A Christmas show

Eight years ago, I decided I was fed up with the cost of decent Christmas cards. I had a Christmas card list with 60 names on it and decent cards were costing at least £1. It was simply too much so I looked at the alternatives; either cut down the list or buy cheap mass-produced meaningless cards with the inevitable Santa/reindeer/Ho,Ho,Ho stuff on them.

The answer, of course, was to produce my own. I am, after all, an artist as well as a writer! It was 2015 and I decided to use as an inspiration a ‘Birds of Freedom’ intervention I masterminded while at Liverpool Hope University 2010 in which pictures of three British birds ‘flew’ all over the world.

Briefly, I obtained permission from a large pub called The Richmond in Liverpool, which had three trees outside to mount pictures of the three birds with an invitation to people to go inside and choose a leaflet with a bird printed on it. The leaflet then invited them to pin it to a tree wherever they lived and then to take a photo and to email it back to us.

The result was spectacular. Emails arrived from New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Iceland and many, many places in Europe.

So, for the first four years, a ‘Bird of Freedom’ was depicted in a wintry scene on a Christmas card. The following year depicted the famous Penny Lane and St Barnabas Church where I was a chorister and the final three years, including this one, showed famous Liverpool churches in a snowy landscape.

This Christmas season all eight original paintings that were used to produce the cards go on show at All Hallows Church, Allerton, Liverpool, were I am now a chorister. Below is a list of when the church is open.

Quite apart from my paintings, the historic church is worth a visit. It was built in 1872 by Liverpool ship owner John Bibby in memory of his first wife, at a cost of £20,000 (equivalent to £2 million in 2021. It is a Grade 1 Listed building and is famous for its architecture and stained-glass windows. During the Second World War the windows were removed for safety and replaced by plain glass. Of the 15 windows, 14 were designed by, with some input from William Morris of Arts and Crafts fame.

Saturday, November 26                                                          4.30 p.m – 7.00 pm

Wednesday, November 30                                                     11.30 a.m. – 2.00 pm

Wednesday, December 7                                                       11.30 a.m. – 2.00 pm

Saturday, December 10                                                          10.00 a.m – 4.00 pm

Wednesday, December 14                                                      11.30 a.m. – 2.00 pm

Wednesday, December 21                                                      11.30 a.m. – 2.00 pm

Every Sunday (morning service)                                            10.00 a.m. – 12 noon

Sunday evening Dec 11  (communion)                                  6.30 p.m.   –  8.00pm

Sunday evening  Dec 18 (carol service)                                 6.30 p.m.   –  8.00pm

A new novel – set in 1970

Life in 1970 was completely different. So many things that we now take for granted were not there. No mobile phones. No interent. No DVDs. No streaming of anything. And nearly everyone smoked.

It is against this background that A Walk on the Wilder Side is set. A thriller, wrapped in a mystery with the central character, Keith Wilder, the news editor of a newsagency in St Helens, Lancashire.

The story is also partly auto-biographical in that many of the people and events were real. So, why don’t you take a step on the Wider Side and go to Amazon where you will find it in paperback or as a eBook.


More of my art

I began painting scenes that would become Christmas cards in 2015 and shortly all eight original artworks will go on show from November 26 until after Christmas at All Hallows church in Allerton, Liverpool. All Hallows is itself a famous building being Grade 1 with stained glass windows that are world-famous, having been created by Burne Jones.

In the above paintring a robin is silhouetted against a stormy sky. This is the first card in which I introduces a visual language of shape, form and colour. The bird is painted in a non-objective way in which the subject remains recognizable although the form is highly stylised. Painted in acrylics on textured archival acid-free 350gsm board.

Art as well as novels

My regular followers will know all about my novels but I also hold a Master’s degree in fine art and I reproduce here two examples of my work. Above is a pen and ink sketch called ‘The Guitarist’ and below is a painting I used for my 2015 Christmas card. It was the first and ever since I have created a painting which is used to create a limited edition print of 60 each year.

I will give anotrher two examples tomorrow. Enjoy!!

A new Naomi novel

A new Naomi novel is published today! It is called Pursued by Shadows and is the first full-length Naomi story in which she and a Canadian friend become involved in a plot to weaponize the weather.

Against a background of climate change and activists, Naomi and Alex find themselves the target of criminal gangs intend on finding files that show the American military are conducting dangerous experiments in a place called HAARP in Alaska.

The story is set in Alaska, Toronto, Snowdonia, Wales but mostly in Liverpool, England.

The story is available on Amazon both as an Ebook and paperback.

A city for stories

Most of my stories are set in the city of Liverpool in England. It is also the city I live in but despite that the city is ideal for setting a story in. Indeed, it is used by many film and TV companies as a location, including the latest Batman film. Liverpool city centre is often referred to in ‘quarters’ – and yes there’s more than four. Getting to know the neighbourhood quarters is a fab way to plan your day based on location. The city features the Georgian Quarter, Ropewalks, Chinatown, Baltic Triangle, St George’s Quarter, Waterfront, Cavern Quarter and the Knowledge Quarter and the Business quarter.

It is, however, most famous for its two football clubs, The highly successful Liverpool Football Club and the rather less successful Everton Football Club. And across the entire world, Liverpool is known for its huge contribution to music. It’s even picked up recognition from Guinness World Records as the world’s ‘Capital City of Pop’.

The Beatles is arguably the most successful band in history and was first formed in Liverpool in 1960. They’re still hugely celebrated there, and dozens of attractions are available for enthusiasts in the form of museums, plaques, and guided tours.

If you’re flying into Liverpool, you’ll probably be reminded of the huge impact that the band continues to have – its most popular airport was renamed John Lennon Airport in 2002.

