No glimmer of a light

All sorts of things trigger a thought which develops into a scene, which ends up as an episode and becomes a book.  Loving Judah is about a bereaved couple – the death of the husband’s son, Judah, causes a rift between him and his wife, Aislin who was Judah’s step-mother. It should have brought them together, but this tragedy drags them apart. However, the original inspiration was the story which was across all the media, about a famous person who had been held up as a model for all, an example of honour, dignity, sincerity,  who had betrayed not just his family and personal friends and associated, but all those who had admired him and looked up to him. He was disgraced. In Loving Judah,  Aislin meets Bavol who was also disgraced – but on a much smaller and more local scale.

The book is the story of the fragmentation of Aislin’s marriage, and her relationship with Bavol. There seemed so much talk in the story I needed some action! I hope this scene does appear realistic in the context of the whole story – Aislin is kidnapped by Bavol’s jealous brother, Pal, and is taken out onto the moors because he wants to ‘talk to her’ – although she fears he intends much worse:

She staggered and limped beside Pal; he’d picked up a stick and held it like a club as they walked slowly back up the road. It was made up of setts like the old parts of town at home. They were miles from anywhere, there was no glimmer of a light, no sign of habitation.
The boot of the car still yawned open, Aislin was going to have to climb back in. She stopped and unzipped her sodden fleece, struggling to unlatch it at the bottom.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“It’s soaking wet,” she replied and turned slightly away from him as if to try to see where it was caught.
“Hurry up!”
She undid the zip and pulled it off. Suddenly she lashed out with her foot and caught him on the knee, he staggered and she kicked again and connected hard against his balls. He groaned and she punched viciously at his face, and his moustache and teeth mashed against her knuckles. She threw her fleece over him and tumbled him into the boot and slammed the lid down. It caught him across the ankle and he screamed and when she slammed it down again she trapped him inside as she had been.
She had to escape because Pal intended to kill her. There was no logic in his arguments, no reason to what he said. He believed Bavol loved her and he wanted to take her away from him, that was all.
Thank God he’d left the keys in the ignition! She was shaking violently with cold and shock and the engine kept dying, and all the while Pal shouted and kicked. The car choked into life but as she put it into gear, her bare wet foot slipped on the clutch and they stalled. She started again, the engine roaring as she revved too hard then they jerked forward and as she set off she tried to find the headlights, found the wipers first and then the lights came up, full beam. She crunched into second, accelerating up the bumpy road. There was a crash behind her and Pal’s cursing was clear, he’d kicked his way through into the back of the car.
Aislin stepped on the brake and tried to find the door handle but an arm snaked round her throat and she was throttled against the head rest. She thrashed around trying to hit him but he grasped her wrist and she slammed her foot down and they shot forward into the darkness. Pal was screaming at her to stop but she was almost passing out, strangled by his forearm.
They glanced off a wall and then were bouncing madly downhill as they left the road. She was nearly unconscious, stars flashing before her eyes as she struggled to escape. There was a huge crash as they hit something big and hard and Pal rose up behind her with the force of the impact and the windscreen shattered.
The car stalled and she found the door release and tumbled out and fell face first into heather and the smell of peat was clean and good. She scrambled to her knees and the stink of petrol hit her. She had to run, had to get away, the car was going to catch on fire. It was raining in sheets but that wouldn’t stop the car blowing up, she’d seen it in a dozen films.
Pal was still inside and she called his name but he was silent. Was he dead, smashed through the windscreen?
He was lying across the front seats, his head in the passenger’s footwell. Not another dead boy, not another dead boy!
She wrenched the nearside door open and grasped him under the arms; he was face down and she pulled and tugged at his inert body. He wasn’t tall but he was very heavy. There was a crackle and a huge flash and the sky lit up.
Oh God the car’s on fire! But it was lightning.
She heaved him again and he slid out and she had a disturbing image of something giving birth and the new-born slithering into the world. She dragged him across the heather and then there was nothing beneath her feet and she was tumbling and landed heavily on stone with Pal on top of her.
“Pal, are you alright?” she cried stupidly.
“You bitch!” and he lunged at her.
She pushed him back and jumped up and began to run. They were back among the trees, and Aislin was blindly following a cobbled path. Judah was urging her on as Pal grunted and lumbered after her.
Suddenly the path wasn’t there and she fell into soaking bracken. There were heaps of mossy stones like fallen masonry. She could barely see in the dark and the slashing rain but there were lumps of granite beneath her bare hands. She skittered across on all fours, having some space in her terror to worry that she would slip and break her ankle.
She jumped down a stone wall and was inside a ruined building and there was water racing nearby.
She screamed and dodged away but she was trapped. There was a collapsed doorway and she clambered over the fallen lintel, shrieking now, yelling desperately.
She stopped just in time from dropping into a raging torrent of a mountain stream and turned to face Pal. He was going to push her in but with a surge of courage she ran straight at him and he was taken by surprise, his reactions slowed by whatever hurt he’d sustained in the crash. They rolled on the floor in a crazy embrace, she trying to cling onto him, he trying to get her over the edge. She flailed around and her hand connected with a slimy branch and she brought it down on his head. He cried out and she rolled away and he tumbled into the stream.

