Thursday, 9 July 2020

This is a book I can recommend for anyone who has an interest in historical novels. The Poisoned Cup by Edward Lanyon is a different take on the Braveheart story. I believe it to be a more accurate story, but the reader must judge for him/herself.
What the readers said about The Poisoned Cup:
-        I bought this one last night and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. It reads like a Bernard Cornwell novel. The key character is an aging English knight working for King Edward the First to try to bring about a lasting peace with Scotland. He is thwarted when the Scottish king Alexander is killed in an accident. One of the secondary characters is William Wallace but this is a very different Wallace to the one you see in the Braveheart film. According to Lanyon’s notes, this is the more accurate version of him. The book’s portrayal comes across as more credible than the film image. This is a just a rollicking good historical tale with knights, battles and a beautiful young maiden. A great first novel from this new writer.
-        The novel weaves a rich tapestry of political intrigue with a fictional seasoned knight as the reader's guide to the madness that ensued from the death of one king and the debatable obligations of another. The reader will be confronted by the raw brutality of the war between England and Scotland during the late 13th century. The writing is truly impressive and readers who are familiar with the brilliant works of Maurice Druon may find similar writing style with the use of dialogue, delivery of historical events and overall pacing of the story.
-        The Poisoned Cup was an absolute gem of a find and I was stunned to discover that this was a debut novel.
-        The book follows an ageing English Knight who happens to be working for King Edward the first. His job is to bring peace between England and Scotland; the angst between the two kingdoms is beginning to build to a startling level. However his plans are scuppered when the King of Scotland, Alexander is killed in a sudden accident; all must be done to stop the incoming of a civil war. Lanyon spills a brutal tale of battles, knights, one beautiful maiden and a rip-rolling story.
-        This feels like a very well-researched and investigated story; the story feels real and definitely transports you to medieval times which of course it is supposed to. Lanyon forces the reader to re-think the portraits we see of such historic figures. What I also found truly intriguing was the brutal nature of the book: this is an author who does not step back. Instead the writing is heady, ruthless but also fully formed. It feels like you’re there in the action, feeling the heat of the battle, the roar in your ears; it’s a wonderful thing when historical fiction manages this.
-        I thought the characters were fleshed out with style and precision and I liked the way that some are historical figures whilst others are fictional and created from the author’s imagination. I thought the political line of fiction was woven throughout and helped to add to the action and make it feel all the more real
-        I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. It has a real sense of what historical fiction should do and how to engage the reader. A lovely, but rather brutal tale.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

The Girl From The Killing Streets is a novel, yes, but it is more than that. It is a lesson from history. The fiction elements of the story are set against a real event in the Northern Irish troubles: a day in 1972 known as Bloody Friday. Read this story as a thriller, yes, but let it also help you better understand what happened that day, and the terrible effect the appalling violence has had upon the people of Belfast. Even today, twenty two years after the Good Friday Agreement, the after-effects have not gone away, far from it. Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate in the UK, and one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The causes are not entirely limited to the so-called ‘troubles’, but there is ample evidence that a legacy of thirty years of bombing, shooting and hatred has left many Northern Irish people suffering from stress and PTSD. Read the book and try to understand what it was like to live in Belfast at that time, and try to understand why the after-effects live on.
Having read Mr Hough's previous novels this one is his best yet. The writing has taken more than one step upwards. Being interested in the Troubles I found the book fascinating, based around the Belfast Bloody Friday bombings where the reader gets to follow several different characters during that awful day on 21 of July 1972. This novel is clearly centred around true facts of that day. The author places you amongst the action with gritty reality. You receive a vivid insight into the grim reality of life at that time: the burnt out houses, protestant and catholic tensions, the dangers associated with taking a wrong turn and stumbling into the wrong street, the senseless murders and retaliation murders, plus much more. I can highly recommend the book to anyone that likes a novel based around true events.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Two new non-fiction books are now on the market, published by Luscious Books. They are essentially the same book, but one is a UK edition and the other a US edition. The news items differ.

