Frank Parker's author site

A Date With . . . Graham Watkins

In 2003 Graham Watkins and his wife sold their Marine Engineering business and escaped to the country by purchasing a small-holding in the Brecon Beacons. His first venture into publishing was a “how to” book based on the experience, entitled ‘Exit Strategy’. I began our ‘date’ by asking him about his Welsh hill farm.b88573_12bc012d15d5498dbf67883562dbe26c

“My hobby farm is six acres. When we first moved here 15 years ago a neighbour asked, with a knowing smile, if the animals had started arriving yet? I had no idea what she meant at the time. Since then they have, including dogs, chickens, ducks, Welsh Black cattle and sheep together with foxes, polecats, buzzards and red kites proving we are, ‘red in tooth and claw.’ I’m actually an apprentice farmer under instruction from friends who know what they are doing. There’s no money involved but our freezer is well stocked and we eat honest food.”

The couple enjoy walking and this inspired Graham’s next publishing venture.

“Welsh Legends and Myths started as a walking book containing sixteen walks each associated with a local legend in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.b88573_58d60192600d4c2a813db86f57daff17 It was an excuse to get out and explore.b88573_93836c5afb4a44de905539334c62b227 The project grew into five walking books ‘Walking with Welsh Legends’ covering the entire country and took four years to complete. Since then I’ve republished all eighty legends in one volume ‘Welsh Legends and Myths’ as a paperback, eBook and an audio book.”

The couple’s interest in travel and exploration is not limited to Wales, however, and in 2016 led them into unanticipated danger:

“I’ve always enjoyed travelling and started my working life as a marine engineer visiting the far east, South America and other far flung places. Since retiring we have continued to travel to other countries including, America, China, Africa and New Zealand – We were whale watching in Kaikoura in 2016 when the 7.8 scale earthquake struck.

The quake hit just after midnight obliterating much of the town and cutting it off from the rest of the world. All roads were destroyed. Marooned, we spent three days sleeping in our hire car, living on marmalade sandwiches, before being rescued by military helicopter.

Our next adventure is a month long road trip in Canada later this year.”

Graham also writes historical fiction. That requires a good deal of research and I wondered if he enjoys that aspect of the genre.

b88573_995f0e9c55c84f42a249845550323c17“For me, research is part of the joy of writing. I have a family connection to Merthyr and it was great fun delving into the history behind my book ‘The Iron Masters’. The timeline I produced for the novel contained a wealth of facts which I found fascinating, in some cases, almost stranger than the fiction I was creating.b88573_1897612c0b8d44e39d8cdadc7bc68cd0

‘A White Man’s War’ my South African novel was inspired by a tour of the Zulu and Boer War battlefields and a book written by Thomas Packenham containing the photograph of a young African man stood at attention in front of a group of army officers.

He looked terrified and with good reason; he’d just been sentenced to death for stealing a goat.

The title for the book came from a letter Boer General Cronje wrote to a Colonel Baden-Powell – that’s a name you might be familiar with.


It is understood that you have armed Bastards, Fingoes and Baralongs against us – in this you have committed an enormous act of wickedness…reconsider the matter, even if it cost you the loss of Mafeking… disarm your blacks and thereby act the part of a white man in a white man’s war.”

With Graham having written about the Napoleonic period in European history it should come as no surprise that David Howard is high on his list of favourite authors.

“His treatment of Napoleonic history is breathtaking. Another is Daniel Yergin. Who would think a book about the history of the oil industry would be a page turner? Perhaps the most inspirational is Jean-Dominique Bauby. His book ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ was superb. It reduced me to tears. I’m currently reading ‘Popski’s Private Army’ by Vladimir Peniakoff. I once worked with a friend, long since dead, who was one of Popski’s men. It’s an incredible story of heroism and endurance.”

He has been published by traditional publishers but now prefers to be independent.

“The publishing landscape is changing at a rapid pace. I’ve published with traditional publishers but more recently as an indie author. Why? Because

I like to keep control of my work and unless you’re a J.K. Rowling or a ‘Celebrity’ there’s no advantage in being with a traditional publisher.

Either way, the author ends up doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing.”

Asked about his writing process he begins by referring to Enid Blyton.

“I read somewhere that Enid Blyton wrote at the rate of 6000 words a day. Mind you, she was writing about Noddy. My limit is about 1000 words which I write in the morning. After that my eyes glaze over and it’s time to go and do something else, mow the lawn, paint the house or perhaps walk on the mountain.”