© Lois Elsden 2017

If you want to find out how Aislin ended up in this situation, and whether she escaped from it, here is a link to Loving Judah:

Settings… too close to home?

I know I’m mentioned this before, rambled on about it most likely, but I’m puzzling over the feasibility (for me) of writing something set in a location which is not only real, but somewhere I know very well… for example the place where I live now. Most of my novels are set in an imaginary town, on an imaginary coastline, with an imaginary big city with an airport and motorway connections nearby, with imaginary villages all around, moors, hills, marl pits, post-industrial landscapes… all completely fictitious, all existing only in my own mind and that of my readers.

I have only set one of my novels, ‘Flipside’ in a real place, the town of Oldham where I lived for many years. I did set another novel, ‘Loving Judah’ in two real areas of the country, Yorkshire and Cornwall, but the actual locations were just invented.

Why have I done this? Well, for me it gave a freedom to be totally creative in terms of plot… I needed a run-down, shabby town… so here is Castair; I needed a rather posh village, the ‘locals’ pushed out by townie incomers who bought up local homes and pushed up the prices, so her is Bethel; I needed marl pits – here they are on the far side of Castair… I need an old disused factory, a Methodist chapel turned into a posh restaurant, a network of little ‘lanes’ filled with expensive jewellery and knick-knack shops, fancy ice-cream parlours, ethnic delis, over-priced footwear boutiques… All can be done with an imaginary place. I am very careful to make my places ‘work’ and to be consistent with directions, connections and distances.

Having an imaginary setting can help to ensure that the reader understands my characters are totally fictional, completely products of my mind, and that any accidental similarities to anyone is just a complete coincidence.

I have mentioned all this before, but it is playing on my mind a little as I have written a series of scenes based on where I live now, a small village right next to the sea, on the estuary of a river which was once navigable deep into Somerset, but now is a sleepy remnant of itself for many of its miles. My characters go into ‘my’ pub, drink the beer I drink, go for meals in ‘the other’ pub, go into ‘our’ paper-shop, walk past the village school, the castle the bluebell field, Rose Cottage, the old school cottage…  My dilemma is whether I should rework these scenes into another imaginary location, changing, omitting, adding features and places. Might people I know think I’m writing about them if my story is here in our village? Might I inadvertently have a story-line which parallels a real situation of a real person – a person who might think I have stolen the story from them?

Recently I have been reading a series of books set not far from here, in and around Bridgwater, Burnham, Brean Down and the coastline all along here, a coast I know very well. The series is by Damien Boyd, they are police procedurals ‘starring’ Nick Dixon a maverick police officer.  As a reader it’s been quite exciting -‘ooh, I know that golf club/church/street/motorway services!’  I have even been into a couple of the pubs he mentions (no surprise there!) One of the novels is set when we had terrible floods down here in 2014 where a lot of our county was under water for months. Of course, in the novel, the crime scene was also under water!

