The main event for me of 2011 was a move to a new publisher, Simon & Schuster. Quite nerve-wracking after 14 novels with the same outfit, but, well, so far, so very good indeed. The first novel is a historical thriller set in World War One, called – for the moment at least – DEAD MAN’S LAND. The premise is straightforward – why, when up to 20,000 men a day are dying, would anyone want to commit a murder in the trenches? And then a second? It is mostly set in and around a Casualty Clearing Station in Belgium and I have been helped enormously
with this by Sue Light (see her blog, http://greatwarnurses.blogspot.com/) an expert on medical care in the conflict and a demon for detail. She needed frequent smelling salts during the recent series of Downton Abbey. Sue pulled me up short on a few details in the early draft she read. Repeat after me: Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses (your Vera Brittains and the likes of Lady Sybil) NEVER worked near the front.
The book, which features a well-known literary figure as the central character – to be revealed at a later date – won’t be out until 2013. I have also kept myself busy by tinkering with X-Boox (www.xboox.co.uk), which has my alter-ego Tom Neale’s books as Kindle Editions. They have a new tablemate – TOP SHELF by Frances White. Frances is not another nom-de-plume, but someone who worked in the ‘gentleman’s magazine’ business back in the 1980s, it is an entertaining, sometimes eye-popping, thriller set in the world of Men Only centerfolds and contact sheets, pre-internet, and back in the days when models routinely had pubic hair. As such, it’s almost a period piece now (although perhaps not quite eligible for an Ellis Peters). Next up on the site is an alternative-history thriller set in Cornwall. More details in a couple of months, when I’ll reveal the hero of Dead Man’s Land and, with luck, the cover art.