Graham is an accomplished public speaker, a skill about which he is characteristically modest.

“I’m told I like the sound of my own voice which must be true because I’m sometimes invited to give talks to different audiences. How good I am is debatable and I confess I once put a listener to sleep at a black tie Rotary event where I was the after dinner speaker. The poor chap almost fell off his chair. It might have been what I was saying but I suspect his wine consumption was the real culprit.”

I thanked Graham for an enjoyable date full of interesting insights. You can find out much more about Graham from his website, his Facebook page and his Amazon Author page.


A Date With . . . Penny Luker

My latest date is with a former head teacher who has written children’s stories, a young adult novel, poems, and short stories for adults. She is a resident of Cheshire and a member of her local writers’ group. I began by asking her to tell me about the town and its environs.

“I taught in Nantwich and Delamere in Cheshire and have lived in this area for twenty five years. It is a beautiful place to live. There are lots of amazing places to visit; lakes, castles, canals and cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, not to mention Chester. The people here are so friendly and the children I taught were great fun. Originally though I came from Kent, which is also a lovely part of the country. I visit often because I still have family there.”

She loves writing poetry and goes to a monthly class with John Lindley, who is a former Cheshire Poet Laureate.

“He sets interesting tasks and gives us examples and then we share our efforts as a group. I have two poetry books out and a third one is on the way. The new book will be called, ‘The Shadows of Love’. It explores all the different forms of love, including some of the negative implications.

I enjoy doing all forms of writing and I usually have about three or four projects on the go at once. Then I swap from one to the other.”

She considers that her teaching experience is not always of help with her writing for children:

GreenTiny“In some ways it is but in other ways it’s a hindrance. It helps in that I have a good knowledge about what children can appreciate at specific ages, which is good. As a teacher you have to be careful to always have a formal attitude to children but children enjoy snotty and slapstick jokes, which

PabI often find difficult to do. What has helped me with writing for children is that eacDesh of my books so far has been written for one of my grandchildren. Writing for a specific audience works well. Although the books are complete fiction I’ve included something relevant to each grandchild.”

Her creativity does not stop at writing:

“I have studied fine art at what was Mid-Cheshire College. It was a brilliant place to study. I wasn’t too good at ceramics, but I loved textiles, all forms of painting and graphics. I enjoy portraits and figurative drawing and painting the most, but I’ve painted landscapes, seascapes, flowers and still life. At the moment I’m studying with the Open College of Arts. I’m very committed to my art projects and find they often contribute to or enhance my writing. Art like writing takes me to another place.


An Example of Penny’s art work – one of a series of images of statues. © Penny Luker

I play the piano only for my own pleasure. I never perform for others. I particularly like the music of the 1970s and some classical music, but I’ll play anything as long as there’s an easy version. It’s very relaxing to play, though perhaps not to listen to.”

Her Author page on Amazon tells us she also plays ukulele. Intrigued, I wanted to know more about that.

“The ukulele has taken a bit of a back seat lately. It’s a great instrument being portable and easy to learn to play. I’m more interested in finger style playing than strumming, but I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to play music as an inexpensive and enjoyable first step. It should be brought in to primary schools.

Playing music makes people happier and in this stressful world we should help our children find ways to relax and communicate.”

She likes being independently published because it gives her complete control of the process, except publicity.

“For Desdemona: the dragon without any friends, I drew all the pictures and designed the front cover as well as writing the story. A friend of mine was picked up by a traditional publisher and her cover was produced by them. It wasn’t consistent with the story. That would have really annoyed me.”

She has worked in the past, on a voluntary basis, for a website exclusively for women writers. With all women short lists for parliamentary candidates being in the news recently in England I donned my ‘devil’s advocate’ hat and asked if she thinks women creatives and politicians need the protection of an exclusive space. It provoked a long and passionate response.

Truth“You’ve reminded me to update my website. Thank you. I started working for All Things Girl because a friend introduced me to it. It was a great magazine to work for, encouraging new writers and getting their work published online. Due to time commitments I don’t work or contribute to the Modern Creative Life, but wish them all well. I liked All Things Girl in spite of the fact that it was all female. They wanted to promote women’s writing because women had a harder time getting published in the US. I’m not sure if that’s still the case.

