Sunday, 15 July 2018

Perfect Day - sneak peak


Perfect Day, a contemporary male/male retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion—published August 13th 2018.


Pre-order Amazon | Kobo | Nook


When Joshua Newton, prodigal son of one of New Milton’s elite, fell in love with ambitious young actor Finn Callaghan, his world finally made sense. With every stolen moment, soft touch and breathless kiss, they fell deeper in love.

Finn was his future…until he wasn’t.

Eight years later, Finn has returned to the seaside town where it all began. He’s on the brink of stardom, a far cry from the poor mechanic who spent one gorgeous summer falling in love on the beach.

The last thing he wants is a second chance with the man who broke his heart. Finn has spent a long time forgetting Joshua Newton—he certainly doesn’t plan to forgive him.

Chapter One


Then

There was one last perfect day.

High in the dunes on the east side of the bay, in the secret hollow that had been their haven all summer, Joshua lay with his head in Finn’s lap and watched the gulls wheel across the evening sky.

Happy laughter drifted from the other end of the beach where the season’s last visitors kept a tenacious hold on summer. Joshua felt the same, all too aware that life after this magical few weeks might spin out from beneath his feet.

“When we’re in LA,” Finn promised, “we’ll hang out on the beach all year.”

Joshua gazed up at him, at his sun-kissed skin and the face he loved. Freckles danced across the bridge of his nose, his eyelashes tipped with gold from spending too long in the sun, and that perfect bow of a mouth curved into a warm smile. “You won’t have time for the beach,” Joshua said, finding a smile of his own. “You’ll be too busy being a big-shot actor.”

Finn gave a self-deprecating laugh, but Joshua saw the dream in his eyes. “Nah,” Finn said, shaking his head. “I mean the odds of that ever happening… You know.”

They’d been through it a hundred times, but Joshua could go through it a hundred times more. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for Finn Callaghan. Of all the unknowns ahead, Finn’s inevitable success was the one thing Joshua didn’t doubt. Sitting up, he settled himself next to Finn and dug his toes into warm sand, squinting out across the sun-burnished ocean. “The odds are crappy,” he acknowledged, “for most people—those who lack talent, drive, and movie-star good looks.”

“Dude,” Finn said, embarrassed and pleased all at once.

His unfeigned modesty made Joshua’s heart soften and he nudged his shoulder against Finn’s. “You’re the real deal,” he said. “You’re going to be a star, Finn, surrounded by beautiful people all day long, and I’ll probably never see you except at movie premieres.”

Finn leaned into him, shaking his head. “You’ll be too busy dazzling everyone at Colburn to have time for pointless things like movie premieres.”

“I’ll make time. Now and then. Only for the major movies, obviously. With the big stars.”

Finn scooped up a handful of sand and let it run through his fingers. “Only for the A-listers, huh?”

“That’s right. You’ll have to make it worth my while. I’ll expect at least, um…” He ran through his tiny list of movie stars and came up wanting. “Brad…”

After a beat Finn turned to look at him, one eyebrow lifted. “Pitt?”

“Right. Yes, him.”

“Because you liked him in…?”

Joshua narrowed his eyes. “That old movie. The one we watched in your trailer.”

“Uh-huh. Which one?”

Laughter gleamed behind Finn’s bright eyes. It made Joshua smile as he floundered. “Um… Titanic?”

“Seriously?”

Flinging his arms wide, he yelled, “I’m the king of the world!” He grinned at Finn. “Right?”

“Right.” Finn fought a smile. “Except that was DiCaprio, you doofus.”

Joshua laughed—as if he could tell them apart. As if he cared. He only had eyes for Finn. 

“Whatever.” He flopped back onto the sand and gazed up at him. “You can introduce me to them both at some horrible Hollywood party you’ll be forced to attend.”

