Trials and smiles of a wannabe author part 3

I’ve been posting perhaps too much angsty-theological stuff lately, and much better informed people than me are filling the airwaves and the internet with politics. (Just one thought: if we don’t want Donald Trump to win a second term, then people who voted for him last time need to be won over. This may be best done by steadfast and reasoned opposition, not by insulting them and mocking their hero.)… where was I?

Oh, yes, so it’s time for an advert/update. It’s been three months since We Do Not Kill Children was available to buy, and I shifted from “wannabe author” to “actual author”. My publisher is small and very busy, so the (official) celebratory party still hasn’t happened, but is expected soon, and you’ll all be welcome.

Highlights so far:

  • Unofficial and unexpected celebratory party at PCC meeting;
  • Some actual sales (!!!), and people buying book not just for themselves, but as a gift;
  • Some very nice compliments, some of them from unexpected people, and 5-star reviews on Amazon;
  • Being part of the exciting, and endlessly evolving, outfit that is Mightier than the Sword UK;
  • Reading the whole thing to two separate people, and no, I did not have to bribe them first, and yes, they stayed awake the entire time;
  • An interview with ME should be coming out on a blog by Jem Bloomfield of the University of Nottingham very soon. I have surely praised Jem’s blog,, before – erudite and witty comments on anything and everything relating to gender issues, (Anglican) Christianity, and literature from Agatha Christie to Charles Williams, from Shakespeare to Tolkien.
  • Second book now accepted for publication later this year!

So, moving on:

We Do Not Kill Children, as some of you know, has a fairly simple premise, although I’ve done my best to complicate it. Man is exiled for crime which he says he hasn’t committed – what will he do with his life? What will his friends discover when they try to investigate?

Fairly simple.

The Tenth Province of Jaryar, on the other hand, is more convoluted. It concerns a medieval election to determine the future monarch of country A. One of the competitors for the throne is the reigning queen of country B, and the election takes place in country C. So I can compare and contrast the cultures and prejudices of three nations. There is a point-of-view character (POV) from each country, plus one extra who sneaks in when he’s needed. There’s also a murder, of course, and a slightly more traditional murder investigation (questioning of witnesses, clues, arrests, red herrings, detective making deductions in small roomful of suspects etc). Despite all this, it is considerably shorter than We Do Not Kill Children.

The story is set about fifty years later, so I’ve had a lot of fun dropping in references to the characters and events in WDNKC, although hopefully 10th Province can stand alone.

Below is a preview quote (U-rated), an incident doubtless inspired by my many walks by the lake in Highfields Park.


A man and a girl are standing on the deck of a boat, travelling through the countryside.

 “What are you looking at, sir?”

He turned towards her: a pale face; short brown hair; a very tidy look. “I was looking at the ducks.”

“The ducks?”

He gestured. “Magnificent creatures, ducks, don’t you think?”

“I – why do you say that?”

“May I ask your name, my lady?”

Don’t call me that. “Lida, daughter of Arrada.”

“Lida, if I picked you up, and took you to the top of that steeple over there, and threw you off, what would happen?”

“I would die,” she said. Was he threatening her in some way?

“Or if I took you to the middle of the river, and dropped you in, what would happen?”

“I would drown.”

“Unless you could swim, which not many people can. But neither of those things would bother a duck at all. Ducks are happy in the air, happy on the land, happy on the water, even happy under the water. I sometimes think they control all the elements except fire.” He lifted his eyebrows cheerily. “Not many of God’s creatures can say the same. And… they still make us all laugh with the way they waddle. Very humble. Don’t you think?”

“Ye-es,” she said slowly. He was smiling, so he had not been hurt. Surely.

So they both looked at the ducks, which were squabbling and pecking at each other in a way that was neither magnificent nor humble. 

He said, “They do behave as if what they did mattered. Just like people.”


(The story does contain more dramatic events than the above.)

If you’re interested, you can find out more information on the Stories pages of this website, including Ian Storer’s lovely picture of two competitors.

So, moving on:

I’m currently striving to write the third book, which will take place in yet another country (D. Actually called Ricossa.) I’m having some trouble with this one, partly with the plot (always for me the most difficult part), but also with deciding which points of view to show when. Is it too boring to write a book from one person’s perspective? Is it too confusing (in this case) to use several?


Thank you everyone for your support. And please watch this space.

Love from the PPI Blogger


1 Comment
  • Malachi Malagowther

    25th February 2017 at 6:13 pm Reply

    Generally it gives you more of a free hand as the omniscient author if you have different POVs and lets you describe the development of events in terms of the different forces acting on them. Having a single POV makes you more likely to relate to and possibly identify with the main character and their emotions but makes it more difficult to describe the interactions of different groups at the same time in different places. I think one of the values of literature is that it can give you descriptions of one character from multiple perspectives and let you explore the differences that arise because of the different POV’s histories, context and personality. The third book should give you a chance to use your knowledge of the Oxford College system to model the mediaeval University in the story.

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