“After an hour, the major domo entered and announced a short break for refreshments. The four players rose and moved out of the card room into the main ballroom where tables with champagne and canapes were arranged. As they circulated, greeting old friends and acquaintances alike, Jane found herself listening to a familiar voice as a body appeared behind her.
“Don’t turn around. You know he is cheating, don’t you?” she heard the voice murmur.
“Mr King, is that you?” she whispered.
“It is, my lady.”
“How do you mean – he is cheating.”
“He is very clever. I know him from several gambling clubs. He is one of those who play cards, but who cannot bear to lose. So, they make sure they do not lose – ever. They cheat.”
“He introduced himself as Mr. Thompson from York.”
“He uses many names. You note, he never wins much. To win a hand of several thousand guineas would attract attention. Instead, he wins small amounts, but constantly.”
“How does he manage the affair?”
“He deals cards from the bottom of the pack, and he has an accomplice who can advise him of the cards other players hold. Normally he uses a woman for the task. I haven’t identified her yet, but I will, eventually.”
“What should I do? I can’t accuse him of cheating without some proper proof, something that others could see.”
“I agree. You should do nothing. Leave this to me. I will speak to him and tell him he is observed. “
A few minutes later she heard raised voices, and saw Mr Thompson being ushered from the Pantheon, followed by a brassy-looking woman dressed in green taffeta. Jane remembered seeing her earlier in the card room circulating among the tables.
When they sat down to play again, the others were astonished to see that Mr Thompson did not join them. Instead, Jane was surprised to see Mr King step forward and offer to take his place.
“I’m afraid Mr Thomson has had to withdraw. He asked me to make his apologies.”
- What makes a good story?
Character! All great stories seem to have really well developed characters. You need your readers to believe in your characters – and then the plot will almost come on its own
2 How have YOU become a better writer?
By reading! All sorts of books. Just keep reading and keep learning.
3 What inspires you?
People and their personal stories.
4 What does your family think of your writing?
I must ask them sometime. (Actually, not true – they are VERY supportive, and not to the extent of saying “everything is lovely”.)
5 What was the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books?
That I could write at all!
6 If you could have written any book, what would it have been and why?
Too many! Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, Winston Graham’s Poldark, J B Priestley’s “Good Companions” just to start!
7 How much research do you do?
LOTS!!! You have to do justice to the times your characters moved in. Also, if you get something wrong, no matter how small, SOMEONE will pick you up on it. You don’t need to know EVERYTHING, but you do need to know and learn enough to make your story ring true.
8 How do you relax?
We have a 2-year-old Granddaughter! Apart from that, friends, cooking, music….
9 Do you have any writing quirks? (and if so what?)
10 Why write in your genre?
I’ve always loved historical fiction and historical romance I was brought up on Georgette Heyer, Robert Louis Stephenson and the like. How could I NOT write in that genre?
11 How is your writing different now from when you started writing.
At least I’m learning some of the mechanics and basics now. Point of view and head-hopping are less of an issue.
12 What do people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that they don’t?
Time. How slowly transport moved. It might take a week to go from Dover to Calais, and it would be normal to take three days or more going from London to York.
13 Your 3 favourite authors?
14 In what ways do you ’service’ or ‘support’ your books?
I’m very active on Social Media and really try to engage with my friends, fellow authors and readers I also make a point of supporting our libraries up here (Yorkshire) and other writers at Signing Events, etc.
15 What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Sometimes you eat the bear – and sometimes the bear eats you! Get over it and get on. You can’t please EVERYONE!
16 What makes your book(s) stand out from the crowd?
A couple of things. I’m a man working in a largely female genre – and that’s fine by me. Also, I tend to work with “real people”. These are all actual relatives of mine, although all dead, and some of them really vile specimens of humanity.
17 Tell us something about your road to being published
I managed to join the Romantic Novelists Associations matchless New Writers Scheme, and my reader REALLY helped. A lot of very useful criticism and an almost complete line-edit. Invaluable.
I then touted the MS round looking for an agent, with no success. I also submitted the MS to a couple of the smaller publishing houses. A friend, Angela Wren, was with Crooked Cat, and I submitted to them, and was accepted.
18 Plotter or Pantser?
Plotter. It comes with my background in systems auditing on ships.
19 Your main character. What makes him or her so special?
He or she has to be “different”. There has to be something about them that makes them interesting, be it a personal trait or something they have done.
20 What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
How much do you want for the film or TV rights for Heart of Stone??
My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, have been transformed into Darkstroke! They are open to submissions, too, particularly if you write in any of the “Dark” genres or tropes.