‘Ravensdale’ by Lucinda Elliot – Just Awarded the B.R.A.G. medallion for Outstanding Self-Published Fiction


I’m celebrating on two accounts.

One, I have won a second award.

I’ve just heard I’ve won a B.R.A.G medallion for ‘Outstanding Self-Published Fiction’ for my historical romance spoof ‘Ravensdale’.

That was a lovely Easter present.

Here’s the B.R.A.G award website, for those writers wishing to enter their own work, but even more for those readers, who are always wanted to review books objectively according to the guidelines of the site.


To have your work bonoured – particularly if it’s regarded as ‘too cross genre’ to attract agents and publishers –gives you a sense that it’s all worthwhile after all.

Goodness knows we self-published authors who strive to write to our best standards, often wonder if it is. There’s nothing like a one star review – or two, or yet more, to make you feel that you’re banging your head against a brick wall.

Here’s the link to amazon for ‘Ravensdale’.


A couple of awards put matters into perspective.

The second reason I have to be cheerful is that I’m now up to the final part of the sequel to ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ – which I think I will call ‘Where Worlds Meet’ (I was thinking of ‘Villains and Vampires’ but that is too close to the title of my last spoof, ‘The Villainous Viscount’ and people might confuse the two).

I expect I am typical, in that I love writing this bit best of all, with home in sight. Writing the end of a full length novel is like running the end of a long distance race – I used to love cross country running at school (that was before I filled out fore and aft and it became a lot less comfortable) – where the lungs are heaving and the legs like jelly, but you know you’ll make it.

I don’t know if I’m typical in this, but I suspect I am –  I don’t particularly enjoy writing the middle of a book.  I suspect that it is where you are likely to give up if at all. The biggest effort seems to be required. You have to develop character, maintain reader interest, build conflict, create obstacles, all that sort of thing, and you are no longer fired with that initial enthusiasm.

I did a post on this a few weeks ago.


I believe it is known sometimes as ‘The sagging middle syndrome’ and they aren’t referring to the need for a few workouts.

Then, the middle-coming-up-to-the-end is a bit of a killer, too. There you have to do the above, only higher key.

That was the bit where I decided about six weeks back, looking over my work, ‘No point in kidding yourself, thickhead: you’ve gone in the wrong direction’ (and oh yes, I was known to do that in cross country running, too). So I had to backtrack. I thought I’d have to jettison 15,000 words, and some of it I was really pleased with, but there was too weak a series of links, and insufficient conflict, leading to too fast a denouement.

In fact, I found that I could use some of those paragraphs after all, as the writing was appropriate to later on in the story, but not to where I had put it.

All this is horribly familiar to all writers; just when you think you’re near the home run, there’s a home delay.

12618f13And that is one of the good things about being a self-published writer. You don’t have a publisher breathing down your neck with ‘When will it be ready?’ That, of course, was what happened to Elizabeth Gaskell in the third volume of ‘Sylvia’s Lovers’. She had already been writing it for three and a half years and was being harassed by her publishers. That is why she falls into the easy trap of melodrama and co-incidence (fine in a spoof, not in a work that is intended to be serious).

This is a shame, as it weakens the ending; however, despite those drawbacks, ‘Sylvia’s Lovers’ is still one of my favourite novels.

Well, there’s still a long way to go, because this is only the first draft for me. You may be sure that my Beta readers will have many painful suggestions, involving extensive rewrites.

…And that can be like running a long distance race in slow motion, or perhaps, backwards.

A Message of Hope from Kenrick to his many admirers

EmileDubois-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalI have received a couple of requests for another communication from this tedious place in the beyond to which I was summarily ejected, along with my man Arthur Williams by that Scoundrel Emile Dubois.

That scoundrel, a murderous ruffian who once lived organising the criminal activities of a group of cut throats in the gutters of Paris has despatched me to this place where I must stay if I wish to avoid leaving the surrounds of Earth altogether.

And the manner of that despatch – a knife whipped from a topboot and hurled at my chest in the course of a vulgar brawl.  It seems that this was the party trick of a Gallic villain rejoicing under a name which roughly translates as ‘Marcel Sly Boots’.I cannot forgive that.

It could, I suppose, have been worse; I might have been killed by his brutish manservant, another savage ruffian. That honour was reserved for poor Arthur. To be killed by a lackey! That would be a disgrace indeed.