After a silent beat, Finn said, “Don’t want any of that without you, Josh.” He looked at him intently, in that way he had of making Joshua feel like the whole universe was spinning around them, as if they were right at the beating heart of it all. “Don’t want anything without you. You get that, right? You get that this—” he threaded their fingers together and held tight “—you and me? This is the real deal, Josh. I mean it. You’re it for me. You get that, right?”

“I do,” Joshua assured him. “These last couple months, this summer… Finn, it’s changed everything.”

Finn searched his eyes, a slight frown creasing his brow. “And what about your dad?”
“Soon.” He tensed guiltily. “I’ll tell him soon.”

“That’s what you said last week.”

“Tomorrow, then.” The prospect of telling his father about Finn, about his radical new plans for the future, had crouched like a storm on the horizon all summer. And no matter how hard he’d ignored it, it hadn’t gone away. He swallowed. “I’ll tell him tomorrow.”

“Will you—?”

“I don’t want to think about it now. I only want to think about us, Finn. Tell me about us.”

Finn’s expression warmed. “This is just the start for us, man. It’s like… It’s like we’re at the beginning of a road and it’s rolling out ahead of us, long and straight, and so fucking bright. I can see it, man. I can taste it.”

“Finn…” Joshua pulled him down next to him, touched their foreheads together. He wanted so much to see Finn’s gilded road, but when he closed his eyes all he could see was the gathering storm. “I love you,” he whispered urgently. “I love you more than anything, Finn. More than everything. Remember that.”

Finn smiled against his lips, trailed his fingers through Joshua’s hair and kissed him long and sweet. He smelled like sun cream and the ocean, like fresh air and summer. “This is the beginning, Josh. This is the beginning of everything for us.”

But of course it wasn’t. It was the end. It was the last golden hour of the last perfect day.


Chapter Two


Now

Autumn arrived with precocious zeal.

Cold rain rattled leaves from the trees, herding them into disconsolate piles in the old orchard. Joshua ignored them as he slammed the door on his rusted Honda Civic. Tucking his fingers into the pocket of his sweatshirt, he gazed up at Hanworth Hall. The Newton family mansion brooded in the dank fall morning, gazing back at him with vacant eyes. Many years ago he’d called this place home, but it had stopped being that long before he’d left and now it just looked austere and empty. He wished he cared more than he did.

His father’s Town Car lurked farther along the gravel drive, the waiting driver’s face lit blue by the screen of his smartphone. Joshua supposed his brother was using the car now. He shouldn’t have been surprised; like their father, Michael Newton had never suffered from an excess of shame. He noticed Aunt Ruth’s car parked farther down the drive and suppressed a sigh. It was a genuine gathering of the clan, then. With a sinking feeling, he made himself head inside.

The front door wasn’t locked, which was lucky because the staff had all been dismissed—more collateral damage from his father’s misdeeds—and Newtons didn’t generally carry keys to the family pile. He supposed the Realtor had one now and the thought provoked a grim smile. Michael would hate that.

The door opened silently on well-oiled hinges and Joshua closed it just as quietly, giving himself time to adjust to being back. It had been, what, seven years since he’d last set foot inside? It looked different now, just a shell of what it had once been. All the pictures and furniture in the hall had been packed up and shipped out, nothing personal remained. Soon, Hanworth Hall would be owned by someone else. The rooms he’d played in as a child would belong to other children and the grounds he’d once loved would be walked by other feet.

He felt some regret, now that he was here, but not a great deal. Mostly he just hoped that the sale would write off the bulk of the debt—at least the part owed to the innocent creditors—even if it couldn’t wipe away the disgrace.

Cold, he hunched deeper into his sweatshirt, running a hand through his mist-damp hair. He would have rather been anywhere but here: home in his one-bedroom cottage, at the school listening to seventh-grade violinists screech through “Au Clare De Lune,” or even working a shift at Dee’s for a little extra cash—anywhere but in this house with these people. But duty was duty, so here he was ready to do what needed to be done.

Voices drifted from the drawing room. Bracing himself, he headed toward the sound, his boots clumping softly on the polished wood floor. Four heads turned when he stepped into the room.

