Friday 25 October 2013

Sportsmen (and Women!)

Ever since the Greeks held the first Olympics, following the ethos of the Gymnasium (i.e. exercising in the nude), and ran the only race in the whole event... the 100 yards, or there abouts. athleticism and sporting prowess has held a fascination for most people. Even those TV addicts who take up up an entire sofa on their own!

I can't deny I'm no exception, except I can still fit into an armchair. However there are some sports that annoy me intensely, which leads me into this blog rant.

So. What is it with footballers? Three things get to me:

1. They spit.... just as the TV cameras focus on them.
2. They tatoo one arm so it just looks bruised
3. They shave their heads so that 25 year old lads look like old men.

Luckily no footballer has ever been know to have the following:

1. A desire to turn the air blue with swearing.
2. Carnal thoughts about someone else's wife
3. Greed beyond the dreams of Croesus
4. A total sneering disregard for the poor fans that pay a week's wages to go and see them dribble all over a ball.
5. The ability to shoot over the bar from 3 feet.
6. Dive and claim a penalty when hit by a feather.

NO, they'd never do that!

Then there's rugby. The Hooligans' game played by Gentlemen.

1. They play with a ball shaped like an egg, that always bounces the wrong way.
2. They pretend to bleed by smearing pigs bllod on themselves.
3. They jump off ferries and swim to the harbour shore for the Hell of it.
4. They snog their wife's best friend in front of a newspaper photographer. DOH!


1. They never argue with the ref, who's at least a foot shorter than them.
2. Their supporters actually like each other.... well mostly.
3. They are often lawyers and accountants in real life, so great at balancing the books or defending themselves against accusations of drunken revelry, while harbour swimming with their wife's best friend.

And cricketers! Well....

1. They're often stumped.
2. Been known to bowl a maiden over
3. Wait for a tickle at 3rd leg
4. They can be run in, only to be run out minutes later.
5. They have creases, in spite of ironing.
6, They rub their balls and no one bats an eyelid

And cyclists....

1. They wear Lycra clothes two sizes too small
2. Pavement nuisences, such as pedestrians, are swept into the gutter with a rampant swear word.
3. Bikes don't have bells any more, but do have stupid strobe lights.
4. Red traffic lights don't apply to them.

Dominoes.... Players knock spots off each other

Darts..... Players are never fat and are always athletic

Snooker.... Never queue.

Hockey.... Players like to bully

Weightlifting.... Boing! Twang! (Double hernia)

Quidditch.... Say no more!

Oh well!

Blog on, Dudes!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Marit Meredith (updated)


My great friend Marit Meredith has just launched her first full novel, The Diary of a Would-be Protagonist. To celebrate it I've updated the interview I had with her in February last year.

Originally hailing from Norway, my guest tonight is married and now lives in Wales surrounded by her large family of children and grandchildren. 
She is very much involved in village life and runs the craft fair and the local craft group, as well as making and selling the most superb fabric figures. She writes fiction and short story anthologies as well as an on-line newspaper. A vegan by necessity she writes cook books and is rumoured to be collaborating with a certain knight of the realm on a book with recipes from 15 different centuries.
Marit Meredith is always witty, never complains and is always ready to lend a helping hand, whether it’s in her local village, or to a budding writer she’s never met.... like me! I’m proud to have her as my guest tonight.

Marit, firstly many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. We’ve exchanged many emails and I’m a firm fan of your on-line news letter, but tonight I want to find out something about the woman behind the email address. Nervous?

Wouldn’t you be? I’ve been interviewed before, but never in such esteemed company. I don’t feel that I have enough presence as a writer to deserve this slot, and feel like hunkering down behind the sofa to escape your eagle eye. Unfortunately me knees won’t let me!

I assure you that you have more right than most to be here and I know your countless friends will totally agree! When did you come across to the UK from Norway?

I came over in 1972, with the intention of staying for a year before going back to art college in Norway.

I'm so glad you stayed. So, how did you get into writing and what was your first work about (published, or not!)?

I can’t remember there being a time when I didn’t write stories. In school my essays were regularly read out to the class. A little embarrassing, but encouraging, too.  My first story was about a character transitioning from one life, to being born into the next. Quite ambitious for a 14 year old! I sent it off to a weekly magazine, but it was, alas, rejected, although it was a very nice and helpful rejection letter. I was quite pleased that I was addressed as Mrs J… At least the editor thought it was an adult who had written the story.

