A Winner is Announced

Not, as Agatha Christie wrote, ‘A Murder is Announced,’ but a winner of the short competition to suggest characters for the Christmas anthology, currently titled ‘Christmas Shorts.’ (I’ll give you the name of the winner in a moment when I also put it on my FB page.) The book won’t be called ‘Christmas Shorts’, that’s just the name of my folder, and in it so far, I have:

  • 01 In the train before departure
  • 02 Will tale 01
  • Author’s notes
  • Barbary Fleet 01, 02 and 03
  • Index
  • Limehouse crime story
  • Premise and rough outline
  • Suggested characters
  • The Stranger’s Tale

The file that interests us today is ‘Suggested characters’ because that was what I asked readers for; to suggest characters who would each tell a story making up a collection of five, which has now become six.

I can now reveal some more information.

The stories are tied together by a journey, and it’s from London to Larkspur on Christmas Eve, 1892. Because of the date, I can’t use some suggestions, because those characters are dead. However, I can use them because the stories take place in the past. I’m not going to tell you who else appears in the tales told by the five, but I can tell you who is telling the stories as they journey westwards for Clearwater’s Christmas Ball.

Here’s the list of who was suggested: Professor Fleet (the most popular vote), Andrej (Fecker, the second most popular), Silas, Jake O’Hara, Mrs Norwood, Joe Tanner, Dalston Blaze, Will Merrit, James Wright, Jasper Blackwood, Barnaby Nancarrow, Frank Andino, Bertie Tucker, Thomas Payne, Lord Clearwater, Tripp.

It’s great to see who your favourite and memorable characters are, and even better that they include characters from the Clearwater prequel right up to the current Delamere mystery, so, they come from all three series set in the Clearwater world. Maybe I will write another of these collections for next year and ask for more suggestions, but I had to have a limit of five for this, my first venture into short stories.

They are/will be shorts but contained in one overarching story of the journey, not that much happens on it until the end. There is a sixth character in the train, but the person’s identity is a guarded secret, and you won’t know who it is until you either get your free copy (by being signed up to the newsletter or being part of Jackson’s Deviant Desires) or until you buy the book, which will be on sale after Christmas.

As for who the five are who meet in the carriage and pass the time telling stories in the manner of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (but without the Anglo-Saxon poetry), you can expect to read tales from:

Will Merrit

Andrej (Fecker)

Mrs Norwood

Joe Tanner

Barbary Fleet

The Stranger

And the Winner is…

As for the competition, the winner of the Clearwater calendar 2024 is Tony Barone Pisacano. If you’re reading this, I’ll tag you on FB, or you can send me a private message or an email and I’ll arrange delivery.

Bravo Mr Random Draw, and thank you to everyone else who left a comment, sent an email or dropped a private message with suggestions.

Everyone in the know will be a winner as the eBook will be free (in PDF format). To be eligible for a copy, you need to be on the newsletter mailing list or a member of our private group on FB, Jackson’s Deviant Desires.

See you there!

Non-strangers on a Train

Last week, I came up with the idea of producing a collection of short stories as a freebie for my readers. I asked for suggestions via my FB page, my group, and my blog, and I’ve now had several replies. I’ve also worked out the premise, and have gathered my five characters together on the 11.45 train from London to Cornwall, on Christmas Eve 1892.

I chose that date to fit in with the current Delamere series (which is so far set in 1892) and to follow on from the Larkspur series, which finished on Christmas Eve, 1891. We will get an update on what’s happening at Larkspur Hall, because that is where the five characters are heading, and they are heading there for the famous Larkspur Christmas Ball. This event was featured in ‘Fallen Splendour’ and then again at the end of ‘The Larkspur Legacy,’ and it’s the occasion when Lord Clearwater treats all his staff, tenants and their families to a lavish party in the great hall at Larkspur.

Here’s a rather obvious clue to one of the characters.

On the journey, each of the five characters will tell a story from their past, and so far, I have decided on one of these stories, but I still need to invent the other four. However, there will be another, a sixth in total, because although my characters are travelling in a private carriage, they are not alone. Someone else has gained a seat, but as he is sitting quietly at the back and is asleep, they decide to let him stay. Being Clearwater characters, they also suggest he might like to share in the supplies they have brought with them for the eight-hour journey if he wakes up.

Who this character is, and what he is doing there will be explained at the end of the book, which I intend to be reasonably short. I am guessing at around 50,000 words, but knowing me…

So far, I have an outline for the various chapters, and I’ve put it here so you can see who is on this journey. You’ll also see that I’ve modelled the index at least on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, but the text will definitely not be made up of long poems in Olde English!

