25 February 2020

Book Launch Spotlight ~ The King's Justice: A Maggie Hope Mystery, by Susan Elia MacNeal

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Can a stolen violin lead secret agent and spy Maggie Hope to a new serial killer terrorizing London? Find out as the acclaimed World War II mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal continues.

Maggie Hope started out as Winston Churchill’s secretary, but now she’s a secret agent—and the only one who can figure out how the missing violin ties into a series of horrifying murders.

London, December 1943. As the Russian army repels German forces from Stalingrad, Maggie Hope takes a much-needed break from spying to defuse bombs in London. But Maggie herself is an explosion waiting to happen. Traumatized by her past, she finds herself living dangerously—taking huge risks, smoking, drinking, and speeding through the city streets on a motorbike. The last thing she wants is to get entangled in another crime.

But when she’s called upon to look into the theft of a Stradivarius, one of the finest violins ever made, Maggie can’t resist. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose in London, targeting conscientious objectors. Little does Maggie know that investigating this dangerous predator will pit her against a new evil—and old enemies. Only Maggie can uncover the connection between the robbery, the murders, and a link to her own past.
"Vivid descriptions of devastated London and distinctive, emotionally flawed characters enhance a plot that builds to a wicked twist. This enjoyable effort will inspire those new to MacNeal to seek out earlier entries.""--Publishers Weekly
 "I have read and loved every single one of the Maggie Hope mysteries. In her ninth, The King's Justice, Susan Elia MacNeal raises the bar. Maggie faces old enemies, new killers, and her personal demons--not to mention unexploded ordinance--with an extra helping of her own special brand of derring-do. Longtime readers will be richly rewarded and first-timers will be made instant fans by this taut, breathtaking, and authentic read."--Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
"In The King's Justice, Maggie Hope, a veteran of missions for the Special Operations Executive, is suffering from what we now call PTSD and doing it none too quietly. The mystery is riveting, but Maggie's emotional journey is at the heart of this superb novel as she struggles to come to grips with the impact of the violence she has endured, as did so many. I devoured this story."--James R. Benn, author of When Hell Struck Twelve and other Billy Boyle WWII mysteries 
"Susan Elia MacNeal spins another rousing tale featuring gutsy Maggie Hope. Once again, MacNeal deftly weaves a fast-paced mystery with enticing historical detail, but this time gives us a fully realized exploration of a psychologically wounded but still determined survivor of the darkness of war. . . . A multilayered thriller that will keep you up all night reading!"--Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue 
"The King's Justice is gripping. It is reality, gritty and frightening. I feel the cold, the fear, and the courage. The very air of it exists on the edges of my own memory."--Anne Perry, bestselling author of Death in Focus

# # #
About the Author

Susan Elia MacNeal is the New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope mysteries. MacNeal won the Barry Award and has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Agatha, Left Coast Crime, Dilys, and ITW Thriller awards. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. find out more at Susan's website susaneliamacneal.com  and find her on Facebook and Twitter @SusanMacNeal

18 February 2020

Special Guest Post by Camilla Downs, Author of Words of Alchemy

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

When life became heavy with struggling, I became more committed to a loosely held walking practice. Walking, being in nature, became a mediation of sorts, guiding me in processing life events.

During these walks, I increasingly became moved to photograph nature. Listening to the intuitive nudges of when to stop walking, which direction to look, whether to kneel on the ground, and at which angle to take a photo became a colorful ingredient to the practice of walking.

What happened next surprised and delighted me in ways I find difficult to describe. Following a walk, I would scroll through the nature photographs, choosing one to post on social media. As I began to type a comment to accompany the photo, poetic words spilled from my heart and mind, through my fingers, landing on the screen.

This began to happen more and more with the poems becoming more and more meaningful. Eventually the poems began to flow simply from events I was in the midst of experiencing. During morning journal writing, I would write about what was happening in my life. Magically, a poem would flow forth.

