Friday, 19 April 2013


It’s a whole new ball game for me. I have today signed a contract with my publisher to have my books translated into German. The Long Road to Sunrise will be the first one off the blocks.

Fifteen years ago I went to Frankfurt to set up a training course for the Deutsche Flugsicherung, the German ATC authority. I was impressed by the German controllers’ competent standard of English. Far, far better than my minimal understanding of German. Nevertheless, English is not their native tongue and they naturally prefer to read books in their own language. When this translation is complete they will be able to enjoy the first of my novels to be published in German.

I feel very excited by it.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

I am grateful to Karin Bachmann for posting an author interview on her blog. I am double grateful that she has now translated it into German. I am well aware that many German-speaking people also speak excellent English and I hope this will draw them to my books.

The German translation is at

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Latest Publication

In the Shadow of Disgrace has gone live today. My fist contract with Cloudberry was signed earlier this year and now the company has six of my books live on Amazon. I am delighted. The re-issue of these books has progressed very much quicker than I expected, and that included re-editing each one of them and designing new cover art. And the whole process has been completed in such a friendly manner.

I am also pleased that Cloudberry has chosen such a rich mixture of my writing output. Prestwick is a pure aviation thriller with action on almost every page. King’s Priory and The Gallows on Warlock Hill are both historical mysteries solved by present-day characters. The Long Road to Sunrise is a heart-breaking journey of discovery. The Vanson Curse and In the Shadow of Disgrace are pure historical romances set in Cornwall.

Those books differ in style and content, but I think there is something of me in each of them. When my descendants look back in years to come they will find clues about me as they read through them. That’s important to me because I have an interest in family history and I often wish my ancestors could have left behind something similar; something that told me about their thoughts, their aspirations, their opinions. Whatever their commercial success, these books will achieve something positive for later generations.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Nose to the Screen

The sun is shining but I must force myself to ignore it. There is work to be done in preparing another novel for re-issue. Prestwick and The Vanson Curse are now up and running on Amazon. The next one to go live will be In the Shadow of Disgrace, another Cornish novel. The final read-through beckons and I cannot put it off. And it may be possible to get a third Cornish novel published before the year is out.

When I look back over this year I feel a sense of great satisfaction that five of my out-of-contract novels are now back on Amazon. Cloudberry Books have done an excellent job in re-editing them and preparing new front covers. Not only that, I am also pleased that the working arrangements with the company have been so good.

Meanwhile, I am also working on updating my Naked Crime novels. These do not make cosy Miss Marple reading. They are more in the scope of the sort of gritty stories Raymond Chandler would produce if he were alive today and writing for today’s market. I now have the opening chapters of two books available for reading on:


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

You Don’t Need a Kindle

Actually, I bought one of the first Kindles but I now rarely use it. I now have a free Kindle app on my ASUS tablet which allows me to read my Kindle e-books on a nice bright ten inch screen. Nice big letters because I have difficulty with very small text. I’m told you can download the free app onto any computer so you don’t actually need a Kindle to enjoy Kindle e-books.

The relevance of this is that this morning two more books have been reissued in Kindle format by Cloudberry Books. Both are available on Amazon. One is the aviation thriller, Prestwick, and the other is a Cornish historical novel, The Vanson Curse.
Prestwick has been described in an Amazon review as “a roller-coaster of a ride from beginning to end” which is interesting as it was written at a pretty fast pace. Normally I take my time over a novel, constantly checking my research as I go along. With Prestwick I didn’t need to do that as I have an aviation background and I actually worked at the Scottish Air Traffic Control Centre in Prestwick.

You can read more about these and other books on my web site:




Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Pages That Demand to be Turned

People frequently ask me how I go about writing a novel. How do I make a story readable? How do you create a page-turner? They make it sound like a request for a few simple rules that will solve all problems. I’m sure there are better people than me who could give them the answers they want, but it’s me they ask. So I try to explain my own way of writing in simple terms but, in truth, it’s far from simple.

How many times have you started reading a novel but never finished it? I suspect most of us have, at some time, picked up a book with an interesting front cover and a tantalising blurb, only to find that the story doesn’t live up to expectations. It’s a bit like buying a cake that looks mouth-wateringly delicious while it sits on the deli counter, but when you get it home it actually it tastes rather insipid. You don’t buy one of those cakes again, and you don’t return to the works of that author.

So, as a writer, how do you write a book that lives up to expectations? How do you keep your readers hanging on to every word? The answer to that question could be encompassed within a whole course of instruction. But there are some simple ideas I have learned from other writers. These are the solutions that are meaningful to me, but they are most definitely not the only ones. Far from it.

Firstly, you need a rattling good yarn. Think of the obvious best-sellers and you’ll be thinking of books with stories that capture the reader’s imagination. They might not even be well-written. I can think of several poorly- written books (no names given here in case I get sued) that sold well because they were rattling good yarns. So start by getting a story in your mind that begs to be told.

Secondly, you need to dream up some memorable characters. Who could forget Richard Sharpe? Or Mr Darcy? Now ask yourself; why do those characters stay in your mind long after you have finished reading the books? What was it about them that made them memorable characters? Part of the answer lies in them being out-of-the-ordinary. Part of it lies in their behaviour. And part lies in a certain magnetism that can never be totally explained. How do you explain the attraction of a rough rogue like Sharpe who can kill and steal without a moment’s regret? How can you explain the attraction of an arrogant man like Mr Darcy?

Okay, you have your story and you have your characters. But that’s only the start. What you do next will determine how good your book will be. You must tell that story, fabricate the activities of those characters in such a way that the reader always wants to read on. And that is the most difficult bit of any writer’s task. The story must come alive, the characters must come alive and the pages must demand to be turned.

It’s as simple as that. Simple? Oh dear, no.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Iain Banks

It is always sad to hear of someone dying of cancer, especially when the victim has earned the respect of so many others. Iain Banks is a case in point. I am particularly impressed by the bravery – and humour - he shows in dealing with his illness.
In the early nineteen sixties Iain lived in North Queensferry a small village on the banks of the River Forth, close beneath the huge iconic bridge. His father worked for the Admiralty at Rosyth dockyard. My father also worked for the Admiralty and in 1961 he was posted to Rosyth. Like Iain Banks, we lived in North Queensferry. The house overlooked the river and the building on the Road Bridge.

Ian Jack – another well-respected writer, and founder of the Independent on Sunday – also lived in North Queensferry at that time. We travelled to school together on the bus into Dunfermline.

I mentioned this to Iain Banks when I met him in the bar at Swanwick: wasn’t it a coincidence that such a small village seemed to attract boys who grew up with a love of writing?

“Must have been something in the water,” he said.

Did you mean uisge beatha, Iain?