I REMEMBER THAT differs from other memory journals. It is aimed at those older people who need just a little help to bring their memories back into sharper focus. It does this by using news items as ‘memory triggers’: it briefly describes a variety of news events that have occurred between 1945 and 2000. It then prompts the reader to recall what was happening in his/her own life at that time. This book is available as UK and US versions, both in standard and large print.
To find out more go to:

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Yesterday I began a journey through my published novels, a journey that will take you up to my latest thriller published by Darkstroke. This latest one is called The Girl From The Killing Streets.

I explained that writing this latest novel demanded every skill I had learned in my career as a writer. I doubt if I could have written it sooner. It was Highly Commended in the 2019 Yeovil Literary Prize competition.

This account of my writing career, isn’t written in chronological sequence.  I am grouping my books for convenience. I told you yesterday about my three aviation novels. I have written other books along the route towards Killing Streets. I was born in Cornwall, but half my life has been spent in the beautiful county of Dorset. My Hampton Warlock Trilogy tells the stories of three different families who live in a fictitious Dorset village which I call, not surprisingly, Hampton Warlock. The name is adapted from the real village of Witchampton. Keen-eyed lovers of Dorset will recognise the descriptions of the location as coming from the real village of Worth Matravers. When the original publisher went bust, these books were quickly taken on by Cloudberry and republished under different titles.

The Long Road to Sunrise (Republished as The Legacy of Shame)
The Hadleigh family of Hampton Warlock learn about a child lost in the Amazon rainforest.

King’s Priory (Republished as The Legacy of Secrets)
Colin Portesham searches for secrets hidden in King’s Priory, his parents’ home in Hampton Warlock. He discovers what happened to his grandfather, a WW2 fighter pilot.

The Gallows on Warlock Hill (Republished as The Legacy of Conflict)
Rose Greenwood unearths family secrets going back to the civil war. Her discoveries reveal conflicts in Dorset and Ireland.

Friday, 5 June 2020

The Girl From The Killing Streets is my new thriller from Darkstroke. It is a truly dark read, one that demands a painful journey of discovery for the key characters. Writing it demanded everything I had learned from my personal history as a novelist.

I have been writing seriously for the past twenty years. An insight into me, the writer, may help to know my books. I’ll begin with my trilogy of aviation thrillers.

If you want to write about aviation, you need to know about aviation. My working life was spent as an air traffic controller. I had an insight into the workings of aviation at airfields and at air traffic control centres. I worked at numerous locations around the UK and was the Belfast aerodrome controller on duty the day troops were airlifted into Northern Ireland in August 1969. In the late 1970s I was an area controller at the Scottish Air Traffic Control Centre in Prestwick. I wrote most of my books with a degree of inside knowledge.

Four hundred frightened passengers
Two badly crippled aircraft
And nowhere to land
Thousands of passengers
Hundreds of aircraft
One plan to end it all
Three unarmed aircraft
One dangerous mission
And no hope of return

An Amazon reviewer wrote about Prestwick: “I read every aviation related book that I can get my hands on and this one I can safely say had me totally hooked. Excellent piece of work and the degree of technical accuracy could come only from a professional.”

Sunday, 24 May 2020

In my previous post I aimed to explain why I wrote The Girl From The Killing Streets. This morning let me try to amplify that.

I am no longer in what is often described as “the full bloom of youth.” One day I will not be here. I will be a part of the past. History. Maybe that is why two thoughts so often occupy my mind these days. Firstly, what have I learned from the experience of being here? And, secondly, what will I leave behind for future generations?

It was an eye-opening thought when it first occurred to me: what will I take with me when I leave this life? Only one thing, I decided. I will take with me only what I have learned from the experience of being here. Everything else will be left behind. From that I deduced that ‘learning’ has been a major part of my purpose in this life. Not classroom learning. My task has been my personal develoment through ‘experiential’ learning. In other words, learning from my various life experiences. So, I ask myself, what have I learned? Well, some of that experiential learning went into my books.

