I promised something new this week about Return to Madrid, my up-coming novel. Here is the blurb, just a taste of what awaits the reader:
It is 1685 and autumn in Madrid. Life there is bad for men but much worse for women. Recently widowed, Francisca needs a new purpose in life. With the odds heavily weighed against her, she decides to investigate the mysterious death, sixteen years before, of her bright and gifted son, while at university. Did he die of some undetected illness? Did he commit suicide? Or was he murdered?
Disguised as mother and son, Francisca and her friend Inés leave Madrid to challenge the staff at Juan’s college, twenty miles away. How can these two women solve this cold case? How will they discover what happened and who can help? What dangers are lurking? Surely, any evidence will be destroyed or lost, after so long… or will it?
This fast moving thriller shows how unyielding determination can help unravel puzzling events of the past. It demonstrates how new friendships can blossom from the smallest of buds.
This spectacular picture, painted by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, is to form the cover of my next novel, Return to Madrid. Pradilla was commissioned by the state to
paint this huge canvas. The picture shows Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand accepting the surrender of Granada from the last King of the Spanish Moors. It is 18 feet wide by 10 feet tall and is displayed in the Prado, Madrid. It took him three years to paint it! In his later years Pradilla was the Director of this world famous gallery.
The painting will, I think, make an ideal cover as it will wrap around the book quite nicely, giving a stunning portrayal back and front. My cover designer and friend Rohan Renard will be working on the design next week. He found this wonderful picture and I’m really grateful to him for doing so.
Last Friday, 4 January, I had the privilege of giving my ‘Latecomer Novelist’ talk to the Redhill and Reigate U3A group at Park Church in Reigate. I can’t remember feeling more at home among a group of people I hade never met before. I was welcomed by Lynne, who showed me where to park and even help me carry my books into the hall. Mike, the president, also made me welcomed and I spoke, before and after my talk to a number of members about writing and getting published.
The talk seemed to go down well and my sincere thanks are due to Elizabeth who organised my visit, Mike and Lynne and all other members present who listened so patiently and, of course, all those who bought copies of my novels. So, as a result of my visit, I’ll be donating £16 to the Rotary Charity, ‘End Polio Now’ which the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation will make up to £48 in the fight to eradicate polio
This is a nice little story. My son lives in a quaint, pretty little village in Northamptonshire called Kilsby. It’s about 5 miles north of Daventry. It has a new village shop managed by a lovely lady called Andrea. A week or two ago my son went in to buy some supplies and overheard a conversation between Andrea and one of the volunteers, a lady called Margaret who was telling Andrea that all she wanted for Christmas was a nice young man to take her for a ride in his Rolls Royce.
Out of earshot of Margaret, who is in her eighties by the way, Greg told Andrea that his dad was coming up to stay with Greg and Sue for Christmas and that, although dad didn’t own a Rolls Royce he could do at least as well by taking Margaret for a run in his Bentley.
So much to Margaret’s astonishment, dad turned up on Christmas Eve and took Margaret for a little run, only about 5 miles but Margaret was delighted. She wouldn’t stop talking the whole ride and I bet she’s told everyone about how her Christmas wish came true – well, almost! And maybe she was hoping for a younger man!
I was so pleased with the signing I did on Friday at WH Smith’s busy store in Sutton High Street. Once again I met some very interesting people. A lady from Sao Paulo, Brazil bought a copy of ‘Expulsion’ and told me all about her home city. A kind gentleman bought not only a copy of Expulsion but also one of ‘The Harpist of Madrid’ a number of which the shop had in stock. A young lady whose mother might want me to help her publish her novel also stopped by and told me about her mother’s novel and the problems she’d had with her publisher. I promised to see if I can help.
So many thanks Simon Bruckland, the store manager for allowing me to do the signing in his shop and to Dawn his supervising member of staff who set me up and encouraged me! I managed to shift 16 books altogether, a good few hours work and a pleasure to be there!
I’ve had a very busy time in the last week and a bit. It started with three sessions of signings of my latest – ‘Expulsion’ – in the WHSmith store in CenterPoint in Wimbledon. And what an amazing three days they were!
I met some incredible people. A lady from Finland told me about how her family survived the second world war by speaking Finnish in the concentration camps. An historian related his theory of the identity of a queen in the Bayeux Tapestry. He’d written a very informative article about it, a copy of which he brought in for me the following day! A Japanese lady whose son is at King’s School wanted my advice on studying for a degree in physics which is what her son wants to do.
The fourth signing was in the WHSmith flagship store in Kingston-Upon-Thames. Again a fascinating day on Saturday. I spoke to the Headmistress of Cheam Infants School which is just around a couple of corners from where I live in Worcester Park. Her husband, also there, is an accomplished golfer! A gentleman who works for Penguin Random House stopped to speak. And I spent some time talking to a lady who is Marketing Director for a firm which makes and sells advanced cyber security systems.
Amongst all this chat, I actually sold all but 60 copies of ‘Expulsion’ in the four sessions!
So many thanks to Alex, the manager of the Kingston store and his wonderful staff as well as to store manager Ashley in Wimbledon and to his equally brilliant people, for making me so welcomed and giving me the opportunity to do these signings in their stores. Thanks also to all those folk who stopped to talk to me … and of course those who bought copies of ‘Expulsion’!
On Friday I’ll be in WHSmith’s store in Sutton High Street from about 10.30 until 4pm.
Welcome back to my website and hello to anyone visiting for the first time!
As my followers already know, I’m a member of Nonsuch Rotary Club which serves the community in and around Sutton, Surrey.
Well, tonight we start our Santa Christmas collections. We have the real Santa Claus, fresh from the North Pole, on the back of our lorry and go around many roads in Worcester Park making quite a noise broadcasting Christmas carols and collecting from the generous occupants of the houses there.
Just to let you know, I shall be the driver! You can follow Santa, and therefore where I am by clicking on http://www.nonsuchrotary.org and clicking on the ‘Follow Santa’ link at the bottom of our web page. The site also tells you in advance where we will be over the coming two weeks! Last year we collected over £10,000 pounds and are hoping to make £11,000 this year
So see you, tonight, Tuesday night and Monday and Tuesday nights of next week! This is a ‘not to be missed’ experience for all the young children in our area.