“Joshua.” Michael managed to make the greeting sound like an insult.

He nodded toward his brother, then to Isabelle, Michael’s wife. “Hello.” He smiled at Aunt Ruth who watched him with sympathy.

“Mr. Newton?” The other man, the one he didn’t recognize, stepped forward. “I’m Tim Dexter, the Realtor.” He held out his hand to shake. “Pleasure to meet you.”

Joshua smiled, glanced around at the others. “So…?”

“We’ve agreed on a buyer,” Michael announced, pleased. “We both need to sign the papers. Just a formality.”

“He’s a lawyer,” Isabelle offered. “The buyer. So it’s going to someone reputable.”

Joshua huffed a laugh. “You mean, unlike its previous owner?”

Isabelle glared. Michael just gave him an icy look, dismissive in its lack of passion, as if Joshua and his opinions didn’t matter anymore. Not that they ever had. “You only need to sign,” Michael said.

“I have no problem signing. The sooner we sell the better.”

Dexter led him over to the table and started setting out papers, little crosses marking where his signature was required. “All the proceeds will go to the creditors I’m afraid.”

Quite right, Joshua thought, but kept his thoughts to himself as he picked up the pen.

Aunt Ruth drifted past him, resting a supportive hand on his shoulder. To Michael, she said, “You’ll be living in the city now?”

“In the Park Avenue condo, yes. It’ll be easier to keep an eye on the business from there. I never understood our father’s obsession with this place; it’s so remote and the town is nothing.” With a smirk, he glanced at Isabelle. “It’s hardly the Hamptons.”

“I think he loved New Milton because your mother did,” Ruth said, and that shut him up.
Their aunt was much like her sister, their mother, in terms of looks if not temperament. Since their mother’s early death, Aunt Ruth had kept a watchful eye on the Newton boys but had always taken a particular interest in Joshua. He reminded her of her sister, she told him. She’d always had his best interests at heart, and he was grateful to her for that. He truly was. Only, Ruth’s idea of his best interests hadn’t always coincided with his own.

“So,” she carried on, “what else do you know of the purchaser?”

“Something of a rising star,” Michael said. “Made partner at Thompson Glass two years ago. Damn fine lawyer. Name’s Sean Callaghan.”

Joshua froze. The name was a coincidence, surely? It had to be. Even so his heart rattled away in his chest and his fingers stuck clammily to the pen. He put it down and wiped his hand on his jeans before continuing to sign.

“Brother’s a different sort, though.” Michael tugged at his cuffs and all but sniffed in disdain. “Some kind of actor, apparently. On television.”

The pen jerked halfway across the box Joshua was signing. It drew Ruth’s attention. She looked at him with a concerned frown and he dropped his gaze back to the paperwork, face burning. He hated that she knew what he was thinking.

He signed the rest of the papers quickly, his head full of memories he’d rather forget. Setting down the pen, he shoved his shaking hands into the pouch of his hoodie.

Sean Callaghan. Of all the impossible, agonizing coincidences.

“…think these country retreats are quite old-fashioned,” Isabelle was saying. “It’ll be so much more convenient to be in Manhattan.”

“Quite,” Ruth said, but her attention was fixed on Joshua. “And how about you? Will you be moving to New York too? You’re welcome to stay with me, but I know you don’t like the city.”

“I don’t,” he said, pleased that his voice didn’t shake, no trace of his distress on show. “Thank you for the offer, but I’m staying in New Milton for now.”

Ruth raised a sculpted eyebrow. “And you’re still…?”

“Teaching. Yes, I am.” Michael and Isabelle exchanged an expressive look. Joshua ignored them. “In fact,” he said, “I have a student in half an hour, so I’d better get going.”

That was a lie. He didn’t have another lesson until this afternoon, but he had no compunction about bending the truth for his family. His brother and father had made a career out of it, after all. “If there’s nothing else I’m needed for…?”

“Actually there is one thing.” Michael stepped forward, fishing a yellow sheet of paper out of a leather folder and holding it out to Joshua.

