I’ve been putting these out over social media over the last few days…here they are gathered together for your reading pleasure!
Inadvertently tumbling through the border after Fenn, Sergeant Will Grant of the Metropolitan Police has spent three months in prison. When Fenn frees him, they step through the border to the Egyptian desert. It’s a two week trip back to England, with the possibility of pursuit. Will the journey give Fenn and Will time to resolve the feelings they have been dancing around since the day they met?
Matthew Webber is the owner of Webber’s Farm in 1919, at the beginning of Inheritance of Shadows. He was born in 1886 and he took over the running of the farm when his father died before the war. He’s not a big man, but he’s wiry and strong from all the physical work he does; and like everyone nowadays, he knows how to kill a person with his bare hands and use a gun.
He’s been in love with Rob Curland from a distance for years, but obviously he had to hide what he felt-from everyone and from Rob too, because who wants to end up in prison? Instead Matty was walking out with Marie Booth from the farm over the hill in a desultory fashion, in the same way that Rob was walking out with her sister. Then the war came and despite working on the land and therefore not being required to join up to fight, both he and Rob went away to France.
Matty has always believed he isn’t as clever or as worthy as his brother Arthur, because Arthur went to university and then away to London and Matty stayed at home to run the farm. He fears not being good enough and not living up to his hero-worship of his brother. But actually, Matty is as clever as his brother was, and more sensible too.
He likes reading and he likes learning. He was educated until he was sixteen and then he left school and helped his father with the farm. He’s kept reading, though, anything he can get his hands on, so picking up the books and continuing Arthur’s research isn’t too much of a stretch for him. He loves that he and Rob are equals in that. Equals in everything, really. That’s what he wants from life-someone to share things with.
You can read the first 7,500 words of Inheritance of Shadows as the free short story The Gate.
Rob is a farm worker on Matty‘s farm. He was born in 1884 and started working there when he was about thirteen. He’s now about thirty-five. He’s gentle and good with animals. He’s clever, thoughtful and quiet, a steady sort of person who likes to think things through before acting. If I had to use one verb to describe him, it would be stabilize.
He joined the army in 1914 when Britain first went to war with Germany and was promoted to Sergeant in the Signals by the time he was discharged in 1919. He’s largely self-educated, very eclectically. He’s a regular library user.
His wartime experience involved a lot of communications tech and he happens to find ciphers and codes fascinating and breaks them for fun. (This is extremely handy for my story, I have no idea how it happened, honest!).
Rob has been in love with Matty for years, but Matty was oblivious. Neither of them said anything to each other before they went off to the war, but afterwards, Rob decided that life was too short and fragile not to take a chance at happiness and made his feelings for Matty clear.
Their story begins in The Gate, which is free on the various ebook platforms and when you sign up for my newsletter; and it continues in Inheritance of Shadows.
“Ella and I met in France. She was driving an ambulance and I was stringing for the Picture Post. We decided that after the war we’d strike out on our own. I was fed up with the censorship and she’s always been a bit wild as far as I can make out. She’s the Duke of Walton’s eldest daughter, always had her head. Oxford, Bloomsbury and all that.” He coughed again. “Don’t think Walton knew what to do with her. She married Fortune without her father’s consent a couple of years before the war. He went West pretty early on, Mons I think. She’s a good lass. Flying from Cairo to Cape Town at the moment. Trying to set a record.” Another harrumph. “Supposed to be sending me back pictures.”
Callum McGovern, speaking to Alec Carter in Lost in Time
Ella Fortune is a shadowy minor character in both Lost in Time and Shadows on the Border. She’s the co-proprieter of the Pictorial Examiner, the paper where Lew Tyler works.
When I started writing Lost in Time, I thought Ella was going to have a larger role than she does. However, after helping pull Lew out of the Thames and setting him up with a flat and a job at the paper, she went off in her aeroplane to fly down the spine of Africa. I think she’s actually now going to have her own adventure.
She’s a thoroughly emancipated woman with a background in the Suffrage movement who drove an ambulance for the Red Cross in France during the First World War. She’s lucky enough to both have money and be an ‘Honourable’… the daughter of a Peer. So she can pretty much do as she likes, particularly because she’s a widow. I’m not sure yet whether her marriage to Oliver Fortune in 1912 was a marriage of convenience or whether they were truly attached to each other. She’s in her thirties and has no children by design.
She flies an Avro 504k (as a lot of people did after World War 1- more than eight thousand of them were built during the war), but her long distance flying takes place in a Vickers Vimy, which has been specially modified to take bigger fuel tanks. She’s her own mechanic and navigator but she does sometimes fly with a co-pilot.
I’m not sure what sort of adventures she’s going to have yet, but watch this space!
Alistair Carter, one of the two main protagonists from Lost in Time and Shadows on the Border, is a Detective Inspector with the Metropolitan Police. I imagine him as looking quite like the chap on the left on the cover of Shadows, although with a raincoat and a Homberg hat.
He’s in his mid-thirties at the start of Lost in Time in 1919, which means he was born in the late 1880s, to quite a well off middle class family who were pretty upset when he joined the police instead of becoming a solicitor or another professional. He was in the Military Police in the war and served on the Western Front. Afterwards, he came back and took up his old job with the department and works out of the Poplar area of London, at Wapping Police Station, on the Thames. He was promoted to Detective Inspector when he came back from the army and is quiet and insightful and good at working out what people mean from what they don’t say.
His brief, abortive marriage to Kitty has left him with a big empty house next to Hamstead Heath and a lot of guilt. He married a woman because it was expected of him and he could have made it work if they’d become friends, but she was really only interested in being a trophy wife and by the time she died, although he was devastated, there was also an element of relief because he was so unhappy.
He’s cross most of the time for reasons he can’t really put his finger on. Unsettled in his skin. And that only gets worse when he meets Lew Tyler during the course of a murder investigation. He isn’t unused to finding men attractive and has had liaisons before and one particular person he was very drawn to, but no-one as strongly as Lew.
Alec is probably my favorite character from the two books. He’s grumpy and defensive and not at all in touch with his emotions. It makes him really interesting to write.