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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Novel Number Three

I've had two books published: Jade Hunter in 2007 and The Devil At My Heels in June of this year. As soon as one was published, I began thuinking about the next one, and so now I'm trying to sort out what to do for number three.

I have rough outlines completed for six plots and I think I have finally decided what the choice will be.

My first novel told the story of the search for a large jade sculptire created in Ming Dynasty China, alternating with the story of the sculpture itself and what adventures it had down through the centuries. The character searching for the sculpture was Jill Howard, and I think I wll tell a story about another one of her searches. The working title is The Golden Phoenix, and the premise willbe similar to that of Jade Hunter.

A gold statue of a phoenix is made in China to celebrate the end of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty and the start of the Ming - a Chinese Dynasty - in 1368. The statue lives through all manner of social and political upheavals, is owned by various Chinese emerors and wealthy families in China and elsewhere. Jill, having received  much publicity for her discovery of the jade sculpture, is commissioned to fins it, and thise twi stiry lines, interwoven, will constitute the book.

Research is now well underway, and I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, the next blog post will be an interview with Jill so you can get to meet her. Jade Hunter is available as an eBook or in paperback at Double Dragon Publishing and in Kindle at Amazon. Kobo, Nook etc. formats are also available.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Interview with Dr. George Randall

This is the second part of an interview conducted by this blog site (TP) with Dr. George Oliver Randall, the main character in the novel The Devil At My Heels. Part One appears below it.

TP:  George, let’s move on now to talk a bit about the death of your friend, Dr. Michael Stuart and what that event led to. It’s documented in The Devil At My Heels, but I’d like to hear some of your more personal observations. To begin with, though, what’s your academic background?

GR: Well. I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, and then went on to a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. at the University of London. My doctoral dissertation was titled German Monasticism and its Influence on the Monastic Movement In Britain in the Thirteenth Century.

TP: Dr. Stuart’s death must have come as a great shock.

GR: I was thunderstruck, actually. I couldn’t believe anyone would murder Mike. I was outraged and very, very angry that such a thing could have happened. Mike and I had been friends and colleagues for years, and I suppose that’s really why I set about finding The Haunted Gospel. I wanted to see Mike’s work finished. Almost in defiance of the murderer, as it were.

TP: And judging from your academic background, when you began the search for The Haunted Gospel, you were in very familiar territory, weren’t you?

FR: Absolutely, although when I started I had no idea what it would all lead to. I mean, all that detective and cloak-and-dagger stuff. Looking over my shoulder all the time. That was very unfamiliar territory, I can tell you. Let alone the danger to myself and my daughter.

TP: So it was the murder that got you involved in the first place, wasn’t it?

GR: Yes. I knew Mike had been looking for The Haunted Gospel. All I wanted to do was find it for him. Quite simple, really. It was nothing more than that, and I had no idea it would be so dangerous.

TP: So you didn’t actually set out to track down the killer, then?

GR: Good grief, no. Neither I nor anyone else knew there was any connection between the murder and the gospel. I let the police get on with the murder investigation, but of course, they had no success. My search turned out to be a way to flush out the killer so the police could get at him. It was damned unnerving towards the end, especially when it began to involver Megan, my daughter.

TP: And Katherine, your fiancée, as well, I believe.

GR: Yes indeed. I met Katherine through the gospel search, and she just got drawn into the whole web. I was very worried about her, but she seemed to take it all in stride.

TP: But things got very difficult when the first arrest was finally made, didn’t they?

GR: That was a terrible time, awful. And the recriminations went on for over a year. I was in a state of near despair. I’d tried to do what was right, but I can see how it must have looked to Katherine.

TP: In terms of the search for the gospel manuscript, George, did you really expect to find it after 800 years?

GR: In my line of work, you just start the research and find whatever you can. Many manuscripts have come down to us from the Medieval period, and I didn’t really see any reason why I shouldn’t find it. If I’m being honest, though, I did reckon the chances were pretty slim. I did a lot of legwork, but luck had a hand in it as well.

TP: But you did trace its history, didn’t you?

GR: Yes, but there are some gaps I couldn’t fill in. I still don’t know how on earth the book ended up in the hands of Josef Goebbels.

TP: Well, I’d advise everyone to read The Devil AT My Heels and find out everything. Excerpts can be read at, and you can purchase the book at The Muse Bookstore. Many thanks Dr. Randal, we appreciate your time. It’s a fascinating story.

GR: My pleasure. Enjoy the read.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Dr. George Oliver Randall is the principal character in my new novel The Devil At My Heels (read the Prologue and an excerpt here).  Dr. Randall is in his late fifties, and is an eminent historian, specializing in ecclesiastical history with particular reference to the medieval period and the monastic movement in Britain and Europe. He has written many books and articles, and is a sought-after speaker at conferences and scholarly symposia.  This blog site, Times Past, (TP) interviewed him at his home in the UK, and the first part of that interview is presented below..

TP:  Dr. Randall, thank you for allowing me to talk to you today.

GR: It’s a pleasure, and please call me George.

TP: Thank you George. Perhaps we could begin with you giving us an idea of your background. Tell us a bit about yourself.

