Some thoughts following 1st Staymaker review

Staymaker cover


Creative types like me are funny buggers – well most of are anyway. Musicians, Artists,  and Writers, deep down we are all the same. We create our arty type media in the hope, not that We become Millionaires and rich and famous overnight (though that would be great mind) but rather that people listen to it/look at it/ read it, and ENJOY it. that is what drives us on more than anything. The creative process followed by the oohs and aahs of the crowd, giving us valediction for our hours of study, practice and effort in bringing to the public something that we have created.

Undoubtedly, the internet helps us amateurs gain that recognition. I am, right now, listening to a great rock guitarist and songwriter from Pakistan called Taimur Tajik ,  who has acheived a lot of recognition and plaudits for his second album, Order for Disorder, despite releasing it himself with no label backing and a full time day job. Prior to the internet, that release would have been demo tapes sold from the back of a car after gigs (Boy, de I see some belters back in the day who never made it!) It is the same with writers. Now, we can put out our books on the web in e-reader or paperback form, with little outlay and have people buy them and read them alongside established authors with book deals.

OK, so, the downside of this is that there is a lot of dross out there, badly written, poorly edited books which people discard quickly, that is the problem with having a service like KDP or Smashwords, editorial control is up to the Author and his/her ego. As an Indie Author, you worry most about what the people reading the book are thinking – are they abandoning it, putting it in the dross pile, or are they enjoying it, and looking forward to you finishing the next book.

So, I am currently very happy – My first review of Staymaker has been posted on Amazon and it is a very good one. The reviewer did like my book,  which does mean that the work and effort I put into it has not been wasted, and I do feel I am on the right track as a writer, albeit one who needs to improve in certain areas.

In fact, I will leave you with some Taimur


Staymaker – Free this weekend!

Kingsmill looked at the men gathered in the Oak and Ivy, his men. They had done him proud this past year, and it raised his sprits to see them, all ready to work for him again. Most of them were labourers, anxious to supplement their meagre wages and provide more for their families. In return for unloading the tea, rum and coffee, the Cutter would be filled with wool for the return journey, given by farmers in return for a cut in the profits. These ships were filled to bursting with illegal goods, there was a lot of money involved, and a large number of inns across the country owed their livelihoods to what was brought in. Tea was the most profitable of the smuggled goods; since the King had introduced the duties on it, London’s fashionable had turned to the tea brought in by Cutters like the one they were waiting for, and unloaded by men like these. Of course, for that, there was big money involved, not paid for by a few bales of wool alone. It was said that four fifths of all the tea consumed in Britain was brought in under cover of darkness.

“Gentlemen,” Kingsmill raised his voice in an attempt to silence the crowd. “In three nights, we will be back to work again. Proper work. The ship will arrive along the coast – I will let you all know where on the night, the usual rules apply here.” This got a nervous laugh from the assembled men. “We will unload, and deliver the cargo to Jacob Pring.  We will be paid handsomely for this; some big London money has been put up this time, so their better not be any fuck-ups., We are working with the men from Chichester on this, and I expect you all to work together fairly; we have too much at stake to risk it all on silly arguments. Now, we will meet in the usual place in Hurn Forest in a couple of days’ time, until then, gentlemen, goodnight.”

As he finished, the men began to wander off, in groups of two or three, some calling out for another drink, others hurrying home to their wives, ready for a long day in the fields tomorrow, Isaac crept out from his hiding place, just behind a door at the back. He tried to creep through to the kitchens, without being spotted. He knew what happened to bad boys who listened to things they weren’t meant to; leastways his Ma would fetch him a clip round the ear if he ever dared to listen to what was going on with her and her callers. He feared that if he was caught, Kingsmill would fetch him more than a clout; leastways, it would be more painful. He was just about to open the door, when he felt a tug at his ear. He looked round, and saw that it was Ferial that had  grabbed him. “Please sir, I heard nuffin, nuffin. I wasn’t listening, honest sir…Ow”

“Aah, laddie,” Ferial just laughed, and, still holding the boy by his ear, dragged him to the centre of the inn, and to Kingsmill. “I has caught me a rat Tom. What are we gonna do with it, eh? Feed it to me hounds,” he laughed, and nodded over at the two large dogs that had accompanied him. Isaac shuddered, and started to cry.

“P…Please sir, I d…didn’t mean to sirs. I w…won’t tell a soul,” he said between sobs.

