Newsletter 177

What a few weeks I’ve had. Ignore book launches and general elections – not only have I had the Lancaster bomber, and the 617 squadron memorial, I’ve had an unexpected encounter with The Flying Scotsman (see below for evidence). I can’t help liking large, smelly vehicles.


Broke Deep is now out in all the usual places. . The associated blog tour continues apace – you can find all of the stops listed here. If you want a chance to win a goodie bag (and it’s one of my better ones), comment at any of the tour stops for your name to go into the hat. Because I use a random number generator to pick a post and a commenter, the more times you leave a comment, the more chances you have to win.

The first review is up at The Novel Approach. “One of the things I love about this author is that her characters are consummately English, whether she’s writing a historical or contemporary novel, and the dialogue tells the story as much as it reveals about her characters: their thoughts, feelings, and personalities.”

My second contribution to the Porthkennack project – the historical Count The Shells – is at edit stage. One of my editors thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever written and I suspect I agree with her. It’s awfully grown up.

Here’s a snippet:

Michael stopped by a mound of rocks, where little pools of trapped water promised boyish delights. He reached beneath the surface of one to draw out something green and glistening.
“A bottle of course.” Richard shook his head at such dimwittedness.
“Ah, but is it an ordinary bottle or a magic one? If we rub it will a genie come out and grant us three wishes? And how would we divide them if he did?”
Richard frowned; neither algebra nor grammar held the answer to that. “One each and one for mother,” he stated, at last, and with a conviction that could brook no argument. “None for Lily because she’s too young to use them sensibly.”
“You’re probably right.” Michael wondered if Richard would ever regard his sister as being old enough to act sensibly. “I like that way of dividing them. What would you wish for? All the sweets in the shop?”
Richard giggled, looking just like his mother when she was the same age. “That’s the sort of thing Lily would want. I’d wish for no more algebra or grammar lessons for any boys forever more. What about you?”
“I’m not sure. You’ve taken care of the school stuff, already.”
“I know what mother would wish for,” Richard said, suddenly serious again.
“And what’s that?” Michael asked, attention only half on his nephew, the other half considering what he would do if really presented with the opportunity to make that wish. To have such power—the responsibility would be overwhelming.
“She’d wish for all the soldiers who were hurt in the war to be whole again.”
“Oh.” Michael, unable to say more, kept his gaze straight out at sea. Maybe if he concentrated really hard he could keep at bay the tears that suddenly threatened to unman him.
“Yes, and she’d wish for the dead to come home, too.”
The only safe reply was a simple nod. Michael thought of the shells he’d just counted, the parade of names. How could he trust himself not to break down, to blurt out that roll call, then have to provide a back story to each of them? Richard had the knack of making all his defences too relaxed to work effectively.
“Don’t you think that’s a good idea?”
Michael forced a reply. “I think it’s excellent. What a shame it’s just an empty bottle with nothing in it.”
“Yes. Fairy tales never come true, I suppose.”
“No. That’s one of the sad things you learn in life, alongside the algebra.”
Richard made a disdaining face, although whether that was at the algebra or the fairy tales, Michael couldn’t tell. “It is sad. Otherwise we could have wished home your friend Thomas.”
“Thomas?” Having just recovered his composure, Michael felt unmanned again, the waves beating more violently about him than they’d done previously—or was that just the rushing of blood in his ears? He steadied himself with a hand on his nephew’s shoulder.

And here that train is, with a fine head of steam.

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