Reading Boyd’s novels has really set me thinking yet again about location… our little village has so much to offer as a setting for novels – ruined church built on the site of a much older Anglo-Saxon chapel, a Neolithic hill fort, an ancient wharf where Phoenicians, Romans and Vikings shipped stuff out and brought stuff in, brickworks, claypits, quarries and lime kilns, ancient caves, water meadows, dangerous mud and quicksand, dunes, floods and a tsunami, golf course, wonderful pubs, restaurant, tearoom, picturesque and quaint old buildings, stylish new buildings, mysterious wooded areas with strange earthworks, nearby motorway connecting to London, the north, the south… anywhere in the country really! – legends of pirates and smugglers, local characters, real celebrities (John Cleese, William Lisle Bowles, Hannah Moore) sea frets and sea fog (the fog horn now defunct)…

Hmmm, I must ponder some more…

Meanwile, a link to my books:

“Loving Judah”:


Damien Boyd:

…and an interesting article from some time ago about Uphill:

The first light of dawn

This morning I am sharing the second chapter of my e-book ‘Loving Judah’; when a terrible tragedy strikes, some people are drawn together even more closely, others’ relationship is ripped apart. In my story, Aislin’s step-son has died on a trekking expedition to Kashmir; her husband Peter, Judah’s father, is understandably devastated but his grief seems to be drawing him away from her, rather than pulling him closer:

The beautiful day was a mockery. Aislin had seen the first light of dawn as she  stood by the uncurtained window and now She watched Peter, stiff from sitting downstairs all night, slowly stumble out into the early morning. He was bent like an old man as he almost tripped over the pile of rubble, splashed into the pool which had gathered. He seemed barely conscious, as if all feeling, all thought was buried beneath the huge weight of misery that overwhelmed him. Hardly aware of what he was doing he unzipped his flies and peed into the heap of sand.

When Peter wandered into the bedroom she was in bed and lay watching him as he took off his suit and pulled on his pyjamas and the sweater he slept in. Surely it was light enough for him to see that she was not asleep?

He got into bed but lay as far from her as he was able, on his back staring at the ceiling.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

Peter did not reply but rolled over so his back was towards her.

Aislin swallowed her upset; She had lain weeping through the night, images of Judah flashing in her mind whether her eyes were open or closed. And somewhere deep in her heart she secretly pondered whether she would have felt differently if he had been her son. Surely she could not hurt more? Her sorrow was physical, a pain that constricted her chest.

She got up and for some reason thought of how she used to go to bed naked; When she and Pete were first together she did not even possess a night dress

She pushed her feet into her trainers and staggered into the chilly bathroom, climbing over the cardboard packages containing the shower unit. Can I really bear to wash in cold water again? Yesterday she had risen early and heated water on the range and brought it up to the bathroom… Yesterday. She had a sudden flash of the coffin. It was biodegradable.

She cleaned her teeth, and shivering returned to the bedroom.

Peter was awake.

“Can we get the electricity fixed and the boiler connected as a priority, I really have just about had it with washing in cold water,” she said, stripping off her sweatshirt and pyjamas.

“Have you forgotten what happened yesterday?” Peter asked, his pale face unusually flushed.

what did he mean? Apart from the funeral, nothing had happened yesterday.

“What did happen yesterday?” she asked, zipping up her jeans.

“What is the matter with you?” he bellowed, sitting up. “Not content with sending my son to his death, you can’t wait to get him in the ground and forgotten, as if he never existed!”

“Peter!” she exclaimed outraged.

“He was always a problem to you wasn’t he? You didn’t even want to marry me because of him!”

“Peter that is so unfair!” she could hardly think of the words to combat this nonsense “I loved Judah, I always loved him! Right from the first! I’m sorry but you’re out of order to say that – I know you are upset – “

“Upset!” Peter screamed “Upset? My only child dies thousands of miles from home, of course I’m bloody upset!”

He threw himself back onto the bed and pulled the covers up over his face.

Aislin’s heart was turned to stone even as her mind tried to reason. He’s hurting, he’s grieving, but that is so so bloody unfair. the doctor had said something about grief and grieving, about bereavement – anger, guilt, disbelief, acceptance, she had muddled it. Whatever. Peter was angry, angry with her, but it was only because she was there. She stamped out of the room and if there had been a door she would have slammed it. That had been one of Peter’s first jobs in the house, ripping every hideous door from its hinges and flinging it in the skip. They were horrible, even without the awful paint flaking from them, but at least they allowed for some privacy in the bathroom. Aislin was indifferent to it now and wondered if there was a door yet designed which would please them both.

Her foot connected with the lantern still standing at the top of the stairs where she had left it last night and it tumbled down the steps and she heard the glass shatter.

She took her anger out on the house. This sodding house, this bloody house, this damned bloody bloody sodding house. She stamped down the stairs, cursing at each step.

