Events, Travel

New Project – Rob On Holiday

Anybody who read this week’s Q & A on Curled up with a good book will have seen me talking about my love of family holidays. You may have also noticed my comment about us becoming well-known at a certain hotel in Spain for our comedy holiday videos where we rope in the entertainment team and generally act the goat for the camera.

All of this leads me nicely to announcing a small side-project that was actually my eldest daughter’s idea. Lauren suggested that we re-brand her YouTube channel as “Rob On Holiday”. In addition to the aforementioned comedy videos, we’ve also undertaken a few city breaks in the last 15 months and in each case, we’ve done a fair bit of filming. Generally, this is just to capture our visit for family videos but on a recent visit to Brussels, for the first time, we specifically did a few pieces to camera. Where possible, we’ll be doing a short 5-minute video showcasing what the city has to offer, and an additional video that gives a brief overview of the hotel at which we stayed. Combined with a lot of previous footage, including trips to Disney World, and a few more city breaks in the coming months, we think that we’ll have enough material to make an interesting video channel.

We’ve also created a web site where we’ll include the finer details of various elements shown in the video. This may be a detailed report on some attraction or a city’s transport network or simply a restaurant that we visited. I’m just the figurehead for this website – most of the content will be created by my daughters Lauren and Rachel. You can find the website here:-

Just to be clear, this is all for a bit of fun. We are not being paid for any of this, and all views are our own. Hopefully, in addition to making the videos entertaining, we aim to be informative as well. Before we go on any city break, we do our research and this includes watching videos on YouTube. We’ve noticed that many such videos are just raw footage, aren’t edited and don’t give you much on the type of details that you really need to know: e.g. how do I use the transport system.

So, without further ado, here is our first city break video: Brussels:-


Events, Writing

Q & A on Curled up with a good book


Many thanks to Chelle over at Curled up with a good book. Not only has she reviewed both of my books, but she was also kind enough to invite me onto her site for a “Meet the Author” feature. You can read the resultant article here.

Events, Writing

Black Hearts Rising: A Whole Lotta Gooch


black hearts promo 2 - pre-order

With the publication of Black Hearts Rising just over a week away, I wanted to talk a little about what readers can expect from the story. I don’t want to talk in too much detail because I am wary of spoiling the plot, so instead, I will talk more about the format of the book as opposed to the plot itself.

Those who have read Monkey Arkwright, the first in my Wardens of the Black Heart trilogy, will be aware that the main protagonists are a couple of teenagers – Lorna Bryson and Monkey Arkwright – and they are pitted against the dastardly Charles Gooch, who works on behalf of the aforementioned Wardens. Black Hearts Rising continues to explore this rivalry. Whilst the first book was written almost entirely from Lorna’s point of view, I’ve changed things a little for the upcoming story.

Charles Gooch had a single third-person chapter in Monkey Arkwright, and I enjoyed writing this chapter so much that I wanted to make him a point-of-view character in Black Hearts Rising. This decision also helps with the flow of the story, as there are things that Lorna and Monkey clearly cannot know about, and seeing things through Gooch’s eyes helps broaden the story. It’s probably a 75% / 25% split in terms of first-person Lorna to third-person Gooch, but I hope that I’ve done it in a way that feels convincing. I’ve read some books where the author freely switches between first and third-person multiple times in a chapter, and I’ve got to be honest, I don’t like this at all. In my case, I never switch viewpoints in a chapter – each time Gooch has his say, it’s in a new chapter. I believe that this is the best way to handle different perspectives, regardless of whether they are first or third-person.

In Black Hearts Rising, readers are going to find out a fair bit about our old friend Mr Gooch – a whole lotta Gooch, you might say – and I hope that this alternative viewpoint will enhance your enjoyment of the story. Once again, I really enjoyed writing his character; his cynical world-weary voice works as a nice counterpoint to Lorna’s.  He more than earns his place on the book’s cover, although due to the constraints of stock photography, he appears a little younger.

Plenty of the characters from the first book will be returning, with a handful of others making their first appearance in the story. There’s Lorna’s new history teacher, Victoria Halfpenny; Big Sal, who is an associate of Gooch; Daniel Turnbull, a man who helped to make Gooch what he is; and also, the mysterious Dylan Fogg. I hope that I’m going to surprise readers with my new book, taking the story in an interesting direction in a narrative that combines the best elements of the first book with some new revelations. Lorna will solve puzzles, Monkey will climb, Gooch will scheme, and long-hidden secrets will be revealed. In short, I hope that you’ll be entertained.