Collectively known as Scousers, Liverpudlians or Liverpolitans, people from Liverpool are famous for their welcoming and inclusive attitude.

As a city that has so often been defined by its port, immigrants from every corner of the globe have often rubbed shoulders together for the first time here. It’s home to the oldest black community in the UK dating back to the early 1700s, and the oldest Chinese community in Europe. 

The result is a hugely multicultural bunch that are nevertheless bound by an unmistakable love of their city. A sense of pride and of being from Liverpool rather than from England is not uncommon among residents.

During the Second World War, Liverpool became victim to the worst series of air bombings in the whole of Britain. 

Even London did not sustain as much damage, with 200,000 out of 300,000 homes in Liverpool being damaged. 4,000 were killed, 10,000 were injured and 70,000 of the city’s inhabitants became homeless.

St Luke’s Church, or simply ‘The Bombed Out Church’, remains standing and has become an enduring symbol of this period. It also serves as a beacon of the resilience and spirit of the people. These days you can visit the church for music gigs, theatre performances, and food markets.

Liverpool is famous for being the origin of most of the Irish and English immigrants who left for America in the 1800s. During the industrial revolution, it also became the center of the world’s cotton trade and was famous for its high-quality fabrics.

The port served as a major hub for slave trading and is thought to have been the source of up to three-quarters of slaves sent to Europe by the end of the 18th Century. 

This grim feature of Liverpool’s history is commemorated in the present day at the International Slavery Museum at the Royal Albert Dock.

So, if you would like to visit the locations mentioned in my stories, you would be very welcome here.

A new Poseidon

The Poseidon Files has been completely edited, updated and retitled to Pursued by Shadows which more completely reflects the story. It is also the very first full Naomi Richards story so those of my readers who enjoyed the first Naomi short story, available here in my website.

The revised version is not available on Amazon just yet but the original is still there, both as an Ebook and paperback. And there me be abother Naomi short story on the way shortly. In the meantime, here is a synopsis of the story.

The first Naomi story . . . in brief

Two scientists discover that a top-secret installation in Alaska run by the American military, ostensibly conducting research into the upper atmosphere, is in fact developing technology that could transform the weather into a weapon of mass destruction and kill millions of people. They are horrified and decide to warn the world by copying vital classified files. But fate plays a decisive hand when the car they escape in plunges into a fast-moving river during a violent storm in freezing temperatures.

One of them, George Parry, survives and escapes pursuing military police believing his colleague, Keri Murdoch, is dead, managing to grab a microchip containing classified files before the car is swept down the river. Parry makes his way to Toronto and then on to Liverpool in the UK intending to give the files to the Press to warn the world of the potential dangers. But he is followed and murdered in a Liverpool hotel room but not before passing the microchip onto an unsuspecting woman during a psychic reading in an attempt to hide from his pursuers.

Artist and mystic Naomi Richards, 26, leads an uneventful life, enjoying the new-found freedom in bustling Liverpool that a divorce from a cheating husband has brought her. Naomi makes a precarious living from art and her psychic abilities and when Parry hides in a city centre pub and sits for a psychic reading with her, Naomi realises that he is frightened of something or someone sinister following him. He hands her a keyring as a token for the reading but before she can discover what he is scared of he runs out leaving a notebook and the keyring behind. Naomi is not to know that the secret microchip is contained in the keyring but because she was the last person to see Parry alive, she becomes a target.

In Toronto, private investigator Alex Nelson is hired by FBI station chief Gram Rogers to recover the files and she travels to Liverpool only to discover that Parry has been murdered and that the last person to see him alive was Naomi.

Celebrity climate change activist Myron Hill is a leading light in the Environment Rebellion protest movement who also hears rumours of the research in Alaska. He decides to investigate and discovers that secret files have been copied; files that prove how destructive it would be to the environment. But Hill is not who he appears to be, and he too has a secret.

FBI chief Gram Rogers encourages Alex to befriend Naomi believing her to have hidden the files, but Alex becomes a target for assassins herself when an attempt is made to poison her on the streets of Liverpool.

Naomi and Alex are pursued by both the Russian Mafia and the GRU who are keen to redeem themselves after the fiasco of the failed attempt to murder the Skripals in Salisbury but one of their number is found murdered in Naomi’s apartment. They flee to Snowdonia to stay with Naomi’s brother but there is an attempt to murder Naomi in the mists of mount Snowdon. But the supernatural takes a hand to save her.

They return to Liverpool where the final drama is played out on the streets of Liverpool where Naomi is abducted and held hostage by a criminal gang. The supernatural comes to her aid in a final confrontation which takes place in a notoriously haunted sunken cemetery that lies alongside Liverpool’s majestic Anglican cathedral in which the Mafia gang are killed.

Will the world be warned about HAARP? Is there a cover-up? The final chapters reveal that people and events are not what they seem.

A return to the 70s

Published today, my third novel A Walk on the Wilder side. Many readers may remember that it was serialised on my website over around six months but now, for those people who prefer not having to wait for chapters to be published, it is now available in paperback on Amazon. It is also available as an eBook.

The story briefly: It is 1970 and Keith Wilder is news editor for a press agency in Northwest Britain. It is a dark night in January when he receives a mysterious phone call asking him to go to a lonely, remote farm. He discovers the gruesome body of a man whose brains have been blown out by a shotgun.

The killing is the beginning of a series of events in which both Wilder and the police receive taunting, sneering notes predicting further murders. Shortly after, a notorious drug dealer is found dead on Liverpool’s Lime Street.

Meanwhile, Wilder’s teacher girlfriend, Amy Sunderland, is bent on unravelling the enigma of Keith’s father who vanished when he was born. Who was he? And has he re-appeared with a new identity? And if so why?