Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Proof of the Pudding...

Sorry to do this to you on Easter Sunday but here are a few facts you might not know about the way we ate, back in the day...

*  Pasta had not been invented.
* Curry was an unknown entity.
* Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet
* Spices came from the Middle East where we believed that they were used for embalming
* Herbs were used to make rather dodgy medicine.
* A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
* A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
* Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.
* The only vegetables known to us were spuds, peas, carrots and cabbage, anything else was regarded as being a bit suspicious.
* All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
* Condiments consisted of salt, pepper, vinegar and brown sauce if we were lucky.
* Soft drinks were called pop.
* Coke was something that we mixed with coal to make it last longer.
* A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
* Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.
* A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
* A microwave was something out of a science fiction movie.
* Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
* Oil was for lubricating your bike not for cooking, fat was for cooking
* Bread and jam was a treat.
* Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves, not bags.
* The tea cosy was the forerunner of all the energy saving devices that we hear so much about today.
* Coffee was only drunk when we had no tea….. and then it was Camp, and came in a bottle.
* Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
* Figs and dates appeared every Christmas, but no one ever ate them.
* Coconuts only appeared when the fair came to town.
* Salad cream was a dressing for salads, mayonnaise did not exist
* Hors d'oeuvre was a spelling mistake.
* Soup was a main meal.
* The menu consisted of what we were given, and was set in stone.
* Only Heinz made beans, there were no others.
* Leftovers went in the dog, never in the bin.
* Special food for dogs and cats was unheard of.
* Sauce was either brown or red.
* Fish was only eaten on Fridays.
* Fish and chips was always wrapped in old newspapers, and definitely tasted better that way.
* Frozen food was called ice cream.
* Nothing ever went off in the fridge because we never had one.
* Ice cream only came in one flavour, vanilla.
* None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.
* Jelly and blancmange was strictly party food.
* Healthy food had to have the ability to stick to your ribs.
* Indian restaurants were only found in India .
* Cheese only came in a hard lump.
* A bun was a small cake that your Mum made in the oven.
* Eating out was called a picnic.
* Cooking outside was called camping.
* Eggs only came fried or boiled.
* Hot cross buns were only eaten at Easter time.
* Pancakes were only eaten on Shrove Tuesday – and on that day it was compulsory.
* Cornflakes had just arrived from America but it was obvious that they would never catch on.
* We bought milk and cream at the same time in the same bottle.
* Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.
* Prunes were purely medicinal.
* Surprisingly, muesli was readily available. It was called cattle feed.
* Turkeys were definitely seasonal.
* Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.
* We didn't eat Croissants in those days because we couldn't pronounce them, we couldn't spell them and we didn't know what they were.
* Garlic was used to ward off vampires, but never used to flavour bread.
* Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and charging triple for it they would have become a laughing stock.
* Food hygiene was only about washing your hands before meals.
* Campylobacter, Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria, and Botulism were all called "food poisoning."
However, the one thing that we never ever had on our table in the fifties …. ELBOWS

When was all this? Back in the fifties and, sadly, some of us can still remember those days. Perhaps we've lived so long because we didn't eat processed foods or junk from 'kids only' menus when we were young.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Lethal Business

I learned at an early age that life on the ocean wave wasn’t for me. Not only do I have a healthy respect for the sea, but I’m also a poor swimmer who doesn’t enjoy being cold, wet and constantly afraid. I was brought up in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the home of British yachting , and had daily visual confirmation of the perils of boating. It’s an eighty per-cent male occupation—something to do with that rogue macho gene they all seem to be born with that makes them do crazy stuff, because…well, I’ve never been able to figure out quite what it is that they need to actually prove.

It says much for the power of lurve that when my husband’s mid-life crisis hit and light aircraft and fast cars didn’t give him the adrenalin rush he craved, I agreed to turn to boats. Not those with a rag and stick (sails to the uninitiated)—I wasn’t prepared to go that far, even for him— but I’d give power boats a try. It was a phase I kept telling myself, an expensive one that would soon bring him to his senses.