It was 2018 when I began to feel that it was time for my next book. I thought I would be writing another memoir. Yet, the pull to gather and publish the poems written between 2012 and 2019 was powerfully insistent. I listened, went with it, and Words of Alchemy was published in December 2019. The cover photo is a photo I took on one of my 2018 walks.

The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love … in one beautiful book.

Camilla Downs

Praise for Words of Alchemy:
“Words of Alchemy, a heartfelt new collection by Camilla Downs, lives up to its namesake in numerous ways. Downs spans the broad range of nature, healing, love, and parenting, while making sure we have a little fun along the way. And the bridge she creates from the mindfulness of how we see the world at large to the poetry of everyday life is certainly worth a stroll or two across its borders.” – Thomas Lloyd Qualls, Award-winning author of Painted Oxen 
“This poetry collection offers contemplative words, soothing thoughts and peace to the reader.” – Sue Bentley, Bestselling author of Second Skin 
“Camilla Downs shares truth, vulnerability and wisdom in her Words of Alchemy collection, inviting readers to be inspired, contemplate and dive into her world of self-awareness and growth.” – G. Brian Benson – Award-winning author, actor and spoken word artist 
“These poems take you on a calm and loving walk through the verses of the author’s thoughts. Alchemy is a perfect word for the title as Camilla Downs understands nature; connecting with its magical, medicinal qualities and beauty which she conveys throughout her poetry.” – Ailsa Craig, Author of The Sand Between My Toes 
“Words of Alchemy is a chronicle of hope. These poems are an encouragement, especially when we are feeling at our lowest, to keep seeking the light that is our way forward, and focus on the real. This collection is a walk through the positive nature of life. Camilla Downs is to be commended.” – Frank Prem, Author of free-verse memoir Small Town Kid

 # # #

About the Author

Camilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of  MeetingtheAuthors.com and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids. Find our more at Camilla's website camilladowns.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @CamillaDowns

13 February 2020

The Novel Editing Workbook: 105 Tricks & Tips for Revising Your Fiction Manuscript, by Kris Spisak #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

You are more connected to your manuscript than anyone else could be. It is a part of you. You are part of it. This is the brilliance of creativity, but at can also be a major hindrance in the editing process.

I'm not advocating this new workbook as an alternative to professional editing, or suggesting that these are ideas you won't have come across before.

Instead, I'd like to recommend Kris Spisak's tips as a series of useful reminders to help you make sure your manuscript is as good as it can be, so your editor has the best possible start.

There are plenty of suggestions of words to search for - and what to do when you find them, as well as prompts to help you improve your first page and tidy up dialogue.

Although I'm close to completing my tenth novel, I'm planning to use this workbook as my 'checklist', and hopefully feel I've done everything I can before sending my manuscript to my editor. 

Tony Riches 

# # #

About the Author

Kris Spisak is a former college writing instructor, having taught at institutions including the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, Kris is now an active ghostwriter, speaker, and freelance editor. She is a member of James River Writers, the Alliance of Independent Authors, and the Women's Fiction Writers Association, Visit Kris-Spisak.com to learn more and find her on Facebook and Twitter @KrisSpisak

Do you have suggestions for useful books for writers you would like to share? Please feel free to comment below

The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! The rules and sign-up form are below the list of hop participants. All authors at all stages of their careers are welcome to join in.

2 February 2020

Searching for the birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle

I attended a talk by archaeologist James Meek in Pembroke, where he outlined the exploratory excavations within the walls of Pembroke Castle. The intriguing outline of a large building was revealed by parch marks during the summer of 2013.  

The outline of a possible late medieval double-winged hall house was confirmed by geophysical surveys carried out by Dyfed Archaeological Trust, funded by the Castle Studies Trust, in 2016. If these remains prove to be a ‘mansion-house’ and are dateable to the fifteenth century, this could be a compelling candidate for the location of King Henry VII’s birth in 1457. 

Visitors to the castle are currently treated to a 'tableau' of Henry's birth in the adjacent Henry VII tower, although Margaret Beaufort looks much older than fourteen - and her lady in waiting can hardly hold the heavy child! I've always thought the room too small and more likely to be used as a guardroom than living accommodation.