I refuse to subject myself to such an indignity as the one I understand will be required of me if I were to leave this place to venture into the beyond. As I first left my body I heard a whisper that I had nothing to fear; that I would be treated compassionately.

Goronwy Kenrick, the great experimenter, ‘treated compassionately’?

‘Damn your eyes!’ With Arthur Williams’ favoured vulgar oath, I fled to this place.

I am in a laboratory here, with sufficient resources to amuse myself;.

I work on strange beings, whom I cook up with from a noxious mix of green jelly; clumsy, misshapen, grotesque, they are the stuff of nightmares. But they move, they exist, they may yet talk…

I have Arhur help me sew up their skins. He objected to this as ‘women’s work’. I asked him what woman was to hand to do it? He sulked; he wishes to return himself. We do not exactly relish each other’s company. He is anxious to see the second Mrs Kenrick; I gather she is re-united with her baby.  I have never been keen on nursery visits myself.

On the subject of human increase, I do have some access to life in the world of the flesh here; for instance, every time Gilles Long Legs’ former poor relative, now Madame Dubois prays for me, I know of it. I see the presumptuous chit.

What a ludicrous contrast that pair do make in their characters: – the one a complete villain, the other the sole of virtue. She is now increasing, but waddles purposefully to drop heavily on her knees by her bed every night and pray for her enemies. Sometimes the ruffian comes in, candle held aloft, to interrupt her. “I trust you pray for me, my angel? Keep on with the good work; if you keep at it for a hundred years, you might yet make me a good man.” They gaze on each  other with stupid adoration; what fools humans are.

You may wonder about whether I have seen the first Mrs Kenrick, my only love? No; for she was another of these tediously good women, and I must undergo the humiliations I mentioned above before we can be re-united.

I hate that Dubois villain; I swear I will be revenged. All is not over yet.
I work out my future plans. These do not involve giving up my identity as Mr Kenrick of Plas Cyfeillgar quite yet.

Extract from ‘Ravensdale’ Spoof Regency Romance $0.99 on Amazon


I want to thank everyone who’s bought ‘Ravensdale’ – it makes me very happy that it’s selling!

For anyone who enjoys the thought of a spoof Regency Romance about highwaymen, spirited runaway heroines, outlawed Earls and underhand cousins with grudges, not to mention the odd ineffectual henchman or so, it’s still $0.99 on Amazon.com and £0.77 on Amazon.co.uk.

Well, it’s obvious I love its selling – I never heard of a writer who published something in the hope that it wouldn’t sell a single copy – though I suppose someone might do that as a sort of psychological experiment.

Anyway, I thought I’d publish an extract here, a comic scene from the book; I can’t give the comic bit of the book I loved writing most, because that comes at the ending, and would be to write a spoiler (of course, as it’s a comedy, everyone knows there’s going to be a very happy ending, but still…).

Reynaud Ravensdale is suffering from an increasing desperate passion for the hodyenish Isabella Murray, who acted so strangely when his band held up her father’s carriage. It manifests as an ache in his insides…

‘In a relatively clean and comfortable inn (which Selina might think sordid), Reynaud Ravensdale, otherwise Mr Fox, wasn’t eating a bowl of turnip soup. The landlord’s pretty wife Kate detested waste and planned to throw it back into the pot when nobody was looking. Opposite Ravensdale, Flashy Jack, who had called over and stayed to eat on his way to town, and Longface had finished theirs. Longface, chewing on a piece of bread with his remaining teeth, gazed mournfully across the table.
Mr Fox threw down his spoon. “Why do you stare at me like a looby? What ails you?”
Longface shook his head silently.
Kate’s younger sister Suki came from the back. Seeing her, Flashy Jack, his bright fair hair disguised under dye, took his porter to the bar. Kate came for the dirty plates. “Soup not to your liking?” she asked Ravensdale, who had gone to stand gazing out of the window, arms folded across his chest.
“It was well enough.”
“Have you got guts ache? You keep on leaving your food.”
The landlord, Tom Watts, so strapping and healthy that he didn’t remember when he had last left his own food, turned, shocked. “You don’t want to get anything like that. I’ve known cases, strong one month, invalids at the fireside the next.”
Mr Fox scowled and said nothing. Longface stared at him even more anxiously.
“Have you got bellyache?” Kate determined to speak plain though the fellow was a real toff, even, some said, none other than the Disgraced Lord Little Dean.
He kept silent, glowering into his porter.
Flashy Jack warmed to his theme: “He’s holding on round the chest. It could be lung trouble. That can be caught early. I knew a man, fading away with it, till his wife had him gargle rum every day. That set him to rights.”
“He ain’t got a cough,” Kate pointed out.
The object of their concern shifted under their gaze, which seemed to penetrate to his innards.
“I hear you don’t until that phlegm sets in. Then, before you know it, you’re spitting blood.”
“Mercy!” Suki joined in. She knew that they would all end on the gallows, but this was immediate.
The Chief Brigand, clearly only silent through reluctance to be ungallant to the women, turned on Jack: “Hold your noise, damn you! My insides are my own affair.”
Kate, undeterred, held up one finger: “I know the very thing, whatever it is. That cure I got from that pedlar works on anything. I’ve even tried it on baby there.” She smiled on her infant, sleeping in his cradle at the side of the bar.
“Well, you shouldn’t give it him, Kate. Those poisoners have surely caused more deaths than any honest rogue.” Mr Fox made for the door and stood outside – still slightly hunched, though now avoiding holding onto his chest – and gazing across the yard to where the hens scrabbled about in the dust.
“There’s no pleasing some folk.” Kate went back to collecting the dishes.
“There ain’t any pleasing him these last couple of weeks.” Jack turned his attention back to Suki….