Let’s sell it, Pete, lets sell the damned ruin. Lets find a brand new house, an executive dwelling on an exclusive estate. The whole thing was a mistake a crazy damned stupid bloody sodding mistake, bugger it, bugger, bugger, bugger.

She hopped across the joists and into the kitchen as the back door opened and a tall windswept blond woman strode in and dropped a travel bag.

“Ashy,” she said. “Oh Ashy! I know I’m late, too late, but oh Ashy!”

It was Sandi.

If you want to know what happens to Peter and Aislin, and to Sandy, here is a link to my book which I hope to publish as a paperback next year:

… and here is my blurb for the book:

The tragic death of Aislin McManus’s adored step-son Judah is a catastrophe; the fact that his father, Peter, blames Aislin almost breaks her heart.
Her attempts to mend the breach between her and her husband are failing and when Aislin meets someone else who is blamed for the death of his best friend she resolves to do everything she can to reconcile him with his family, even though she puts herself in danger by doing so.

No-one would know she was missing…

here is an excerpt from my novel ‘Loving Judah’ which I published as an e-book in 2012. This is the blurb for it: The tragic death of Aislin McManus’s adored step-son Judah is a catastrophe; the fact that his father, Peter, blames Aislin almost breaks her heart.  Her attempts to mend the breach between her and her husband are failing and when Aislin meets someone else who is blamed for the death of his best friend she resolves to do everything she can to reconcile him with his family, even though she puts herself in danger by doing so.

Here is an excerpt…

Aislin’s thoughts were interrupted and she looked up at the sound of her name. A man was crossing the road to her… Pal.

“I have to talk to you, not here, go down the road and round the next corner. I’ll be there in five minutes,” and he turned and walked swiftly in the opposite direction.

What should she do? His feelings towards her were obvious she feared the violence she felt lurked not far beneath his skin. Slowly she walked down the road and rounded the corner. It was a narrow street with high walls on either side. There was a car parked further up and a figure was leaning against it, a red spot glowed where he was smoking.

Nervously Aislin walked along the lane, past the gates of a cemetery, towards the car. The figure stood up straight, waiting for her. It must be Pal but he seemed slighter, not as chunky. There were no street lights and it was impossible to see.

Somebody was behind her but before she could turn something was thrown over her, a blanket, and someone was clasping her tightly. She tried to scream but a hand covered her face, pressing the stinking wool into her mouth and nose so she could hardly breath. Then her legs were swept away from her and she was being carried. She tried to struggle, tried to kick but someone else had grabbed her round the waist and she was beginning to feel faint with lack of air.

She was carried far to the car, dragged into the back and pushed down on the floor, her head stuffed under the front seat. She struggled and squirmed and tried to scream but a foot came down on her ear.

“Shut up or I’ll hurt you!” said a young excited voice, he wasn’t Pal.

The engine turned over and the car turned round.

Oh god, oh god, oh god.

She tried to think of all the things she had ever read about being abducted. It was important to remember every detail, But she could see nothing, she had no idea who any of them were, or exactly how many there were. Three maybe four and one of them must be Pal. He must have looped round somehow and got back to be waiting in the entrance to the cemetery. There were two in the back with her, she could feel their feet. It was a saloon car. The foot was still on the side of her head, painfully pressing her ear so although she could hear voices she could not distinguish what they said or how many there were. The car had turned right out of the lane, back past the hotel and into town. the measured way they drove, the stopping at junctions and lights, indicated that they were going through the town.

They speeded up and music was turned on, loud, young, repetitive music. Aislin lost track of which way they were going, they probably weren’t on a main road, she deduced by the speed and turns and gear changes. She tried to keep calm, tried to stop the tears and mucus seeping into the coarse stinking blanket. It smelt of old cigarettes, wet dog, earth, mould, it was disgusting.

She tried to move, she was so uncomfortable, her clothes twisted about her, her legs cramped. She tried to relax, tried to make a plan. When they stopped she would have a chance to get away, a small chance but probably the only chance. She planned what she would do rather than think about what Pal might have in mind for her. There was no way she could keep track of time, the music was endless, there was no way of estimating the length of each song – they just merged into each other.

Aislin was so frightened, so terrified, it was all she could do not to whimper. Bavol was with Tawno, he wanted to talk he had said. Well, that might take hours, If he came to her room late and she did not answer he would presume she was sleeping. No-one would know she was missing until tomorrow. By then she might be dead… Tossed off a cliff… Left in the middle of the moors to wander… Beaten up, raped… There were four of them… She began to weep.

