Is Highwaypersons expensive?

The price of a printed copy of Highwaypersons: Debts and Duties is GBP 9.75 but it will be only 2.25 on Kindle.

The cost of a paper copy is more than that of a lot of comparable books.  The reason is that it is longer than most.  It is 429 pages and 113000 words.  These figures include:

  • a list of principal characters at the beginning
  • a few historical notes at the end.
  • the first chapter of the sequel, The King’s Justice.

Obviously, there is a cost to printing each page.  So is it really more expensive than a shorter book?

If you want something shorter, you probably will not have to look very far.  On the other hand you might like something to get stuck into.  In the case of Highwaypersons, there is plenty of it and it covers a lot of ground.

Well it’s your choice.  It’s your money.  Now you know. Here’s where it is:

Title ID: 5935330 ISBN-13: 978-1537319995


And watch out for special offers on Amazon and on Kindle.

Risk Dice

Highwaypersons is now published

This is what Createspace said about an hour ago.


You’ve completed the setup of your book.

Your book will be available in the following timeframes:

Updates to your book will also appear in these timeframes.

  • CreateSpace eStore: Immediately
  • com: 3-5 Business Days
  • Amazon Europe: 3-5 Business Days
  • Expanded Distribution channels: 6-8 Weeks

Title ID: 5935330 ISBN-13: 978-1537319995

It is also be on Kindle now.

So what are you waiting for?  Go and buy it.


What can we learn from the Great Fire of London?

I think there are lessons to be learned from the Great Fire of London of 1666.  I am not talking about fire prevention or fire-fighting.  Technology has moved on enough to make almost anything we might learn from 1666 redundant.

On thinking about what I just said, I realise there are two lessons we could do well to learn.

  1. The fire was allowed plenty of time to develop and spread.  The authorities were very slow to act.  Even if you can not prevent something, you can usually mitigate its effects by prompt action.
  2. The one thing that was done that was effective, eventually, was to create firebreaks.  Buildings were pulled down and some were set on fire, so that when the fire reached them there was nothing to burn.  Even if you leave it late to take action, doing something can still help mitigate the damage to some extent.  Never give up.

All right, that was a digression.  Here comes my main point.

Who was to blame?

The public, and a lot of people in authority too, blamed foreigners and Roman Catholics for starting the fire.  This was a result of the climate of fear and suspicion prevailing at the time.  One man who kept his head, determined to get at the truth, was the King, Charles II.

What was the truth?

JHM Claims

A baker’s oven had overheated, eventually causing the chimney to catch fire.  It all spread from there.

I cannot help seeing a parallel with the present.  Fear and suspicion.  Blame foreigners or religious minorities.  See every misfortune, especially every crime, as politically motivated.  I remember when ‘Reds under the bed’ was a popular obsession in the USA which soon caught on here.

Can we never learn?  

Is Highwaypersons anything like Poldark?


As Highwaypersons and Poldark are both set in the Eighteenth Century, it is natural that people will want to make comparisons.  Of course, you must make your own mind up, but I will say what I think.

  • Highwaypersons is set in the years from 1713 to 1716 whereas Poldark is set in the 1780’s. However, a lot of things had not changed during the years in between.  Poverty and injustice were very much present throughout that period and are reflected in my story just as they are in Winston Graham’s.  You do need to be in the Jeremy Corbyn fan club to agree that those two phenomena are still with us.
  • My novel is set mainly in Wales, not Cornwall. Many people think the Principality has a lot in Common with the Duchy, not just their similar Celtic languages.  Yet there are differences.  They do not have anything in Cornwall to match Snowdon.
  • Poldark seems to stay in Cornwall, indeed in one part of the county. My story moves to London, Lancashire and the Highlands of Scotland before the final confrontation in Cardiff, but my main characters never forget their Welshness.  They are indignant when Scotsmen call them ‘Sassenachs’.
  • My main characters are less hot-headed than Ross Poldark. They tend to control their emotions better, but they certainly have strong emotions and feel just as angry at injustice, both social and personal, as does Ross.
  • Unlike Poldark (so far) my characters get caught up in major national events. In the second book in the series they will get involved in international events too.  Part of Poldark’s charm is its local focus.
  • One thing Highwaypersons has, which Poldark does not, is a murder mystery. I personally enjoy a whodunit whether set in the past or the present, but do sometimes like to read and to write books which do not contain one.  Variety is a good thing.
  • Finally, you may wonder if my hero and heroine have as much sex as Ross Poldark. Oh, yes!  That was something the Eighteenth Century was full of, from start to finish.

So, there you have my take on the comparison between the two stories.  I wonder what you will think.


Did the Great Fire of London Affect Highwaypersons?

We have recently been reminded that this is the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Great Fire of London of 1666.  It was obviously a major event at the time, affecting many people’s lives.  Some of the effects can be observed today, such as the many buildings dating from the time just after the Fire.  St Paul’s Cathedral is the most obvious example.