…Late that night, when all was still in The Huntsman, Reynaud Ravensdale appeared downstairs, light in hand, looking for something. He searched first in the bar, then in the kitchen. At last his eyes fell on the brown bottle of the pedlar’s cure, also known as The Famed and Marvellous Elixir, which stood next to the teapot. Finding a spoon, he poured himself a generous helping, swallowing it in one gulp. Then he stood, eagerly waiting for the result.
This came speedily. His eyes widened, his face drained of colour, his breathing quickened and he swallowed and looked very ill for the next five minutes. Finally, recovering enough to speak, he swore heartily, poured the bottle down the sink, and trudged back to bed.’


Loyal Reader Award…


My kind friend, Tersia Berger, who doesn’t forget to think of others in her own troubles, which is unusual, nominated me for this award.

I wasn’t able to copy over the last, but I am very happy to accept this. Thank you, Tersia, I am honoured.

The rules are simple. Answer a rhetorical question of the author’s choosing and nominate people you consider deserve the award.


Tersia’s question was: ‘If you were on a deserted island, how would you survive?’

My answer, ‘I would be very surprised if I did survive, but if I did, I expect I would go off my head soon enough (some would say that I already have).

If i was marooned with a group of other women, think Lord of the Flies as to what would happen to me. I had a discussion with a friend once about this, and she said I would be a female Simon, but I think she flattered me. Maybe I would be Piggy (I can just see that happening to me, though I’m athletic; I’d probably fail to keep my silly mouth shut and sound off abut needing to keep the fire going as a signal and end up being thrown over a cliff and swept out to sea). I thought she would be a female Ralph. We named the female Jack and Roger and others we knew, but they shall remain nameless…

My rhetorical question has been inspired by Mari Biella’s latest post on
which is, by the way, a wonderfully stimulating blog, but I won't give this award to Mari, though it is deserved, as she avoids accepting awards.
My rhetorical question is:- Would you rather be world famous after your death for writing something worthwhile, or rich in this for writing something you knew to be of no literary merit at all?
I'd go with the first, with a regretful look over my shoulder at the second…
Loyal readers I know.

First, Thomas Cotteril (May this link come out) a good friend and the writer of a fascinating blog on :-


Then, my wonderful writing partner, Jo Danilo, who’s writing I love- and who doesn’t need to feel in any hurry to accept this award form Emile and Co but who writes an intriguing blog on :


Then, the talented writer and also a friend Lauryn April on:


Then, another friend and great writer, Rebecca Lochlann, who I am sure has written some classics in her ‘Child of the Erinyes’ series:

And a very helpful reader Francis Franklin on:

There are many others who deserve the award, but am running out of steam in this heat…Thank goodness I am not on that desert island, with the female Jack and co setting fire to it…

The Thin Line Between the Gothic and the Absurd

Dr Polidori wrote ‘The Vampyre’ perhaps the earliest British vampire story, for the competition set by Shelley and Byron and for which Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’.

One of the great problems with the Gothic genre, and horror and ghost stories generally, must be the danger of the horrific so easily descending into the ludicrous, just as drama can so easily become melodrama, and pathos become bathetic.

