Leigh Literary & Arts Fair 19th September 2015

This is SWANS first outing into Leigh on Sea, Essex to promote the work of local authors and artists. Over twenty of us will be there at the community centre on the 19th September and as you can see from the flyer talks and demonstrations will be happening in addition to the usual stalls.

Although not taking part in the workshops, I am looking forward to meeting the public, talking about Lucy and Mark’s adventures and explaining the extent to which Canvey Island and Southend have inspired me to write my first trilogy.

Whether you just want a day out, or you’re looking for literary/artistic inspiration; or you’re an aspiring author/artist yourself – come and join us in Elm Road from 10 am – 4pmleigh arts fair

What has Lucy got herself into this time?

“– although all the men you meet in this time zone will lie to you, only Mark will betray you.”

***

The 1949 Affair is here – out on kindle ahead of its paperback release Monday…

 

Mark was hoping to go home. Not that home was up to much; but it was a bit more stable than jumping around in time. Unfortunately someone or something had other ideas. You see, he and Lucy are back on a pier – only it’s not Southend, nor is it 2013. It’s 1949 and the the Second World War hasn’t gone according to the way the teenagers remember it from history lessons.

The truism of every alternative time line and every scifi writer  is a reality. The Nazis won the war in 1940 and are in control. To survive, the friends are going to need their wits about them. But that’s easier to say than do! Hitler knows about the time travellers and he has issued a very specific order: when they are found they are to be executed immediately.

While you don’t have to have to have read End of the Pier Affair to enjoy this new installment of Lucy and Mark’s time travelling adventure, it won’t hurt you know…

 

Published to coincide with the UK summer holidays, The 1949 Affair is the second book in the Aldwych Stand Trilogy, which will conclude next year with the Cut Throat Alley Affair.

(need the US link? Click here)

The 1949 Affair – Ask me a question

Hi guys: Lucy and Mark’s 1949 affair 1 paper back  versionnext adventure is out next week. If you have any questions about their previous adventure – The End of the Pier Affair – or their latest travels in the 1949 Affair: post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them…

If you don’t fancy posting here and are a member of goodreads, you can post your question there 🙂

 

Look forward to hearing from you

Character Profile: Mordecai Gold

Meet another player in the Symington Byrd mysteries: Mordecai Gold, a man who “dances on the edge of the criminal world.”

Mordy (as he is known to his friends) runs a jewelers -come- pawnbrokers. He is a hard nosed businessman, with an eye for a bargain.

But I didn’t want him to be the stereotypical Jew of literature. When Walter Scott created Isaac of York he made him an extreme – the complete antithesis of his beautiful daughter Rebecca; while both George Du Maurier and Dickens created wholly evil criminal masterminds – who looked and acted in an immediately identifiable caricature.

There’s far more to Mordy than that. Tall, white haired – grandfatherly – this is a man who will admit to being 50 but not a day older. Having escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe, Mordy  made his home in Whitechapel. Using his connections Mordy has built up a reputation as an honest criminal.  He is the soul of discretion  who (trusted by the highest born and the lowliest of beggars)  will ensure the best deal is achieved for all (though obviously the house will always win). But you cross him at your peril. Fail to keep your word and retribution is swift.

A man who always has sweets in his pockets, Mordy is at the centre of his community: respected, loved and feared in equal measure

When he first encounters Emily, the lonely little girl who spends at least ten minutes of her walk home from school staring into his shop window, Mordy sees an outsider – just like himself: a mystery inside an enigma. After her father’s death, when her mother brings trinkets to pawn to pay for the funeral, Mordy finds himself  being wrapped around the finger of a 7 year old girl who has wisdom beyond her years and an innate ability to identify rough diamonds. Intrigued  and sensing there is more to Emily and her mother than meets the eye, Mordy makes her mother  an offer  that will ensure that as Emily grows up she becomes the Pawnbroker’s apprentice.

5_4mixrgh

 

The Problem with Dressing Gowns!

I have made a decision, my  gentleman detective  needs a dressing gown.

Well, you’d have thought I’d have asked the Pope to change religion!

You see,  if I wanted an Arthur Dent style dressing gown, I’d have been fine. Not only could I have sourced one for Symington at the start of the 20th century, but I could get one for OH from Ebay…

 

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But a man’s dressing gown? Very limited stock indeed from which to choose.

See  what I mean?

Now Symington is a man of taste, suaveness and sophistication. I can’t see him in any of the above.

 

Well possibly the last one but in black and gold…

 

 

 

 

Amnesia

mr_bumpIn Book Three, Lucy suffers from Amnesia.

Obviously, I can’t tell you how it happens – well,  spoilers sweetie! But it’s violent and traumatic and not (directly) the result of travelling through the distortion.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to find it as fascinating as I have, and I’ve had to be very disciplined not to dive in too deeply, because I’m not writing a book about trauma I’m writing fiction. So:  for the purposes of my research, I’m ignoring  amnesia caused by psychological  trauma and concentrating on what happens as a a result of physical injury.

In this case there are two types of memory loss: retrograde amnesia, forgetting things that happened before the accident which has caused the amnesia, and anterograde amnesia (where the past is crystal clear but things happening now cannot be remembered).

 

amnesia2

Anterograde amnesia was not what I was looking for. Lucy is is danger because for once her encyclopedic knowledge of history cannot help her. Therefore, she has a kind of  retrograde amnesia known as post trumatic amnesia. You see Lucy’s memory loss is only temporary, unlike those who have retrograde amnesia who may have partial recall or gradual recall but rarely is the full loss restored.

