Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...
Not having seen Ariel Dorfman’s challenging psychological drama ‘Death and the Maiden’ before, I really had to do my homework in order to do this performance justice. I was very glad that I had. The Harrogate Dramatic Society may be an amateur group, but there was nothing amateurish about the production. The three actors were word perfect and very convincing in their roles. The set was excellent and the scene changes well organised and slick.
The only sour note came when my review appeared in the press. Although the original I submitted was comfortably inside the prescribed word limit, someone had taken it upon him/herself to cut it, thus removing some well deserved praise. There has since been an apology and the promise of the review appearing in toto next week. If it does, I shall reproduce it below.
News flash! It did and here is the much improved version.
29 June, 2018
Submitting stories overseas is a new departure for me and I’m thrilled to report that one of my murder mysteries has just appeared in a magazine only available in Australia and New Zealand.
That’s Life Fast Fiction is glossy, bright and pays well. What’s not to like!
11 June, 2018
Here’s a screenshot in which you can actually see me lurking in the background. As the episode was filmed several weeks ago and broadcast last Friday, I’m not giving away any secrets by saying that Chastity and Paddy were announcing ‘their’ pregnancy in the Woolpack. Supporting artists (‘extras’) are told how – or indeed whether to react to whatever is going on, so I’m not just being nosy.
One of the things I’m often asked by fans of the show is whether cast members are like the characters they portray. In the case of Emma Atkins, I’d say definitely not. Charity has a very hard shell and always puts herself first. Emma, on the other hand, is friendly, chatty and even relieved me of my suitcase on one occasion, carrying it off the minibus to the village set for me and all the way into the canteen.
Natalie Robb strikes me as very much like warmhearted Moira. She was first to the rescue when I fell flat on my back in the Emmerdale graveyard during the filming of Edna’s funeral!
Mark Charnock, best known nowadays as pub chef Marlon, first came to my attention in his role as Cadfael’s young assistant, Brother Oswin. I loved that series from start to finish and so was thrilled to bits to have the opportunity to chat about it with him one lunchtime. Amongst many other things, he told me how relieved he was to be cast as a novice and therefore not forced to have a tonsure* like the older monks. He still has a fine head of hair!
*Tonsure (/ˈtɒnʃər/) is the practice of cutting or shaving some or all of the hair on the scalp, as a sign of religious devotion or humility.
18 March, 2018
Almost seventeen years ago, a lady from the RSPCA arrived at our home with a pair of ‘hard to place’ kittens, offspring of a feral mother. It had never occurred to me before that black was the least favourite colour for would be adopters to request. Why? Goodness knows. Superstition about witches and their familiars, perhaps?
Given the chance to name one of them, our younger son immediately decided on Tom. Not the most imaginative name for a tom cat, I suppose, but it stuck. He was Thomas on formal occasions and his subsequent paperwork for the vet. His sister became Tabitha, Tab for short.
They were so shy that we hardly saw them for the first few weeks and kept accusing each other of leaving exterior doors open. The food we left out for them always disappeared overnight, though. Tab was much warier, but Tom gradually gained enough confidence to jump up onto the sofa beside me and allow himself to be stroked. Eventually, his sister followed suit, although not before opening up my right arm from wrist to elbow with her tiny claws the first time I attempted to pick her up. I still have the scars to prove it!
Tom and Tab squabbled as siblings will and he often elbowed her out of the way when treats or a warm lap were on offer, but they were always together. Will she miss him as much as we do? It’s hard to tell with cats, but she must wonder where he is now. Unfortunately Tom, always the larger and bolder of the two, began to deteriorate last year. His back legs lost all their strength and he started to waste away. Towards the end, he was on three different types of medication, but the vet told us that there was no hope of improvement.
We console ourselves with the knowledge that he had a comfortable life far in excess of what might have been expected when he was born. Farewell, old chap. You’ll never be forgotten.
16 March, 2018
Well, that was fun! I showed some photographs about a turn of the (19th/20th) century workhouse and mining village, outlined my story, read some extracts and then let the Squigglers loose on the art materials provided. Very promising start. Thanks due to Shaun Doyle from Ripon Library (who also took the photo) and Vicki Lever from North Yorkshire Youth for their support and enthusiastic participation.
26 February, 2018
I was very pleased to take part in this event in York last night and to meet so many pleasant and enthusiastic people.
