Image: The imperial Gas and Coke Company, Sands End, Fulham
I've just published my latest novel, 'Gas Street', a ghost story. It's a departure away from my usual genre of historical-fiction, and is available on Amazon on the links below. There's also an accompanying vlog on YouTube featuring some of the locations in the book.
Ernest Jones, a quiet, unassuming, and smartly dressed young man is a clerk in a gasworks by day and a serial killer by night. Psychologically damaged by his angry and mentally deranged father, Jones lures women back to his house in Gas Street, Fulham, where he murders and then buries their bodies about the property. His killing spree only ends when he is eventually caught, convicted, and hung in 1952.
The house in Gas Street lies empty until 1999 when a young couple, Lucy and Wayne Earle, purchase it and renovate it. They move into their dream home and look forward to their happy life together with their two young children, until Lucy starts seeing and hearing strange things. She hears and smells gas, sees a man wearing a grotesque gas mask placing something under the floorboards, and the rooms appear as they were in the past: claustrophobic, grubby, and lit by gas filaments.
Convinced she is going mad, she agrees to see a psychiatrist, but when she learns about Jones and the macabre history of Gas Street, she has a mental breakdown. She spends a year in a psychiatric unit and undergoes intense therapy, finally accepting that Jones, and the gas smells, are figments of her imagination. Or are they?
I've just published my seventh novel 'Gas Street', and it's available on the links above.
It's the first ghost story that I've written, and is a departure away from my usual genre of historical-fiction, although, being a history nerd, it does feature a potted history of the Imperial Gas and Coke Company, and the surrounding area of Sands End in Fulham.
Ernest Jones, the serial killer, is based on John Christie of 10 Rillington Place fame, but I've changed the circumstances and relocated the story from Notting Hill to Fulham as I know the Fulham area really well. As with most parts of London, I've seen it undergo gentrification and social cleansing from the mid-1980's onwards. Within my lifetime it's turned from a solid working-class area and into one where only the very wealthy can live.
I've spent the past 34 years of my other life as a telecoms engineer, but all of my life devising plots and ideas for many novels. My first stab at writing was at the age of 11, when I was inspired by the 1981 TV adaptation of 'Brideshead Revisited'. It was about a similar romp around a stately home, but unsurprisingly, not up to Evelyn Waugh. I remember falling madly in love with Anthony Andrews, and ironically I worked in his house in Belgravia twenty years later, installing a telephone line. Sadly, he wasn't there at the time.
I was born, and have lived and worked in London all my life. My education was woeful, typical of most working-class kids of '70's, and I could barely read when I left secondary school. I managed to drag myself through the sixth form and two years at Brixton College, before working for BT as an engineer where I was (and still am) the only woman working with two hundred blokes!
I know it sounds like an old cliché, but my education started when I left school, and I truly have been attending the University of Life ever since.
I am now divorced with two beautiful sons, and after the birth of my youngest son in 2009, I took a slightly more sedate role within BT, when I managed to convince myself to start writing down some of the ideas for novels that I have had clanging around in my brain for the past forty-odd years. I thought it was better to drag them out before the menopause and then dementia kick in.
My novels are almost all set in the past, as I'm what I describe as a history nut, and are all set in my beloved London, so they unite my two passions. They are all seen from a working-class female point of view and feature the very lowest and down trodden of society, like servants and prostitutes or victims of cruelty or abuse. Accurately portraying London history at the same time.
I hope to give these, so far, voiceless under-class a real voice in a realistic, authentic and un-sanitised depiction of history.
I hope you enjoy some of the yarns that I have devised, for they are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, very adult, and above all entertaining.