The tower was recorded as being in a poor state of repair at that time, so an adjacent building could have been commissioned by Jasper Tudor, the uncle of Henry, who was granted the castle in 1452 when he was made Earl of Pembroke. Jasper didn't live in the castle until the death of his brother Edmund in 1456, his sister-in-law Margaret Beaufort came in to his care and gave birth to Henry Tudor the following year.  

Two trial trenches were excavated to establish the condition, character and extent of the building – and, if possible, its date. The archaeological evidence uncovered was partly compromised by excavations of the site in 1931, which were unrecorded apart from two black and white photographs.

1931 excavations
The 2018 evaluation confirmed the presence of the large free standing stone structure within the Outer Ward, the remains of which indicate it was domestic and of high status.  A curving staircase with two spiral steps were exposed and finds indicate that the roof was of slate with green glazed ceramic ridge tiles.  

2018 excavation

A large cess pit was excavated with finds including pottery of medieval and later date, animal bone, including swans and blackbirds, and a significant number of oyster shells. Finds also included a few sherds of Roman pottery.

Archaeologist James Meek said it was not yet possible to date the building to the time of Henry Tudor's birth, but the two preliminary trenches strengthen the case for excavation of the rest of the site later this year - so watch this space.

Tony Riches 

1 February 2020

Historical Fiction Spotlight: Hunter & Prey: The Complete Thomas the Falconer Mysteries, by John Pilkington

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

'The story moves at a great pace ... it made a welcome change to discover Elizabethan England through the eyes of a lesser mortal.' The Historical Novels Review

The Ruffler's Child - Book 1

Thomas Finbow is more than just a humble falconer, in the service of Sir Robert Vicary and Lady Margaret. He is a widowed father, a skilled ex-soldier and tenacious hunter.

Far from the court and corruption of London, Thomas resides in the picturesque Berkshire Downs.

All is as it should be until Lady Margaret’s loathsome brother is found murdered.

Once Thomas starts to put the pieces together, he realises that he, and his Mistress, are in grave danger.

A Ruinous Wind - Book 2

When invited to attend the Barrowhill Pleasures at the seat of the extravagant and pompous Earl of Reigate, Sir Robert brings Thomas along with him to enjoy the festivities.

No-one expected three of the Earl’s guests to be murdered, or for their deaths to be quickly covered up by the Earl himself.

But things begin to unravel when the Earl himself becomes the next target of the murderer.

The Ramage Hawk - Book 3

Thomas the Falconer confronts the most terrible foe he has ever faced.

On remote Salisbury Plain villagers toil to get the harvest in, unaware that a murderer has come amongst them.

Thomas is called in to help find a missing girl.

But the search soon turns into a dangerous game, involving hidden gold – and as the body count rises and fear grips the land, Thomas has no choice but to follow the trail to its bitter end.

The Mapmaker's Daughter - Book 4

A tragic fire at one of his master’s tenant farms is just the start of a tortuous trail for Thomas Finbow – for when the body of Simon Haylock is dragged from the blazing barn, it becomes clear that he was dead before the fire started.

Soon a chilling series of murders, seemingly unrelated, is spreading fear across the Berkshire Downs, baffling the authorities. Plague is raging in London and suspicion falls on strangers in the area, like the dour mapmaker Christopher Mead and the outrageous travelling showman Paulo Schweiz, whom Thomas rescues from the stocks.

Thomas finds himself matching wits with a cunning and elusive adversary.

The Maiden Bell - Book 5

In the isolated village of Lambourn there is great excitement when a family of itinerant bell-founders arrives to forge a new church bell. But the peace of a summer’s night is shattered when churchwarden Will Stubbs – a saintly old man without enemies – is found dead in the woods.
Thomas is charged by his master to find answers.

The Jingler's Luck - Book 6

In the depths of winter the body of a young woman, cruelly mutilated, is found washed up beside the Thames.

Meanwhile Thomas arrives in London on a sensitive mission: to persuade his master Sir Robert to give up his foolish infatuation with a notorious woman of the Court.