The four workshops ran simultaneously, with Toni ringing a bell when it was time for the groups to move on. The spaces allocated on the top floor of Waterstones were comfortably far apart, which prevented any overlapping of sound, and plenty of chairs were provided.
With only a short time to spend with each group, I had to take a whistle stop approach to my subject but managed to cover all the main points as well as read out a few examples. Everyone left with a handout and – I hope – an increased understanding of the nature of flash fiction and what can be done with it.
We sold a few books too!
22 February, 2018
This should be fun. My ‘work in progress’ is a story about a boy sent up from a London workhouse to toil in the Yorkshire coal mines. It seems very appropriate that the Squigglers sometimes meet in the Ripon Workhouse Museum.
6 February, 2018
5 February, 2018
Today I’m more than happy to hand over my blog to Val Penny, whose debut crime novel, Hunter’s Chase, is published by Crooked Cats Books. I’ll leave it to Val herself to tell you all about it:
The story is set in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. I think setting is very important to a novel and did consider creating an imaginary town for my main protagonist, Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson. However, I know the city of Edinburgh well as I lived there for many years and it has everything a writer could need. It is a diverse city with all different kinds of buildings and people. It is small enough that characters can move around it quickly and large enough for it to be credible that anything I want to happen there, could happen.
Edinburgh is also a beautiful city with a castle, a palace and a cathedral, wealthy homes, horrible slums, fine restaurants, fast food outlets and idiosyncratic pubs. It is home to an Olympic size pool, the National Rugby Team and two famous football teams. It is also home to The Edinburgh International Festivals, what more could I or my characters want?
I chose Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, as the setting for my novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’, it is a beautiful city of around half a million people. The city is situated on the south banks of the Firth of Forth. There are some lovely views across the Forth from Edinburgh to the county of Fife on the north of the river. There are three bridges crossing the Firth of Forth: the oldest is the Forth Rail Bridge, built in the nineteenth century, the Forth Road Bridge was built in the twentieth century and the most modern, a bridge for road traffic was completed in the early part of this century, named the Queensferry Crossing.
The delegated parliament of Scotland, is where Hunter’s nemesis, Sir Peter Myerscough serves as Justice Secretary. The Scottish Parliament has wide powers over how the people of Scotland are governed and meets in the Scottish Parliament Building, in the Holyrood district of the city. Following a referendum in 1997, in which the Scottish electorate voted for devolution, the current Parliament was convened by the Scotland Act of 1998 which sets out its powers as a devolved legislature. Since September 2004, the official home of the Scottish Parliament has been a new Scottish Parliament Building in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament building was designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles. There was much concern at the time as the building was completed many years late and several times over budget.
Hunter Wilson is divorced. He lives in a flat in Leith, an area to the north of the City and drinks in his local pub, the Persevere Bar. His home is also close to one of the main soccer grounds in Edinburgh, the Hibernian Football Ground. Hibernian Football Club, commonly known as Hibs, is a Scottish professional football club based in Leith.
The other main character, Detective Constable Tim Myerscough is Sir Peter Myerscough’s son. He lives across the city from Hunter, in the south-west of the city. He moves into a flat Gillespie Crescent between Tollcross and Bruntsfield. His local pub in the Golf Tavern, off the Bruntsfield Links.
A wonderful free activity to do all year round is to play golf on Brunstfield Links. It is believed to be one of the oldest sites of golf as it pre-dates the seventeenth century, the short hole course was founded in 1895. Situated south of Melville Drive, there are two courses available to play on. A summer short 36 hole course (open end of April to September) and a 9 hole winter course (open October to end of April).
DC Tim Myerscough’s father, Sir Peter Myerscough, lives even further to the south in the Morningside district of Edinburgh. From his large house he has fine views across the Pentland Hills. The Pentland hills are situated just outside of Edinburgh. The reservoirs are picturesque and each hill is slightly different. If you are fit enough, you can go on top of all of the hills in one day.
Edinburgh is such a diverse and cultural city, home to The Edinburgh International Festivals that represent all aspects of art, three universities and several colleges and the Scottish national rugby ground at Murrayfield. It is the perfect place to situate ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and the cases DI Hunter Wilson has to solve.
I wish Val the very best of luck with both this novel and those that will undoubtedly follow. Her contact details are below.
Friends of Hunter’s Chase – www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303
25 January, 2018