John Samson

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Between worlds

By all accounts, there needs to be a bit of death in order to access the world between… although, there are some exceptions. See what you make of these:

Death on the Vine – L Lee Kane
Chilled to the Bones – Linda Lee Kane
The Sorceress – Linda Lee Lane
Death is an Illusion – L Lee Kane
Death is Waiting – Patricia Simpson
Cruel Deflections – Geoff Brown
Through the Nethergate – Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Shaka are Dead – John Samson
Shadowshine – Keith Howard

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Horses and donkeys

In days gone by, horses and donkeys were important for transport. Today in many rural settings, they can still be found performing similar functions whilst in more affluent areas, horses are a hobby and income earner through racing. They feature in fiction and non-fiction books alike. Here’s a sample of what horses featuring on covers by TSL authors:

Three books concern the Anglo-Boer or South African war on 1899-1902, two of which are non-fiction: British Military Chaplaincy and Religion in South Africa 1899-1902 and Practically Over. The third is a novel by Robberta Eaton Cheadle, A Ghost and His Gold.

Two others are children’s books – a working horse features in Towing Path Tales while The Amorous Adventures of Big Ben, a Shire horse, tells of a horse all alone in a field, his work done, finding love.

Family are the Friends you Choose is an autobiography by Marthe Kiley-Worthington who forms relationships with animals, and horses in particular, that are close to human. Ever heard of a horse in a kitchen and watching television?
Another autobiography is that by Ray Wooster, My 30’s and 40’s Childhood featuring his toy horse. Ray goes on to write about horses in his A Boy’s War Journal, a novel set in and post-World War 2 London.

Finally, John Samson’s A Donkey called Oddsock, a novel, set somewhere in Africa, tells of a donkey’s journey as he and his young master try to avoid being recruited as child soldiers.

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Breaking the Mould

Why follow the crowd? I don’t understand authors who insist on writing to formulae. Yes, there is a place for formulaic writing – for those who don’t want to concentrate. I remember as a teenager spending many a Saturday morning in the bath with a Barbara Cartland or Mills and Boon. I knew within an 90mins I’d be finished the book and would have some peace and quiet before the onslaught of family life again. As a younger adult, television programmes such as Poirot and Murder She Wrote, allowed me to get on with other things whilst keeping an eye on what was happening – I knew I was not going to miss a vital clue. But when it comes to reading, I want to break from the mould. I want each page to be a discovery and to challenge my thinking. I like writers who break the mould.

Authors break the mould in different ways. I never know what Doris Lessing’s next book is going to be about and in what style, although it does appear that aspects of feminism are a common theme (no guarantee though). (I don’t read the blurb before buying or starting a book – which makes opening a book to read even more adventurous). Similarly, John Samson has not (yet) written two books in the same genre or style. And then there is Sue Hampton‘s collections of short stories. Robbie Cheadle (and here) is another author who experiments with different styles and genres.

Others break the mould through their experiences or have a message to pass on:
Problems faced by African writers – Binyavanga Wainaina
Heaven’s Rage – Leslie Tate

More recently I heard about John Boyne who has written diverse works such as The History of Loneliness and The house of special purpose as well as children’s books. He’s now on my list (thank goodness he was highly recommended to me – I don’t think the covers would have convinced me).

first published 10 August 2017, updated 2024

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Waves

The sea is powerful. For some it’s a source of inspiration and relaxation. For others, it’s dark and threatening. Thus it provides a wonderful backdrop for many stories.

Those which spring to mind include:
Albatross by David Stroud
The Goddess in Ravelled by Sue Hampton
Fancy That by Josie Arden in This and That vol 1
Stephen Baker makes waves in his monologue collection Against the Tide
And don’t miss John Samson‘s novel A Donkey Called Oddsock where a young boy goes in search of the sea.
Philip Philmar has a beautiful mermaid surrounded by waves on the cover of Warm and Wet, one of the stories in his short story collection of the same title.
The sea features too in Leslie Tate’s Love’s Register and in Margaret Moore’s holiday reminiscences From Sri-Lanka with Love.

Finally, Dave Robson shares how to be a popular crew member when sailing on the waves.

First published 12 April 2017, updated 2024

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Reconciliation

If one wanted to identify a theme in the books I enjoy, it will most likely be Reconciliation. People finding ways to put aside their differences and come to a closer understanding of each other. It’s a theme dominant in TSL author John Samson’s work: Powerless and Shaka Are Dead (don’t forget The Good Vicar).

Some other books I’ve enjoyed and others I will look to read include:

Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman

Antonia Hayes – Relativity

Various other books by TSL authors have elements of reconciliation: Death on the Vine by Linda Kane and Gestation by Gideon Masters.

first published 14 May 2017, updated 2024

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Luke

Luke Skywalker in Star Wars is probably one of the most famous Lukes around. Another being the disciple Luke who wrote the Bible Gospel. It’s a name derived from the Greek referring to a man from Lacania. A few TSL books have characters called Luke:

Mystery at the Manor, in Rodney the Chimney Sweep series by Paul Ross
‘Visiting Miss Lyon’ in Woken by Sue Hampton and also in ‘Lockdown Love’ in Still Rebelling for Life
A Second Chance by Anna Ryland
Lucky Luke gets a mention in Shaka are Dead by John Samson
DCI Benson’s first name is Luke in Death is Waiting by Patricia Simpson

first published 24 April 2017, updated 2024

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Enduring Art

The short story by Sue Vincent triggered this post on Art. Whilst reading it, my mind drifted to a short story I’d read (and didn’t make a note of) which also features a family heirloom with a past. I can visualise it: the young girl hiding in the cupboard of books and when caught saying she’d been reading it (upside down Latin). The gardener (reminiscent of Lady Chatterley’s Lover) had painted a fake so the owner could sell the original. One day I might find out who wrote it…

A painting of Foxton Lock in Josie Arden’s This and That vol 1 spurs a family search.
5 Gresham Place in Tea at the Opalaco by Jane Lockyer Willis tells a dark story of the fake painter Jeremy and his wife.

A little less enduring, only because it’s pavement art, is Poison Lady by Josie Arden in This and That vol 2

In addition to books mentioning art – see also Love’s Register by Leslie Tate – a number of TSL authors illustrate their own work:

first published 8 April 2017, updated 2024