The story behind my latest novel

My wife and I went to Jerusalem and Palestine in November 2017 as part of a study group.

In the city we saw sites familiar to many – including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Golden Gate, the Garden of Gethsemane, St George’s Cathedral, the Western Wall and Yad Vashem the Holocaust Memorial. Even more special was a unique opportunity to be guided by scholars into the Dome on the Rock and the adjacent al-Aqsa Mosque. In Palestine our journey included Bethlehem (the other side of the wall of separation), Masada, Be’it Shean, Magdala, the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights.

The journey left a deep impression, made even more so by our remarkable and thought-provoking guide in Bethlehem – Khadra.

Back in Norfolk, the rich, evocative images and sounds of Jerusalem’s old city and the biblical sites of Palestine lingered long in my mind. They were further stirred by looking yet again at the elephants, camels and horses depicted in the background of a Dutch 16th painting in our possession featuring the Adoration of the Magi – originally part of a much larger altarpiece. The final element was to hear the melliferous sound of a lute in The Queen’s Gallery in London. Inspired, I decided to weave these three strands into a story – The Lute Player.

In one sense the story is about obsession – its impact and where it can lead. It’s also about things not always being what they seem.

And if you’ve ever wondered what a lute sounds like, wonder no more…