Do accents matter?

When you read, do you give the characters accents, even if the author has failed to give their origins and details of how they speak? (Yes it happens).

Of course, the accents we give them will fit our perceptions and be based on the information given by the writer, but what would happen to the story if you deliberately got it wrong?

I help to coordinate a creative writing group and have set a “homework” that centres on accents. I’ve been experimenting by writing a piece for one accent, but reading it with another and the result is amazing.

Just as the background music in a film can change pace, feel and emotion, accents can do the same for the written word. As an example of what I mean, there’s a great spoof movie trailer on You Tube where The Shining is given comedy music and a light-hearted commentary. The result is what appears to be a fun, family film.

So, I produced a short piece based in a New York police station and written in a Mickey Spillane-esque style. The accent, 1950s detective thriller/Bronx.

It reads well and everything fits.

But, read it with a broad East Anglian burr (think Goodnight Mr Tom) and it’s suddenly a slow-paced Inspector Morse type of story. It jars a little when the old, yokel accent meets the American vernacular but overall it works surprisingly well.

Funny thing is, I think I prefer it that way…

Trojan Code Competition

To celebrate the ¬†publication of The Trojan Code, planned for next month, I’ll be running a competition to win the original proof paperback copy. The proof copy is the first one off the printers and is used to detect any final errors. As such it might have handwritten margin notes and crossings-out. It’s a unique prize and of course it will be signed.

I’ll post more when the publication date is confirmed.

Happy reading

The Trojan Code

‚ÄčThe Trojan Code is finished at last! A final edit now before it goes to be proof read and then i can look at the formatting for paperback and Kindle. 

At 105000 words it’s about 40000 words less than the first two Jake Sullivan novels, but hopefully the pace will more than make up for it.

For those of you who like to peek at the last page before starting the book, trust me… you really, really don’t want to do that with this one.

Hope it will be on sale in time for Christmas. It’ll make a great present.

Who would like a sneaky preview?

By way of a thank you to my blog followers, I’ve added a new page called “Sneaky Peeks,” where you can get ahead of the game by reading the occasional chapter or extract, of my “Work in progress” novels.

Two novels currently feature: The Trojan Code, the first draft of which is about two-thirds complete and Catherine, Blood and Fire, which will be published as Peter Caulfield.

Enjoy and thank you for following.


Is the truth getting a little too close for comfort?

Ok, so now I’m a little worried. The EU seems intent on creating an EU military fighting force, masterminded by Germany.

If we choose to Brexit, how long will it be before that army lands on our shores, demanding our surrender and full integration into the EU Fourth Reich?

Truth is beginning to look a lot like fiction and if you haven’t yet read my novel, Legitimate Targets, perhaps you should… before it’s too late.

Organic Writing

I’ve been asked many times how I plan and map-out my Jake Sullivan novels. The truth is, I only partially plan them.

I know of many authors who know to the finest detail, how each chapter, indeed each scene, will pan-out before they even put pen to paper, but that doesn’t work for me.

Generally, I’ll have a plot in mind and actually draft out the back cover book blurb before I do anything else. For me, this gives the plot some substance.

At that point, I’ll usually delve into the story and write the first few chapters. Immediately, I will get a feel for whether or not the plot is right.

The next phase is to design the cover. This is a fantastic motivational tool because the cover has to incorporate enough elements of the plot to intrigue and entice the reader; it has to give a clear message as to the nature of the story. My view is that if it entices and intrigues the readers, it will do the same for me and that motivates my writing.

I much prefer to write organically. Each chapter reveals something even I hadn’t expected. I love to be as surprised as my readers will be. If a plot-point causes me a sharp intake of breath or a smile, then it should do the same for them.

My characters are living, breathing beings with their own personalities and traits, so they can behave in ways that can catch even me, off-guard. I can write a scene and suddenly bring in another character that I hadn’t intended to be there; it’s as if they forced their way in. Their appearance can change the way the story was going and introduce a new, and hopefully exciting, element.

I just love it.

Of course this means that my original book blurb and cover idea might bear no resemblance to the finished story, but it really doesn’t matter; they can always be redone.