“Easy Billy, easy” Kingsmill looked down kindly at the boy. He didn’t want the lad to come to any harm, but knew that if he didn’t get him on side, the lad might just run away, and then he would have to be stopped, lest he decided to talk. “Hey, Isaac lad, can you count? Did your Mammy learn you your Numbers, eh?”

“Yes, Sir,” he sniffed, and continued in a proud voice. “All the way to ten sir. I have ten fingers, look,” and he started to count them.

“Good lad, I can use a boy that can count, a bright lad like you will go a long way. I will need you to stand on the cliff, and count the number of flashes from a lantern, then flash back, understand?” Kingsmill said, laughing.

Isaac nodded, his face brightening. He had heard the tales of the smugglers from the Mermaid, and now he was going to be part of them. His face swelled with pride.

“Right, now run along, I’m sure Connie has a bed ready for you.” Kingsmill said. Isaac run out, almost charging straight into Connie as she strode towards the men.

“You fucking bastard Thomas Kingsmill” she shouted as she slapped him. He grabbed her arm, and pulled it roughly down to her side. She winced through the pain, but carried on her rant. “He’s no part in this, he is just a kiddie. You leave him out of it, do you hear!”

….NOW READ ON! for free this weekend only. Yes, Free. Because I am generous. grab it here.

Dead Gone Blog Tour and more…

So please for my Mukka Luca over this.


As the above photo would suggest, there’s a bit of a Dead Gone blog tour happening from today. All excellent blogs and websites involved, which is an amazing thing in and of itself. There’ll be a different post every weekday until a week Thursday, and a whole load of great stuff will be shared. Coming up…book extracts, interviews, guest blogs, and more!


Wednesday 4th December – Sonya at A Lover of Books kicks off today, with the opening of Dead Gone on offer to read.

Thursday 5th December – On ebook release day, it’s Carly at Fiction Fascination.

Friday 6th December – It’s Raven Crime Reads Friday!

Monday 9th December – Begin the week with Laura’s Little Book Blog.

Tuesday 10th December – An interview with yours truly at Novel Kicks.

Wednesday 11th December – In the penultimate episode, it’s The Little Reader Library!


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Jacob Pring – Poacher turned Gamekeeper

Staymaker cover


One of the major characters in “Staymaker” is Jacob Pring. What he does broadly follows what his historical counterpart did. Piecing together his life through sources was interesting, and indeed his life beyond 1750 even more.

What is known was that he lived in Beckenham, and was the gang’s main middleman – responsible for selling the goods on (either directly to buyers or through the unofficial market in Stockwell). He had a very trusted position – he handled the profit side of the business, and was trusted not to rip anyone off.  Some commentators call him a fence. I refuse to use the word because the goods he sold were not stolen from anyone, just brought in to the country in a way that avoided duty. Pring never saw himself as a fence.

Certainly, around the time that William Galley and Daniel Chater were being murdered, he defected. Whether this was because he knew the net was tightening or, as I have written, he was sick of the murderous ways of the gang, and Thomas Kingsmill in particular, I do not know.  What is certain is that midway through 1748, he voluntarily turned King’s Evidence in return for a complete Pardon. His first task, to prove he was genuine, was the capture of John “Smoaker” Mills . The story in the Novel, of luring Mills on a pretext from Bristol to Beckenham is true, as is Pring’s subsequent ride to Horsham to fetch both customs officers and troops to complete the capture. Following this, he informed on a number of other major figures, and on the Gang’s ways of working etc.

Not content with this, Pring indeed worked out of the customs house in Woolwich thereafter. (His involvement in Ferial and Perrin’s later arrest is pure fiction however). We know that in 1753, he was responsible for the recapture of a transported smuggler (again, known to Pring for a decade) called Peter Ticknor. Ticknor was arrested originally in Lydd in 1747; charged and found guilty of going armed for smuggling. Pring and a fellow customs man called Baldwin re-arrested Ticknor in February 1753, having found out that he had returned from transportation before his sentence was ended. Ticknor got the death sentence after Pring gave evidence against him. Pring, then, certainly relished his new role as gamekeeper, and was not afraid to go up against smugglers known to him before his defection.

The other fact we know is that sometime after this arrest, Pring left the customs service to become one of the “Bow Street Runners”, London’s first professional Police service. This was set up in 1749 by Henry Fielding, and improved by his brother John in 1754.

So, there he is, Poacher turned Gamekeeper indeed.


“Smuggling in Kent and Sussex” Mary Waugh

“Smuggling in the British Isles” Richard Platt

“Honest Thieves – the Violent heyday of English Smuggling” – F F Nichols

Staymaker is available from Amazon for Kindle.