The Editing Process

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Recent Posts | 0 comments

It’s not unusual to have a manuscript sent back by the editor, covered in pithy comments designed to improve the finished product. But the prospect of re-visiting a book one has slaved over for almost a year is seldom a joyous one. I’m currently in that phase with Virginia Street, the first draft of which was finished at the beginning of 2016. The comment from my agent was short and to the point. ‘I liked it, but I didn’t love it,’ he said.

That single line of advice has resulted in a major overhaul of the entire manuscript that is still on-going. Indeed it would have been quicker to have abandoned the book and written another one from scratch. But that is to miss the point. Most authors develop an emotional attachment with the characters they have created and could no more throw them awaythan give up writing altogether. We live and breath the stories we write. We know how each character speaks and behaves in any given situation. So, most authors will simply get on with editing what they’ve spent to long crafting.

What makes the process so difficult is making sure that any alteration does not affect what is happening later in the story. Sometimes, of course, the ‘new’ idea is so attractive as to force its way into the narrative. But that’s where the fun starts. I can’t remember how many times I’ve hanged a villain one day and had him walking the streets two days later. Or gone from night to day and back again in the space of a single paragraph.

I’m hoping to complete Virginia Street in the next four to six weeks. Then? Who knows? I might be allowed to get on with the book I started all those months ago and haven’t had an opportunity to look at since.

Facebook and Twitter

Posted by on Dec 17, 2015 in Recent Posts | 0 comments

It’s taken me a while but I’ve now joined the great social media revolution. So feel free to follow/friend me on both Twitter and Facebook.

I generally say what needs to be said on social media first and only after that, on my webpage. That said, I’m always happy to hear from you any which way you care to contact me. Writing is a lonely business so its nice to hear from folk who are out there in the real world.

In the meantime, Happy Christmas to you all.



New book on the horizon

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Recent Posts | 1 comment

The publication of Cuckold Point in a few weeks time seems an opportune moment for me to think about the future. I want to try my hand at something new, something that I’ve been thinking of for a number of months and which I hope you, my readers, will approve of. It means saying goodbye to Tom Pascoe for a while while I try my hand at writing a ‘stand alone’ book, as opposed to a series. So while it will still be about events in London in the early years of the 19th Century, it won’t include Tom.

I hope you will stay with me on  this and continue to lend your support. The new project is, for me, very exciting. All I will say about it is that the story will be told through the eyes of one man who will narrate it as events unfold. And when the story is over, it’s over. The book after that will be about something else entirely. Or maybe it won’t!

Wish me luck,


Author Event at Tunbridge Wells Library

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Recent Posts | 0 comments

The central public libary in Royal Tunbridge Wells is hosting an author event between 2 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. on Saturday 24th October 2015 when I’ve been invited to deliver a lecture on Crime and Punishment in 18th Century London to coincide with the launch, in paperback, of Cuckold Point my latest Tom Pascoe thriller. More details nearer the date.

Thames Police Museum Opens to the Public

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Recent Posts | 0 comments

The Thames Police Museum in Wapping High Street, London, opens its doors to the public this weekend 19th and 20th September 2015 as part of the Open London Week. Open only for a few days each year, the museum is a glimpse into London’s maritime past and a view of the first professional police force in this country in the early days of its existence. Entrance is free and the doors are open from 11am to around 5pm on each day. I will be there on Saturday with my fellow author Kate Mayfield to answer any questions you might have. I’ll also have signed copies of my books available for sale.

Pascoe Series Signed Up by ITV Studios

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 in Recent Posts | 10 comments

ITV Studios has taken the option on the Tom Pascoe books and will now consider producing a series of films for telivision over the next two years. Contracts with the Studios were exchanged a few days ago and it is still too early for the company to have formulated detailed plans for the future treatment of the stories. I am, of course, thrilled at this development and the confidence placed in me by ITV Studios and very much hope the venture proves as successful as the books have done. I’ll let you have more details  just as soon as the information becomes available.


Cuckold Point

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Recent Posts | 2 comments

Publication of Cuckold Point, the latest in the Tom Pascoe series, is on 2nd April 2015. Once again, I’ve drawn on actual events in history for the story which begins with rumours of the existence of a large quantity of silk on board a ship recently arrived in the Thames. Tom soon discovers that the planned theft is a great deal more serious than he’d thought. Unknown to the villains, there is a secret hidden within the cargo of silk that could alter the course of the war with France – and keep the United States neutral. When Tom’s young brother is abducted and his life threatened, the race to solve the case gets personal. Yet just when things couldn’t get any worse, Tom learns that there are others with a hidden agenda. Who they are and why they are interested, he doesn’t know. All he knows if that if he is to save his brother’s life and recover the secret vital to the interests of his country, he cannot afford to lose the race.