May 1892

Here’s who will be appearing in the index, and I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this project and ‘Follow the Van’ (Delamere part three) as the weeks roll on towards Christmas, when anyone subscribed to my newsletter and any members of my group Jackson’s Deviant Desires will get a Pdf copy for free. The book will later be on sale via the usual channels. (Anyone can subscribe to my occasional newsletters, and to my group, just follow the links.)

The Christmas Journey (not the eventual title)

The Prologue – In which five characters meet and a stranger takes note.
The Detective’s Tale*
The Baron’s Tale
The Housekeeper’s Tale
The Antiquarian’s Tale
The Professor’s Tale
The Stranger’s Tale – In which all is revealed and yet nothing is completely ended.
The Epilogue

As you can see, each chapter will also have a sub-heading in the style of Victorian serialisations. I’ve always wanted to do this, ‘In which we discover…’ kind of chapter heading, but it’s so outdated, that it’s never yet fit with anything I’ve written. Now’s my chance!

* Btw, although James Wright was a popular suggestion, he is not the detective in this case. I have gone for Will Merrit so that we have two Clearwater characters, two Larkspur characters, and one from the new series. You can probably guess who the others are.

There were many suggestions and my aim is to include some or all of the other suggestions within the stories, though they are not the ones telling them. So, you should get a Christmas dose of your favourite characters one way or the other.

As for the stranger… You will have to wait and see.

Win a Clearwater Calendar 2024

I’ve had this mad idea and I need your input, and I need it ASAP. Like any good story, it begins with a What if?

What if I asked you to list up to five of your favourite Clearwater/Larkspur/Delamere characters? Who would you list?

What if I then chose the five most popular and wrote a novella?

What if that novella was a collection of five short stories as told by the characters who have gathered together? (It might be they are stuck in a railway carriage, or by the fireplace on Christmas Eve… I’ll work that out later; it’s not important.)

And what if I put together the novella together in time for Christmas and you got a PDF/Kindle of it for free?


List your five favourite characters via my Facebook page (the thread is there, or just leave a random comment), via email or private message, and I will send out a Clearwater calendar to one contributor chosen at random at the end of next week (27th October).

FAST. I’d like to get started soon, so can I have your suggestions like… now? At least a couple to get me started.

WHO? Any characters. It doesn’t have to be the ‘canonical’ five (Archer, Silas, Tom, James, Fecks), and it doesn’t have to be a main player. It can be anyone from Mrs Killhaddock from ‘Agents of the Truth’ to Professor Fleet (Larkspur) or Jack Merrit (Delamere). It could even be one of the real names of history who have appeared; Bram Stoker, Henry Irving, Tennyson… Or someone that stands out in your memory for another reason… one of the villains, servants, East End renters…


(For a while.) My intention is to publish the collection/novella free to all my newsletter subscribers around Christmastime, and to put it in the ‘Jackson’s Deviant Desires’ private group for members. Sometime after Christmas, I may release it via the usual Amazon channels and put it for sale.

I’m going to put this post on my blog tomorrow for all those who follow my website but don’t use Facebook, so the details will be there if you lose this post/thread.

Get thinking, and put your suggestions in the comments, via my jack@ email, or my private message, and let’s have some fun!

A Fall from Grace: This Week

The guys at Other World’s Ink have come up trumps again, and I now have all the files for ‘A Fall from Grace’ on my PC and ready to upload. I just need to do one final check. As long as I don’t notice anything that needs tweaking, I will upload the files later today, and you should be able to find the book within the next couple of days.

So, today, I can put up the front cover and the blurb, and perhaps entice you towards ‘A Fall from Grace’, which picks up a couple of weeks after ‘Finding a Way’ finished; or half-finished, because there was one particular matter unresolved.

As for the next instalment, I’ve changed my working title from ‘Silence & Limelight’ to ‘Follow the Van’, and I’ll update you on its progress soon. Meanwhile, here’s the blurb for The Delamere Files book two:

A Fall from Grace

Hired by the esteemed Clearwater Detective Agency, and determined to prove themselves worthy, Jack and Will Merrit face their first case: They have eight days to unravel past events at an English public school, find a missing man and prevent his suicide.

A new life brings intriguing potentials as Jack grapples with his attraction towards men. As the assistant to the manly and assured, Jimmy Wright, he must put aside his longing for Larkin Chase and the temptations of a new stable lad, and face the weight of his new responsibility. The Merrit brothers’ future depends on it.

