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.