I want to finish this article by making a pact with my audience (hello, is there anybody there? I’ll assume for the sake of my sanity that there is). Here’s my side of the deal: I’m sticking to my plan of keeping the story as a trilogy. I absolutely guarantee you that there will be no fourth book. Nor will there be a last-minute change of plan where I claim that I couldn’t fit the remainder of the story in one book. Are we good with that? If so, here’s your side of the deal, my dear reader: remember that Black Hearts Rising is the middle volume in the trilogy. It contains a complete story, but don’t expect a “tea and cakes” ending. I should explain: this is my term for a story (film, TV or book) where everybody sits down around a table at the end, slaps each other on the back and congratulates themselves on wrapping everything up neatly. In TV programmes, such a scene is usually accompanied by some syrupy music or an overly-jaunty saxophone solo. That doesn’t happen here – there is more to come, and the ending reflects that.

If you have pre-ordered Black Hearts Rising, I thank you for your continued support and hope that you enjoy the story. If you haven’t, then you can pre-order HERE. The book is released on 1st February 2019.

If you are a first-time reader of my blog and the above words have whet your appetite, you’ll need to read Monkey Arkwright first, or else the sequel won’t make too much sense. As a thank-you for visiting my website, I’ll reward you by informing you that Monkey Arkwright will be FREE to download from Amazon between 4th and 6th February 2019. (If you just can’t wait, it’s only £0.99 / $0.99 HERE).

See how good I am to my readers?

US Amazon Links: Monkey Arkwright & Black Hearts Rising

Events, Writing

Black Hearts Rising – pre-order & other news


Black Hearts Rising - Cover

A few bits of news to kick off the new year – the main headline being that Black Hearts Rising is now available on Amazon for pre-order. Release date is 1st February 2019.

Click here to see it on Amazon in all its glory.

Second up, in a bid to encourage the readers of the world to dig into my Wardens of the Black Heart series, I will be offering my short story, The Mysterious Mr Gooch, FREE to download for a couple of days next week (17-18th January).

Finally, late last year, I entered the “Cookie Comedy Short Story Contest” over at Whilst I didn’t win, I’m pleased to say that my entry made the “Honourable Mentions” section, so I’m quite pleased with that. The challenge was to write a 1000-2000 word story that featured the line “That’s not how cookies are made!” You can read my entry, Cookie Dough, on my website here.

Events, Writing

Black Hearts Rising – Title Inspiration

Black Hearts Rising - CoverI decided to call the second book in my Wardens of the Black Heart series, Black Hearts Rising.

I wanted a title to reflect the fact that in this middle volume of the trilogy, Lorna and Monkey were not going to have everything their own way, and the bad guys were going to strike back. The novel also features the appearance of several new characters, whose motivations are hidden from our heroes (and the reader). I’m probably not giving too much away by saying that they don’t all have the best intentions. So, in this way, the title reflects the general theme of the book nicely.

I’ve previously spoken on my blog of how music influences my writing, and in this case, the idea for the title came to me when listening to one of my favourite songs from the 60s. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 classic, “Bad Moon Rising”, fits my narrative beautifully: John Fogerty’s lyrics speaking of “trouble on the way”, “earthquakes and lightning” and knowing that “the end is coming soon”. The song is probably best known for featuring in the classic 1980s film, An American Werewolf in London, and if you listen to the words, it might put you in the right frame of mind for the upcoming story!

Just a reminder that Black Hearts Rising will be released on Amazon Kindle in early February 2019.

Events, Writing

Black Hearts Rising

Black Hearts Rising - Cover


I am pleased to announce that the title of book #2 in my Wardens of the Black Heart trilogy is Black Hearts Rising. Without further ado, here’s the blurb:-

The Frenchman, one of three works of art rumoured to possess the power to change fate on a global scale, is safely tucked away in the vault of millionaire Lester Hawkstone. After playing their part in keeping it from the clutches of a shadowy organisation known as the Wardens of the Black Heart, a sense of normality has returned to the lives of teenagers Lorna and Monkey.

But something isn’t right in Culverton Beck. The locals are plagued by apocalyptic visions, and when a horrific tragedy strikes the town, Lorna and Monkey begin to suspect that dark forces are gathering once again. Whilst working on Lorna’s college project, they make a startling discovery – a seemingly impossible message from history – that plunges them into the heart of another mystery.

Meanwhile, Charles Gooch is haunted by memories from his past. Whilst he’s had his fair share of luck over the years, it seems that fate is finally catching up with him. Feeling the heat from his superiors, he hatches a plan to steal The Frenchman and put the Wardens back in control. But Gooch’s shadow isn’t the only darkness in town.

Black Hearts Rising will be available for pre-order early in the new year and will be released in the first week of February.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a few thoughts on the themes of the new book, plus some inside info that I hope will whet readers’ appetites ahead of its release. In the meantime, please spread the word to anyone who may be interested in a black-hearted mystery featuring twists & turns, thrills & spills, jaw-dropping revelations (plus a bit of climbing) and skulduggery of the foulest kind!