In the meantime, I made the best of it and learned more than I ever wanted to know about floating tubs. Never waste an experience, that’s my mantra. Besides, my novelist’s brain had to do something to offset all those endless hours of starting at equally endless expanses of ocean.

And that’s how the Hunter Files came into being. I couldn’t help asking myself, ‘what if,’ at every turn, and I was away. Lethal Business is the third in a trilogy featuring my retired police inspector, Charlie Hunter. A budding jazz musician, his career in music was over before it started when, at age sixteen, his concert pianist mother was gunned down in front of him. Charlie joined the police, looking for answers. Ironically, it’s only when, disillusioned, he takes early retirement twenty years later that he starts to find them. Drawn back into some of his unsolved cases, the enigmatic Kara Webb helps him get over his neurosis with music, amongst other things, and he starts to come alive again.

The plot for Lethal Business came to me when I was watching the results of the last British election and commentators seemed surprised at how well the small parties who stood against Britain’s  ‘open door immigration policy’ had fared. Mind you, I’m sure British politicians wouldn’t really lower themselves to the extent that my fictional English Patriotic Party do in order to get noticed, would they…

Rewind to never wasting an experience. This series gave me a chance to re-enact real experiences. To save Kara from kidnappers, in Lethal Business Charlie is required to sabotage a boat in mid-channel. He does so by pouring water into a fuel tank. I knew this would work because someone accidently did that to our boat when we were in Croatia—at least I think it was accidental. Oh, and in case you’re wondering…it wasn’t me!

Here’s how Carina Press describe Lethal Business

 Why kill the survivors of a sinking ship?

A speeding boat rams a life raft, leaving no survivors. A man embroiled in an investigation of potential suicide bombers disappears...

Retired inspector Charlie Hunter's belief that the two events are related leads him to accept a job working a charter between England and France. The only way to find out the truth is to be the man on the inside.

But Charlie's life is at risk on the rough Channel. All is not as it seems on the shifting seas, and some players are holding secrets that will change the game...and the sunken life raft is the key.

Lethal Business is the third in the Hunter Files series, following on from Unfinished Business and Risky Business, all available as e-books from Carina Press and

Find out more about the series and my books generally on my website


Thursday, 7 March 2013

The written word becomes spoken

I walk every day with my dog and seldom see another person – albeit jogger, dog walker, cyclist or the like, who doesn’t have ear phones plugged in. And what about long car journeys? They’re seldom undertaken in silence, either.

In walk/cycle/journey entertainment doesn’t have to be restricted to music and now that e-books are an established part of our lives, people seem to be catching on to audio books. Well, I hope they are because my first contemporary novel, A Class Apart, published by SirenBookStrand, ihas also been released as an audio book by Audiolark. Don't you just love this cover?

It’s very exciting being involved in the process. It started with me listening to a demo voice speaking my words and bringing them beautifully to life. It made me shiver and, don’t laugh, left me wanting to know what happened next!

My first love is historical romance and I have more than a dozen books published in that genre. Hardly surprising then that my first shot at a contemporary features modern-day aristocrats. Yes, we still have them in England – think Wills and Kate. Unlike our lovely new first couple, a lot of them behave very badly!
In A Class Apart The only way for Lady Octavia Radleigh’s grandfather to pay off crippling debts is to sell their ancestral home. Octavia vows that Jake Bentley, a self-made financial guru, will never get his hands on Radleigh, and she sets about turning it into an upmarket hotel. All she has to do is persuade Jake to finance the venture.

Jake dislikes everything Octavia stands for, but he's backed into a corner and has no choice but to finance her crazy scheme. When someone sabotages Octavia’s efforts and she turns to Jake for advice, they finally discover release for their pent-up passion in one another's arms.

Embroiled in a bitter tangle of resentment and paranoia, Jake must race against time to save Octavia from her own folly before Radleigh is lost to them both...

A Class Apart available as an e-book or in print from SirenBookStrand or
And as an audio book from Audiolark
There really is no escape!