I do think that men and women read and write differently. If I buy a magazine to read, it will probably be a woman’s magazine. They do of course have stories written by men but they’re probably gentler stories. All of the novelists I’ve chosen below are women. I didn’t think about gender when I chose them. Obviously I do like some male authors and probably most of the artists I like are male. I’m not a fan of erotica or extreme horror, which perhaps appeal more to the male reader, however when we make generalisations like this there will always be lots of exceptions.

I think we need more women in parliament as I think it is still unfairly weighted towards men but I strongly disagree with all female shortlists.

What we need is people who are up to the job and I would suggest that many who are in post are not good enough. In the recent UK referendum both pro and anti Brexit MPs lied to the British Public and we knew we weren’t being told the truth. Why should we be led by such incompetence and dishonesty?

We should stop worrying about who is sleeping with who (I really don’t care) and sack all MPs who are caught out in policy lies. I think women tend to lead in a different way than men and we need both in parliament, but it should roughly reflect the community that it represents and we have a long way to go to achieve that.

I believe the way to increase the number of women MPs and leaders is to broaden our concept of what makes a good leader so that it recognises female personality traits more. As a head teacher I always tried to take all of my staff with me when I wanted to make changes. This required listening carefully to their concerns and what problems they thought might arise. Sometimes this made me amend or tweak my ideas. At the end of the day I was still responsible for the children and staff and would have to make a decision, but because the staff were involved and listened to, they had a commitment to making the change work.

I must be clear though that I am not saying women are better than men at being leaders, just they may approach leadership differently and at the moment some of their good qualities are not appreciated. Some of the women MP at the moment are so tough they make me wince.”

She has an office in the house and a writing shed in the garden . . .

“. . . but I write anywhere. The office in my home is very untidy as all my art is stacked up in there. The one in the garden is neat and tidy. I love to work there on a warm day with the doors wide open. I write on the laptop most of the time and I write at any time of the day. Life is busy so I grab time when I can. I book a night or two away occasionally, so I can have a concentrated time to write.”

Asked about her favourite writers and what she would hope to learn were she fortunate enough to meet them she tells me:

“I’m lucky enough to have met John Lindley, Jo Bell and Alison Chisholm, all excellent poets. They’ve taught me how to take the ‘usual’ and look at it from an unusual angle. Regarding novels I’ve always been a fan of P.D.James, Elizabeth George, J.K. Rowling and Trudi Canavan. P.D.James had expertise in forensics, which would be interesting to know about. With the other writers I’d be interested to know how they manage to be so prolific and how they keep track of their complex plots and numerous characters.”

Responding to my final question, she would have loved to have been able to reveal something that “would make me look mysterious and interesting,” as if what we have already discovered has not achieved that.

“But I’m a very ordinary person. I didn’t really discover how much I enjoy doing creative things until I retired, but when I was clearing out all my teaching papers I found poems written inside covers, in diaries and on scraps of paper all over the place. I often wrote stories for individual classes although I’m not sure where they went. I even wrote a Christmas play once!”

Follow Penny on FacebookHer website and her Author Pages at, and Booklinker


Saigon to Belfast – and Back – With Love #WATWB

The story I’m linking to today first appeared in January although I only came across it via a segment on the BBC’s One Show on Wednesday.

In 1975, as the Vietnam war was drawing to a chaotic close, a young Vietnamese woman became ill. She placed her infant son in the care of an orphanage whist she was hospitalised for treatment. Soon afterwards American soldiers removed the children from the orphanage for protection in the face of rapidly advancing Viet Cong troops.

Subsequently American planes evacuated a large number of orphan children to the USA. Not to be out done a British newspaper chartered an aircraft to bring 100 Vietnamese orphans to the UK. Among them was the sick woman’s child. After spending some time in an orphanage in the south of England the boy was adopted by a family from Northern Ireland where he grew up alongside their own son.

In adulthood, although he loved his adopted family, he could not help wondering about his biological parents. Last year he found, through the internet, a woman who believed she was his mother. The two agreed to take a DNA test which proved that she was, indeed, his mother. He traveled to Vietnam where the pair were re-united and she explained the circumstances of his apparent abandonment.

The story does not end there, however, because the man has met a young Vietnamese business woman whom he intends to marry and has set up a charity to help young Vietnamese orphans to develop their talents.

