Happy Pride Month everyone. I know Pride Day is celebrated on 28th June, but I’m getting in an early celebration and announcing The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge is free today, 24th. That’s given me an excuse to write a little about how the Mentor books came about and to tell you a little about each one, in the order they were written. (Click the covers or links to go directly to each book’s Amazon page.)
The Mentor of Wildhill Farm
Apart from ‘Other People’s Dreams’ which I wrote years ago, The Mentor of Wildhill Farm was my first foray into writing novels as Jackson Marsh. I had previously written several novels as James Collins, and all but one has a gay character or characters, but none of them were specifically ‘gay novels.’ You can check them out on my other Amazon page here. I had been writing gay erotica for a few websites and magazines and thought, ‘Why not make a novel out of it?’ Being me, there had to be more of a story, so I invented a situation which will appeal to anyone who likes a bit of older/younger, age-gap romance and heat, and made it something of a fantasy. A sexual one rather than one with mythical creatures.
An older man has carte blanche to mentor four (18+) younger guys in their creative and sexual skills. That’s the story, and there’s a little romance in there too. It’s the hottest of the four Mentor books for sure, and a crossover from my writing of erotica to more mainstream gay lit.
The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge
This came next, and for inspiration, I drew on a place and activity I knew well in my younger days. A remote Yorkshire Fell, and mountaineering. This book is more romance mixed with adventure, which is something I do a lot, and although there is a slow build to the heat, the heat is not a major part of the book. It’s about dealing with loss, accepting someone new, and there’s a fair amount of mountain rescue, enforced isolation, and a little bit of a villain Vs hero thrill line.
For a reason I’ve never discovered, Barrenmoor Ridge really took off when first published. Its success boosted me to carry on as Jackson and write more, and from that initial publicity came my proofreader, with whom I still work today. Barrenmoor is on my list of top-ten best-selling books, only surpassed by the first four Clearwater books and the first Larkspur novel.
The Mentor of Lonemarsh House
Again, using a location known to me, I set the third book down in Kent, near where I used to live. I was back in the village a couple of years ago, catching up with an old school friend (and illicit teen affair way back when), and not much had changed. The pub, the local church, the farming community, it was all still there and reminded me of my lonely days on the marsh wandering the lanes hoping Mr Right would appear around the next corner. Lonemarsh explores the idea of the younger person being trapped in a small world and needing an escape. When the love interest arrives, though, Jason, the younger of the pair, finds it hard to accept that love with another man is possible.
You might have noticed the similarity in titles. I’ll break them down to make it obvious: Wild Hill Farm. Barren Moor Ridge. Lone Marsh House. Lost Wood Hall.
Adjective suggesting isolation; remote landscape; a setting. All the Mentor books are set in such surroundings.
The Mentor of Lostwood Hall
By now, I was running out of ideas for titles and situations and thought that a fourth book would be the last. You can have too much of a good thing after all. Lostwood is set in Wales, there’s a storm, a lonely man, an isolated old hall, a younger lad on the run from villains, an accident… It has all the classic hallmarks of a Mentor novel, including other characters of dubious sexuality, some humour, and a slow burn to the heat sections, of which, if I remember correctly, there are a couple. I like to think my writing skills and experience had developed, though I am sure there are still many edits I could make if I returned to this novel for a re-edit, as I have recently done with Barrenmoor.
It’s interesting to note that here we have: a rich man and a down and out, villains, a remote castle, a mystery… All aspects which would later form the basis of the Clearwater Mysteries, undoubtedly my best-selling series. Perhaps this is where it all began?
The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge
Two years after The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge, when I was halfway through writing the Clearwater series, I suddenly had this idea to do a follow-on from Barrenmoor; to return and see how Gary and John were doing a few years later. Along came the Students… Two 18-year-old best friends are away to celebrate a birthday with a camping trip, and one intends to come out to his friend. Disaster ensues, and who should rescue them but John Hamilton and Gary from the earlier book? Back at Barrenmoor Ridge, Gary and John then end up mentoring the younger couple as they deal with their coming out and change in friendship.
This book has one of my favourite lines made comedic by the situation. It’s something like: ‘We’re hanging eighty feet off the edge of a cliff, and you ask me this now?’
You’ll have to read it to understand why.
Free for Pride – The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge
So, just a reminder that the Kindle is free for today only. I have recently re-edited it to make minor improvements, so if you’ve already bought a copy, you can have this updated version for free, on me. So, follow the link, and look out for the giveaway. If you feel like it, please also share this page, the book’s page, and this news in any social media group you might belong to. Thanks!
Back on Wednesday with an update on the next novel.