She had to keep calm, above all she had to keep calm, That would be the only way to get through it. And she had to be ready for any opportunity.

The car slowed down and began to creep along slowly. Were they nearly there? There, where ‘it’ would happen.

© Lois Elsden 2017

If you want to know what happens to Aislin, here is a link:

Promoting my stuff

If you’re just an ordinary person, bragging about yourself is totally alien… If you’re an ordinary British person, it’s even more so. We’re not good at receiving compliments, modesty and self-deprecation are qualities ingrained, so now for me, when I want to reach an audience for my books, it’s tricky to balance overcome my natural unwillingness to blow my own trumpet. I guess that’s where agents come in, agents can promote work, and get it out there in an expert way. However, I don’t have an agent, and in a funny sort of way, now I have been self-publishing and self-promoting for five years, I sort of like it – every success is down to me! Oops, am I blowing my own trumpet?

Why do I want people to read my stories? Why do musicians want an audience? Why do artists want the world to see their work? Why do actors get up on a stage rather than prancing around in front of a mirror? For me, being a story-teller is natural, it’s what I am, in my every day life I’m for ever going on about something or another, something that happened to me, something I saw/did/heard/learnt/took part in. When I was a professional teacher, the kids would always say ‘oh no, not another story’, when I launched into something – I think (hope) they actually liked my ramblings… I did it almost without thought, my mind leaping from the subject in hand to something which happened to me or a friend or a cousin, or something I just randomly made up to entertain.

An example of the ‘made-up’ stories I told my students, apart from ‘the ghost of the fourth floor’ which became a college legend, was about my teaching assistant, Sally. I can’t even now remember how I got onto talking about what we had done in our lives apart from working in schools, when I went into a lengthy description of Sally’s past life growing up in a circus, being a trapeze artist with spangly tights and revealing costume, how in her free time she was exceedingly modest ad wore long dresses, and her future husband fell in love with her when she was looking after the coconut shy and he caught a glimpse of her ankle as she bent down to pick up a fallen coconut…

So back to my trumpet blowing… Yes, I want people to read my stories! yes I actually think they are not too bad – self-deprecation alert – they are quite good! So… if you haven’t read any yet – here is a really brief fanfare for each:

  • Radwinter – Thomas finds out more about himself and his own family than about his ancestors… who actually had quite a dramatic time, fleeing 1830’s war-torn Warsaw and jumping ship in Harwich
  • Magick (Radwinter 2) – the rather terrifying father of Thomas’s step-son comes in search of ‘his boy’
  • Raddy and Syl (Radwinter 3) – mysterious Moroccans preying on an old woman, a disappeared woman who may not have even existed, and shocking truths about his own family – Thomas has quite a difficult series of event to deal with
  • Beyond Hope (Radwinter 4) – Thomas meets a dangerous psychopath, and somehow gets involved in people smuggling
  • Earthquake -(Radwinter 5) – a haunted hotel, an eighty year old mystery which brings danger to the present… Thomas is really under pressure
  • Farholm – who  killed young girls on the island of Farholm? Is he still on the loose, or was a recently widowed woman’s dead husband responsible?
  • The Stalking of Rosa Czekov – who stalked Rosa to her death… and has s/he moved on to a new victim?
  • Loving Judah – can Aislin and her husband Peter ever get over the death of his son Judah?
  • night vision – a thirty year old murder is discovered
  • Flipside – is a war damaged veteran responsible for a series of dreadful murders… or is he a victim pf more than his war service?
  • The Double Act – Don’t think this novel is a romance, this may be a love story… but the other side of love is dark love
  • Lucky Portbraddon – perhaps the Portbraddons are not so lucky, murder, drugs, madness, modern slavery… but also unexpected love

Are you tempted? They are all available as e-readers, Radwinter is also available as a paperback


Loving Judah…

Over the last few weeks I have shared excerpts from my novels about Thomas Radwinter who traces his  family history, and then later investigates other people’s stories, and not just genealogical ones, but mysteries in their everyday lives.