My novel, Highwaypersons, is set in the years 1713 to 1716.  Well after the Fire.  The changes in London in the intervening half-century had been significant.  Most people would say the new buildings were an improvement on the old, although one of my characters dares to disagree.

It was also a time of growing prosperity.  Historians argue as to whether the Fire and the rebuilding had any influence on that, but it is certainly true that there was a lot of economic growth in those years.  It will not surprise many of you to learn that the benefits were unevenly distributed, to say the least.

During this time, London became more important than ever as the centre of everything, in the whole of Britain, its influence even reaching as far as Wales.  Architecture, fashions, painting, manners: all seemed to spread from the capital to the rest of the country, if only gradually and partially.

You may notice some of these things get mentioned in passing, but Highwaypersons is not primarily about economic and social history.  I have the not let the background get in the way of the story.  Well, I hope not.  But the background cannot be totally ignored.

The Great Fire of London made an impression that was to last.  Even in Wales.


What sort of words and sentences should I use?

I have been advised to use only short words and short sentences.  To use only familiar words.  To write so a child of eleven could easily understand it.


As it happens, I do usually write in a fairly simple style, but I am worried about the trend for all writers to follow these rules.  Are we not in danger of losing the beauty of the English language?  The variety of words, with their subtle differences in meaning, from the most precise to the all-encompassing, is part of the glory of our language.

I certainly do not want to write as if I am producing an academic treatise, but I think eleven-year-olds need educating.

Like a lot of people who choose to do a lot of writing, I enjoy playing with words.  I hope you will find some of my puns and other word-play amusing.

I have tried to strike a balance in my blogs and in my novel Highwaypersons.  I hope you think I have got it right.  Or is it ‘gotten’ to be correct?

I will be interested in any feedback.



Hold the front page!

The good news is that I am very nearly ready to publish my fist novel on Create Space, the self-publishing arm of Amazon.

The present delay is caused by the need to find a suitable picture to go on the cover. I hope it will not take long.

The book is called Highwaypersons: Debts and Duties.  It is about a brother and sister from the Rhondda valley in Wales, who turn to crime to raise money to pay off their father’s debts and so get him out of debtors’ prison.  They also hope to punish those they believe were responsible for their family’s troubles.   One of their victims, a beautiful but infuriating widow, persuades them to help recover some missing letters.  This leads them into a murder investigation.

The book is set against the background of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion.

You will find mystery, injustice, danger, war and romance in this story.  Some say it has social and political echoes for today.  Others say that is because nothing changes much: people are still the same.  You can make your own mind up.


Does atmosphere matter?

I have been watching the Brother Cadfael mysteries on Drama.  It makes a change from sport.  I watched the series when it was first broadcast, several years ago.  I have also read most of the books.


As I have watched this time, I have been reminded of a criticism which was made when the series first reached the screen.  I seem to see the truth of it more now than I did then.  The atmosphere created on TV is different from that found in print.  It is more confrontational.

In the books there is inevitably conflict.  Not always violent.  I am thinking of the arguments Cadfael has with the other monks, with witnesses and suspects, and sometimes with the Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff.  These come across on screen as more strident than in print.  When I read the books, I do not imagine the monks shouting at each other or displaying temper, except on the odd occasion.  On TV that is the norm.

The pace is also different.  The books imply a leisurely, peaceful way of life appropriate to a mediaeval monastery.  On TV it seems to have the pace of a modern police thriller.

You may have your own views on which you enjoy more or on which you think is more authentic.  My point is that they are different.

I hope to create a certain atmosphere in my books.  Not the same all the time.  Certainly different books will create different feelings.  I hope I will succeed in producing the atmosphere I intend each time.  I hope you will find it to your liking.  I would welcome feed back in due course.



What am I doing?

I have not blogged for a while.  I am still here.  I have been busy with various things including sorting out some IT problems.

JHM Data Protection

However, I have sent my draft novel to a professional editor and had it back duly edited.  I then went through it doing two things.

  1. I looked at his suggestions and implemented some.
  2. I looked at his changes and reversed some.

Am I arrogant?  Why go to an editor if I reject his work?

I hope I am just trying to be true to myself.  Some things are matters of personal style and preference.  I do not want to lose my ‘voice’.


I can assure you that I am truly grateful for the many corrections my editor made which were necessary.  It is amazing how many typos slipped past me, even after I had checked the draft several times, and how many grammatical errors I made.

I am about to go through it again to revise the division into chapters and sections, as each change tends to affect that.

Then I will be starting the self-publishing process.  That takes longer than you might expect, as you need to look at the printed draft and proof-read it.   There are usually a few things to be corrected then.

So I hope to be in print by the end of next month.

I will be offering a short story and my first chapter free to people who ask for them.  They will be available a little before I publish the book.

Watch this space.