Tuesday, 14 May 2013

War Stories

My publisher believes I am at my best when writing stories aimed at male readers. With this in mind I have been working hard at completing a novel set in the opening stages of the Great War. I spent almost as much time on research as on writing the story. That was important and it taught me a lot about a war that was waged long before I was born. In particular it taught me that the brutality inflicted on civilians in that war was just as great as the appalling brutality we see in so many wars reported on our televisions today. The rape of Leuven in August 1914 shows parallels with so many inhuman acts in modern-day conflicts. Has the human race learned nothing about humanity in the past hundred years? I begin to wonder.

I had another reason for writing that story. My grandfather was one of the first to be sent across the English Channel in 1914. He fought and was badly wounded twice and he carried the scars to the end of his life. I wanted to know what it was like. My pre-conceived ideas were centred around the trenches because that’s what most of us think about when the subject of that war comes around. But there was so much more to it than that, and I wanted to learn about the bits that don’t often get talked about.

I see this book as the first in a possible series. It covers what happened in the aftermath of the Battle of Mons. No trenches, the Schlieffen Plan, lots of innocents killed, and the secret agents of Commander Mansfield Smith-Cumming rooting out intelligence. The second story – when I get round to it – will cover the First Battle of Ypres.

I think I’ve talked myself into a big task.

Friday, 10 May 2013



Today, Friday 10th May, readers will be able to enjoy a free Kindle download of my novel, King’s Priory. It can be accessed from Amazon on this link .

This is one of the Hampton Warlock trilogy, a series of novels set in the fictional Dorset village of that name. This one is the story of the Portesham family living at King’s Priory Manor. The original paperback version was dedicated to my son, Colin Hough, a historian who will shortly be decamping to China to teach ancient history at a Chinese university.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Prestwick Review

My novel, Prestwick, seems to be outselling all my other books. My publisher refers to it as a man’s book but I believe a lot of ladies have read it and enjoyed it. The latest five star review is written by someone who was there at the time the story is set. I figure you can’t get a better commendation that from someone who knows the system around which the story is written.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Crime Novels - Free Downloads

Back in the nineteen fifties I started reading adult literature. That included the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. I was a teenager at the time so maybe I was attracted to the lurid covers which often included half-naked women in seductive poses. I still enjoy re-reading those books: The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, The Maltese Falcon. There was a certain grittiness to them that made the stories so compelling.

My own efforts at hard-nosed crime novels centre on a series of books I call my Naked Crime Novels. The first two, Naked Aggression and Naked Grief, can be downloaded free from my web site: www.thenovelsofdavidhough.com.

I am now working on the third book, Naked Courage. When it is complete I will try to place the trilogy with a publisher. In the meantime I am happy for friends and fellow writers to try out the first two stories. Why don’t you try one? And if you have friends who enjoy crime novels let them know they can read these at no cost.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Reading, reading and more reading

I recently came across an interesting article in Writing Magazine in which new writers were encouraged to read as much as possible within their chosen genre. While I endorse that philosophy, I also believe it should come with an important warning. Read as many books as you like, but don’t be mesmerized by them. By immersing deeply in a particular type of writing, the new author is at risk of producing a pastiche of what has been done before.

Agents and publishers do not – so I am led to believe – want novels that are remakes of other people’s work. The new writer who succeeds in a difficult market is usually one who has something new to say, something that has not been already done to death by a multitude of more experienced writers. It’s that fresh approach that a publisher will look for.

Time and again I read articles by agents who say they are looking for writers with a new, fresh voice, writers who can tackle an old subject in a way that has not been done before. And there is a real risk that a new writer who has self-hypnotised on a string of best-selling novels will produce more of the old formula. The fresh approach may be missing.

So, yes, read other author’s work, and read avidly. But, when you tackle your own novel, you should avoid the risk of sub-consciously regurgitating another version of something that has already been done. That’s one reason why I like to plan out my novels right at the start. I want to be sure I am not going to waste the next few months doing what someone else has already done… and probably done better because it was fresh and new when that previous writer tackled it.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


I have been contacted by the organisers of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School inviting me to run a workshop. I feel genuinely honoured to be asked to pass on my own thoughts to other writers. In years passed I have enjoyed listening to famous writers passing on their skills and I anticipate it will feel daunting for me to follow in their footsteps.

The theme of the workshop will be characterization. I’m aware that many better writers have passed on their thoughts on that subject and I don’t want to bore the delegates with information they will have already gathered from other sources. This will have to be my thoughts on how to go about bringing characters to life. So I aim to cover four elements that I address in order to make a character jump off the page: name, appearance, dialogue and actions.

How I tackle the workshop is something I will need to think about in the next few months. My initial thought is to give the delegates brief information on a fictional character and discuss with them the importance of using each of those elements to bring that character to life in the reader’s mind. I’m glad the organisers have given me plenty of time to think about it!