But the Lady Imogen’s intrigues are more serious than even Thomas realizes, until he’s caught up in a bizarre series of events including the theft of a corpse, and even his own imprisonment.

The Muscovy Chain - Book 7

Thomas’s master Sir Robert is charged by Queen Elizabeth’s Council to host an important guest to help valuable trade relations: Grigori Stanic, ambassador of distant Muscovy, in Russia.

Thomas must also guard a priceless gift for Boris Godunov. But no sooner has it arrived at Petbury than it is stolen, risking a disastrous diplomatic incident.

As the desperate hunt for the Muscovy Chain begins, a shadowy figure is seen on the Downs. Is he the thief – or worse, is he responsible for a murder, the victim having been brutally tortured?

# # #

About the Author

John Pilkington has written plays for radio and theatre, television scripts for the BBC and now concentrates on historical fiction, reflecting his passion for the Tudor and Stuart periods. A writer for over thirty years, he has published around twenty books including the Thomas the Falconer Mysteries (republished by Sharpe Books), the Marbeck spy series (Severn House) and two Restoration-era mysteries featuring actress-turned-sleuth Betsy Brand (to be republished by Joffe Books). He is also the author of a children’s series, the Elizabethan Mysteries (Usborne). Born in the north-west of England, he now lives in a quiet Devon village with his partner, and has a son who is a musician and composer. Find out more at his website, www.johnpilkington.co.uk, and find John on Twitter @_JohnPilkington.

31 January 2020

Sir Francis Bryan: Henry VIII's Most Notorious Ambassador, by Sarah-Beth Watkins

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Sir Francis Bryan was Henry VIII's most notorious ambassador and one of his closest companions. Bryan was a man of many talents; jouster, poet, rake and hell-raiser, gambler, soldier, sailor and diplomat. He served his king throughout his life and unlike many of the other men who served Henry VIII, Bryan kept his head and outlived his sovereign.

This book tells the story of his life from coming to court at a young age through all his diplomatic duties to his final years in Ireland.

The latest book from the best-selling author of Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII

Francis Bryan and Nicholas Carew were becoming firm favourites of the king’s. At the May joust in 1514 at Greenwich the king lent horses and armour to them both for jousting. The tilt yard at Greenwich had become Henry’s permanent play area. Close to the palace of Placentia, Henry had added extra stables, an armoury, a gallery and a five-storey tower for viewing. Such was Henry’s delight in the joust the Spanish ambassador commented ‘The King of England amuses himself almost every day of the week with running the ring, and with jousts and tournaments on foot in which one single person fights with an appointed adversary… 
The most interested in the combats is the king himself, who never omits being present at them’. As well as the king, Nicholas Carew especially excelled as a star of the tournament. He became so popular and so skilled that Henry gave him his own tilt yard at Greenwich in 1515. Carew and Bryan were both also charged with teaching the art of chivalry to ‘encourage all youth to seek deeds of arms’ and pass on their skills to a younger generation. On 19 April 1515 there were more entertainments at Richmond, jousting and a banquet, in honour of Louise of Savoy and Bryan and Carew rode out with the king again. Henry paid for his friends coats of blue satin embroidered with white satin including ‘48 yds. blue satin, at 7s. 8d. a yd., for coats, trappers and saddlery for Bryan and Carew’.

For the celebration of May Day at Shooters Hill, Henry put on a masque around the story of Robin Hood, one of his favourite themes. Eighty-seven yards of green satin were needed for Bryan’s and Carew’s coats and Arnold, the Queen's embroiderer, made hawthorn leaves for their headpieces. The king himself was dressed ‘entirely in green velvet, cap, doublet, hose, shoes and everything’. Henry had with him a band of archers and a hundred noblemen who were joined by Queen Katherine and her ladies to watch an archery contest. Afterwards Henry asked his queen whether she would ‘enter the greenwood and see how the outlaws lived’ and when Katherine said she was content to, he led her into the woods to an area decorated with floral bowers and where tables were laid out with a feast. Bryan was also at the Christmas entertainments at Eltham when the king’s chapel master William Cornysh devised a castle pageant. 
For all the pleasure, there was also work to do and in 1516 Bryan became the King’s cupbearer bringing him in even closer contact to the king both officially and personally.
# # #

