MY New 'Partner in Crime'
I would like to tell you a little more about my new writing partner, award-winning author, Jean Gill. We’ve been great friends for over eight years and although our new joint venture, Life After Men, is more cosy chicklit than hard-boiled police procederal, Jean is still, very much, my new partner in crime. The reality of this situation was vividly brought home to me two years ago when we crashed my car in Northumberland. We are Thelma and Louise without the cliff edge - and shouldn't be allowed out on road trips together. But hopefully, on the literary front, we can still rustle up a decent cliff hanger, or two, between us.
A professional photographer as well as a writer, Jean lives in the south of France with her husband, two scruffy dogs, a Nikon D750 and a beehive. She is the mother or stepmother to five grown-up children. Jean taught English for many years and was the first woman to become a secondary school Head Teacher in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence she can usually support the winning team on any sporting occasion.
Jean’s literary career has been as varied and eclectic as her life. Alongside dog training, photography and translations, she’s published all kinds of books, both with conventional publishers and by herself under her own imprint, The 13th Sign. If you take a trip to her Amazon page here, you’ll find everything from prize-winning poetry, novels and military history, to a cookery book on goats' cheese.
My own particular favourites though are her historical fiction novels, the Troubadour’s Quartet. Set in the period following the Second Crusade, these spellbinding romantic thrillers evoke medieval France with breathtaking accuracy. The characters leap off the page and include amazing women like Eleanor of Aquitaine and Ermengarda of Narbonne, who shaped history in battles and in bedchambers. Jean captures the soul of the age and the characters who lived in it.
But delve into any of Jean’s books and, whatever the genre, you’ll soon discover the thrilling power of her writing and understand why I joined forces with such a talented and professional author. Happy reading.
Why I've moved into Cosy Chicklit
(The Story Behind Life After Men)
I love Stephen Lavender, Ned Woods and my mystery writing. Those guys have kept me warm and entertained throughout some of the darkest days of my life. Creating exciting new mysteries for them to solve for them has been the highlight of my last six winters. The thought that I will have Stephen Lavender’s company is often the only thing that gets me through a cold British January. I still have several untold criminal investigations rumbling around in my imagination and I don’t ever foresee a time when I will abandon my intrepid crime-fighting duo.
However, a little part of me has always wondered if I could write something else, something modern. But that’s a scary thought for a woman whose head is permanently stuck in the Regency period. Was I ready for such a challenge? And if I did leap forward two hundred years into the twenty-first century, what the devil would I write about? I know nothing about modern policing and there’s an awful lot of people out there writing better contemporary crime fiction than I could ever create.
‘Write about what you know’, people say. Really? Do folks really want to read about the life experiences of a fifty-plus widow from northern England? I remained unconvinced. But then my good friend, and fellow co-author, Jean Gill, persuaded me otherwise.
I first met Jean Gill on the (now defunct) online writers’ website, Authonomy about eight years ago. We made friends with a few other girls and eventually formed our own very supportive little private writers' group. We call ourselves the Historical Fictionaires because, amongst other genres, we have all written historical fiction. We chat every day via FB messenger and are sometimes hysterical rather than historical.
The girls and I have holidayed in Provence, Northumberland and the Canary Islands and we’ve attended a number of literary conferences together. Jean and I also famously crashed my car in Alnmouth. If friendship can survive that, it can survive pretty much anything – even co-writing fiction.
The idea for The Silver Sex Kittens Series came about during an excellent meal in a pub in Northumberland. While lubricating our creative brain cells with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, we bemoaned the lack of novels starring women of our own age having fun without a man in tow. It appeared to us that most single, middle-aged female characters were portrayed as either eccentric or miserable and were only happy when a new romance blossomed.
‘But I know many successful and fulfilled, single women aged over fifty, who do remarkable things and lead fun-filled lives,’ Jean said.
‘Me too,’ I agreed. ‘Everyone seems to be giving it a go these days. Even their disasters are impressive.’
We decided that the world needed some cosy chick-lit featuring some of these remarkable women and the characters of Carys, Moira and the rest of the girls were born. We finally found time to start work on our first warm-hearted comedy this spring. In our hands, these stories would never be anything but comic; we just don’t take life seriously enough to get heavy.
Life After Men is the result of that collaboration. A second short story, Moira's Highland Fling, is planned for 2019 – and all five of the Silver Sex Kittens will eventually reveal their full potential as the series continues.
BRAND NEW SERIES:
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