The frigate in literature

A little while ago someone asked me what kind of ship a frigate was. When you’re as immersed in naval culture and terminology as you become when writing a novel on the subject, it’s easy to lose track of terms that many people might not be familiar with. These aren’t necessarily things you need to…

The last voyage of the City of Adelaide

The age of sail has inspired a canon of literature which is far more than just an adjunct of historical fiction. At the heart of this are the ships themselves with their clouds of canvas, evoking romance and hardship in roughly equal measure. Few vessels can be as romantic as the clipper ships of the…

Stories for Homes anthology – supporting Shelter

Several very good friends of mine have stories in this very exciting anthology, just released today. Stories for Homes is a collection of stories inspired by the theme of ‘home’, and all the proceeds will go to the charity Shelter. If that weren’t reason enough, early feedback suggests that this is an amazingly good collection…

Matt Willis story shortlisted in competition

Matt Willis’ story ‘As Cute As A Pet Fox’ has been shortlisted in Retreat West’s June competition. Retreat West is run by writer Amanda Saint. (See an example of Amanda’s work in the story Playing Nurses, published by Number Eleven magazine). It offers retreats for writers which can include walking or cooking, though the main…

Difficult Second Novel

It’s so hackneyed a concept as to be a cliche. The difficult second novel/ album/ breakfast (delete as applicable). The problem, as with most old saws, is that there is truth in it. This is why it doesn’t go away. My first novel – and please prepare for a second cliche – ‘amost wrote itself’….

The chase – a story of a spy in the sky

Since he arrived in Malta, it had been drummed into Pilot Officer Peter Ross that using your radio in the air was “a wonderful way to commit suicide.” Air Commodore Frank had snapped that at him on his first day. “The enemy has stations only a handful of miles away. They’ll have a fix on…

The Whitsuntide Mummers – a story of May

The mayor’s response was the same as everyone’s. “A newcomer as May King? Never!” Kristjan redoubled his efforts. He informed the mayor that it had once been customary for an outsider to take the lead role in the Whitsuntide mummery. It may even have been true. He suggested that the Lord’s new gamekeeper, Juhan, was…

Shipping forecast stories

The short series of stories about the shipping forecast were originally written for the monthly competition on the Word Cloud writing community. There are three so far, but another is on its way. The first, ‘German Bight’ is based around the Battle of Heligoland Bight, one of a series of clashes between German and British…

Matt Willis story shortlisted in Retreat West competition

Matt Willis’ story The End of The Road was shortlisted for the Retreat West website’s April competition on the theme of ‘A Walk’. The story didn’t win one of the main slots, but has now been rewritten and entered for another competition. Retreat West is run by writer Amanda Saint. It offers retreats for writers…

The inspiration for Blue Skies

Blue Skies was written as a tribute to a pilot who died during an airshow in 2007. I was present at the event, and watched the crash taking place. The climax of the airshow was a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain, on a beautiful day that would have been similar to the summer of…

Blue Skies – a story of flight

The pilot knew exactly what was wrong, and that there was nothing he could do about it. But he felt no fear, possibly because everything was happening so quickly, or perhaps because he was busy in his final seconds considering options he already knew were futile. He realised he was about to die, but that…

Dogger – a story of the rising sea

The ceremonial site had, for years, flooded when it rained hard. The ring of massive oak posts planted in the earth smelt faintly of damp and rot. It had been that way for as long as anyone living remembered. This year, as his extended family approached the site for the gathering, Shrimper detected a new…