About the Author

Sarah-Beth Watkins grew up in Richmond, Surrey and began soaking up history from an early age. Her love of writing has seen her articles published in various publications over the past twenty years. Working as a writing tutor, Sarah-Beth has condensed her knowledge into a series of writing guides for Compass Books. Her history works are Ireland's Suffragettes, Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII, The Tudor Brandons, Catherine of Braganza, Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots: The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister, Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Unwanted Wife and The Tragic Daughters of Charles I. You can find Sarah-Beth on Twitter @SarahBWatkins

30 January 2020

Special Guest Interview with Historical Mystery Author John Pilkington

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Summer 1604: England is on edge, as a high-powered Spanish delegation arrives in London to start vital and long-awaited treaty talks. King James, a year into his reign, wants to be seen as The Peacemaker King, bringing an end to nearly twenty years of warfare with Spain which has left both countries exhausted and almost bankrupt. Yet there are those who profit from the war - and such people cannot be allowed to threaten the peace negotiations.

I'm pleased to welcome historical mystery Author John Pilkington to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Just now, I’m not sure what counts as my latest book. I’ve been pleased to see the first historical series I wrote, the Thomas the Falconer Mysteries (published 2002-2007) reissued as e-books by Sharpe Books over the past few months, with an omnibus collection of all seven books now out under the title Hunter and Prey (Sharpe, 2020).

Following that early Tudor project I wrote three more historical series, including one featuring 17th century spy or ‘intelligencer’ Martin Marbeck, whose last outing appeared in paperback in 2016 (Severn House Publishers). But the most recent book I’ve written is a new venture for me: Yorick, His Tale told by Himself. I suppose I would call this ‘speculative fiction’, giving my version of the story of a character from Hamlet (he of ‘alas, poor Yorick’ fame) from his humble birth and life as a stable boy, to becoming the King’s favoured jester and playfellow of the young Prince Hamlet. It was a lot of fun to write. It’s yet to find a publisher, and it may need further work, but I have hopes.

What is your preferred writing routine?

After many years of writing, I’ve developed an ‘office hours’ habit. I write all morning, perhaps do a little more after lunch and then edit what I’ve done. Afterwards I escape for a long walk, weather permitting – I’m fortunate to live by a quiet tidal estuary, very good for fresh air and wildlife. I think it’s important to get away from the desk. I work at the keyboard, print off what I’ve done each day and then read it over first thing the next morning, editing by hand with a lurid red pen. Then, when I open up the work again on the screen I edit from the hard copy, which gets me into the flow to carry on the narrative. I sometimes write things out longhand, like new sections I want to insert, and work them in later.

I’ve done lots of research over the years and have extensive files, but I rarely look at these once I’ve started a new book. There’s always the danger of putting in ‘undigested research’, and the temptation to add too much period detail. This is fiction, not a history book, and the story is paramount. Once I’ve got the book moving I work every day, without fail.

What advice do you have for new writers?

I’m not sure I can offer any, but I’ll try. Are you certain you want to write, or do you merely want to ‘be a writer’? If you really want to write, you will probably do so anyway. I attempted my first novel at age 13. It was terrible and I never finished it, but you have to start somewhere. If you want to be published, writing is a commitment, not a hobby. You also need to be clear about what sort of writing you want to do: try out different forms and genres, and see which satisfies you most. It doesn’t matter how bad you think it is.