I used to be frightened in my early teens by the horror stories of HP Lovecraft (which I found in a series of some old paperbacks belong ing to my parents, called, I think, ‘The Fontana Book Great Ghost Stories’; there seemed to be lots of these) . In tales such as ‘The Haunter of the Dark’ the alarming theme of covert alien invasion and mind control used to give me a real sense of horror.

In one, however, the ominous suddenly degenerated into farce.

In this story, a boy born to an unnatural mating between one of these aliens and an unfortunate human girl was breaking into a library where a version of ‘The Necromican’ was held under lock and key (too bad for him there wasn’t any Amazon back then).

He was attacked by a watchdog, which tore his trousers (how humiliating, as if he was a post worker or common burglar) and inflicted fatal wounds. He was discovered by the staff, gradually turning into a pool of goo, but the lower half of his body (visible through the said ripped trousers) was truly inhuman.

This made me laugh so much that these dismal stories’ nightmare world of an encroaching, seemingly irresistible threat never perturbed me in the same way again.

A fellow blogger has pointed out to me that these stories were often published in ‘pulp magazines’ and the editors often changed text as they felt like it.

No doubt this accounts for the bathetic ending to this particular story, but is a fine example of how the alarming can easily degenerate into the absurd.

This is sometimes the case with classic Gothic literature, for instance, ‘The Monk’ ‘Varney the Vampire’ and the first vampire story of all, ‘The Vampyre’ by no less a person than Lord Byron’s then personal physician, Dr Polidori (this story is often wrongly attributed to Byron himself).

I personally think that Byron and his friends were too dismissive of the originality of Dr Polydori’s contribution to the contest which lead to Mary Shelley creating ‘Frankenstein’ but it has to be conceded in that piece, the high flown, florid style is so solemn that it leaves itself open to satire.

There are unintentionally funny bits in those two classic Gothic tales ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Dracula’, and if that flawed masterpiece ‘Wuthering Heights’ can be classed as Gothic, for sure the melodrama sometimes turns into bathos, as when Cathy in a fit of temper with Edgar writhes on a sofa, ‘grinding her teeth as though she would turn them into splinters’ (as someone once said, I paraphrase freely).

As I love a laugh above anything, I make a point when writing Gothic myself of depicting the terrifying and grotesque as also horribly ludicrous. Fear and laughter, the sad and the comic are anyway often so closely related that I have never found it possible to ‘write straight faced’.

Then again, I can’t resist having the characters sometimes commenting on the Gothic nature of their own adventures.

Lord Ynyr (to his ex chef, who has just tried to convince him that his favourite cousin Émile has turned into a Man Vampire): I have to remind you, Lucien, that we are not now in a Gothic novel.

Lucien: That is hard to remember, Your Lordship, down at Plas Gwyn.

Liebster Blog Award!

The lovely (see photo, and you’ll see) Lauryn April, writer of ‘Into the Deep’ has nominated me for the Liebster Award.

The rules of the Liebster Award are as follows:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees;

3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. (No tag backs)

4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

So, thank you so much Lauryn April, who wrote the delightful ‘Into the Deep’ and who’s blog is at laurynapril.blogspot.co.uk Love you!

Random Facts About Me:

1.  I think all the literary agents who rejected my writing or those of my cyber writer friends should have their heads held under a cow’s behind. 

2.  I’m dyslexic.

3.   I’m addicted to Lucozade and tea.

4.   I’m an environmentalist geek.

5.   I think Kirk Douglas was a great actor (no doubt still is, if he’s still acting). I am sorry to have to admit, fanatical about the topic of rape though I may be, that he even made the rapist Einar in ‘The Vikings’ sympathetic enough for me to feel very sorry for him. Now, there’s an achievement…

6.      I detest it when people begin posts on the thread where they’re going to disagree with you with the exclamation, ‘Wow!’ ( Wow! I’ve handed out some ammunition there!)

7.   I spent three and a half years of my childhood living in a beautiful Regency rectory (no, we were’t rich, my family used to do up old houses in the days before it became fashionable). Those beautifully proportioned light rooms! Avoid  doing that if you’re not going to stay, everyone. Every house since has  been a bit of a let down after that…

8.     My favourite Shakespeare play is ‘All’s Well That End’s Well’ (I would be awkward!) That reminds me, I’m heading a discussion about it over on Goodreads if you happen to be interested.

