THE RED TUNIC
Definitely a labour of love. It tells the story of Nina and Alfie, neglected twins who become adept at impersonating each other. When gentle Alfie is conscripted to fight in the First World War, feisty Nina tricks him and goes in his place. She experiences love, loss and the full horror of battle while Alfie grows into the person he was always meant to be. I love Nina – in a lot of ways she’s what I would like to be. Better not say too much about that, though. I’ll just say that I’m proud of both her and Alfie.
Why the First World War?
This conflict fascinates me for so many reasons and I’ve visited the battlefields of the Western Front several times. I was lucky enough to attend the Passchendaele centenary commemorations in 2017 and I will never forget them. World War One was a global tragedy that changed life forever.
But a girl fighting as a man? Really?
Yes. It happened. There was an 18th century woman called Hannah Snell who enlisted in the army under the name James Grey. She fought as a foot soldier in the Jacobite Rebellion and later deserted to enlist in the Marines. She wrote a book about her experiences. When I was considering writing about this subject, I found a copy of it in an antiquarian bookshop. I thought it was a sign and was going to buy it until I discovered it cost £4,000! When I started to research the subject of women masquerading as men, I was astonished to find that there were so many of them – Mulan, for instance. And those are just the ones we know about!
THE MUDLARK MYSTERIES: THE GRINNING THROAT
London, 1872: When Joe and Edie are orphaned, they decide to become mudlarks to avoid the workhouse. It’s a hard life but their troubles really begin when they make a sinister find on the foreshore. That leads them into conflict with Hubert Hempson, a sinister barber with some nasty side lines and a gang of cutthroat anarchists. They will need all their ingenuity and the help of new friends Union Jack – a streetwise urchin, Ottilie – a Chinese American girl rescued from an opulent opium den, and Magdalena – an unconventional European princess, to outwit their enemies.
This sounds like a series?
That’s the plan, if things go well. Ideally I would like to write five of these, one of the point of view of each of the protagonists. I’ve got a great idea for the second one. It’s all based around a sinister legend about London’s underground sewerage system…
Egg, Jess and Oscar are will never be cool and they never seem to quite fit in. When they meet for the first time at the local movie house during a showing of Captain Cutlass and the Treasure of the Orient, they unwittingly set off a curse that has been waiting for them for generations. Lost in a world of mixed up movies and with only a talking Albatross with unsavoury personal habits to help them, they must complete a series of unusual quests in order to free themselves.
Well that sounds a little … weird?
I hope so. That was my intention. This was great fun to write and I’m especially fond of Albert, their albatross mentor. I’ve brought in elements from all kinds of movies from musicals to dino-flicks. I’d love to write more. This made really me laugh and I hope it will have the same effect on others. Mashing up movie genres offers endless possibilities!
Are you planning more?
I’d like to write more of these and I’ve got some great titles and storylines lined up, which I’d better not mention here.