Book Event in the Sun

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Recent Posts | 0 comments

A couple of weeks ago, while sunning myself on a beach somewhere, I was asked if I’d like to talk on the subject of crime and punishment in 18th Century England. I said I’d be delighted and, when around fifty people turned up at the hotel – whether to hear me or to drink the Champagne on offer, I couldn’t possibly say – I told them about London’s low-life before the age of police when the penalty for simple theft (larceny) was a lingering death at the end of a rope outside the prison gates – known then as the Newgate Dance. It seems strange to think there were well over 200 statutary offennces in Britain for which the penalty was death, at the end of the 18th Century while in revolutionary France, there were only six. The French also beat us to the creation of a police force by nearly 100 years. When we finally got round to having one (in 1829), the great British public rioted.

Life at the bottom end of British society at that time was grim. For the 15,000 or so men working in the Port of London, pay was routinely withheld by the gangmasters who employed them and they were encouraged to steal from the ships they were loading and unloading in lieu of pay. So prevalent was the practice that most believed that what they were taking was their lawful perquisites (perks). The coming of the first body of (privately funded) police 31 years before the formation of the Met was therefore a huge shock for those at the receiving end. The story of the formation of this force – the Thame Marine Police Institution – was the subject of my first book, The Watermen which I hope many of you will have enjoyed.

My new book – more of which later – is due out on 3rd April and, as with all my books, can be purchased direct from me as a signed edition. Of course, if you prefer, they are also available through all the usual retail outlefts






Researching The Rising Tide

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Recent Posts | 0 comments

I have often been asked how I carry out the research for my books and where the ideas for the stories come from. The simple answer is that I managed to pick a very crowded period of British and European history which meant that there is a ready source of subjects to choose from. Not only that but much scholarly material and original documents of the period are readily available to those prepared to search for them. This applies as much to the story in The Watermen which had as its background, the Irish rebellion of 1798 and the consequences of that event for those living and working in London, as the second book – The River of Fire – which concentrated on the threat posed by the war with France.

The solid bulk of my research – covering the formation of the river police and the prevailing social  and economic conditions of the period – was completed before ever I set pen to paper. In those early days I knew only that I wanted my stories to be about the Thames police in the first years of their existence . But finding out about life at the bottom of the social ladder in the 18th Century was a little more tricky. It involved a vast amount of reading of original documents at the National Archives in Kew and the many and varied museums throughout London. The reading provided the basic body of information which, together with my own experience of the Thames and of policing, allowed me the confidence to begin writing.

Inevitably questions of detail, perhaps relating to procedure or construction, would arise for which I did not have the answer. The temptation is always to reach for the Internet. It is a valuable source of information and one I frequenty make use of. But there has always, for me, been another source of knowledge without which a great deal of the fine detail of an event would be missing. That source is the expert in his or her own field. Whether I’m writing about ordering a new suit, a medical procedure, the discharge of a firearm, or the use of French Revolutioary coinage, talking to an expert gives me the ability to sound as if I know what I’m talking about.  In The Rising Tide, for instance, I was fortunate to be able to visit the two museums on the island of Barbados and to speak to the curators about the problems of slavery. The visit also allowed me to see the island and describe it in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. And lengthy conversations with an expert on 18th Century English law permitted me talk about real court cases involving slaves in England in the detail that would have been very difficult if culled from a book.

What it boils down to is that research never actually stops. As the book takes shape and grows, lots of incidents crop up for which solutions are required. In many, many cases, that involves stopping, going back through research notes or searching through literature to find a way through the problem. It’s a huge part of the enjoyment of being a writer.

The Rising Tide – Paperback published 4th September 2014

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Recent Posts | 0 comments

The paperback edition of The Rising Tide – the third book in the Tom Pascoe series – is due out on 4th September 2014 and will be available through all the  usual outlets including, of course,  direct from me.

The story is set in September 1799. Tom is still grieving over the death of the woman he loved and looks for solace at the bottom of a bottle. His superiors begin to doubt his ability to do his job but after a body is found floating in the Thames, he is ordered to undertake a murder inquiry. It quickly transpires that the victim is no ordinary man but a close confidant of William Pitt, the King’s First Minister. Pitt, with his friend William Wilberforce, is facing fierce opposition to his attempts to force through anti-slavery legislation.  As the two men find themselves in increasing danger, Tom must pull himself together or be dragged under.