This week, my writing has focused on research for The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga. I have created a number of pages on my website chronicling some amazing stories of bravery and courage. You are invited to read these stories.
Another busy week with translations. We published the Spanish version of Saving Grace, started the German version of Victory and I’m delighted to say that Jill has offered to translate The Big Chill into Swedish. This will be our third project after Sam’s Song and Love and Bullets and it’s exciting to see my books reaching Swedish readers in their own language 🙂
While researching material for a future Sam Smith novel, I discovered that the British government’s health assessment programme for disabled people has resulted in 21,000 deaths. These deaths are based on the government’s own figures, so it is certain that the real figure is a lot higher. This raises the question: what is the difference between death by bureaucracy and death by cold-blooded murder? None. It all results in death. This is a tragedy for disabled people and their families, and it is a subject I am determined to explore.
The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga, will be based on true events and real people. For example, Thora Silverthorne of Blaenafon, Wales.
In 1936, Thora volunteered to go to Spain as a nurse. There, she became a matron in a hospital established in a primitive farmhouse.
“I had done a lot of operations before,” Thora said, “but in Spain it was quite different. We dealt with seriously injured people. Once we treated 700 people over five days. We were under fire. We had a Red Cross on the roof, but were warned, ‘take it down – it’s the first thing the fascists will aim for.’”
On her return to Britain, Thora helped to establish the first union for nurses, the National Association of Nurses, in 1937.
This week, I’ve been scanning my reference books looking for names for my Spanish Civil War Saga. It’s an international story featuring characters from America, France, Ireland, Spain and Wales. The right name is important and often it can suggest facets of a character. For example, one character, a nurse, was going to be docile and a support character. However, when I found her name, Adele Lazard, she stepped forward. Now, she’s going to Spain as a nurse, but really she wants to fight at the front.
Pictured: Two women and a man at the Siege of the Alcázar in Toledo, 1936.
During the Spanish Civil War, Wales welcomed many refugees, including Esperanza Careaga, pictured here in 1939. Espe, her name means hope, left Spain in April 1937, eight days before her sixth birthday. Her brother, Alberto, was transported to Russia and it took 50 years before Espe saw him again. Meanwhile, Espe settled in Barry, Wales.
At the end of the war, most of the refugees returned to Spain. However, 35 children remained in Wales, including Espe. She married in 1958, had two sons and four granddaughters.
From tragic beginnings, Espe lived up to her name, and through her courage we can draw belief, strength and hope.
This week, I have been busy with translations. These include German versions of Escape and Victory, the Spanish versions of Victory and Sins of the Father, and the Portuguese version of Ripper. Currently, I have 30 translated titles published with ten in progress. I love working with my translators. I admire their skill and the whole process enhances my writing.
I have outlined Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen, and next week I will begin the storyboarding process. I’m also researching a book project set during the Spanish Civil War.
Sometimes, I wonder why I’m drawn to the years around the Second World War. That period of history saw terrible conflict, a tragedy on a human level. However, conflict offers gold dust for a writer. Also, my ancestors enriched my life with stories from that period so it is rewarding to record them in fictionalised form.
This week, my sons received excellent school reports and next term my youngest will join my eldest in senior school. The kaleidoscope of life is forever changing. Sometimes, you crave stillness so that you can admire the image, but the best you can manage is to store a photograph in your mind and move on.
And speaking of photographs, here are some views of my local landscape.
As ever, thank you for your interest and support.
PS: Thought for the week. Why is it when you’re driving and looking for an address you turn the volume down on the radio 🙂
Recommended Reading, books that have captured my interest and authors I admire.
Tumbling Dice by Lesley-Ann Jones
In this startling, funny and agonizing book, Lesley-Ann Jones relives the glory days and walks again on the wild side with tears, laughter and a whole lotta love. LAJ, the acclaimed biographer of Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Marc Bolan, began her career as an intern at London’s Capital Radio, and worked with Debbie Harry and Blondie, Spandau Ballet and Leo Sayer at Chrysalis Records. She experienced 15 minutes of fame as a television presenter at the inception of Channel 4. She subsequently reinvented herself as a reporter and celebrity interviewer on the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the News of the World.
The Gloria Gaynor of the written word, she survived not only the toughest street on Earth and near-fatal illness but also life-changing divorce, culminating in the killing of her lawyer. TUMBLING DICE offers, at its heart, the evolving psyche and growing awareness of a green-gilled hack on a quest for exclusives and a thrilling lifestyle, but essentially, of course, for love.
Marry the Wrong Man? Marriage Crumbling? Think You’re a Failure?
Ladies, We Are Not Alone. 3 Great Stories. Which One is Yours?
Are you at that pivotal point in your life when you look back and wonder when it all went wrong? The Fix It or Get Out Series explores the inner workings of these ladies’ minds and hearts, and the value they place on family and love. They encourage us not to judge but to understand, with scenarios that many women can relate to. Clearly when you think you’re going through something alone, there are many other women going through exactly the same difficulties and emotions. If you like books that make you feel something and you can empathize with the characters, then take a ride with three stories that will stay with you long after you read The End.