The story appeared in several British newspapers as well as the televised report on the BBC. The version I’m linking to is from the Belfast Telegraph.

watwic-bright-tuqblkHave you got a good news story to share with the world? Here’s how to join in:

1. Keep your post to Below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Paste in an excerpt and tell us why it touched you. The Link is important, because it actually makes us look through news to find the positive ones to post.

3. No story is too big or small, as long as it Goes Beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD badge or banner on your Post and your Sidebar. Some of you have already done so, this is just a gentle reminder for the others.

5. Help us spread the word on social media. Feel free to tweet, share using the #WATWB hastag to help us trend!


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Supporting Cancer Charities With Writing

It is 7 or 8 years since the Laois Writers’ Group published an anthology which they sold in order to raise funds for the Cuisle Centre. By attracting sponsors and holding a slew of fund raising events we were able to defray the cost of having the book printed locally so that all sales proceeds went to the charity which supports patients and their loved ones following a diagnosis of cancer.

macmillan5More recently, as Paul Ruddock’s post which follows explains, a group of authors from across the world contributed stories for an anthology published to support the UK’s Macmillan Fund which provides nursing care for cancer patients being cared for in their own homes. I am proud to have had a story accepted for the second such volume which will be published later this year. I am also assisting with the final preparation of the volume.

Paul’s post below includes the story he contributed to the first volume. Read and enjoy it. Then click his link to buy the book and support this great cause.

“In 2015 my good friend and fellow author, Ian D. Moore invited members of our FB writing group the IASD (see to write and contribute original stories for an anthology of short stories on the theme of Relationships in all their many and varied forms. The idea was born out of the author’s personal loss of a much loved close relative to cancer. See more


A Date With . . . Rachael Wright

51tzxuj5wkl-_sy346_My ‘date’ this week is a Manchester United supporting woman from Colorado who writes gritty, emotionally charged mysteries. I began by asking her about her home state and why she prefers soccer and Manchester United to her local NFL team, Denver Broncos.

“Colorado is such a varied state. I know many people who hear Colorado and envision Aspen, of course that is one central sliver of the state, but not the majority. I was born on the western edge of the state in a desert surrounded by mountains. It’s an isolating place full of people who’ve lived here for generations. Colorado means home to me. It’s where I’ve grown up and where my memories of my grandparents are.

As to the Broncos, I’ve always loathed the slow pace of American Football, and as I played soccer throughout my formative years that was what drew my interest. David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Renaldo, were much more exciting to watch then men lining up and pushing each other.”

Her books feature settings a long way from Colorado and include France, Scotland and Greece. She feels it is important to have her protagonists undertake a journey in order to discover their inner strengths.

“I think the US serves as a good starting point for the novels. I have been fascinated, from an early age, with the idea of adventure (i.e. Bilbo Baggins). The protagonist enjoys his/her home but longs for more; they leave, and grow and are strengthened in ways they could not have imagined. Scotland is near and dear to my heart and it is in fact my family’s favorite holiday destination.

I do not choose the destinations lightly. In The Clouds Aren’t White Emmeline MacArthur goes where her education and training are able to get her employment. My great-uncle did live in Paris, he was a cosmopolitan, and so that city was almost fated for him.

Now Greece is another beast altogether for me.

I wanted to push myself beyond my comfort zone and to immerse myself in another culture.

It hasn’t been an easy feat but Google Earth helps a lot with describing the setting (I already live in an arid place and so know what it’s like to hike up a mountain in the middle of the day in the summer).”

Her latest novel, the one set in Greece and due for release on April 2nd, is available to pre-order now. It is her third release in a little over two years although it turns out that the first was finished more than a year before publication. Even so, three books in three years is impressive, especially as politics features in her Amazon biography as one of her interests. It turns out that she is highly organised, working to a strict schedule around caring for her daughter.

51ltmyxval-_ac_us218_“I spent a much longer time writing my first novel than I have with the successive novels. I have a beautiful pen on my desk that my husband got me to commemorate when I finished the first book—in 2014. My level of political activism is limited these days, alas, but I’m fortunate to have writing be my sole occupation right now since my daughter is in school. I manage the work rate by planning out my entire year:

each month has a specific goal (or three) and then I break that down further so that I know what I need to do every day to stay on track.

I’m also horribly competitive, if you ask my husband, but when I’m writing a first draft I keep a spreadsheet of my progress – how long I wrote for, how many words, and words per minute. I’m always trying to write more in a shorter amount of time.