He took it, narrowing his eyes at the list of items: dresser (1), four-poster bed (3), armoire (2) and so on. He looked up. “What’s this?”

“It’s the contents of the house the buyer didn’t want included in the sale. Most of it’s in storage, but there are a couple of items still here—including the car collection. We need someone to oversee their disposal. And since you’ll be in the area…”

“You want me to sell our parents’ belongings?”

“It’s legally mandated,” Michael said, without a shred of embarrassment. “All proceeds to the creditors, naturally. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Of course he doesn’t,” Isabelle said. “It’s not like he’s got anything else to do.”

Joshua didn’t want to argue; he didn’t want to stay in the house for one minute longer. “I’ll do it. It’s fine.” He gave them both a steady look. “Goodbye, then,” he said and headed for the door.

“Joshua?” Michael took a couple steps toward him. “You haven’t been to see him.”

“No.”

“You should. It’s difficult for him in that place.”

Joshua felt a hot flash of anger, of the shame and fury Michael didn’t seem to share. “It’s meant to be difficult. It’s prison.”

“But especially so, for him.”

“Well, he should have considered that before defrauding the government out of millions of tax dollars, shouldn’t he?”

“He’s still our father,” Michael said, with that cold voice he’d inherited.

Joshua shook his head. “He gave that right up a long time ago.” He spared one last look for the house they’d lost, a brief nod for Ruth, and then stalked back the way he’d come, through the echoing hallway and out the front door.

The gravel crunched beneath his boots and he sucked in a cold, damp breath as he slowed down. The rain had stopped, but everything dripped and the air was ripe with the loamy scent of grass and rotting leaves. A lump rose in his throat, taking him by surprise. But he supposed this had been home once, despite everything, and it was lost to him now. 
Whatever happened from this day on, he’d never be able to go home—even if he wanted to.

“Joshua?”

Sighing, he turned to find Aunt Ruth picking her way across the gravel in high heels. She looked ridiculous and out of place in her metropolitan chic. “I have to go,” he said.

“But are you alright? I mean about the brother moving here.”

He swallowed hard but didn’t feign ignorance. He didn’t want to talk about it, though.

Ruth tipped her head, touched his shoulder. “Oh, Joshua, still? It’s been eight years, darling. I’d have thought—”

“I’m fine,” he said, looking away from her concerned gaze. “It’s fine.”

“I’m sure he won’t come here,” she said, lowering her voice as if Michael might overhear. As if he’d care, even if he knew. “I’m sure you won’t have to see him.”

Joshua shook his head. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to see Finn Callaghan again—he did. But he was afraid that Finn wouldn’t want to see him again, and he didn’t know whether he could handle how much that would hurt. “He’s probably forgotten all about me.”

“But you haven’t forgotten him.”

“No.” He dipped his eyes to the driveway, the gravel damp and glistening. “No, I don’t suppose I ever will.”

She squeezed his arm, more hesitant than she’d been eight years ago. Then she’d been so sure, so convinced she knew what was right—for him, for the family. Even for Finn. “I know it was difficult,” she said, fingers biting into his arm, “but I still believe you made the right decision. To give up everything you had—your education, your place in the business, your home—for…for a summer romance, Joshua? And with a man. It would have been foolish.”

Pressing his lips together, he resisted telling her that he’d long ago come to believe that there was nothing wrong with a little foolishness. But he’d learned that lesson too late and he couldn’t blame Ruth for having been cautious. She’d tried to do her best for him, tried to fill the gap his mother’s death had left behind.

“I understand,” he said, offering her the best smile he could muster. “And at the time, staying did feel like the responsible thing to do. But I—I suppose, given how things turned out, I wish I’d made a different choice.”

“How things turned out?” She dropped her hand from his shoulder.

He shrugged. “Well, look at me…” No direction, no ambition, and no career beyond a little peripatetic music teaching—certainly not the glittering future everyone had assumed would follow his Harvard MBA. No money, thanks to his father cutting him off when he finally came out, a year after ending things with Finn. And, while less pressing, no less disheartening, no relationship. Joshua remained chronically single.

