Friday, October 5, 2012



When re-starting this blog, I decided that it would be more stream-of-consciousness than planned. I did not want to spend too much time on it, and I lived in hope that my subconscious would keep me adequately fed with ideas. Frankly, I was doubtful about the latter, but I thought it was worth a try.

To my pleasant surprise, my subconscious – so far - has not let me down. I sit, and touch the keys;, and the rest seems to flow. The writing still takes work (writing always takes work even when you think it doesn’t) but the effort is satisfying rather than onerous.

ScherThe above heading, for a change, did not come from my subconscious. I was having a late breakfast, after working for a couple of hours beforehand, and I heard Steve Scher (see photo), who broadcasts a truly excellent talk show on NPR KUOW in Seattle, discuss the question with a musician guest while in the middle of a pledge drive. As best I could gather, the musician uses found items as inspiration for his songs. I don’t know any more because I was anxious to get back to work, so did not listen to the full interview. Still the question intrigued me. What was the most interesting thing I had found?

Houndofbaskervil.jpgThe first item that came to mind was a largish weather balloon that I found when walking across Dartmoor many years ago. Dartmoor is where the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of The Baskervilles is set so perhaps hiking across it alone was not the greatest idea. However, I was far more concerned with being sucked down into a bog than being eaten by a hound, so I regarded the rather large balloon and attachments with relief. They appeared to be on solid ground. An attached notice offered an excessively modest reward if returned from whence it came; but the thought of carrying it for twelve miles or so did not appeal.

I walked on, eyes peeled for the bright green, apparently solid surface which would, in reality, be a boggy area that would suck me down to my doom. Eventually, I found such an area, and felt I had to test it; but only sunk to my knees. Though I am sure the suspicion never crossed your mind, sometimes, we writers exaggerate a little about the dangers our characters face. On the other hand, in the interests of the integrity of our research, sometimes we get killed. That’s a damn nuisance from a writing point of view. Hard to finish a book under such circumstances.

In my case, I returned to the rather cozy little town of Chagford, in the county of Devon, England feeling much invigorated after walking twenty plus miles; and looking forward to grilled trout, a bottle of wine, a good read, and an early night. Why early? Well, this was a walking holiday, and I was upping my game each day. 

I then wracked my brain to come up with something exceptional that I had found. I could recall small pieces of change, a rusty cavalry saber, and various dead animals, but nothing particularly dramatic came to mind.

Then it came to me that the most interesting thing I had ever found was the freshly hanged body of a young man in a small wood near the village of Llantwit-Major in South Wales. The above are the cliffs I used to walk along every day (a rather strange activity given that I hate heights). A little further on, there was a dark and dripping wood; and therein, hanging from tree, was the body.

Why didn’t that memory occur to me immediately? It had, after all, been a life-changing experience, and had led me to write Games Of The Hangman. I have no idea. Perhaps I have never thought of that tragic hanged figure of being a ‘thing,’ though a corpse is just that. I caught him when he was cut down, and he was still warm. Dead or not, he remains a person to me. In the book, he is Swiss. In real life, he was Dutch and his first name was Wim. I know no more.



Just so you know, I am on a steady countdown to launch a range of new titles on Amazon, and other major sites, within weeks rather than months. I will provide specific dates when I have them.

I will be launching – over a period of several weeks – three new titles. Thereafter, additional new titles will be appearing at, very roughly, intervals of one every month or two for several months.

The initial titles will be:

  • The Blood Of Generations. This will be the fourth action-packed novel in the Fitzduane series. In it, a survivor of the notorious WW II massacre at Malmerie, France, tries to enlist Fitzduane’s help in tracking down one of the chief perpetrators. That perpetrator, aging but still lethal, now runs one of the largest corporations in the world and has planned revenge against the Allies. In the climax, Fitzduane finds himself fighting over the same blood-soaked ground in Nazi occupied France as his father and mother had experienced in WW II when both were agents who had been infiltrated behind enemy lines to prepare for the June 6 invasion in 1944. Their mission-impossible is to either delay or destroy the formidable and ruthless SS Thousand Year Panzer division. With an intersecting story set both today, and back in 1944, this is a Big Thriller on an epic scale inspired by actual events.
  • Satan’s Smile. Harry Fremont is a battle-weary scientist turned FBI agent who, for years, has specialized in hunting serial killers. His father is Thurlow Fremont, one of the principal developers of the Hydrogen Bomb. Posted to Livermore, home of the nuclear Livermore National Laboratory, to investigate a series of vicious throat cutting murders, Harry soon discovers that there are other forces at work; and that ‘The Lab’ is the target. Meanwhile, Stonecutter, the master terrorist, is planning a vastly more lethal spectacular event than anyone could have imagined. Distracted by inter-agency politics, and confused by his love for a fellow FBI, agent and his attraction to nuclear scientist Tina Lazaroff, Harry battles against the clock to stop much of California being turned into a nuclear wasteland. In a sentence: Serial killing meets nuclear terrorism.
  • How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: The Beginning. The Council of The Place For Reasonably Good People (where you go after you die if you have been reasonably good) are concerned that the U.S. is in rapid decline so appoint their watcher, Cuckoo, to find a solution. Cuckoo finds that so many Americans have been corrupted by dollar worship and Fast Food, that the only living creature up to the task is Eagle, head of all the eagles – and the very personification of character and integrity. However, Eagle is an eagle so has to know a lot more before he will be up to the task. Accordingly, Cuckoo proceeds to teach him. Meanwhile, the forces of darkness headed by one of Satan’s main agents, determine to destroy Eagle. A hilarious satire combined with an action packed thriller, Eagle & Cuckoo (E&C) may well be one of the funniest, most exciting, books you are ever likely the read; and offers a fascinating perspective on the reality of modern America.

E&C will be a trilogy, albeit each book will be a self-contained story. A self-contained story, from this author’s perspective, has a Beginning, a Middle, and an End; and is satisfying in itself.

  • In the How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: The Beginning, we get to know the characters, see Eagle as he evolves from simple aviator to combat leader, and experience the most hilarious courtroom scene yet written – featuring the Supreme Court and a re-incarnated Clarence Darrow.
  • In the How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: The Contest we follow Eagle as he morphs into human form, develops his political platform, and runs for the presidency.
  • In the How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: The Leader we follow Eagle as he is sworn into office and leads the re-building of America with extraordinary success.

Will there be other E&C books? I truly hope so. I have a lot of ideas on that front. But, as always, it all depends upon the market reaction.

Watch this space for the latest details. We, who appear to be doing nothing, are actually surprisingly busy (but are slower at getting out titles than I would like).



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