Juggling writing and responsibilities has gotten easier with time. Writing is essential for me. I take the weekends off and by Sunday night I’m twitching like an addict.”

I’m writing up the first draft of our interview as it is snowing outside, something I think would please Rachael.

“I’ve always been very jealous of those writers that say, “oh I write at night when everyone’s asleep” or “I write before everyone gets up.” I’m not a morning person. I’m not a night owl. I’m an 8am-10pm person. I drop my daughter off at school, workout, eat, shower, then I sit down at my desk which faces the bay window in my bedroom. It used to belong to my grandmother and I re-painted it navy and gold. Then from 9am-2pm I work. Some days are better than others but my favorites are when it’s snowing and I can sit at my desk with my feet on the heater and watch the world turn white.”

Her books revolve around the solving of mysteries. The protagonist in her soon to be released novel is a police detective. She describes herself, among other things, as ‘a police wife’. That is something she finds extremely helpful in her writing.

51na1ongdl-_ac_us218_“There is no greater assistance to my writing than having a bona fide cop in the house. We have discussions on police tactics, how one enters a building, how one holds a gun, how one avoids bullet spray – while we are on DATES. His office is down the hall from my desk so often I’ll trot over there and ask him an out of the blue question about some detail or other. He never laughs, just gives over the answer and I go back to my desk.

As a former police wife I have a set of memories that are very specific to that group. Long nights, waking up to an empty bed when your husband should have been home four hours ago, never spending an entire Christmas/Thanksgiving/New Years/4th of July etc. with them because of shift work. I also went on a host of ride-a-longs with him while he was serving which opened my eyes to how hard his job was. I actually helped catch a wanted felon on my birthday one year — from the safety of a squad car — it was thrilling nonetheless.”

Another influence is her early life living with a narcissistic mother, an experience she shares with one of my previous ‘dates’, Lucinda Clarke. Both welcome my introduction; as Rachael puts it, “one always feels connected to those people.”

“Yes, my mother, from whom I am estranged, has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It’s a terrible disorder and I am only now processing the years of abuse and trauma.

Just as being the wife of a cop gave me insight into a different kind of life so did my childhood with an abusive mother. It does not take much imagination to place myself in my character’s mind when they are living with a narcissist—it was such a central part of my formative years. It has also made me desperate to tell stories about people I can relate to. I want a reader who has a loving caring mother be able to see what a blessing she has in her life when she reads about a character that is tormented by his/her parents. I also want a reader who is currently living with that pain to recognize that others have trod the path before her and there is a way out.

At the end of the day, what I really create is a collection of pages that is stuffed with my heart and my pain and experience and dreams. I hope to heaven that my readers see themselves in it.”

She is highly appreciative of her editor and a trusted team of beta readers.

“Where would I be without my editor? Nowhere. I do have a trusted team of beta readers. I have a good friend in Australia who is my Alpha Reader. I send her the (truly horrible) first drafts and she tells me if what I’m doing is good or not. These amazing wonderful people are indispensable.”

She has strong feelings about the often conflicting advice given to authors.

“Recently I picked up a book on writing advice. But the horrible thing gave authors a list of rules and then authors who followed said rules and then authors who didn’t follow said rules. I wanted to scream.

But the one I hate the most is: write what you know.

Excuse me but Tolkien had never been to Middle Earth. C.S. Lewis had never been to Narnia. Tolkien was a master linguist and C.S. Lewis was a master theologian. They took what they knew whether that was languages, or stories, or the Bible, and they turned it into something new and different and unique.

I’m not a male police captain living on the island of Lesvos. But I know people. I know pain. I know how a police officer feels at the end of the day, how on some days he hates his job because it feels like he’s not making a difference at all. I know that. I think that’s the true meaning of ‘write what you know’– find your strengths and then create something new and exciting.

The advice I love? It’s what my husband said to me when I was struggling writing my first novel and feeling like it was ‘too me.’ He said every single author pours themselves in their books. Every page is full of them. That and write for yourself. Write what makes you happy. Happy writers are happy readers.”

Given her penchant for organisation it comes as no surprise when she asks if she can list her favorite writers by categories.

  • “Fantasy: Tolkien and Rowling. Absolute pillars.
  • Literature: I’m a diehard Austen fan. The way she chastised her whole society without anyone even realizing is pure magic. Gustave Flaubert-Madame Bovary
  • Mystery: Donna Leon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Rowling again — Cormoran Strike is perfect.”