“There’s still time,” Ruth said, encompassing his failure at life in one platitude. “Your life’s not over at thirty-one, you know.”

But he couldn’t agree with her optimism; his life had ended eight years ago—the day he chose his family over Finn Callaghan.

The day Finn walked out of his life and never looked back.







Perfect Day, a contemporary male/male retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, is published on 13th August 2018.

Love doesn’t burn out just because the timing’s wrong. It grows. It never leaves.

When Joshua Newton, prodigal son of one of New Milton’s elite, fell in love with ambitious young actor Finn Callaghan, his world finally made sense. With every stolen moment, soft touch and breathless kiss, they fell deeper in love.

Finn was his future…until he wasn’t.

Love stays. Even when you don’t want it to, even when you try to deny it, it stays.

Eight years later, Finn has returned to the seaside town where it all began. He’s on the brink of stardom, a far cry from the poor mechanic who spent one gorgeous summer falling in love on the beach.

The last thing he wants is a second chance with the man who broke his heart. Finn has spent a long time forgetting Joshua Newton—he certainly doesn’t plan to forgive him.

Love grows. It never leaves.

Pre-order links here:

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Review: Introducing Mr. Winterbourne

Introducing Mr. Winterbourne Introducing Mr. Winterbourne by Joanna Chambers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a delightful read! The characters are so well drawn and their relationship so compelling, it's difficult to believe it's all been done in one short story. I was rooting for them from page one, and the ending is so sweet and hopeful it's left me with a happy smile. :)

If you're a fan of Joanna Chambers' other works, you'll love this. If you haven't read her before, then let this be your first taste. You'll be in for a treat--Joanna Chambers is one of the best romance writers out there.

View all my reviews

Monday, 25 June 2018

Self-editing top tips


We all know that writing The End isn't the end. But what’s the best way to self-edit your manuscript before sending it off to beta readers, agents, or editors? There’s lots of advice online, but while I’m nervously awaiting my editor’s comments on Between the Lines (the follow up to Perfect Day), I thought I’d jot down my top five tips for doing that initial self-edit.

1. Put it in a drawer

Not a literal drawer, unless you actually write longhand. (Some people still do!) But once you’ve got your complete first draft—and I  mean the first draft you’re intending to show people—you need to put it aside for a week, a month, or even six months if deadlines aren’t an issue. And use that time well. Take care of all the things you didn’t have time for while writing (tackling the garden, doing paperwork, seeing friends). Do anything, in fact, to avoid thinking about the manuscript sitting in your drawer. What you’re trying to do is get some distance between yourself and your work so that when you come back to it, you can read it like a reader.

2. Read it like a reader

When you come back to your manuscript, read it straight through and resist the temptation to start tinkering. If you notice something you want to change, make a quick note and move on. I write using Word so I use the comment function at this stage, noting things like ‘delete this scene?’, ‘Boring’, ‘Check spelling of his name’. The key here is to keep reading, because you want to give yourself the reader's experience of your novel. It's the best way to spot pacing issues, plot holes, and problems with character arcs. Is your story suffering from a soggy middle? Is the pace so fast you’re missing character detail? Does the emotional payoff work? Reading it like a reader will help you identify those global issues.

3. Eliminate your writer’s ticks

Once you’ve made the changes from step two, it’s a good time to go through and eliminate your writer’s ticks. We all have them—some that follow us from book-to-book, some that crop up in one title only. These are over-used words and phrases that start jumping off the page with each repetition. For example, characters who are always nodding, sighing, blinking, or chuckling. Eye descriptions often fall into this trap—my beta reader picked up many mentions of ‘dark eyes’ in Between the Lines. Changing these descriptions, or just deleting them, is a great way to tighten up your writing.You will have your own ticks, but here's my personal hit list:
  • a little
  • almost
  • seemed
  • that
  • suddenly
  • nodded
  • blinked
  • pale
  • probably

Regarding the first three—a little, almost, and seemed—these are words that can suck the impact right out of your writing.There are times when they’re exactly the right words, but always check your usage. For example, if you write ‘Josh arrived the next morning, seeming pale’ do you mean he appeared to be pale but wasn’t really? Or would ‘Josh arrived the next morning, ashen-faced’ have more impact?

4. Read it out loud

Probably best to be alone for this one! It takes time, but reading your whole manuscript out loud is a great way to spot unrealistic dialogue, missing words, and awkward sentence construction. You don’t need to put in an Oscar-winning performance, just speak the words aloud. You’ll be amazed by what you pick up.

5. Do a final read in a new format

I always find it helpful to read my manuscript in a new format for the final read-through. For me, that either means my e-reader or printing out a hard copy. A hard copy makes it easier to note any changes you want to make, but I find an e-reader to be closer to a read's experience and therefore more valuable.

By the time you’ve finished all that, you’ll have polished your manuscript as much as possible on your own and it’ll be ready for a new pair eyes. After which you’ll pull it apart, revise it, and start again at step one...

Meanwhile, I’ll go back to nervously waiting on revisions for Between the Lines.
_________________________________________________________________________

Perfect Day, my contemporary male/male retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, is published on 13th August 2018.

Love doesn’t burn out just because the timing’s wrong. It grows. It never leaves.

When Joshua Newton, prodigal son of one of New Milton’s elite, fell in love with ambitious young actor Finn Callaghan, his world finally made sense. With every stolen moment, soft touch and breathless kiss, they fell deeper in love.

Finn was his future…until he wasn’t.

Love stays. Even when you don’t want it to, even when you try to deny it, it stays.

Eight years later, Finn has returned to the seaside town where it all began. He’s on the brink of stardom, a far cry from the poor mechanic who spent one gorgeous summer falling in love on the beach.

The last thing he wants is a second chance with the man who broke his heart. Finn has spent a long time forgetting Joshua Newton—he certainly doesn’t plan to forgive him.

Love grows. It never leaves.

Pre-order links here:

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Why we can't get enough Austen


Over the past several years we’ve seen a flood of Austen reimaginings. From Bollywood’s ‘Bride and Prejudice’ to ‘Lost in Austen’ and ‘Clueless’, Austen’s characters have found themselves far away from their Regency drawing rooms. And it’s not just screen adaptations. The Jane Austen Project from Harper Collins recruited big name authors to reimagine all six of Austen’s novels in contemporary settings. Excitingly, this year we’ll also be seeing a number of LGBT+ retellings—including my own, of course! 

But why Austen? What is it about her works that inspires writers to retell her stories over and over, to adapt them for the screen, and to transpose them into a world so markedly different from Austen’s?

Perhaps the most fundamental reason is that they work so well.

Austen’s heroines and heroes slip out of their muslin gowns or buckskin breeches and into a pair of jeans with ease. Unlike Dickens, whose characters shoulder a weight of social commentary, or the Bronte’s, whose characters are drenched in Victorian melodrama, Austen’s characters travel light. They leave her pages almost naked, ready to step seamlessly into the modern world. None of which is to imply that her characters lack depth. They are rich, fully developed people who readers find relatable and compelling even 200 years after Austen’s death. And that’s not an easy trick.

Hey, don’t I know you?

Austen’s ability to create characters that not only leap off the page through their dialogue but also feel fresh and real even two hundred years later is remarkable. Who hasn’t tried to escape a Miss Bates around the water cooler, or sat next to a Harriet Smith on the bus and listened to her obsess with her BFF over her latest boyfriend drama?

But just as importantly, they exist independently of the period in which they live. Their nineteenth century speech patterns and language aside, the characters talk and act like people you might meet at work, people who could easily be your friends, your family, or the love of your life. They feel like real people because Austen wrote real people. She didn’t write stereotypes or caricatures, and the only points her characters make are about fundamental human nature. “For what do we live,” asks Mr. Bennet, “but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” It turns out that, by and large, people are as risible today as they were two hundred years ago.

Spare me the details

“Mr. Bennet protested against any description of finery.” And so does Austen. Look as hard as you like and you’ll see no description of finery, or anything else, in Austen’s work. Even the delectable Darcy is only sketched as ‘tall’ and ‘handsome’. Austen’s characters reveal themselves in different ways, through their actions and words, and Austen allows them to earn our respect or ridicule accordingly. Which leaves readers plenty of room to interpret the characters as they choose, and so each generation can find something of themselves in her heroes and heroines.

It’s not only physical details that Austen avoids. She’s often criticised for the lack of social context in her work. Where are the conversations about the abolitionist movement, the wars with France, or the social unrest ravaging Regency England? Helena Kelly’s book Jane Austen, The Secret Radical makes a compelling argument that readers of the day would have read more subtly and knowingly than modern readers, that they would have understood more than we do about what Austen’s characters were and were not saying between the lines. (And let’s not forget that Austen was writing at a time of repressive sedition laws that restricted severely what she could print). Kelly’s book is a fantastic read and I recommend it thoroughly to any Austen fan.

But perhaps one of the side-effects for modern readers of being somewhat blind to Austen’s subtle social commentary is that her characters appear to be highly context-free. We can lift them from her pages and put them in our own world without losing anything essential. Better than that, we can allow them to interact with our own society and contextualise them in a way that reflects our world without it feeling forced.

Get me out of here!

If Austen’s novels have one consistent theme, it’s the heroines’ pursuit of freedom. Whether it’s Emma Woodhouse finding a way to marry and yet keep something of her independence, or Elizabeth Bennett finding the financial security her careless father failed to provide, Austen’s heroines start the novels trapped by society and circumstance and end them free—or as free as was possible for a nineteenth century middleclass woman. Perhaps Anne Eliot, consigned to an uncertain spinsterhood by poor choices and her vain, profligate father achieves the greatest freedom in the end. We can imagine Anne Wentworth accompanying her husband beyond the far horizon, seeing a world far beyond the claustrophobic constraints of Uppercross drawing rooms.

Enlightened as we see ourselves in 2018, we’re still bound by social conventions—race, class, sexuality, and gender all play their part in limiting our freedoms and opportunities. Perhaps that’s why Austen’s novels adapt so readily to an LGBT+ retelling; social attitudes toward the LGBT+ community still reflect many of the restraints nineteenth century England imposed on its inhabitants.

We’re not worthy

Austen was a genius. No doubt about it. She was a genius of observation, of dialogue, and of craft, and no re-telling or adaptation of her work will ever equal the original. If you haven’t read them, you’re missing out. But what a re-telling or an adaptation can do is have fun with beloved characters and stories, allow us to spend a little more time with them, and perhaps hint at what Austen may have been writing about had she been living today.
_________________________________________________________________________

Perfect Day, my contemporary male/male retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, is published on 13th August 2018.

Love doesn’t burn out just because the timing’s wrong. It grows. It never leaves.

When Joshua Newton, prodigal son of one of New Milton’s elite, fell in love with ambitious young actor Finn Callaghan, his world finally made sense. With every stolen moment, soft touch and breathless kiss, they fell deeper in love.

Finn was his future…until he wasn’t.

Love stays. Even when you don’t want it to, even when you try to deny it, it stays.

Eight years later, Finn has returned to the seaside town where it all began. He’s on the brink of stardom, a far cry from the poor mechanic who spent one gorgeous summer falling in love on the beach.

The last thing he wants is a second chance with the man who broke his heart. Finn has spent a long time forgetting Joshua Newton—he certainly doesn’t plan to forgive him.

Love grows. It never leaves.

Pre-order links here:


London Film and Comic Con – 2017

We had an awesome time at LFCC 2017!  The hall was buzzing all three days with that special atmosphere of fun, acceptance, and escapism...