There’s no short cut to developing a workable style – as with most things in life, you get better with practice. And read a lot, of course – even ‘How to Write’ books, if they help. Join a local writers’ group, if that helps. Make a regular time to write, somewhere you won’t be disturbed, and don’t let anyone put you off. It’s often difficult to get people to take you seriously as a writer – until you’re published, whereupon they start asking you where you get your ideas from! But persevere: it’s down to application and persistence as well as talent. Good luck.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I’m a recent convert to Twitter, which has opened up a new – and at times astonishing – world. In the past I generally relied on my publishers to do all the marketing and publicity, though I helped when I could, making myself available for interviews and so on. When I wrote a children’s series, for example (the Elizabethan Mysteries), my wonderful publishers Usborne were very active in promoting me and my work, arranging visits, talks and readings in schools and libraries. But nowadays, I don’t think this is enough: the writer should take some responsibility and engage with the fast-moving online world, and with sites like GoodReads and Bookbub which will help raise your profile and attract potential readers.

I launched my website around a decade ago. There is a panel on my home page which can be updated at any time with news and events, but how much this actually helps with book sales I really don’t know. Being on Twitter has led to a new surge of interest in my work. Online promotion is very important now, and it seems to be helping me.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

I’m fascinated by espionage, and when I began delving into the Elizabethan era I was intrigued to learn that the first Cambridge Spies date back to the 16th century - almost 400 years before Burgess, Philby and Maclean. In the 1580s the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, began recruiting bright, adventurous young men from Cambridge University (where he too had been a student). Their mission, in this time of religious turmoil and plots against Elizabeth, was to pose as disaffected Catholics, travel abroad to infiltrate the Catholics on the Continent, and report on their activities.

At its peak, the late-Tudor espionage service boasted as many as sixty agents using cover names, ciphers, letter drops and messages written in invisible ink – the beginnings of the spy’s equipment through the ages. Eventually I created my own spy, Marbeck, the hero of four books (described by Booklist as ‘a 17th century James Bond’). Recently I wrote an essay on the topic, On the Jesuit Trail, for the Royal Literary Fund’s website, now published in their anthology A Self Among the Crowd (Small Press Publishing for the RLF, 2019). I’m sure there’s still a great deal more to be revealed about this absorbing subject.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

This is a tough question. I suppose there have been many I struggled with, though I rarely remember the actual writing process. But one that sticks in my mind was the climactic ‘mass brawl’ scene in The Ruffler’s Child (the first Thomas the Falconer mystery). The fight took place in the Bear Garden in Southwark, after the day’s ‘entertainment’, and involved around a dozen angry men armed with clubs, daggers and assorted hand weapons. Moving so many participants around convincingly, and maintaining the suspense, proved a big challenge.

Never having been involved in such a fracas myself (beyond snowball fights), I had to reach into memory for every violent struggle I could recall, from schoolboy tussles to battle scenes from films. (Spartacus and Braveheart have always been personal favourites, but few scenes match the visceral realism of James Fox’s gangster-on-gangster fight in Performance – perhaps because it wasn’t scripted). To keep the scene gripping without losing sight of my main protagonist, and above all to avoid it feeling contrived, was hard. I think – I hope – that I’ve got better at it since then.

What are you planning to write next?

Some years ago, I wrote two novels set in the reign of Charles II (After the Fire and The Judas Blade), featuring Restoration Theatre actress-turned-sleuth Betsy Brand (first published by Robert Hale, soon to be republished in revised editions by Joffe Books). I’m very fond of smart, witty and resourceful Betsy and want to extend the series, creating more mysteries for her to solve in that ‘gaudy and bawdy‘ period of intrigue and corruption. I’d like to push her further into danger, allowing her to show her considerable courage. A plot’s already forming, but I’m keeping tight-lipped about that.

John Pilkington
# # #

About the Author

John Pilkington has written plays for radio and theatre, television scripts for the BBC and now concentrates on historical fiction, reflecting his passion for the Tudor and Stuart periods. A writer for over thirty years, he has published around twenty books including the Thomas the Falconer Mysteries (republished by Sharpe Books), the Marbeck spy series (Severn House) and two Restoration-era mysteries featuring actress-turned-sleuth Betsy Brand (to be republished by Joffe Books). He is also the author of a children’s series, the Elizabethan Mysteries (Usborne). Born in the north-west of England, he now lives in a quiet Devon village with his partner, and has a son who is a musician and composer. Find out more at his website, www.johnpilkington.co.uk, and find John on Twitter @_JohnPilkington.