Friday, 28 March 2014

Publication date!

His Majesty's Confidential Agent will be published by Accent Press on Thursday 8 May.

I'm very excited about this and will be telling you more (much more) about this book over the next few weeks.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Back from my holidays

I haven't posted anything for a couple of weeks because I've been off on holiday. Just before I went, I read an article about how to sell more books and it said that it was important that authors use their blogs to tell readers something about themselves. I must say that I'm not convinced. I write about the mid-19th century. Are readers (and potential readers) really that interested in my very 21st-century life?

Well, for any of you who are interested, I've been away in Les Menuires in the Trois Vallées ski area of France. I've been skiing for more years than I care to remember and the Trois Vallées offer a great variety of skiing, even when conditions are (as last week) far from ideal.

I think of skiing as a very modern activity. I know that people used some type of ski back into prehistoric times. Wikipedia tells me that a wooden ski dating from over 7000 years ago was found in Russia and there are records of skiers in Norse mythology and Viking sagas. However, like many Brits, I date modern alpine skiing from the 1920s when British skiers persuaded the authorities at Wengen to keep their cog railway running in winter so that skiers could take the train to the top of the slopes and ski down. The formation of the famous Down Hill Only Club in 1925 marked the start of the modern notion of skiing as an activity that concentrates on coming down the mountain, as opposed to its pre-Wengen days, when most of your time would be spent climbing up. Wikipedia suggests that I shouldn't write off the notion of mid-19th century recreational skiing, though. The first public skiing competition was held in Norway in 1843. The world's first alpine ski club was formed in 1861, though it was far from the Alps, being based in Kiandra in Australia, a product of the Australian Gold Rush.

Perhaps, then, my holidays are more related to the 19th century than I realised. I was glad, though, that I wasn't out on the slopes dressed in tweed and skiing wooden skis with lace up boots.

The same school of thought that says you want to know how I spent my holidays also encourages the use of photographs in blogs. I was too busy moving about to take many photographs last week, but here's one from the same area at the end of last year.

Do readers really want these sort of personal anecdotes? Let me know. Otherwise, it's back to 19th century history.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Water, water everywhere...

UK readers will not need reminding that the last few months have been a bit on the damp side. In fact, record amounts of rainfall have been descending on us since December and only now are things beginning to dry out.

We live very close to the Thames and we have watched in alarm as floods have moved to within a few miles of us. It seems, though, that a decision was made not to open the lock at Teddington and allow the Thames to flood below that point. The land either side of the Thames immediately above Teddington was under water but below the lock the only floods seemed to be on flood plain with no houses threatened. Even so, the river flowed high and fast. It was very dramatic. I took these photos within fifteen minutes walk of home.