 9.    I’d like to go for a long holiday in Provence; can’t afford it, though.

10.   I’m quite little – 164 centimetres.

11.   I am completely, totally, hopelessly, pathetically bad at IT.  I am trying to improve it, but it’s a long, long time coming, like the Ealing to Richmond number 65 bus.

   Answers to Lauryn’s Questions:

1.       What got you into blogging?

Well, it was a good opportunity to run off at the mouth about my opinions and all those Publicise your Ebook  articles recommended it, so…

2.       Favorite TV show and why?

Don’t have one at the moment, Lauryn. I’m sorry to say I was enjoying the revamp of ‘Dallas’ until it stopped. it was so bad it was good!

3.      When writing books are there any reoccurring themes in your work, or if you’re not an author are there any reoccurring themes in the books you like to review?

Gothic and paranormal or occult stuff, for sure; I like strong women characters with a sense of humour.

4.       What were you like as a teenager?

Awful! Unreasonable, opinionated, argumentative…a bit like I am now, in fact.

5.       Paperbacks or e-books and why?

Not sure if you mean my own  or someone else’s? My own ebook ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ is over the top Gothic adventure that I suppose could be termed ‘Steampunk’. I love reading a lot of genres, and my recent favourites have been:-

‘Into the Deep’ by one Lauryn April.

‘The Year God’s Daughter and  ‘the Thinera King’ by  Rebecca Lochlann

‘The Fire Nigh Ball’ by Anne Carlisle

‘Watermelon’ by Kate Hanney

Also, my writing partner Jo Danilo’s work, ‘11.42’ and ‘The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook.’ She’s must  get them out there.

Also, at the moment I’m enjoying reading ‘On the Evolution of Insanity’ by Haresh Dashwarni.

Do you have a funny vacation story?

The funniest I can’t tell, as  they might hurt someone’s feelings. A grotesquely funny story was where I got salmonella abroad, and when I got home, looking like an  animated corpse, complete with sticking-out bones and ghastly complexion, staggering along, leaning weakly on furniture, etc, a women I knew said, ‘Oh, so you had salmonella. What a shame you didn’t get a sun tan?’!!!!

7..   Have you ever been out of the country and where did you go?

Across to Europe, manly, but once as far as Tunisia. I want to come and see the US.

8.      Book you’re most looking forward to reading this year?

Rebecca Lochlann’s got ‘In the Moon of Asterion ‘ coming out and that wil be a firecracker. Lauryn April’s next is eagerly awaited, too, and Anne Carlisle’s sequel to ‘The Firenight Ball.’ I’m also looking forward to reading Kate Hanney’s ‘Safe’.

9.       Biggest turn off in a book?

The main male character, or one of them, being one of those guys without human weaknesses, you know the sort, invariably irresistible to all the women, who just roll over and swoon at the sight of them. The women equivalents are called ‘Mary Sue’s’ but what are the men called? I heard somewhere that they could be called ‘Adrian’s’. Seems like a good idea to me.

10.    What are you doing when you’re not reading or writing?

I do spend quite a lot of time making a fool of myself and getting things wrong. When not doing that, I turn into a dung bettle and the things I get up to don’t bear thinking about…

11.     Favorite holiday and why?

France. I love that country.

Questions from me:

1.  Born where? Were you brought up thereabouts?

2..  Least favourite subject at school?

3.    Most hateful; character you can think of in classic literature?

4.         Most embarrassing memory you care to reveal?

5.          Guilty pleasure in the way of a terrible film you love?

6.          Are you bossy?

7.         How often a week do you travel by :  –

a. Donkey b. Camel c. Elephant  d. Farm cart e. Shanks Pony?

  1. Favourite poem?
  2. Favourite author?
  3. Are you a romantic (in either Byronic or vaguely modern sense of the term?
  4. Are you prepared to give a deserving cause (in this case, one Lucinda Elliot) a donation? If so, fill in attached form …Do you find it annoying when charities  send what looks like a survey, but it’s really a way of trying to embarrass you into donating? I’d much rather they asked at once and directly myself, and I always send it back saying I might well have donated if they had made a straightforward request, which is the truth. What do you think?