Over the next month I am  sharing excerpts from my other novels; this is the opening chapters of ‘Loving Judah’:



They sat at the kitchen table, the flame from the candle flickering slightly in the draught. It was a round, fat creamy coloured candle set in a saucer between them. It was very cold, the range hadn’t been lit or had gone out or… but who cares. They stared at the flame as if hypnotised, utterly silent, absolutely still. There was nothing to say and there was little point in doing anything.
Aislin shivered suddenly and Peter glanced up, startled. Aislin’s teeth started to chatter audibly and she realised that her ankles were cold. Peter stared at her expressionlessly. His face was shadowed and gaunt and he looked more like his father as his father looked now. Peter looked as he would when he was eighty.
“I think I shall go to bed,” said Aislin. “Can I get you anything before I go up? Would you like a cup of tea? Or anything else?” Her smile was a mechanical contraction of muscles in her face, it took a deliberate effort.
“No, thank you,” Peter answered coldly, as if offended.
Aislin didn’t ask what the matter was. They had buried Peter’s son today, her step-son.
She stood up and her chair scraped on the tiles. Peter winced and frowned slightly as if she’d done it on purpose.
“Sorry, Pete,” she was contrite, squeezing her eyes to stop the tears.
She got the lantern from the dresser; the matches kept going out and she burnt her fingers before the wick lit.
“I’ll leave it at the top of the stairs so you can see your way up,” she said.
It was a bizarre thought but should she kiss him? Of course she should, but when she tried to kiss his cheek he turned his head sharply and her nose bumped against his ear.
He wasn’t rejecting her, of course he wasn’t; his grief was making him fragile, the slightest chink and he would shatter completely.
At the door, she looked back at Peter; the swinging lantern cast strange looming shadows round the chilly kitchen. He was staring at her aggressively.
“You shouldn’t have encouraged him to go,” he said in a low voice. “If he hadn’t gone to Kashmir he would still be alive. You shouldn’t have encouraged him.”
Aislin was stunned, shocked out of the daze in which she’d floated all day. Poor Pete, poor, poor Pete. She had loved Judah, she was riven with the pain of his loss, but Peter was his father, Peter had seen him come into the world, had been the first to hold him. Judah was his son.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I am so, so sorry.”
Pete looked at his hands, cupped on the table before him.
Aislin waited but he said nothing more.
She turned and almost slipped between the joists, forgetting there were no floorboards in the hall. The heel of one shoe hooked against a timber and she tumbled forwards, by luck arriving on all fours, her bottom ludicrously in the air, the lantern fallen into the crawlspace. An inappropriate laugh bubbled, but she choked it back for fear it would bring her even nearer to tears. She glanced over her shoulder as she regained her footing, still crouched on the joists. Peter hadn’t moved despite her broken off cry, still staring at his hands, either lost in thoughts or deliberately ignoring her.
Aislin knelt on the timber to reach the lantern which amazingly had landed on its base; the rough edge of the wood dug into her shin and as she got up her tights snagged and tore.
She was suddenly angry; angry that she’d hurt her shin and ripped her tights, angry that she’d twisted her wrist when she tumbled, angry that there were no floor boards and no electricity, angry that Judah was dead.
She’d managed not to cry at the funeral although she’d nearly broken down when embraced by one of Peter’s cousins, a younger woman she hardly knew. Now sorrow and grief boiled inside, seething like pain and she wanted to scream, howl and cry her anguish.
She looked back at Peter.
She climbed the stairs.

Here is a link to ‘Loving Judah’:

… and here is a link to my other e-books:

Thinking about blurbs…

Apparently, and I may have mentioned this before, the word blurb dates from 1906 and was invented by Brander Matthews – meaning the notes on the inside of a book jacket. Well, sadly, as yet, I have had no books actually published as real actual tree-books with jackets – only self-published as e-books. However, I am not complaining, I have been very pleased, delighted and somewhat surprised at the success I have had in my own way! I am in control (which may be a good or not so good thing) and do the covers and write the blurbs.

Blurb writing for your own work is really difficult – it sounds a bit big-headed to say how wonderful your own work is, how exciting, interesting and the best thing a prospective reader should choose… but on the other hand, sometimes one should look at what one’s achieved and be proud of all the effort, and look objectively and see that it has merit.

This is what I wrote for my first published book, Farholm:

Devastated by the death of her young husband, Deke Colefox is determined to find out all she can about the man she married, Niko Nicolaides and decides to go to his family home on Farholm Island. Dr Michael Cabus has his own secret reason for visiting the island; he too wants to find the truth about a beloved stranger.
Deke and Dr Cabus arrive on the same ferry as a beautiful girl who then disappears. The islanders fear the worst as two other young women were horrifically murdered the previous year.
Deke and Michael each have a personal interest in finding the missing girl, and finding her before she meets the same fate as the other two. Their desire for answers leads them to face uncomfortable truths and their lives are put at risk in an unexpected and terrifying way.

