‘As blog followers will know, I’ve spent much of this year writing a thriller set on Dartmoor -it’s taken longer than I anticipated (writing novels always does), but the new book will be out by October.
The book is a sequel to my Sean Miller adventure Balmoral Kill, and is set on Dartmoor in 1937. It has a Dartmoor setting for a reason. I first visited the Moor when I was seven years old and spent the next few decades exploring it, leading guided walking parties, writing and broadcasting about the place, and more or less living there. In 1996, this culminated in my being appointed as chief executive of the Dartmoor Preservation Association – founded in 1883 and one of the oldest campaigning groups in Britain. Nine years later I left the DPA to go back to full-time writing, though I still support various environmental campaigns.
So there was a sort of inevitability about writing a work of fiction set on Dartmoor. Not the first… I’ve started Dartmoor novels before, but either never finished them, or been so dissatisfied I’ve destroyed the manuscripts – once with a Viking burning on the top of Ryder’s Hill – the highest hill on southern Dartmoor. Which I rather regret… you should always keep your old work. You might get the chance to reuse it.
The book starts in the eerie and lonely Wistman’s Wood…
The new book – and I shall be announcing the title in September – follows immediately on from the events in Balmoral Kill. If you’ve read that you’ll know it closes with Sean Miller going back to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Somehow, he finds himself instead on Dartmoor, meeting up with old friends and facing new enemies.
I’ve tried to root the book in Dartmoor reality. Apart from a couple of invented buildings, you could, if you wished, follow in Sean’s footsteps, over the Dartmoor tors, through the river valleys and even into Dartmoor Prison – well, perhaps they wouldn’t welcome you there!
I like to read books where you can go to the settings.
Of course it’s not unusual for Dartmoor writers to give accurate portrayals of the Moor. Novelist Eden Phillpotts, one-time president of the Dartmoor Preservation Association, used Dartmoor locations for his novels, right down to the actual names of farms and, in some cases, the people who lived in them. Not that you could get away with that these days.
Anyway, it’s been fun revisiting these Dartmoor scenes in my imagination. All those years of moorland walking have paid off. I’ll let you know when the book’s due out, for readers of the blog always get first news on how to order our books at a cheaper pre-publication price.
I’m already working on the next William Quest novel. Following Quest’s adventure in York in Dark Shadow, he’s back in London in the sinister alleys along the Thames. Facing some tough opposition as well – has the vigilante finally met his match?
And for the non-fiction fans I’m bringing out another walking book as in September, for those of you who enjoy reading about quiet days in the countryside.
If you haven’t read Balmoral Kill, here’s the link. It’s out in paperback and on Kindle:
And you can find out more about all of the books at my author page at: