Mercenaries, Muskets and Monkeys.

I will be honest, I added the “monkey” bit because it sounded good, but there is a reason for the mercenaries and the muskets.

NEW BOOK!

Huzzah!

Currently with Dave, my lovely editor and undergoing his rigorous scrutiny is my next offering “The Lord of the Faran Hills”.

This is a bit of a departure for me, because it is fantasy, although fantasy without magic, I reserve magic for the weird stuff like in “A Solemn Curfew”, but it is fantasy and not science fiction.

However, I am returning to a favourite theme…soldiers. I have a soft spot for all things military, having been married to a military historian for quite a few years. Normally my soldiers are regulars, but this time I wanted to explore the world of the soldier of fortune.

Normally these guys get a very bad press and rightly so, but there are many who don’t deserve it. They are men who fight and defend a foreign power in exchange for a salary like The Swiss Guard who look after the Pope and The Gurkhas who serve with the British Army, technically these guys are mercenaries, but their honour and reputation is well established.

The same is true for the ones in my new book.

And then there are the muskets. I’ve has so much fun researching muskets. More of that next post.

The book will be out soon I hope and I hope some of you will find it as fun to read as it was to write.

 

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Going Home

I haven’t posted a short story in a while, so I thought you might like this one.  My large extended family lives on each side of the Atlantic and even after all the years, there is still a fine thread which goes back and forth across the ocean joining us together.

My Aunt Jean was one of my grandfather’s many sisters, she followed a brother and a sister to Canada in the 1920s. She always said you have to go back before you really know where you belong. Her life in Canada was the subject of many, many family stories, some of which might possibly have been true.

The picture is because “moose in the lake” was one of my favourite of all those stories, along with black bears in the trash bins and mistaking a skunk and babies for the family black and white cat and her kittens.

 Going Home

The wind ripped the handkerchief she had been waving from her fingers and carried off high above the liner’s bows.

Despite the cold she could not bring herself to go below, she stood by the rail and watched the shore slipped further and further away as the evening tide carrying them out. She knew when she came on deck tomorrow green waters would have turned to blue and the land would be a memory.

She had always promised herself she would go home, go back to her mother and all her brothers and sisters. Every part of her had ached for the familiar faces and familiar places of home.

Eventually she could bear the aching need no longer and she had packed her case and fled back to the land of her birth.

Once there, softly and quietly the familiar had wrapped itself about her. Remembered sights and smells and sounds had woven in and out of her senses, drawing her back to the places she had left when she had begun her great adventure.

She had come home and home had welcomed her with open arms, but now she was leaving them again, crossing back over the great ocean.

As the light finally faded and she could no longer see the dark shadow of the land, her thoughts turned to the wooden cabin by the lake.

The fruit harvest would over and soon the trees would blaze with the colours of autumn, heralding the promise of the long white winter to come.

He would be there, waiting.

When she left, she believed she was going back to where she belonged, but now the ship was carrying her back to him and to the land she knew she would now forever more call home.

 © Bev Allen 2015

 

Obscenity

alpine-1325195_960_7201Did you wonder what I’ve done now when you saw the above title?

Surprisingly I managed to reload the “Solemn Curfew” collection without a hitch despite being a bit distracted at the moment. My dearly loved god mother passed away recently and left me her books, all 4000 of them. I defy anyone to behave in a normal and rational fashion when faced with that many books. And these aren’t paper backs, they are a life time of careful and considered collecting. They arrive next Thursdays – there maybe demands for walls to be demolished to make room.

However, back to the obscenity of the title. This is another story about my grandmother. Whatever else could be said of her, and there is much which could be said, she was never boring.

Obscenity

To Mother it was an idea of genius, but my ten year old self was filled with consternation. And, glancing up at my father and seeing the expression of horror on his face and the droop of the cigarette permanently glued to his lip, I guessed I was not alone.

“She’ll enjoy it,” Mother stated firmly, “And yes, you do both have to come! It’s going to be our birthday present to her.”

Gifts for my grandmother were a source of anxiety for my mother. The wish to delight a mother-in-law who although difficult, tactless, obstinate and opinionated, was also generous and loving, taxed her imagination and worried her.

I had already worked out Gran’s needs were few and her tastes ran towards the sentimental and the tacky, but to my mother, convent educated with exquisite taste and beautiful manners, Gran was a mystery.

I watched her try and balance her own need for refinement against Gran’s delight in china poodles, crocheted toilet roll covers and pictures of children with huge sad eyes accompanied by a dog of equally melancholic attitude.

This year Mother was triumphant, she had come up with the perfect solution; we would take Gran to see a film. Not just any old film, but an all singing, all dancing block buster of sugary sentiment and sweet mawkishness which must appeal to the owner of all those doggy ornaments.

Father protested and I sulked, but Mother was not listening, the night was going to be the perfect treat for one unpredictable old lady and like it or not, we were going to be there to see her enjoyment and Mother’s victory.

Young as I was, I could smell the whiff of danger even as we left the house.

My worst fears were confirmed when we got to Gran’s house and she was sitting primly in her chair wearing her duty outfit, the one reserved for attending such functions as funerals and visits to her solicitor. Her best black coat was buttoned to the neck, her hands were gloved and she was wearing her “going out” lipstick, a shade of red just past pillar box.

Seated beside me in the back of Father’s car, her “good” hand bag firmly clamped to her knees she fixed the back of Mother’s head with a basilisk stare.

“I have not been to a picture house since 1939,” she announced in arctic tones.

“Good God,” Mother ejaculated, startled into giving Gran an opening, “Why not?”

“I had no desire to see war news,” she replied, “Nor the sort of silly film they thought proper for us ignorant people.”

I watched mother stiffen. Gran was uneducated, forced to leave school at the age eleven to work in the Nottingham lace mills, but she was not ignorant, far from it, but claiming to be so was one of her greatest weapons in the game of being difficult.

“That was a long time ago,” Mother said, brightly, “You’ll find it’s all very different now and I’m sure you’ll like this film. It’s in colour you know.”

All this revelation got was a sniff.

“You must have heard of it,” Mother continued, by now assailed with doubts.

“I have,” Gran admitted, “Lilly was speaking about it. She’s seen it five times.”

I chanced a sideways look at her face and caught a hint of anticipation on her face. She was intrigued; her best friend and closest rival Mrs Rhodes had seen the film and while I would have bet my sixpence pocket money Gran hadn’t allowed her to gossip about it as much as she would have liked, sufficient information had been imparted to convince Gran she might be missing something.

Perhaps this hadn’t been such a very bad idea after all.

I knew I was going to hate the film when the opening shot ranged over some field and a lady began to sing. There were a load of nuns as well and I found myself feeling very sorry for Mother if she’d had to listen to singing like that all day in the convent.

By the time a lot of very silly children began to add to the noise I had finished my chocolates and was aware of just how uncomfortable my seat was. I did a great deal of wriggling and sighing and kicking the back of the seat in front to see how long it would be before its owner turned around.

Gran was between me and Mother, so I got away with all this. Finally the boredom and the darkness made my eyes grow heavy and I slipped into sleep.

I woke up when Gran shook me.

“Stand up,” she snapped.

I stumbled to my feet and realised the national anthem was playing and everyone was beginning to leave the cinema. The cool night air woke me up and I began to take notice of the adults.

“What did you think?” Mother asked father with a bright smile.

He just looked at her like a man who had been in pain for the last hour or so.

“Well I thought it was good,” she said with false gaiety, “The scenery was lovely. Did you enjoy it, Millie?”

“I did not,” Gran replied firmly, “It was the most disgusting exhibition I ever saw.”

Even Father seemed stunned by this pronouncement and I bitterly regretted going to sleep. What had I missed?

“Allowing a young girl like that to marry a man old enough to be her father,” Gran continued, “Disgraceful behaviour. Utter filth! I’m surprised they were allowed to make a film about it.”

Mother’s jaw dropped.

“And I’m ashamed of you, Alice, allowing your child to see it! It was obscene. I am only glad the lamb slept through the worst of it.”

With this she swept me passed the posters of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, covering my eyes to protect my innocence.

Bev Allen © 2015-2017

 

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales Cover

Available now on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

 

“A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales” is BACK.

After the self-inflected hiccup the above is back on Amazon.

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales.

dark-tales

Purchase or read with Kindle Unlimited here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

6th March Book Release

“The Tattooed Tribes” will be re-released on Amazon on 6th March.

It’s a story about sustainability and respecting the natural world, but being me, there’s a couple of heroes and more than a couple of villains and the sort of things which happen when you mix the two together.

Surprisingly there are no soldiers, but fear not, normality will resume in April when I will be giving you a new book (no reissue) “The Lord of the Faran Hills”, which is soldiers from beginning to end. And muskets. I love muskets

More of that later, now back to the forest and the rivers. Here is an extract which will give you an idea why my hero Jon is seeking an apprentice and why he is having problems finding one.

Enjoy

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“It’s your fault,” Jon growled. “If you’d not agreed to take that bloody woman up into the hills, she’d never have written that bloody book.”

Cunliff threw his hands up in defence. “Orders are orders,” he protested. “And how was I to know what she’d go home and write that?”

Love under the Canopy had taken Earth by storm. After nearly five hundred years of senseless conflict, The Great War had finally ended little more than fifty years ago. In the time since most authors had written and re-written their war epics, and the public were bored with the subject and ripe for something new.

Tatiana LeJuene went looking for inspiration and colour among the colonies long cut off from the influence of civilisation.

None had fired her imagination as much as the forest world of Boskgrun. It saw barely fifty years of settlement before war left it to its own devices; forgotten, abandoned and severed from all technology.

Enchanted by all she saw she returned home to write a towering epic of conflict and love between the tribal cultures and the new settlers seeking homes away from the shattered inner worlds.

She peppered her work with eulogies on the scenery she had encountered, hints of mysterious rituals and customs, and she peopled it with sultry tribal maidens, passionate half-savage warriors, and a brave and handsome Tribal Liaison Officer.

The result enchanted the home worlds, firing the public imagination and generating many imitators. Suddenly, from being nothing more than back-water specialists working to reconcile the descendants of the first colonists with the newly arriving ones, Tribal Liaison Officers became the romantic heroes and heroines of legend, and their profession the dream job of thousands.

 

 

 

Don’t forget, the other me writes dark fantasy and you can find the story about the man having sex with the garden pond and the one about the mushrooms here.

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk