Sparkler illustrating how to submit your manuscript

This month I attended the sold-out ‘How NOT To Submit Your Manuscript’ session at York Literature Festival. For two hours, literary agents Jo Unwin, Sam Copeland and Sallyanne Sweeney  gave gallons of brilliant advice. When should you start looking for an agent? All three agents said you needed to have finished your fictional novel before […]

First hand spy quotes

There is nothing like a first-hand account to get an historical novelist excited. For me, the secret papers of John Thurloe, Oliver Cromwell’s spymaster, have been a treasure trove. Hidden until the beginning of the 18th century, workmen only came across them when they dismantled a false ceiling in his former chambers at Lincoln’s Inn, London. In my […]

Disguise or just keeping warm? Winter by Wencelas Hollar

Disguise is an essential tool in espionage. However I still remember the roar of laughter from fellow cinema goers when Tom Cruise peeled off his latex face in Mission: Really Impossible – No We Mean It This Time. Given I’m writing a book about seventeenth century spies, latex is off the menu. I did find some absolute gems though […]

Pepys Exhibition

My novel is set in 1650s, between the violence of the English Civil Wars and the flamboyant return of King Charles II. It’s not a very well-known historical period. At school, I think there was mention of Oliver Cromwell cancelling Christmas, but that was about it. Here is the late, great Alan Rickman calling off […]