Eleven nominees: –

Lovely Jo Danilo, my invaluable writing partner, love you!  mymykerikeri.wordpress.com

The outstanding writer Rebecca Lochlann rebeccalochlann.wordpress.com

My next nominee won’t be in any mood to bother about nominations, or suchlike, but I’m giving it because she has written on a subject we most of us can hardly bear to contemplate, but we should. The death of a child. tersia.burger:wordpress.com

Next, with congratulations on finding that publisher to Anne Carlisle, I so loved Marlena, your heroine: annecarlislephd.blogspot.co.uk

To Buebirdsunshine, once CaramelloKoalaLover, with love bluebirdsunshine.wordpress.com

Thomas Cotterill, excellent blogger and writer, a man amongst this monstrous regiment thomascotterill.wordpress.com

Then, Kate Hanney. Loved that Watermelon!  www.katehanney.com/new-teenagefiction-blog

And this blogger may have over 200 followers, probably does but she’s been so helpful and we’ve been having such a laugh on Goodreads I have to nominate her: rebutler.wordpress.com
Finally, Justin, a second man,  who’s got a great spooky website and had the misfortune to interview me recently (his IT went wrong at once, wouldn’t you have guessed with me about?) http://jbienvenue.webs.com/apps/blog/

As Bluebirdsunshine tells me she already has the award, I’m nominating Emily Guido instead, another excellent blog. http://authoremilyguido.com/   

Keep on with the good work, everyone.





These blogs are all fascinating, so do take a look…

Some thoughts about the Terror…

Here’s some jolly pictures pertaining to the execution of aristocrats during the French revolution. That is a of the guillotine used circa 1793, I shouldn’t imagine the original was painted red, though I haven’t been able to find out…

I’m just breaking off here to make a few comments about the historical background to this story.

By the way, it does, I promise, become as Gothic and over-the-top as any Gothic addict could wish when Emile soon arrives in Wales, and encounters the would be time-travelling vampire, Kenrick, with his precious spectacles and habit of drooling on pretty girls’ hands; (of course, Sophie has already met this invididual, once in the dining room, and once by her bed).

People’s perception of The French Revolution often seems to be on sensationalist lines –  the looming guillotine, Charles Dickens’ lurid depiction in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ , thousands of heads rolling into buckets  every day, frenzied crowds of sans cullotes cheering, the tumbrils rolling through the streets…

Two reservations are appropriate here: George Orwell’s comment that regarding the Napoleonic Wars, more people were killed in any of Napoleon’s big battles than were killed during  the years of the Terror, and that the guillotine, though peculiarly associated in people’s minds with the French Revolution, was merely a comparatively humane mode of execution (compared to the slow hangings favoured in Britain, for instance) introduced at that time and used until shortly before the death penalty was abolished in France in 1981 (last used in 1977).

For aristocrats, though, and unfortunately often for those among them like Emile who had opposed the outrageously unjust situation of the  peasants in the old order – taxed to support the artistocracy and with no political representation – the threat  of execution was a real nightmare, with the new government inflexible in its definitions of who was an ‘enemy of the state’ and what constituted counter revoluionary activity.

For sure, Emile’s parents have truly engaged in counter revolutionary activity, been arrested, and await trial .  He tries to get them out through bribery and corruption, while lying low disguised as Gilles a journeyman employee in one Marcel ‘Sly Boots” workshop; this workshop serves as a front for the eighteenth century style protection racket to which Marcel and his men subject the better off’hucksters’. They know how to get round the form of conscription just introduced, the Grand Levee…

Emile of course -two of whose younger siblings have been acidentally killed when their family Chateau was set on fire – must always regard the Revolution with horror – yet as a natural democrat, had his family survived, it would be more in line with his general temperment  to support the aims, if not the methods, of the Revolution.

News from Citizen Gilles…


Georges’ piratical lieutenant isn’t able to make any money by letting Gilles Longlegs know where the blonde Englishwoman has gone. She seems to have vanished completely.

A couple of weeks later, Georges is in his room behind the workshop which serves as a necessary cover for his activities, entertaining two women once again (perhaps this time one of them won’t pass out).

People  might call them ‘Women of Easy Virtue’  or ‘Women of the Night’ but women have to make a living as best they can, particularly in times of social upheaval. Anyway, he sits with them perched one on each knee, and as the dark one of is a  strapping girl he is even more proud than usual of his strong legs, heavily muscled like the rest of him. He has a hand on the blonde girl’s knee and is surreptitiously pinching the dark girl’s bottom.

He’s interrupted by a small boy running in, and glances down slightly irritated. “Yes, boy?”

“Citizen Gilles said to give you this.”

“Oh, did he?” Georges huffs. “If he thinks that I am coming to terms so easy over the cooked meat shop…”

The girls are all admiration at the ease with which he scans the note, but can tell from his dilated eyes and quickened breathing that the news isn’t good.

