Writer, Archaeologist, Traveller – 2023

Winter keeps up its stubborn rear-guard action, but at least dismal February is done with. All three of my personas have been distracted during the cold months. Normal life stopped for Christmas, then stopped again for my second helping of covid. Essential family commitments ate up much of January and February, squeezing my writing time. As the daffodils reluctantly stir to life outside, so the projects for 2023 have started to move forward.

Blackshirt Conspiracy, the second in the Agents of Room Z series, is with the publishers Level Best Books and should come out in the early summer. We are almost ready for the cover reveal. It plunges Hugh and Sissy into a web of conspiracies swirling around Britain towards the end of 1936 that culminated in the Abdication Crisis. I’m now back deep inside the British fascist movement – metaphorically you understand – creating the third book in the series. The collection of reference books on the period continues to demand more shelf space, with Diana Mosley’s autobiography next on my reading list.

2022 proved to be a good year for my Channel Islands non-fiction books, with the return of tourists following the pandemic leading to increased interest. A Brush With Life; the Art of Peter Le Vasseur was launched towards the end of the last tourist season, so I’m optimistic that this too will draw the eyes of visitors. It has been sobering how many news stories over the six months since publication have echoed the ecological issues the artist made central to his work.

And the archaeology season is approaching. Dig Alderney will be shifting its attention back to Longis Common this May, demanding a good deal of preparation. Between 2017 and 2019 we discovered an extensive Roman settlement that could spread over four hectares buried under a metre of sand. Underneath it is an Iron Age burial ground featuring the graves of high-status individuals, raising interesting questions about how such a small island could be home to such a wealthy community. There will be daily posts on the Dig Alderney Facebook page during the dig, and a free e-newsletter is available on request.   

As for travel, I’m helping run both the Alderney Literary Festival in March and the Crime Writers’ Association conference in York the following month. Bristol Crimefest comes up in May, immediately before I fly out to the dig, so packing just a single suitcase will be an interesting challenge. The inaugural Shetland Noir takes place in June, and I’m pleased to have been invited to a panel entitled Old Bones. Jeffrey Flint will no doubt get a mention, and it’s another lovely opportunity to combine a crime conference with a little exploring. Summer will be busy with launching and promoting Blackshirt Conspiracy, but I’m now a ‘Silver’ loyalty client with the travel company Explore and a ‘Level 3 Genius’ with Booking.com, so expect to make great use of both as 2023 rolls on.

Cover image – the desert at sunset, somewhere in the Wadi Rum last November.

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