Mrs. Fitzroy: A Captain Savva Mystery by Rachael Wright
Brash, streetwise, Captain Alexander Savva of the Hellenic Police is called to investigate the crumpled mess of a car, and the body inside it, being battered by the sea. With the brakes compromised, John Fitzroy had no chance of surviving the steep roads along the coast. Where many investigations struggle for suspects, Savva has no lack of them.
Davonna tugs the thorny weeds, the purple hand-shaped bruise on her neck screaming. Had it really been ten years since she sat in a cushioned chair in the Palais des Nations translating Hebrew to German? Now she meticulously plans her days to avoid disaster. It’s so common, so very common for a woman to find herself captive, where escape only comes in dreams after her husband leaves her bruised on the bed.
As secrets are revealed, Savva is drawn to John’s widow, Davonna, questioning her every word. He hovers around the periphery of her life, discovering that behind the doors of her pink mansion and its manicured walled garden, a sinister secret rots. It all begs the question: who killed John Fitzroy?
A gritty, emotionally-charged, mystery, Mrs. Fitzroy is a profound exploration of the lies we tell ourselves to survive.
Asiago Eddy and the Mascarpone Mob: A Warren Peace Detective Novel by Cusper Lynn
For Midifiles Estates’ Detective Warren Peace – loner, culinary contrarian, and sole heir to the Peace family fortune – the bomb array found wired into the sub-basement of the Casio Keyboard Towers Hotel is more than an interruption to his off duty partying. It is a call from a culinary revolution that he was certain was dead and gone. Peace had been a boot fresh from the academy when the last bombing had occurred. The targets had been the elite of the Estates’ culinary and entertainment community. That case had been solved by the current Chief of Police and tied to a dead revolutionary. Now, Warren Peace is going to relive the horrors of the revolution and its consequences in his search for the truth.
Partnered with a former Military Explosive Ordinance Disposal specialist, Peace Travels, though the seamy underbelly of the culinary world facing organic dealers, farm to table terrorists and the sleazy Big Agriculture thugs. As the lines between the criminal and the ruling caste blur Peace and his team will find themselves pitted against enemies within the department and within their own families, as the discovery of the real bomber will unmask an ugly truth no one is ready to face.
Currently, I’m writing The Devil and Ms Devlin, Sam Smith Mystery Series book fifteen. Most of my novels are set on the South Wales coast, between Porthcawl and Cardiff. However, The Devil and Ms Devlin is set in Portmeirion.
Portmeirion was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village. In designing the village, Williams-Ellis stated that he wished to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. In particular, the fishing village of Portofino on the Italian Riviera strongly influenced his design.
Williams-Ellis incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects, in his fairytale village. To some, Portmeirion was an overgrown folly. However, Williams-Ellis’ dream was justified for the village and its nostalgia strongly influenced the development of postmodernism in twentieth century architecture.
Portmeirion has often featured in popular culture with episodes of Danger Man, Doctor Who, Citizen Smith and Cold Feet all shot there. However, Portmeirion’s greatest claim to television fame is as The Village in the 1966–67 cult classic The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan (who also starred in Danger Man). Annual fan conventions are still held there, at locations unchanged to this day.
Based on a true story and available from today, Saving Grace, “the courtroom drama of the year.”
Saving Grace will be published as an eBook, paperback and audio book in English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese with more languages to follow. The book will be backed by a major promotional campaign in America, Australia, Britain, Canada and Europe. Reserve your copy now for the special pre-order price of $0.99/£0.99/€0.99
Readers may recall that a young banker, by name Mr Charles Petrie, with every opportunity of succeeding in his profession, and commanding a not illiberal income, returned home after riding his horse to dine with his wife, Grace, and her companion Mrs Quinn. During and after dinner he had nothing to excite him save the receipt of a letter which somewhat annoyed him, and that his wife consumed rather more wine than he considered to be good for her health. Immediately after retiring to his room he was seized with symptoms of irritant poisoning, and despite every effort made on his behalf, he succumbed to its effects. An inquest was held, which vexed the minds of the Coroner’s jury to a degree without precedent in Coroners’ Inquest Law, and an open verdict was returned. However, the matter will not rest there, for after questions in Parliament, a second inquest has been called under suspicion that Mr Charles Petrie was murdered.
Who poisoned Charles Petrie? Dr James Collymore, a man familiar with poisons, a man harbouring a dark secret that, if exposed, would ruin his career; Florrie, the maid who supplied Charles with his bedtime drink; Bert Kemp, a disgruntled groom, who used poisons in his work, who four months previously had predicted Charles’ dying day; Mrs Jennet Quinn, a lady’s companion with a deep knowledge of poisons, and a deep fear of dismissal; or Grace Petrie, Charles’ wife of four months, a woman with a scandalous past, a woman shunned by polite society.
With crowds flocking to the courtroom and the shadow of suspicion falling upon Grace in the shape of the hangman’s noose, could dashing young advocate, Daniel Morgan, save her?