[Announcement] The King Who Ate My Breakfast

After writing six novels in six years and already with an idea for a seventh, it never crossed my mind to write a children’s story. But after a chance remark by my daughter, I decided to take a ‘time out’ and have a go.

We’ve all heard young children being urged by tedious adults to use their imagination – whether by writing a story for school homework or finding something inspiring to do other than internet games. Yet it struck me that a child might not know what imagination was – what it looked like, where to find it and, if found, what to do with it.

When my grandson, who always gets up early, came to stay with us in Norfolk one autumn half-term with several holiday homework tasks to complete, I realised I had the makings of a possible story. Particularly if I drew on some of the historical paintings in our dining room and the fact that my grandson much enjoys pain au chocolat – a treat he rarely has at home.

One evening after reading him a bedtime story, I read him a few lines which I had scribbled down earlier in the day. He smiled, made no comment, and turned out the bedside light. Despite barely a flicker of interest, I was not put off.

The story I wrote was short but, after further thought, I decided to make it longer – a story about a boy desperately in search of that elusive thing called imagination to help him with his homework. A year later the complete story was finished, had a title – The King Who Ate My Breakfast – and had been edited by my copy editor, Sue Tyley. I was delighted when Blue Falcon Publishing decided to publish it.

I still intend to write that seventh novel but, as I’ve greatly enjoyed writing The King Who Ate My Breakfast – which has helped me to see this complicated and chaotic world from a child’s perspective – I will before too long write another children’s story. I already know what it will be about.

The Next Chapter

I have recently finished my latest novel – the sixth in six years.

It’s now in the hands of my highly-professional copy editor. I hope it will be published in the latter part of April/beginning of May, to be followed shortly afterwards by my first story for children between the ages of five and seven. Once that too has been copy-edited and I have found a suitable illustrator I intend it should appear to the public in the summer.

Back to my new novel – different in genre from my previous books in The Herzberg Trilogy, and The Executioner’s House and The Lute Player.

Here is how I would describe it:

Sunday the 22nd of August 1875. I saw today an enchanting young woman on the river, bathed in golden sunlight. I cannot remove her from my mind.”

So begins the obsession of a man of wealth and influence, its darkening shadow spreading from southern France to Paris, to Cochin China and Spain, altering lives. For some it will be fatal; some will find freedom. A former detective, a society beauty, an imperial concubine, a painter, as well as the girl herself, are all subject to its thrall – and each have passions of their own. Victim or agent. Guilty or innocent. You decide.

All of my books reflect three important aspects:

  • My long career in the Foreign Office with much experience in drafting
  • An unshakeable commitment to writing stories featuring strong female lead characters (I greatly enjoy writing decisive parts for women) and
  • Blending into each tale drama, perfidy, musical threads and of course costume.

As a diplomat, I was taught – amongst other things – the importance of observing (as another source of information) human nature with its lighter and often darker side, the latter often concealing secrets and destructive frailties.

From the many I’ve encountered in my long diplomatic life I have been able to assemble – by picking and mixing – a rich array of players to appear in my stories. This latest tale of obsession and the dark place to which it can often lead has enabled me to delve once more into my personal treasury of recollections of those I’ve met over the years to paint yet again the good and the bad in human behaviour.

As the sign outside my study door in Norfolk states:

Careful or
You’ll End Up in 
My Novel.

A week of book launches

I want to express my gratitude and thanks to all those who attended the London and Norfolk launches of Fortune’s Sonata. I hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as I did. If you didn’t manage to pick up a copy of the book, you can purchase one from The Holt Bookshop, Waterstones in King’s Lynn (click and collect here), or Amazon UK (where you can also find the Kindle edition – if you already bought the paperback from Amazon, then you will be able to purchase the Kindle edition at a significant discount).

I was also pleased to pick up a copy of the current North Norfolk Living magazine and find a glowing review on page 46. You can read it online at or below.

Download The Music Book for free

To further celebrate the release of Fortune’s Sonata in paperback and Kindle editions I am offering the Kindle edition of Book 1 of the Herzberg Trilogy, The Music Book, free to download for a limited time, to introduce new readers to the series.

It can be downloaded from or

As a still relatively new author, I rely on interested readers reading and reviewing my books, and I hope by making these titles available in these ways, you will be encouraged to read and then rate/review them.

Win a signed copy of The Music Book

To celebrate the official launch of the paperback version of The Music Book, I have decide to give away 5 signed copies to Goodreads members based in the UK.

To enter, simply go to the Goodreads giveaway page and click the “Enter to Win” button. The giveaway will run until 21 July 2014, after which I will send copies to the lucky winners.

Birkbeck, University of London, recently asked me about my inspiration for my first novel, The Music Book. Here’s what I wrote:

I’m pleased to announce that The Music Book is now officially published and available for purchase as an eBook for the Amazon Kindle (and smartphone/tablet/PC via the Kindle app). Purchase links can be found on the ‘Where to buy’ page.

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