Because the two main characters I was anxious that people shouldn’t think it was going to be a romance; it isn’t – Deke and Michael become friends, but no more. There is a romance in ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov‘, but it is very much a subsidiary story-line, so I didn’t mention or even hint at it:

Rosa Czekov is an ordinary person who, through an extraordinary act of courage, brings herself to public attention. Rosa is modest and private, and this unwelcome publicity attracts a stalker who makes her life a misery and brings her to the verge of a breakdown.
Her cousin, Tyche Kane, has a mission to discover who is tormenting Rosa and bring him or her to retribution. In the course of her pursuit, Tyche uncovers many secrets in an effort to prove Rosa was not just imagining her persecutor.However, her quest not only puts her own life at risk, but endangers Rosa’s friends and family and leads to the murder of someone very close to her.

The title of ‘Loving Judah‘ might lead a reader to think it is a love story – well that is a strong part of the book, but Judah is the main character’s step-son, who dies before the book even starts:

The tragic death of Aislin McManus’s adored step-son Judah is a catastrophe; the fact that his father, Peter, blames Aislin almost breaks her heart.
Her attempts to mend the breach between her and her husband are failing and when Aislin meets someone else who is blamed for the death of his best friend she resolves to do everything she can to reconcile him with his family, even though she puts herself in danger by doing so.

night vision‘ is about relationships – between Beulah and her husband, and the childhood relationship of him and his brother:

Beulah and Neil Cameron return to his childhood home of Easthope to try and repair their damaged marriage. Neil is profoundly and wrongly jealous of Beulah’s best friend; however Beulah discovers that Neil has his own secrets which may damage their marriage more permanently. The disappearance of his fifteen year-old brother Patrick thirty years ago, casts a long shadow, and despite Neil’s opposition, Beulah is determined to find out what happened to him.

Flipside‘ is set in the 1990’s and is about PTSD; I had to write a blurb which didn’t give away too much, but yet had something which would entice the reader to read it:

Jaz has moved from Bristol to be with her recently widowed brother; she is a teacher and she has moved from a high-flying head of faculty post in a top school to take a lowly temporary position in a challenging school in the north of England. She is up to the challenge, but she does not expect to find her life is in danger from a man who has already butchered three women; she has met the love of her life, but is he, could he possibly be, the murderer?
She discovers some brutal truths about her beloved brother, he seems on the verge of a breakdown, convinced there is a conspiracy surrounding his wife’s death… but where does he go on Fridays, and what does he do?
“I was alone, utterly alone. I thought I’d been brave running away from my life in Bristol, my friends and familiar places; I was pleased to be so daring and impetuous, and so certain of my love for David when our eyes had met in the Lees Spa Hotel. But I hadn’t taken him home and made love to him in order to enter a violent world of fear and hate and danger.”

Then came my Radwinter series; I had never intended to write a sequel, let alone a whole series, but after the first book about Thomas Radwinter, his story just seemed to continue naturally:

