So far, I have written two historical novels, both of which are based on true stories and are set in the wonderful Devon landscape.
The first, Barefoot on the Cobbles: a Devon tragedy, takes place in the first decades of the twentieth century. It was published by Blue Poppy Publishing in 2018.
Growing up, barefoot on the cobbles, in a village on the rugged North Devon coast, Daisy was aware of the perils of the uncertain sea. Her family were also exposed to the dangers of disease and of the First World War but for Daisy, it was her own mother who posed the greatest threat of all. What burdens did that ordinary fisherman’s wife carry, that would drive her to take such desperate measures to preserve her own sanity?
Vividly recreating life at the dawning of the twentieth century, this story is based on a real scandal that lay hidden for nearly a century. Rooted in its unique and beautiful geographical setting, here is the unfolding of a past that reverberates unhappily through the decades and of raw emotions that are surprisingly modern in character.
Sins as Red as Scarlet is based on an earlier Devon tragedy and will be launched in August 2020. Pre orders are now being taken.
It is 1682. Across the land, the Age of Reason has begun; scientific thought is ousting superstitious belief. The menacing days of the witchfinder have all but gone. Nevertheless, in Devon’s county town, three impoverished women are approaching the gallows, condemned to death for the crime of witchcraft. They come from the prosperous port of Byddeforde. There we find the rich merchants, the flourishing tobacco warehouses and the bustle of ships setting sail for the Newfoundland cod-banks. Yet, barely hidden, are layers of intolerance and antagonism that have built up over decades. A time of plague, of war, of religious dissent; all of which have fashioned the prejudices and fears of the town’s inhabitants.
In an alternative 2020, sixteen-year-old Martha, herself a bullies’ target, undertakes a school local history project. As she immerses herself in the lives of Bideford’s seventeenth century residents, the intertwining stories of these years are told through the eyes of real people who lived at the time. Probing the motivations and beliefs of Bideford’s seventeenth century residents, Martha comes to understand how past events might lead ordinary people to become the victims, the accusers, or the accused.
I also have a short story included in the Exeter Authors’ Association anthology Deepest Darkest Devon. This story, Brought to Book, is in a similar vein to the novels. It is a true story from Devon and once again it is based on a tragic incident.