With my next novel, To Be Frank, on its way and currently doing the rounds of the agents, I thought I’d remind readers of what has come before.
Recently, when I’ve bumped into people emerging from Covid restrictions, they’ve asked if I am still writing. When I say I’ve been working on my fourth novel they look surprised and interested and that’s great. More than once they’ve continued to say that they’ve only read one or sometimes two of my books and I’ve wondered why? It seems odd when they’ve made such a point of saying they’ve enjoyed my books. I thought perhaps a reminder of what they might have missed would be helpful, along with an honest analysis of my own thoughts on the writing.
My first novel, There’s No Sea in Salford, is the story I really wanted to write, based on my time working as a final year medical student for 3 months in Sri Lanka in 1978. In many ways it’s my favourite story, but also the most naive, written before I’d discovered what a novel really needs in terms of technique and structure. I am still trying to learn!
How They Met Themselves came about after the short and sharp success of TNSIS when I was determined not to be a one trick pony. Here I used experiences taken from a wonderful journey around California, made with three good friends a year after we’d all retired from our professional careers. Rather than give away tales of what we got up to, I invented Max as the main protagonist and allowed him to make a similar journey, even though he and his friends were at least 30 years younger than us.
In HTMT readers come upon the fictional character of Max for the first time, as a young traveller taking a gap year after graduating from university. He and his eventual wife reappear in my next two books, Lawn House Blues and To Be Frank, so it’s well worth meeting him if you haven’t done so already. Books two, three and four all stand alone but a few of the characters crop up again from time to time, so watch out.
Lawn House Blues is set much closer to home in rural Suffolk and goes into more depth, looking at families, relationships and secrets from the past. It revolves around an old country manor house and the owners’ struggle to maintain it in the modern world. Snape Matings even gets a mention.
I consider LHB my most accomplished novel to date and I love the breadth and detail of the characters within the story. In fact I love the characters so much that a number of them are developed further in To Be Frank. Frank’s story is very different and moves between the countryside around Lawn House and the Suffolk coast.
To Be Frank is still the working title of novel number four and the title therefore might change. Covid times have given me time to rewrite Frank’s story many times so I hope the end result will be interesting, believable and enjoyable for future readers. I am not planning to rush to get this published, so you might have to wait a little longer and meanwhile simply be satisfied by my little WordPress drip feeds, or perhaps read or re-visit the previous books.
All three of these books shown above are available on Amazon as paperback and kindle editions.