GR: Well, I was born and brought up in Surrey and attended a boarding school on the Lincolnshire coast from age twelve to eighteen. A penal colony called Weldon School for Boys. It closed shortly after I left ending a two-hundred-year history. I detested it at first, but eventually I became accustomed to life there, and as it turned out it was where I acquired my love of history and writing. After Weldon’s I took a gap year and traveled in Europe before going to University. I got married and we had a daughter, Megan. Jennifer, my wife, was killed in a car crash when Megan was twenty. That was a hell of a time for both of us, and I probably would have jumped off a bridge somewhere if it hadn’t been for Meg. She got me through it while all the time dealing with her own grief. I owe her a great deal for that. Actually, Megan met her partner, Tony, through the investigation of Mike Stuart’s murder and I met my present wife, Katherine, the same way. Mind you, we nearly didn’t get married, but that’s a long story.

TP: I want to come to that whole business of the murder, the investigation  and your search for The Haunted Gospel a bit later on, but tell me a little more about yourself. Have you any hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?

GR: Well, if I have a hobby, I suppose it would be growing roses. I don’t have a large garden, but I have quite a variety of different roses; some of them quite rare. I enjoy puttering about looking after them. I’ve been Chair of the local Rose-Growers’ Association, and I flatter myself that I’m a bit of an expert by now.

TP: Changing the subject a bit, what sort of music do you like?

GR: Classical mainly, but I’m not an aficionado by any means. Handel is one of my favorite composers, but I enjoy Elgar a lot, and Mozart, who’s Katherine’s favorite. And Katherine and I both enjoy opera, but not the heavy stiff too much. I find a little Wagner goes a long way. Megan introduced me to jazz, and I do like that, but only some of it. I don’t care for the stuff that shrieks and hammers at you. I mean some of it sounds like a bucket being kicked down the stairs. Still, one man’s meat is another man’s poison I suppose.

TP: You mentioned you love reading, George. What do you like to read? Historical fiction, I imagine.

GR: Absolutely, but I like a good spy novel and a good thriller. I like Frederick Forsythe, Jeffrey Archer and Sidney Sheldon in particular. I like speculative fiction as well, if it’s not too futuristic, but I’m not into horror or wild fantasy.”

TP: What about historical fiction, then?

GR: Yes, that’s a real pleasure for me, especially when it’s well researched. A good historical novelist can give the reader a real sense of what life was like during the time in which the story is set. A scholarly work of history doesn’t do that—doesn’t even try to do that. The academic historian is concerned with analysis and interpretation. Explaining the why’s and how’s. Historical fiction has an artistic purpose and justification. It can educate, of course, but it also aims to entertain. I grew up on Horatio Hornblower and that sort of thing, and I really enjoy the work of people like Patrick O’Brian and Bernard Cornwell. And one of the best today is Anne Easter Smith, in my view. Her work is so well researched and presented. I’d recommend her to anyone interested in historical fiction. Ellis Peters is wonderful as well; her stories  of Brother Cadfael combine history and mystery, and since they’re set in the 1100s in the Abbey at Shrewsbury,  they’re right up my street.

TP: I know you’ve written and published many articles and books on history, but have you ever tried to write fiction?

 GR: Well, since you ask, I tried to write a thriller once. I spent about two years on it in my spare time, and then in high hopes I sent it off to several publishers.

TO: And?

GR: Instant oblivion, I’m afraid.

 TP: Well, I think that’s a good place to stop for now, George. Next time I want to talk to you about the murder of your colleague, The Haunted Gospel, and other aspects of the story documented in The Devil At My Heels.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Greetings everyone!

I'm pleased to announce the release of my latest novel


Available from the Bookstore at

Following the murder of his friend, Michael Stuart, Dr. George Randall, an eminent professor of History finds himself caught up in a dangerous race to uncover the killer’s identity and find the solution to an eight-hundred-year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of a priceless archaeological treasure. The key to the mystery lies hidden within the illuminated pages of  a thirteenth-century manuscript, and Randall must find that manuscript before the killer does. His search takes him from England to Italy, Austria and Germany as he painstakingly traces the history of the manuscript from its creation on through the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the final, apocalyptic months of the Second World War. Attempts are made on his life and the life of his daughter as he makes use of all his wits and research skills  to stay a step ahead of a ruthless killer determined to keep the secret for himself.

Read the Prologue and another excerpt from the book at  my website

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Historical Fiction

What's the artistic justification for historical fiction? Why write stories set in times past? Surely the modern world provides more than enough material and inspiration.

The fact is, most people are fascinated by the question of what life was like in days gone by. How did people live in Ming Dynasty China, for example? What were the conditions of daily life in eighteenth century Europe? It's the personal angle people want to read about. Certainly there is interest in the political or economic history of a country or a society, but when it comes to fiction, readers want to know what life was like for people. The writer of historical fiction can bring a past world to life, recreate it at a personal level and give readers an opportunity to feel, see, hear and understand what the world was like for those who lived in that era.

It seems this is what keeps people writing and reading historical fiction. It certainly is what keeps me writing and reading it. It appears humans never learn much from the past, but they certainly like to find out about it.