I know you’re a vegan by necessity, rather than choice, Have you plans to create new recipes and publish them?

Vegan, gluten free, potato free… the list goes on. The task I had set myself has become more complex, but I will get the recipes sorted out one day, with alternatives for the various allergies and intolerances. One day…

The fabric models you make and sell through your Old Hen’s Nest website are wonderful and I’m now the proud owner of some of them. What started you making them and how did you become so skillful?

My educational background is in art and design, besides which I made teddies, dolls, dogs and more years ago, to make ends meet when my eldest three were children. Some of the things I made still survive, I have been told, decades down the line. Working with textiles is just another media. I’d love to do more arty work, sculpting with the needle.Credit should also go to my Mum. She taught me well!

Birds and mice seem to be your favourite animals. Do you also make to order?

I’ll make just about anything stitch-able to order. Birds are a definitely my favourite. I don’t know about mice. I made an awful lot of them for last Christmas, due to demand.

My daughter has a whole family of your mice in her bedroom and loves them. Your Twitter based newsletter @ThePagesZine is great. How did you come up with the idea and how do you get so much interesting stuff for each edition?

Marit MeredithDavid Robinson told me all about it, as he runs one of these papers too.  It’s great in as much as I don’t have to do anything but ensure that I follow interesting people. Posts/blogs are then automatically selected, according to popularity (or perhaps number of tweets), which inevitably makes for an interesting read. No work involved.

And I’d pictured you slaving over a hot writing desk and a guttering candle! Coupled with you blogsite “Where Fact and Fiction Fuse” you seem to spend more time in helping other writers promote their work than in promoting your own, yet I know you have some wonderful Works In Progress. Will they become finished works?

Are you trying to guilt-trip me? Very naughty! Yes, I do have many unfinished works, some just needing the final edit and a kind publisher, and several will be finished – although I can’t tell you when, as my Old Hen’s Nest business is keeping me very busy at the moment.

Do you have a set routine as a writer and model maker, and a special place where you work?

My routine went to pot when I set up Old Hen’s Nest last year, but I will re-install my early morning and late evening writing slots very soon. That fits in with the family, too. I write by my lovely bureau, in the corner of the living room, my favourite work place.

What are you’re working on right now?

A number of projects. The sequel to The Diary of a Would-be Protagonist is formost, but then I'm also working on sir Galahad's Celebrity Cook Book.

You helped me so much in the past and I hope you will in the future, but what is the most important piece of advice you could give a budding writer?

Don’t ever give up!

Excellent advice. One last question, Marit. If you could achieve one important goal within the next 5 years, what would it be?

I’m a published writer, but I’ve always wanted to say that I am a published author – so getting my books out there was what I wanted to achieve. I've just done that and I want to do it again!

That's an ambition you've now realised with the publication of The Diary of a Would-be Protagonist. Many congratulations on that and for the sequel, which I'm sure won't be too far in the future.

Marit, as always it’s been a pleasure talking to you, and my thanks for everything you’ve done for the writing community in the past!

Thank you for inviting me, Richard. It’s always a pleasure to help, although you did scare me this time!

Marite's new book The Diary of a Would-be Protagonist is available as a paperback and eBook on Amazon at 

Marit’s excellent blog site Where Fact and Fiction Fuse is at:

Marit’s The Pages magazine is on Twitter at:

Back issues of ‘The Pages’ (which she ran for 3 years), is to be found at 
Marit’s  website Tea Time Morsels and Other Books, is at  

Marit’s cloth hand-stitched models can be seen and bought on her Old Hen’s Nest web site at:  and more recent ones on her Facebook page Old Hen’s Nest. 

Friday 11 October 2013


David W Robinson

FACTION (fictionalising real events)

My guest tonight is the author of nine murder mysteries and numerous other books in a variety of genres, ranging from horror to comedy. His output is prolific, though his latest book The Dark Secret, a follow up to the successful Handshaker, took two years to complete... and he’s still not totally happy with it!
To my mind David Robinson’s horror and psychological suspense books are on a par with the late James Herbert at his best, but tonight I’m going to be talking to him about the use of FACTION, or the adaption of factual events into a fictional story.

