Prologue of my next novel EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW

Here is the prologue of my next novel. A draft manuscript has been completed and the editorial process is now under way. The book is scheduled to be published in the autumn. (Please note - This is the first draft so is very likely to change when the editing gets going!)

The title of the novel has not been finalised.....  


Take me by the hand; it's so easy for you, Angel, for you are the road even while being immobile.” Rilke

Above the land then high over the ocean: drifting; floating. Flying across the star filled dark sky before dropping to rooftops and below, through slates and attics to bedrooms. Whirling past sleeping children and through walls to room after room of sleeping couples and singles. Spinning round pensioners and restless insomniacs. Finally she comes to a stop in one bedroom, like all the other bedrooms, and hovering above the ceiling, she is looking down: looking directly down onto the bed. On the bed, naked and unashamed are two bodies entwined in each other, writhing and caressing. Flesh mixed with a floral patterned duvet, patterns interchanging, flowers and flesh. Then a brief glance at the faces. It is who she feared it might be and yet knew it would be. Glimpses of faces, engrossed in passion: eager to please and oblivious of the world. The invisible peeping tom, who wasn't really there, blushed in awkward embarrassment. The room was filled with a swirling mist and in the swirling shadows flew faces, all familiar, all stern and all disapproving. There was also noise. Above the clinical noise of the lust and passion and the eager bouncing of the old bed springs was the murmur of many voices speaking together in an incomprehensible babble of confusion. The whole scene turned red. Not just red but deepest crimson as in the colour of blood. As if the mood suddenly changed, dogs rushed in towards the couple on the bed, their teeth grotesquely sharp, and their smiles salivating. They were wild, fierce dogs, snapping and snarling, searching for blood. 

She looked quickly away as she couldn't bear to see what would happen next and found she was under water. All had turned from red to blue. A dolphin smiled and encouraged her to follow. After a short swim there were the same copulating couple, now in blue tints surrounded by shoals of sparkly small fish. At that moment a huge shark appeared. It was focussed single mindedly on her, heading directly towards her. Its mouth was open and its numerous teeth were regular and very sharp. It was huge. It was getting closer. The big mouth and the teeth was blue and yet also stained with red. It was too close. Her heart was pounding. She screamed.
And sat up in bed suddenly awake and remembering all that had happened. The room was dark but it was far from quiet. The wind howled around the outside of the small Hebridean cottage. A hundred yards away the fierce Atlantic breakers crashed onto the beach. The storm had been raging since afternoon would blow for a few hours yet. From the open door to the living room, the next room in the tiny cottage emerged a soft gentle light.
She eased herself slowly to sit on the side of the bed, careful not to wake the sleeping man and she pulled her dressing gown round her shoulders. She stood up slowly and reached out in the darkness for the walking frame and, finding the comforting handles within reach, she shuffled slowly through the familiar route into the living room.

There was a soft light here, but not from the dead embers in the fireplace. The room just seemed to be glowing. She looked expectantly at the straight backed chair beside the dining table and sure enough he was there.
“Hello, I knew it would be you” she said.
“Take your time and sit down, we have all night!”
He was young, perhaps, but his age, like his origin was difficult to tell. He had never seemed to change no matter how many times she saw him and she had seen him many times over many years. He was dressed in simple clothes, quite nondescript yet very light coloured and the pale glow of the room emphasised their ephemeral lightness.
She moved slowly round the room with her zimmer frame and settled herself down in her own armchair, close to the fireplace. Though the embers were long dead there was still some warmth that she could feel through her nightdress.
She was old, very old. Her hair was white and thin. Her face was wrinkled from years of stormy winds and marked with many signs of age, the thin translucent skin pulled tight to her skull bones but her eyes were clear and bright. She moved slowly and deliberately and every movement indicated the rheumatism and other aches and pains below the surface of the old body.
“I…. I've been dreaming again. Its them two. They are…” she paused, embarrassed “ well you know what they are doing”
“I know, that’s why I'm here. How’s the arthritis?”
“Pah, old age! One part stops aching for a moment just to give you time to be aware of all the other aches you have in so many other places.”
His gentle smile oozed empathy and concern.
“So what’s it all mean?” she asked, “What is going to happen? I can feel that something will happen.”
“You will lose her for a while” he said, “but do not worry. She will return and it will all be well.”
“You’re always so impossibly imprecise!” she moaned to her old friend. “I am not happy with what she is doing right now.” She paused and said sadly, “I thought better of both of them!”
“It had to be. She will learn from and through him and from what he gives her. He will give her a most valuable gift that he himself will never see.”
“There you go again, making up your prophesies; all mystical and imprecise. They are being immoral and I feel he is using her to ease his loneliness and pain. It just doesn’t seem right.”
“You feel so much and you and she will both get your reward. You know she is very like you”
The wind howled and there was a crash as something moved in the yard outside.
“You must go back to bed and try and get some sleep old faithful one” he said, “you can’t be sitting chatting to me all night – your man will be getting jealous”
“Aye right, as if…” she stopped as she knew there was no point in saying more and smiled as she pulled herself up stiffly out of the old armchair and shuffled across the room towards the bedroom door. As she reached the doorway she could hear her husband of over fifty years snoring regularly in their old double bed. She turned and looked at the young man. He smiled and raised a hand in farewell and she went on and climbed back into her bed.
The cottage was suddenly empty and was as still as if the visitor had never been there and many would argue that he hadn't.
She pulled the covers over her and gently laid her head on the pillow, feeling a deep sense of peace in spite of the roaring storm without the old stone walls. Within a minute she was deep in a peaceful and dreamless sleep.

