The Contraband Killings is a BRAG Medallion Honoree!

I’m delighted to announce that The Contraband Killings: A Dan Foster Mystery is a BRAG Medallion Honoree! That means it’s been assessed on a range of criteria, including plot, characters and writing style. Around 20-25% of the books submitted to IndieBRAG are awarded the Medallion. The Contraband Killings will be listed on the IndieBRAG website – for more information see the IndieBRAG website.



Writing Women’s Lives – Radio Feature for Occupy the Airwaves, International Women’s Day, Wednesday 8 March 2023

For this year’s International Women’s Day I took part in a radio feature on Writing Women’s Lives for Dreadnought South West’s Occupy the Airwaves which was broadcast on IWD, 8 March 2023. I joined Suzie Grogan and Karen Hunt to discuss some of the rewards and challenges of writing and researching women’s biographies.

Suzie Grogan is writing a biography of Harriet Martineau, “the first female sociologist”; Karen Hunt is working on the life of socialist and suffragist Dora Montefiore; and I’m writing about suffrage campaigner and pacifist, Millicent Price (née Browne).

You can listen to Writing Women’s Lives on Soundcloud.

Talking Books

It was delightful as ever to be on 10Radio’s Talking Books show with Suzie Grogan in October. We discussed the latest Dan Foster Mystery – The Contraband Killings – and my continuing work on the women’s suffrage movement. My two main areas of research are a biography of suffrage campaigner Millicent Browne; and a project co-authored with the late Antonia Raeburn, based on her interviews with suffragettes in the 1960s and 1970s.

You can catch up with the show on Sound Cloud.

Ruins, rocks and wonders

“Since very few of the tourists could speak Welsh, they were usually deluding themselves about how much they understood about the places they visited and the people they saw.”

In a guest blog for Chez Maximka I wrote about walking holidays in Wales, eighteenth-century style. Walkers must have been a tough lot in the days before boots and fleeces! You can read A Pedestrian Tour in Wales here.

The blog was part of The Contraband Killings blog tour beweeen 5 and 11 December 2022, which also featured extracts and reviews. If you want to catch up with the rest of the tour, the links are on my blog.

Susanna Morgan, a 19th century reformer in Bristol

Bristol-born Susanna Morgan (1772-1856) was a philanthropist and campaigner in a number of causes, including the relief of poverty, education for poor children, and prison design, but her work has been mostly forgotten. In his fascinating book Susanna Morgan: campaigning for reform in early 19th-century Bristol (ALHA Books, 2022), Michael Whitfield retrieves her story. You can read my review of the book for the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society on the BGAS website (PDF download).

The Story of Bet Carter, A Convict to New South Wales

A brief mention of Bet Carter in Scottish radical T F Palmer’s account of his voyage to Botany Bay prompted me to find out more about her. Bet was transported on the same ship as Palmer and his fellow Scottish Martyrs – campaigners for franchise reform – and she was unlucky enough to be caught up in an alleged mutiny plot. I piece together her story in this guest blog for the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network (a version of which was originally published on my blog).

The Victorian Origins of Crime Writing: a Talk at HULF

I gave a short talk on ‘The Victorian Origins of Crime Writing’ at the Crime, Thriller and Mystery Books event at Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival on 30 April 2022. This was followed by Debbie Young’s fascinating talk on ‘The Golden Age of Detective Fiction’. We then joined in a panel discussion with thriller writers A Abbott and Valerie Keogh. What nicer way to spend an afternoon than talking about detectives and listening to readings – with tea and cake included!

You can read an extended version of ‘The Victorian Origins of Crime Writing’ on my blog, or download The Victorian Origins of Crime Writing.pdf  here.



Crime, Mystery and Thriller Writers – me (on left) and Debbie Young at the back, and Valerie Keogh (on left) and A A Abbott seated front with ‘Sherlock Ted’.

People and Places – an article for the Historical Novels Review

Is there such a thing as a sense of place? Do places have atmospheres that we can sense? And how can historical novelists harness these responses in their fiction? I spoke to best-selling author Nicola Cornick about her timeslip novels, which are all set in old houses with secrets to tell, for the Historical Novels Review, February 2022. The article is republished on my blog and can also be read or downloaded here as a PDF document. Read People and Places.



Best Historical Books About the Common People

I was asked by, a new book-discovery website for readers, to pick out my top five books about the common people.

The books I chose are a mix of fiction and non-fiction. They include the brilliant City of Beasts: How Animals Shaped Georgian London by Thomas Almeroth-Williams, which I raved about in the review on my blog.

Read my recommendations at here Best Historical Books About the Common People.



Brewers Drays, from A New Book of Horses and Carriages 1794, Thomas Rowlandson, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public Domain