I have to admit, David, that most of my books adapt History to some extent, perhaps because my imagination isn’t that good, but what was the first time you used it in one of your books?

To be honest, Richard, I think this is the first time. Like any other novelist, I slot real events into a story in an effort to anchor the tale in reality. It might be a reference to economic or political news, or even a football match. Voices, has several such references. Chris Deacon often refers to his Labour background and his dissatisfaction with New Labour, and his wife, Jan, follows Manchester United at their peak. It gives substance to the characters and the era.

hk2The Deep Secret, however, was different. The catalyst for The Handshaker was a real crime which took place in Germany, in 1927, and the hypnotist’s abuse of his victim carried on for seven years. It’s a strange case, with so many aspects left unexplained. When I originally conceived the idea of The Handshaker, I wrote to the German embassy in London and they put me in touch with The University of Heidelberg. 

dsNeither authority had any record of the crime, the subsequent trial, nor the criminal’s imprisonment. And yet, I have an account from a respected Swiss psychiatrist, Heinze E Hammerschlag, first written after the war. My copy of his book Hypnotism and Crime is a first English edition, published in 1956. There are many references to the case in other works, but all rely upon Hammerchlag’s account.
When I began work on The Deep Secret, it occurred to me that I needed to explain the secret’s history and that meant detailing the Heidelberg Case (as it became known).

I was left with many questions, but the most important was: Why is there no history of this man and his crime? When I thought about it, it was obvious. Franz Walter was tried and sentenced in 1936, when the Nazis were at the peak of their power. Think about this. Coming up to war, would a hypnotist with such extraordinary power be more use to the Abwehr, German Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, than left to rot in prison? So I began to adapt the German war effort to account for this missing information.

My faction didn’t end in Germany, either. When I was researching the subject, I found almost no information on the discrimination against German POWs who stayed in Great Britain after WW2. There is an account of Manchester City fans expressing their anger at Bert Trautmann, but he soon won them over with his goalkeeping skills.

There are, however, tales of discrimination against Germans after WWI, and I reasoned there must have been some after 1945, too, so again, I had to tinker with conventional accounts to demonstrate it.

Some say that taking an event that’s already happened and using it as the basis of a book is a cop-out and to a large extent a short-cut. How do you feel?

Having done it, I couldn’t disagree more. Indeed, it would have been a lot easier for me if I’d dreamed up the whole thing, and placed the 1920s case in some fictional country. You know me and my work, Richard. I can turn out a 50,000 word STAC Mystery in a little under three months. Why? Because I don’t have that much research to do. They’re set in the here and now, and in locations I know well. Writing The Deep Secret took months of research into pre-war Germany and post war Britain. If I had not needed that research, I could probably have written in in six months instead of the two years it took.

I recently bought my wife a boxed set of The Tudors, TV series. Michael Hirst, the creator, is a historian, and on the bonus disc, he talks frankly about the historical inaccuracies in the series. His idea was not to recreate the court of Henry VII, but to write a drama, based on the period. We all know that real life is very boring, and in order to create drama Michael Hirst needed an in-depth knowledge of the period, and then he had to play with it. It’s no cop out. It is seriously hard work, and having done something similar, albeit on a much smaller scale, I can suspend my irritation at the liberties he’s taken with history

To my mind there are three uses of FACTION.  1) Setting your story in a particular country, during a precise historic date and factual event. 2) Doing the same as 1, but allowing your characters to tweak history. 3) Allowing your characters to react with pivotal people in history events. Which of these have you used as a device, David, and which will use in future novels?

The Deep Secret uses #1. And will I use it again? Not if I have anything to do with it LOL. But even as I say that, I’m working on a third novel in the series, the final one (but not necessarily the last one to star Felix Croft and Millie Matthews) and this time, I’ll be hinting at the Cold War. I can’t tell you any more than that for the simple reason that the project has only just begun and on past form, it’ll be at least another year before it’s complete.

Thanks for your input, David, and good luck with The Deep Secret the sequel to Handshaker.

The Handshaker is available from Amazon on:

David's excellent website is:

The Deep Secret Launch Event on Facebook is on October 25th: You're welcome to join in.