  1. Radwinter: Thomas Radwinter goes in search of his family roots; using the internet he traces his family back to war-torn eastern Europe, and follows their journey from arriving in England in the 1830’s, across southern England. However, the more he finds out about his family’s past, the more he sees his own family, his brothers and his wife differently. His relationship with them changes… and he begins to understand his own character, and to find out as much about his present life as his family’s history.
  2. Magick: Encouraged by his success in discovering his Radwinter ancestors, Thomas Radwinter sets out to investigate his maternal line, starting with the mysterious and alcoholic Sylvia. His life has been somewhat dysfunctional, but now, gaining confidence through his new loving relationship with a beautiful young woman and her son, he is able to confront his own past.
    His genealogical searches take him into the tragic histories of his family and other ordinary people who lived and worked under the appalling conditions of the Victorian age. His skills in finding people from the past encourage a friend to beg him to try and trace her long-lost daughter, a woman, who, it seems does not want to be found. He accepts her request, little realising this will lead him into danger.
    Then the father of his partner’s son arrives; he’s come for his boy…
  3. Raddy and Syl: Thomas Radwinter continues his journey into his ancestor’s history; he has followed his paternal line of the Radwinters, “and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally”.
    He traced his maternal ancestry, the Magicks, “I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you”.
    Now he has to find the history of those closest to him, “in my Radwinter story I found some amazing truths about myself. My childhood was difficult to say the least, and when I started to follow the Magick story, I had to begin to face my past, and confront some of my fears and nightmares. To finish my story I have to look at Sylvia Magick and her husband Edward Radwinter, the people who brought me up… sort of… I think of them now as Syl and Raddy, because it’s easier and less painful.”
    During his search Thomas also seeks a woman who vanished seemingly into thin air from a car stopped at a road junction, and he tries to solve the mystery of Badruddin, the Moroccan an elderly female client brought back from a cruise…
    Thomas little thinks that he may be risking his life to find these different truths.
  4. Beyond Hope is the fourth in the series of books following the life and genealogical investigations of Thomas Radwinter; in previous stories he has followed family’s history back several centuries and also found some uncomfortable and very painful truths in more recent times.
    In ‘Beyond Hope’, Thomas decides to share with his three brothers what he has learned about their mother and father… but telling the truth can be damaging, the truth can hurt, and as Thomas later reflects, “I know at first hand, a very, very painful first hand, how old secrets have the power to wound and how sometimes those dogs snoozing away should be left doing exactly that, sleeping dogs should sometimes just be let lie.”
    His revelations cause the close family ties to be tested which doesn’t help Thomas as he struggles with the other commissions he is being paid to undertake; he has been asked by a very elderly lady to find out who leaves lilies on a grave she visits, he has undertaken to investigate a mysterious lama who has a dangerous power over a hard-working teacher and devoted father, and he continues his search for the daughter of a friend who has become involved with a very dangerous man… And all the while his own little family has to face difficult decisions. The fall-out between Thomas and his brothers may only be healed if he can find out what happened to their father who disappeared thirty years ago.

The blurbs are getting longer… is that a good thing? My other book is ‘The Double Act:

Easthope is a quiet, slightly old-fashioned seaside town; nothing ever seems to happen, and Genet McCauley and her friends lead lives almost unchanged since they left school. Genet, married to mercurial Lance and running their small hotel, sometimes feels trapped and often feels bored, but she loves Lance and in most ways is content. Their friends call them the great double act; Genet without Lance? Lance without Genet? Impossible!
But then the McCauleys take on new tenants in a bungalow they own; is it a coincidence that as the enigmatic Dr Herrick and his disabled wife arrive in the small town, a series of acts of vandalism and arson is committed? At first they are, small, petty events, which seem to centre on the group of friends; however, before long they escalate to violence and attempted murder.
When the Herricks come to Easthope, Genet’s life and that of those closest to her, changes for ever. Don’t think ‘The Double Act’ is a romance, this may be a love story… but the other side of love is dark love.

… and my most recently published book, Lucky Portbraddon:

“Lucky Portbraddon… a rather rascally ancestor of my late husband, or so family legend has it, was a favourite friend of the Prince Regent, apparently, but Lucky made, not lost, his fortune…”
A few days before Christmas, as the Portbraddon family gathers at their grandmother’s big house up on the moors, the last of the cousins drives through a blizzard to join them:
…There was a severed dog’s head stuck on the gatepost. There’d been a few seconds pause in the driving snow and in those few seconds, lit by their headlights, she glimpsed the wolf-like creature, maw gaping, tongue lolling, teeth bared in one final gory snarl. Then the blizzard obliterated the stone beast and everything else in a seething maelstrom…
A near-death experience does not seem an auspicious start to their family get together, but the cousins determine to celebrate as they always do.
However as the old year ends and the new begins it seems their good fortune is about to run out. An unexpected death, a descent into madness, betrayal… and as the year progresses other things befall them, a stalker, attempted murder, a patently dodgy scheme for selling holiday homes in a dangerous part of the Caucasus… Maybe the Portbraddons are not so lucky… except there is also love, a new home, reconciliation, a spiritual journey, music.. .
One thing remains true, whatever difficulties arise between them, whatever happens, family is family, family first… “They’re like a big bunch of musketeers, all for one and one for all!”

If you have any thoughts, comments or kindly criticism of my blurbs I would welcome them – if you read my books, I would really love to have your opinion of them!