Obviously, Lucy can’t lose her memory for ever, so what triggers its return?

Hollywood would have us believe a second blow to the head will bring the memories back; sometimes repeating a similar action – restores the memory of the prior event – a bit like deja vu, only in reverse.   Like putting the final set of pieces back in the jigsaw that is the brain.

 

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At the moment, I don’t know if I want Lucy’s memory to return over time, or suddenly, which is holding up writing book three.

All I do know is that it has to return before she is murdered.

 

chalk-body-outline-murder-scene

Branching Out

Lucy and Mark’s adventures are nearing their end as I begin the research for the final tale. Provisionally titled the Cut Throat Alley Affair and set in the summer of 1888, our heroes (once again) have to stop the Armstrong Brothers from Killing Lloyd George. But this time there is a greater danger – Jack the Ripper is after Lucy.

And as this trilogy draws to a close, I started to think about the blog. What do I do with it? Where does it go next?

Because, I think I have caught this writing bug – big time.

You see,  Mark and Lucy are not the only characters gossiping away inside my head. Symington Byrd a gentleman detective from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction is joined by a plucky east end side kick, Emily Davies;  and they are regaling me  with murders and puzzles galore. Not only do they have three books of their own to fill, but the research for their world needs to go somewhere.

Thus, the revamp. I hope you like it. As always it’s a work in progress, so do let me know if you think there’s anything I can add/change/ do.

 

Post without a title. Further musings from: The 1949 Affair

I’ve been having quite a lot of problems with this book. One scene has been bugging me, causing me sleepless nights. And the difficult thing to explain is that it’s a scene that’s never going to be published. You see, while it’s relevant to the characters; it’s not relevant to the story.

Lucy is falling in love with the enigmatic Von Schmidt. It was always on the cards; indeed some might say from the moment he tells her they’re husband and wife, it was a forgone conclusion. She wants to take it further – well when you’re 18 hormones take over –  but he seems reluctant, determined to remain her avuncular. He has his reasons. And at this point in the tale, he does not want them revealed.

But Lucy has stopped functioning. She refuses to cooperate with the re-writes, explain how she found out about the second entrance to the underground facility.

Something has to be sorted out between the two. But how to do it?

What to say?

And how as an author to hint and yet not show, nor even tell?

 

Perhaps, if Mark had been around and not a prisoner, there would have been a different solution. But Lucy has no best friend in which to confide her woes. She can’t  ask the Madman of Leytonstone, and she can’t even ask Frances Stephenson ( a woman who should know how to go about these things) because Frances is dead.

 

Help comes from an unlikely source. Two throw away lines – chapters apart; and honour is satisfied.

🙂

The Perils of Making your Book Audio

 

My Uncle Bernard is nearly 80 and nearly blind, which means the copy of The End of the Pier Affair I sent him for Christmas will sit upon the shelf unread. So: we had a cunning plan; we would record a copy for him.  It doesn’t need to be studio quality. I’m not selling it. So… download Audacity, commandeer Dad’s microphone, and we’re ready for business. What could possibly go wrong?

Mother!

That’s what keeps going wrong!

The amount of takes we’ve had to do because she interrupts, asks questions; sneezes and coughs!

You can quite see why Hitchcock preferred closed sets!

 

The Lonliness Of The Long Distance Traveller

Lucy and Mark have been in the thick of it recently, and my attempts to make sense of their situation has kept me busy.

There have been writes and rewrites, as I have attempted to bring Lucy and Mark back together despite Hitler’s precise orders to the contrary. The pairs’ journey from Blenheim to London has changed repeatedly – helicopter, plane and car. With Mengele; without him.

I’ve had Valentin Von Schmidt go after them to be shot and killed by Mengele; to arrive just in time to see the two of them vanish into the distortion. To arrive in the nick of time and then be killed by Mengele

None of it was working.

Was this writer’s block?

Well you know me: I googled. Originally, writer’s block was defined as an inability to produce new work. Well that’s not the problem, excerpts of the third book are bouncing around in my head.

I googled Scott Fitzgerald – one of the world’s most famous sufferers from writers’ block. And that wasn’t it. You see I’m under no illusions. My tales of Lucy and Mark are no Great Gatsby. I’m not unable to write because I think this work is inferior to what has gone before. So why? Was I making it too complex? Or not simple enough?

In the course of my reading, I discovered stress and other work related worries can cause block. But these guys came out of my head in response to the stresses of the so called real world. Those stresses haven’t changed. Dead end.

Eventually I decided that maybe my block was the consequence of not listening to what my characters were telling me about one person in particular… Valentin Von Schmidt

You see, I’d got it in my head that Von Schmidt was fundamentally a good guy. That he would be redeemed by a gallant act of bravery. But he’s not a fundamentally good guy.

But Von Schmidt is different.  He’s a white blond, blue eyed Austrian in his  late 40’s.  His father was a diplomat at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm; his godfather was Bismarck.  Before the war he was a doctor, in the Austrian Navy and rose rapidly through the ranks. By 1949 he’s a vice admiral. Frances Stephenson tells Lucy that he was with them in Llandudno in 1914. And suddenly the historians’ amongst you will see my problem. Bismarck died in 1898.

Now all I have to do is work out what is he lying about

1. Llandudno

2. His age

3. His godfather

all of the above…

or something else entirely?