Image "Woman With Wings In Flight"courtesy of Victor Habbick /

You can get your copy of my novel "Capcir Spring" from Amazon either as a paperback or kindle download by clicking HERE if you are in the USA or here if you are in the UK

The loneliness of a long distance writer

Do you remember the short story called "The loneliness of a long distance runner"? It was a short story by Alan Sillitoe which was set in Irvine Beach, and published in 1959. It tells the story of a young man taking up long distance running to escape from the depressing surroundings of the borstal where he has been sent after he was convicted for theft.
But the long distance writer? I put that title deliberately as there is something very strange about anyone who tries to write a novel. You have to shut yourself away form people for many hundreds of hours and live in your own inner world. You have to concentrate on the paper in front of you or the computer screen. A novel writer will most likely have another job as well (a real job with a regular pay cheque!) so will be fitting in these period of enforced isolation between the hours of employment. There are surprisingly few people who can make a full time living from writing.  Family time and time for interaction with other human beings may be severely limited.
And at the end of the process when an author emerges from their self imposed isolation with a completed novel they are expected to change and become the life and soul of every party as they travel round talking about, selling and promoting their work. They are expected to be a wit and raconteur par excellence - the very opposite to what they have spent the last however many months doing alone locked in their writing closet.
Writing is an individual activity and can be a lonely existence. But it is immensely rewarding too and that of course is why we do it!

You can get your copy of my novel "Capcir Spring" from Amazon either as a paperback or kindle download by clicking HERE if you are in the USA or here if you are in the UK

 Image "Feet Of Runner In Evening Light"  courtesy of  Sura Nualpradid  /

Capcir Spring and objective criticism

In the months since I finished "Capcir Spring" I have been receiving lots of feedback from friends who have read the book. This has been a very positive experience, but then they would say nice things wouldn't they - they are friends after all!

But people I don't know have bought the book and posted positive comments on the Amazon. This is much more satisfying.

When you know an author you cannot help keeping in mind what you know about the person when you read their work. Perhaps you are looking for mutual friends thinly disguised as characters? Perhaps you are working out how your friends mind works! Whatever you are looking for it is hard to be objective and take the work as an isolated whole and look at it as a creation totally separate to the privileged background information about the author that you posses. 

As I work on my next novel, it is nice to know that my creation "Capcir Spring" worked for people who have never met me and know nothing about me. It is a huge ego trip to create a world, create people to fill it, invent their history and make them do interesting things. Creativity is the starting point but this is followed by many hours of hard work to make those ideas and insights into something that is good enough to share with the world.

Jean de Beurre.

You can get your copy of "Capcir Spring"by clicking HERE if you are in the USA or here if you are in the UK

Who were the Cathars?

The Cathars play an important part in the novel "Capcir Spring" by Jean de Beurre, but who were they?

"The Cathars were heretics without a name. The word Cathar is a slang name, used by Catholics as an insult. The words Perfect, the elect, and Credentes for the followers are similarly lifted from the annals of the Inquisition. They called themselves Good men, Good Women or simply Good Christians. They were, undeniably, dualists who believed that there were two Gods – the good God of the spiritual world and the Bad God of the material world. Accordingly the material world was of no interest. They believed that you had to reach a spiritual enlightenment in order to finally reach the Good God. The Catholic Church with its sacraments, relics, rules and prohibitions was seen as, at best, an irrelevancy to the Cathars. Catholics had simply missed the point.
The Catholic Church in Languedoc was a sad mess at this time, the late 12th Century. Corrupt and worldly Archbishops and Bishops led a trail of usury, ignorance and malpractice right down to the average village priest, who probably had a few concubines and was woefully ignorant of the substance of Christianity. In comparison the wandering Perfect were ascetic, saintly men who ate no meat, were celibate, learned and lived as simple, wandering artisans. They had little difficulty winning adherents. But while dualism was rife throughout southern Europe there were special reasons for its success in the Occitan; as mentioned, the Church was feeble, but the feudal system had not thrown up the central organisation it had in Northern France and England. The ancient custom of dividing land equally between all children, men and women, had seen to that. Cathar Perfect could be women as well as men, and many of the leading lights of Catharism were noble women of limited, but independent means. The Occitan was a fragmented, independent state, not easily controlled or regulated.
And so the Dualist faith thrived. In many mountain villages Dualists were in the majority while in towns like Carcassonne or the region’s capital, Toulouse, Cathars and orthodox Christians (and indeed, Jews, remarkably enough) rubbed shoulders happily, each content to worship their own."

This quotation is taken from an essay on a website authored by Brian Creese.

You can get your copy of "Capcir Spring"by clicking HERE if you are in the USA or here if you are in the UK

Capcir is in the Pyrenees

Capcir Spring is set in the Pyrenees. What do you know about this mountain range?

The Pyrenees mountains stretch for 480km from the Atlantic coast across to the Mediterranean forming an impressive natural frontier between France and Spain. They rose from beneath a shallow sea millions of years ago when the European and African continental plates collided. Since then the gigantic glaciers that covered most of Europe during the last great ice age have shaped the magical natural features we see here today.
The Pyrenees mountains are not just a geographical barrier between France and Spain, but a divide of culture, climate, flora and fauna and way of life between two very different countries. The Pyrenees are one of the last wilderness areas of Europe and can only really be appreciated on foot. 
The Capcir plateau offers hiking trails to short walks and Capcir and Haut Conflent are traversed by the GR10 and HRP (marked long distance footpaths) linking Hendaye to Banyuls.

You can get your copy of "Capcir Spring"by clicking HERE if you are in the USA or here if you are in the UK