Then I turn my thoughts to what I will leave behind for future generations. As a former air traffic controller, I have very little to pass on. But as a writer, there is a lot I can leave behind when I eventually leave this life. When I write a novel I aim to do more than relate a story. I aim to make the reader think. No more so than in my latest book, The Girl From The Killing Streets. Outside of Northern Ireland, most people have only an edited view of The Troubles, based on what they read in their newspapers or saw on their televisions. As for the younger generation, how can they possibly fully understand what it was really like in Northern Ireland in those harrowing days? I cannot take anyone physically back to that time but, as a writer, I can help them understand how it felt. And, when I am gone from this life, the fruits of that exercise will remain… in my writing, in the words I leave behind. People will still be able to read my book and gain some understanding of what it felt like. If they can learn about the past through my writing, and make sure it never happens again, my work as a writer will have been of value.

That’s a comforting thought.

Monday, 18 May 2020

My revealing novel 

I learned more about the Peninsular Wars from reading Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels than I learned in school history lessons. I learned more than the bare facts; the dates and places. I learned what it was like to be there in the heat of battle. I learned what it felt like. A novelist is well-placed to show the reader those emotions. There’s nothing new in it. Through the medium of a novel, Dickens showed us what it felt like to be a penniless orphan.

Why am I telling you this? Because historians try to give an accurate account of the past, but their output often comes across as too academic. So many history books are devoid of that important element: the collection of sentiments, hopes and frustrations felt by the people who were there at the time.

I lived and worked in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, at the height of the Troubles. I remember more than simply what happened. There are many detailed accounts of that already in the public domain. I now live in England and people ask me what it felt like to live in Northern Ireland in those distant days. Their questions go beyond what happened. I find it difficult to explain in a conversation, in a way that fully captures the feel of the moment. However, I am a novelist, so I had a solution in my writing.

My way around the problem was to write a novel that encapsulates the essence of what it felt like. As Bernard Cornwell did with his Sharpe books, I have used fiction as a means of bringing out the feelings of reality. Fiction in place of reality? Ironically, it seems to work.

The Girl From The Killing Streets is a crime story, but it is more than that. It is a story set against one fateful day in the lives of the people of Belfast. Bloody Friday, 21st July 1972.

The story begins eight years later when a young woman is incarcerated in Armagh Gaol for two murders committed on Bloody Friday. A journalist interviews her and comes away with the clear impression that her story does not ring true. So he interviews others who were in Belfast that day in 1972 and puts together a totally different story of what happened. It is a story of family intrigue, family secrets and dangerous relationships. It is also a story of how people felt when their city was blown apart.

The Girl From The Killing Streets is published by Darkstroke. With bookshops now closed, it can be ordered in paperback or ebook from Amazon. Follow this link:

“This book is a thriller from start to finish I was hooked. Well written from an expert storyteller.”
Amazon review

A remarkably dark and stylish thriller. The next best thing to being there.
Della Galton. Novelist and creative writing tutor

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Worrying news on the coronavirus front. Denmark in lockdown as well as Italy. No travel between US and EU. Meanwhile we live in a block of sixty apartments, all occupied by older people. Will we find ourselves cocooned? We wait and see.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

What do I do when I’m not writing fiction? Answer: I’m writing non-fiction. “A Lifetime of Memories” is selling nicely. One reviewer wrote that he bought that book and a similar one for an older relative. He preferred mine and discarded the other. I also write stories for my grandsons, but they are not for publication.

As a writer I have a keen interest in how other writers create their stories. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. We can learn so much from each other. When people ask me where my stories come from I tell them the seeds are all around us in our own lives. The ideas can come from things we see, things we hear or experiences we have been through. The idea for THE GIRL FROM THE KILLING STREETS came from my distant past. Back in the 1970s I was living and working in Northern Ireland. It was an experience I never forgot and I long wanted to write about that time and place. It took a long time to get round to it, but the novel will be published soon.