in love with him at once. He is now one of my favourite heroes, and he is certainly unusual.
At the same time, I learned some interesting and little known historical facts concerning Henry Tudor before his invasion of England, and that enlarged my plot. Then the final inspiration – I became interested in the psychology and injustice of the old system of arranged marriages and how terrible this must have been for young women forced into marriage against their will.
I disagree with much of what I have read over the years, for noble and wealthy women of that time were well accustomed from childhood to the idea of marrying a complete stranger, and for political motives, the dowry system and the need of family alliances. . Of course there were young women pressured into marriage against their wishes – but many were only too eager to marry someone of wealth and importance, who would then facilitate their own entrance into the world and enlarge their lifestyle and title. It is also fair to point out that many young men were pushed into marriage against their will. But most accepted the inevitable since a wedding was an alliance and rarely if ever seen as a romantic attachment. It was usually designed to aid both sides. However, this convoluted range of possibilities began to form itself into an interesting storyline in my mind.
And there it was – The Flame Eater was born.
I love my characters. Nicholas and Emma carry my book to its end, and the romance between them is unusual, unconventional, but – I hope – delightful. Yet there’s more. I don’t write romantic stories without interweaving plots. So here there is medieval history wrapped up in a crime mystery – and the romance weaves through it all.
My other recently published novel Between could not be more different. I have never written anything quite like this before –for a start, it is basically contemporary. This is a dramatic crime-mystery – a who-dunnit – no romance this time although there are many interweaving storylines and the plot is by no means straightforward. Mystery is the main ingredient, but this is no fantasy either. In other words – a crime drama with a twist. And it’s a big twist.
Warning – there’s plenty of bad language. My principal hero swears like a trooper. But this is intentional and very much an essential part of his personality. Please forgive him. My poor Primo is sad, lost and lonely, desperately trying to pretend his strength, and sullen bad behaviour is his defence against a world that does not want him. He knows no better.
My inspiration for this books was also a little unusual. I saw a fairly old film of Johnny Depp’s entitled The Brave. I was unable to sleep, and was sitting up in the early hours one chilly morning, watching late-night television. There were certain aspects of this film which moved me, and in particular the endless drag of hot dusty American roads. They seemed to symbolise a kind of hopelessness and typified the endless stretch of a fruitless life without ever arriving at a satisfying destination. The dust drifted in a hot and aimless wind towards an empty horizon. A sense of utter directionless foreboding seemed to dominate the film. The film is actually full of symbolism, and the futility of that dusty roadway haunted me. So then, since I was half asleep anyway, the plot of my new book started to materialise in my mind. It is absolutely nothing like the plot of the film – but that’s what sparked it off.
The next morning I started writing, and I couldn’t stop for months. I am much indebted to the extraordinary talents of Johnny Depp. My book is thanks to him.
This is a quirky novel. It’s not like any of my others, and it’s not like any other crime-mystery I have ever read. See what you make of it.
I am immensely proud of both books. I never publish anything unless I am proud of it – but the author cannot always be subjective. I would love to know what my readers think. If anyone cares to buy and read my novels, do please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads, and do please let me know what you think.
An author has a burning need to communicate. My books are my way of communicating with the world. I would be so terribly happy if people cared to communicate back. I don’t want to sit here at the computer muttering to myself. I am talking to you. Please talk back. I would really love that. And I would love it if you enjoy the books I write. They are written for you.
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