To 2015

Here were are, nestled at the end of a year and peeking over the parapets at what lies ahead. And, if you’re interested, I’ll tell you what’s coming up over the next few months.

Gods of Gold, the first in my new Victorian series, came out in the UK in August and in December in the US as well as in ebook form. It’s been attracting some lovely reviews, which is gratifying.

If you don’t already know, there’s a new Richard Nottingham story on this site. Click on novels, then Richard Nottingham and go to By The Law.

Next week (January 5), Dark Briggate Blues appears in the UK, and it’s a paperback (sorry, but it’ll be several months before the US version). Still in Leeds, it’s set in 1954 and features enquiry agent Dan Markham. It’s darker than many of my other books, a real noir (I think). The official launch is in early February at Waterstones Books in Leeds – if you look at my events page, you’ll see the details.

There’s one more thing to say about the book. A TV production company has asked to read it. Chances are that nothing will come of it, but the request was still very heartening.

April sees the UK publication of the second Tom Harper book, Two Bronze Pennies. At a guess, in the US it will be four months later. I think it builds on the first book and goes deeper into the characters, while exploring some of the anti-Jewish feeling that existed in the 1890s.

Then, finally, in July comes Leeds, The Biography. Regular readers of my blog will have already seen some of these stories. Essentially, it’s a history of Leeds in short stories, and the local Armley Press will be issuing it in paperback and ebook – my first non-crime book!

Of course, the serials on this site will continue, both Jimmy Morgan’s World War 1, and the tale of Annabelle Atkinson in Empress on the Corner.

I wish all of you a healthy, happy, and even prosperous New Year, and thanks to you all.

A Year And A Day

A year and a day. For centuries, in English law, it was a vital time period. It was the minimum sentence that could be given for any crime ruled to be a felony. And in the case of a death, if it occurred a year and a day (or more) after the initial event, the death couldn’t be called murder.
A year and a day ago I moved back to Leeds. Back home. I remember when I was young and couldn’t wait to leave a city I found so restricting and small. I came back often over the years, but I saw it with an outsider’s eyes. Its decline and the way it rose again.
I began collecting books on Leeds history – I’m still not sure exactly why – and immersing myself in them. Then I started writing novels set there. By that time I’d returned to England after a few decades abroad. My ambivalent feelings towards the place had turned to love. Well, revisiting an old love, really. I came here more often, and discovered more and more about that place (something I’m still doing).
Finally, with all the right stars aligned, it was time to return.
A year ago tonight, we walked the streets I’d walked when I was a teenager. Past my old school, which stands on the far side of the fields from where we live now. I kept encountering the ghost of the younger me, so naïve and hopeful.
He’s gone now, not even a glimpse at the corner of my eye, but it was strange to meet him. The ghosts now aren’t from my own past, but my family’s. The places in Leeds where they lived and loved and worked. They feed me history, not just of Leeds, but how they existed, and urge me to write it down.
So it’s been a year and a day. And I’m content.

The Dog Days Of Leeds

August is in its slow crawl towards closing. At some point in the next few weeks – and that point is still undetermined, even after three months – we’ll have a moving date, load up all the boxes that are packed and head up to a new life in Leeds.

So perhaps the dog days of summer, that last sigh, will be spent in my hometown. After so long in hurry up and wait mode, it would be welcome. I want to have the luxury of time to explore the place again, fully. I want to see those nooks and crannies, to dig deeper into the history and mystery. I want to be involved with the place.

God knows that I was glad to move when I went off to college all those years ago. But I came back after a year and ended up staying until 1976 when the lure of America drew me. And now I’m going back again to enjoy those dog days. And quite a few more years, I hope.

Each time I’m there I see something new to fascinate me. It might be the date on a building, the promise of a Cloth Hall restoration, the intakes for the old water engine (pointed out to me by someone else). In those dog days and beyond I’ll have the chance to discover, if not everything, then a good chunk of it.