Breathe – First Chapter preview

To celebrate Alias winning a 2019 Goldie Award for Best Thriller, I thought I’d share the first chapter of Breathe, my forthcoming romantic- suspense-action adventure-thriller (heh!) for anyone who wants a sneak peek.

The text is beneath the cut, and the novel is set for release September 1st, exclusively at the Bold Strokes website, and then wider release on the 10th. You can pre-order here at BSB.

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Breathe: The joke with the 85,000 word punchline.

It all started with a ridiculous name. I was out jogging, my mind wandering as I tried to distract myself from my knackered knees and aching hips. I was in no rush to come up with another story – I was still working on my previous novel, Alias – but the name came out of nowhere, and I remember laughing and wishing I had a pen so I could write it down.

Jemima Pardon.

You have to admit it has a nice ring to it. Somewhere on the home straight, I decided she could be England’s unluckiest paramedic, if I was ever minded to write a book about a paramedic, which at the time I absolutely wasn’t.

Skip forward a few months, and my wife and I are stuck in a fog-bound chalet in the Swiss Alps. I’m in a stinking mood, morose about the weather and the wasted days, and deep in the throes of my annual Post-Book Funk. This little-documented malady strikes whenever I finish writing a novel, and it usually involves terminal moping, the gnashing of teeth, and the utter conviction that I will never write anything good ever again, and anyway I have no ideas because I am rubbish. My wife is adept at riding this particular mood out, but being trapped in a small apartment with rain battering the windows made her less inclined toward hand-patting and “there-there”-ing than usual. She slapped a pen and a blank notepad on the table and told me in no uncertain terms to man the fuck up and come up with something, anything, to snap myself out of it.

So I made a brew, dropped a couple of marshmallows into her hot chocolate and told her about Jemima Pardon. You see, ever since that fateful jog, the name and concept had sort of taken root and I was having trouble thinking past it. I was coming to like the idea of writing something lighter, something funnier and, dare I say it, something that might actually be a romance.

Jem began to take shape that afternoon, acquiring a personality and background and quirks. She was a walker of small dogs, had chronic asthma, lodged with a Scottish bloke who baked pies for a living, and had once been ditched by a girlfriend at the train station in Milton Keynes. I wrote every detail down, no matter how small or stupid, and filled a few pages with character notes. It was a fun way to while away the hours, planning a story I’d probably never write because it was daft and as yet plot-less, and because I’d never wanted to do a paramedic story in case people thought it was a self-insert Mary Sue affair.

As often happens, the damn thing took on a life of its own regardless, and I found I couldn’t shake the character or the story. I wrote the first scene soon afterwards, introduced Jem to Rosie Jones, a slightly bonkers police officer, in a puddle on Barton Bridge, and away we all went.

A couple of years later, Breathe has a cover and a blurb and a September 1st release date. It’s sweet and funny in places, but – because I’m apparently incapable of writing pure fluff – there are dark edges to the tale and plenty of mayhem for those who like to blend their romances with suspense.

“It’s a pain in the arse,” Jem says about her name. “Everyone takes the piss.”

If I’m honest, I was taking the piss as well at first. The name was a joke. I just didn’t expect it to have an eighty-five-thousand-word punchline.

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Are We Having Fun Yet?

With the UK Bold Strokes bash taking place this weekend, the attending authors have been blogging on the theme of “fun”. My take on it all has just been posted, wherein I’m reminiscing about our accidental direttissima up a Welsh mountain. If that’s not enough incentive to hit this link, the piece includes quite a flattering photo of my arse… 😉

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Bold Strokes UK Festival, June 2019

The 10th (crikey!) annual Bold Strokes Book UK shindig is nigh upon us, with a weekend of author panels, readings, Q&As, signings, and general shenanigans set to take place in Nottingham on June 1st and 2nd.

As usual, the event will be held at the city centre Waterstones book store. This year – like last – will be ticketed, with tickets £3 per day and redeemable against a book purchase.

Loads of familiar (and not so familiar) BSB faces are set to attend and I’ll be there on the Saturday.

Hop over here for tickets and keep an eye on the UK blog for more details and a full list of attending authors. Hope to see you in June!

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Dark Peak, White Christmas – a ‘Dark Peak’ short story

I wrote a little treat for Christmas! To say thanks to you all for your support, for your feedback and reviews, for hanging out with me online, for laughing at the stupid sheep, chatting about the hills, and cheerleading the pond in progress.

This is for everyone who misses Sanne and Meg and the Dark Peak crowd as much as I do.

I’ve also uploaded it here to Archive of Our Own where there’s a download option for Mobi/PDF/EPUB and HTML.

With thanks and love to Snarkky for editing and for giving me the nudge.

Have a very happy Christmas 🙂

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Cover Reveal for ‘Breathe’

Coming in September 2019… 😀


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New Novel on the Way (Slowly but Surely!)

I’m chuffed to announce that I’ve just signed the contract for what will be my eighth novel with Bold Strokes Books. Hee!

The story is called Breathe and it’s a thriller/mystery/romance featuring Jemima Pardon, a paramedic with a stupid name, terrible luck, and chronic asthma, and her shenanigans with Rosie Jones, a slightly bonkers police officer. It’s set in and around Manchester, and, all being well, it’ll be published in September 2019.

All I have to do now is finish writing it…

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