But when circumstances pull Jimmy away, Jack and Will are left alone to navigate a map of deceit, solve the case, and save a man’s life, even if it means risking their own.

‘A Fall from Grace’ is the second book in the Delamere Files series of romantic, Victorian gay mysteries, and follows on from ‘Finding a Way.’ The books should be read in order.

A Fall from Grace: Cover Reveal

Today, I shall be finishing my last edits on ‘A Fall from Garce’, the second in the new Delamere Files mystery series set in 1892.

To celebrate this, I have the full cover to show you, and it’s another stunner from Andjela V, who is currently completing the full wrap-around cover ready for uploading when the MS is set out into book format. That should be happening in the next few days, and the book should be ready for release later next week.

I am aware that ‘Finding a Way’ left one of the story threads hanging, and I did this on purpose. I made sure I was well into writing book two before I let book one loose, and that’s why you haven’t had to wait long between them. Don’t worry, in a few days, you will be able to continue Jack and Will Merrit’s journey into the world of private investigation and, in Jack’s case, coming to terms with being attracted to men, finding the right one, being tempted by many others, and, maybe, falling in love. Who knows? Jack is new to everything that’s not part of his old life of long workdays, living in near poverty, the docks at Limehouse, and family expectations.

I’ve already started on book three, which is going to be another mystery moving the characters and underlying stories forward, but you will have to wait until the New Year for that one. Meanwhile, here is the blurb and the cover for book two, ‘A Fall from Grace.’

A Fall from Grace

The Delamere Files Book Two

Hired by the esteemed Clearwater Detective Agency, and determined to prove themselves worthy, Jack and Will Merrit face their first case: They have eight days to unravel past events at an English public school, find a missing man and prevent his suicide.

A new life brings intriguing potentials as Jack grapples with his attraction towards men. As the assistant to the manly and assured, Jimmy Wright, he must put aside his longing for Larkin Chase and the temptations of a new stable lad, and face the weight of his new responsibility. The Merrit brothers’ future depends on it.

But when circumstances pull Jimmy away, Jack and Will are left alone to navigate a map of deceit, solve the case, and save a man’s life, even if it means risking their own.

Cover Reveal

Click the image to open the cover.

‘A Fall from Grace’ is About to Land

The second in the new Delamere Files series of Victorian mysteries with gay characters, MM romance, and adventure is almost ready to go live. It only remains for me to finish reading the final proof of ‘A Fall from Grace’ (another five days, perhaps), for the layout guys to work their magic (a further couple of days, depending on their availability), and for me to upload the files and hit the release button—another day as it doesn’t take long.

I will reveal the full cover to you on Saturday, and also give you the blurb, so that, I hope, is something to look forward to, with a release date within the next two weeks, fingers crossed.

Coming soon…

Without giving anything away, I can tell you that part of the story harks back to a British public school in the 1870s through to the 1880s, and a section of the book is written by someone else. I mean, a character has written his story for our detectives to read (and there are some other diaries, but not too many). To give you an idea of how this character writes, here is a short section from his memoirs. They only form about three chapters of a 28-chapter novel, the rest is (more or less) from Jack Merrit’s point of view.

Here, the character tells us his dark thoughts on the public school system (1880)

The seniors above us left Grace Tower to make their way into the world as men forged by the callous pounding of the Sinford’s hammer on the anvil of tradition that flattened any crease of individuality or creativity. Men were smelted from base material in the crucible of the public school system, and once tempered, poured into moulds vacated by their fathers and theirs before them. Those who opposed were caught in the clamps and chiselled, worked, and drawn out until, free of all impurities, they became Old Sinfordians, free to set foot upon the green and pleasant land of Blake’s imagination. There, they forged their own progeny in their own image among the dark satanic mills of adulthood.

I have created a few new characters for this story, and some may reappear later in the series. Among them are the protagonist and antagonist, two old boys, now men, from Sinford’s School for Boys. You’ll also meet some eccentrics. There’s a new stable lad at Delamare House, Mrs Norwood makes a brief appearance, as does our old favourite, Doctor Markland who first appeared in ‘Deviant Desire’ back at the start of the Clearwater Mysteries. If you’ve read that series’ prequel, ‘Banyak & Fecks’, you might have noticed he appears in that too, though Fecker, who meets him, can’t remember his name.