“Is it heavy news?” The dark girl is caressing his chest. “You read?”

The note says, ‘The truffles were gone before I knew of it.”

Georges flashes his white teeth in a wide smile. “Reading ain’t good for you.” Certainly, after only reading one line, his mood has changed completely. He goes on, ” I must disappint you girls – but not as much as myuself.   I hope you will take a little gift from me..”

He tosses a coin too, to the gawping child. “I suppose I must talk with them others over this Take me to Gilles”

One of the girls kisses him. “Do not be naughty and get into a dispute with him…” The other is too busy putting the money in her bosom.

Georges sees the girls out gallantly. So Emile’s parents have gone unexpectedly to the guillotine…

Southern Georges Revels in Excess ..

220px-1799-Verninac-DavidMeanwhile, Georges, Emile’s companion in roguishness and one time servant, is disporting himself – as usual in his time off from his warlord existence – in female company when he hears the news about Monsieur Gilles’ romantic misadventures from one of his lieutenants.

He’s eating onion soup, and a very voluptuous woman with Titian colouring is feeding him croutans. Another girl was with them, earlier, but having taken too much wine, she has retired to a chair in the corner to doze and giggle.

Georges finds this  bandit’s lifestyle  rather more to his taste than his life as servant in the Dubois family chateau in Provence; true, he worked for Emile – as democratic and easy going a master as he would be likely to find – but he was only a servant, reliant on his devastating profile, flashing dark eyes, curling dark hair and muscles to attract the women.

He knows that it is rumoured of him that he has bedded half the married and unmarried women in his area; of course, he hasn’t; but he swells with pride when he hears such stories.

Georges’ lieutenant  is sweaty – possibly with enthusiasm for a new project –  but more likely because it’s warm spring weather and he has no access to a bath,  and he likes to tie his head up in a scarf after the manner of a pirate, a style of headress that Georges finds ridiculous in a landsman.

“Southern, fun and games over with Gilles Long Legs’ lot; seems he was much taken with some little blonde bourgoise he took to one of them parties that that Marcel  Sly Boots keeps having, and she’s vanished.”

Georges’ eyebrows go up and he puts down his spoon. Something flickers in the depths of his eyes, perhaps, but his underling doesn’t see it and Georges returns his eyes to the girl sitting across from him, who has undone several fastenings on her dress.

“If I was him, I’d’ve kept in with that Lola. She was some woman! That bosom, that rump…”

The girl jerks her chin in annoyance, and Georges says hastily, “Nearly as good as this beauty, here…Don’t tell me you interrupted us to tell me about some minx running off from Gilles?”

“No, but he was looking for her all night, sent others out looking too. I heard all about it from My Source. Maybe he’d pay well lot to find her again.”

Georges has pulled up the woman’s skirts under the table, and is exploring underneath; she reaches across too and his voice comes out constrained. “Do him a favour, then, and see if you can find the wench…”

It Would be Writing a Spoiler to Say How Sophie comes to be in Revolutionary Paris…

It would be a spoiler to say how Sophie comes to turn up in Revolutionary Paris in May 1794 (when by all accounts she should be in her older brother John’s house in Chester, before being despatched to Plas Uchaf, North Wales) , but anyway, Emile as Monsieur Gilles  meets her and is touched.

Very touched; you might say, besotted.

After all, Emile isn’t naturally heartless, though he may be leading a brutal lifestyle; in creating him, I wanted to portray a male protagonist who is, in fact, naturally amiable and jolly, high spirited, playful, and given to laughing at himself.

He’s a nice rogue (though one with a violent streak as regards other men) who gets caught up in a series of impossible situations.

All this is watched by Francoise, the grand-daughter of the alarming woman who runs the lodging house where Emile lives with his fellow scoundrels.  She knows all about falling in love; she’s missing her old sweetheart back in the south, from where she knows Monsieur Gilles comes too (but not, of course, who he really is).

‘Les Monsieurs’ s their terrible landlady calls them, often hold a party of an evening, with Marcel Sly boots playing the violin. Emile brings Sophie to this, where she literally lets her hair down.
Everyone notices Monsieur Gilles distress when the little fair, shy Anglaise suddenly vanishes; he spends the night searching for her; the story even gets back to a member of a rival group, one ‘Southern Georges’, a handsome, dark, vain fellow whose sexual conquests are a by word…