As usual I end by asking her to tell us something abut herself that might surprise her readers. She comes up with a Shakespearian connection:

“I’m descended from King Malcolm III of Scotland and the Clan Chiefs of Clan MacKay through my paternal grandmother.”

Follow Rachael on Facebook, Twitter, her website and her Amazon Author page.

Things we Oldies Need to Talk About

The older I get the more I worry about the afflictions that come with old age. What would happen if one of us was diagnosed with Alzheimers? Or cancer? Or suffered a disabling (but not fatal) stroke?

Periodically one or other of my UK pension providers need to reassure themselves that I am still alive and eligible to continue to receive my pension. They have different methods. One sent me €10 I had to collect from my local post office showing proof of ID. Another sent out a form that required the signature of a solicitor or GP. I took it to my GP and used the opportunity to share some health concerns with her.

She submitted me to the test described in the first of the blogs I’m sharing today. I came through with flying colours. A set of half a dozen blood tests did, however, reveal something. Nothing too serious I hasten to add – a deficiency of vitamin B12. It seems this is not uncommon in older people and is caused by the inability of the stomach lining to produce a factor that enables the body to metabolise B12. The treatment is straight forward – weekly injections for five weeks, then a booster every 3 months.


Jill Stoking – follow the first of my two links to read how she is facing Alzheimers

As I say, nothing too serious. But this week I came across two accounts of people facing much more worrying conditions, one of them a well known journalist whose work I have admired for a long time, the other a lady who shared her experience on Lucinda E Clarke’s blog yesterday. What both are advocating is the importance of talking about these subjects that are too often treated as taboo matters.

Here is the article about Alzheimers and here is George Monbiot’s piece from the Guardian newspaper about his Prostate cancer.

MPs Abusing Clerks

2018-03-10 (1)Following recent revelations on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, here’s a prescient extract from my novel Transgression in which an MP is accused of inappropriate behaviour.

It’s 1987. In the run up to the general election in the UK that year a young woman approaches a journalist with a story about the local MP.

“You talk about the Topford countryside as though you’re familiar with it, yet your accent suggests you’re not from the area.”

“I moved here five years ago. A group of us took over a rundown farmhouse where we could practice self-sufficiency. I grew up in Diss.”

“You say there’s a group of you. How many?”

“It varies. There’s a core group of three, all former LSE students. But there are others who come and go. Some of us spend a lot of our time at Greenham.”

Roger had noted the CND badge. Mention of the women’s peace camp at Greenham confirmed his impression of a left-wing, feminist view of the world, with all its conspiracy theories and paranoia. In her mind, was Douglas part of one of those conspiracies? Time to get to the point of the meeting.

“How do you know Douglas Bowen?”

“I don’t know him personally. But I do know he’s not fit to be an MP.”

“I imagine you’d think that about any Tory candidate. Frankly, I don’t think there’s anything that will stop him being re-elected. He’s highly regarded as someone who looks after the constituency.”

“If the women voters knew what he’s really like they wouldn’t support him.”

“That’s a serious aspersion you’re casting. I hope you have something solid to back it up.” As he spoke Roger gestured towards the bench, inviting her to sit down. Then regretted doing so. Sitting side by side, both half turned to face each other, was uncomfortable.

“You probably think I’m a left-wing conspiracy theorist. That’s what men tend to think when they see women like me, committed to protecting the environment, ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction, campaigning for peace.” She ignored Roger’s feeble attempt at protest and continued, “I’m all of those things. I hate what Margaret Thatcher is doing to this country, all the more because she’s a woman. But that’s not what this is about.”

She hesitated. Roger was startled by the intensity of the stare with which she engaged him. He sensed she was uncertain about the best way to phrase her next utterance.

“When I was a student, I worked for a while in the office of a Labour MP at the House of Commons. I got to know a number of young people doing similar work, researching background information to feed into parliamentary debates, that kind of thing. Not everyone I met there was of the same political persuasion, and I got to enjoy the experience of rubbing shoulders with politicians from right across the spectrum. I learned that they were all equally committed to their beliefs, even those with whom I profoundly disagreed.

“But I soon realised there were certain men who it was not safe for a woman to be around. Bowen was one of those. I was warned about him, not once, but several times, by different women who had experienced unpleasant encounters with him.”

Transgression is available for Kindle and all other e-readers as well as in print. Follow the links to read the opening chapter.

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