Anyway… That’s where I am today. After work, I shall continue to read the proofs, hopefully making the final tweaks to ensure the rather complicated story is easy enough to follow, and I’ll be back on Saturday to show you the full cover, another stunner from Andjela V.

If you’ve not started on the Delamere Files yet, then you can find book one here: Finding a Way.

On sale now. Click the image.

A Fall from Grace: Cover Reveal


This weekend, I wanted to whet your appetite for the second book in the new ‘Delamere Files’ series, ‘A Fall from Grace.’

I am going to reveal the cover… but not quite yet. I have one more read of the MS to do before I send it off to be formatted, so it is snow only a couple of weeks away. Meanwhile, later this week, I will reveal the new and fantastic cover from Andjela V.

A Fall from Grace sees Jack Merrit’s first case with the Clearwater Detective Agency at Delamere House, and the first time he has lived anywhere but in Limehouse. There’s a lot for Jack to adjust to new surroundings, new luck, a new job, and men. First, there’s what to do about Larkin Chase, the man he met in book one, then, there’s the dashing detective, Jimmy Wright, and before long, along comes a stable hand, Ben Baxter… Temptation all around, but also, a case to work on, a mystery to unravel and a life to save.

The mystery began 12 years earlier in a British public school (a private, fee-paying school), where friendships endured into later life. In 1892, one of a small group of very close friends is now missing and in danger, and it’s up to Jack and Will to work out where and by when this man can be found.

That’s all I am going to say right now. You’ll have to wait a couple more weeks to get to the full story, and in the meantime, you’ll get to see the cover and blurb later this week.

As for me, I am working on book three, currently called ‘Silence and Limelight’, while I wait for the final ‘Grace’ MS to come in, so I can give it its last read-through.

Where ‘A Fall from Grace’ has a public school as its background, ‘Silence and Limelight’ has the Victorian Music Hall, and I’m happily beavering away on research and reading to better inform my writing. The characters of Jack and Will Merrit are evolving as the stories continue, I am still referring to my 1888 maps of London for accuracy, and I am putting together a mystery which will take Jack into the story of his family’s past. But all that is for later.

For now, here’s the image to tempt you – it gives little away – and if you haven’t yet started on the new series, book one, ‘Finding a Way’ is up there and waiting.

I am releasing book two quite soon after book one because book one leaves a major storyline unfinished (on purpose), but book two continues it.

Check my Wednesday blog for more information about ‘Silence and Limelight’, and news of the next new release, coming soon.

Available now. Click the cover.

The Clearwater Calendar

Today, I want to tell you about the Clearwater Calendar. This isn’t a book release schedule, but a wall calendar for next year. I have put together a collection of images, made a calendar, and put it for sale on Lulu.com. We’ve been doing this for our Symi Dream website every year for the past I can’t remember how many years, but now, I have decided to do the same for the Clearwater series.

Each month, you have one of Andjela’s stunning book covers and the blurb about that book, and the first 11 months of the year take you through the series in chronological order. So, for January 2024, you have the cover for Banyak & Fecks and its blurb, and for February, you have Deviant Desire. So it goes on until November and The Clearwater Inheritance.

What of December? Well, to see the image for that month, you can either browse the calendar preview on its sales page, wait until you have a calendar to take a look, or even wait until December 2024 and turn the final page.

I ordered myself one to check all was looking good, and it is, and now, the calendar is on sale for anyone who wants one. I kept the price as low as I could. Also, at Lulu. You can order from anywhere in the world, and they print the calendar and dispatch it from their nearest printer to you. This means you should be able to buy it in your currency (certainly in US dollars, sterling, and Euros, and, I believe in Australian dollars), and you shouldn’t have to wait too long for it to arrive.

There you go, just an idea for Christmas presents or for something to adorn your office or home wall throughout next year.

A Fall From Grace

Meanwhile… I now have the illustration for ‘A Fall from Grace’, I should be seeing some ideas for the book cover any day now, and the MS is with Anne for proofreading. I noticed Amazon sent me a message today to say I can now set the release date for future books (rather than have to understand the pre-order system which I’ve never got to grips with), but for now, I think I will stick with my haphazard way of releasing new titles when they are ready, rather than planning ahead. A Fall from Grace should be with you sometime during October, and I will let you know when.

Silence & Limelight

I’ve now written one and a half chapters of the Delamere Files book three, and have undertaken a fair amount of research into the world of the Music Hall in the early 1890s. Keep an eye on the Saturday and Wednesday blogs for more information about this next book.

Here are links to the calendar and to the new series: