Can you tell us a little about the setting for your novel? How important was this to you? How familiar are you with the places you describe?

The setting is really a journey; from the Wirral Peninsula though the Welsh borders, then across the Bay of Biscay. After a brief stay at Biscarrosse up the Garronne and Ariege rivers to Muret and Foix and finally to Monsegur.

This route was the only one possible for the story I have to tell.

I have spent time at every place on the route.

Just a few highlights.

I lived for several years in Helsby (originally Hell’s Bay) which is at the base of the Wirral Peninsula. The local council is still known as “Vale Royal”.

I have walked over the sands at low tide to Middle Eye island and made the return trip in a camouflaged boat.  I was birdwatching not deer hunting.

The Aldley house, Hellens Manor,  is called “The Jewel in the Crown of Hertsfordshire homes”. Of particular interest to me was the stonework crest of the Black Prince over the main fireplace.

“The Carrick Roads” at Falmouth is beautiful  and the view from Pendennis point fabulous. At one stage I waxed lyrical in the book, but it slowed the story.

The Entrance to the bay of Arcachon is just as dangerous now as it ever was but locals have turned sailing in and out into a specialised sport. The local chandlers are very greatful for the work it brings their way.

The last time I visited Arcachon they were giving oysters away at every street corner in an attempt to get an entry in the Guinness book of records for the most oysters consumed in a single day.

I was in a tent on the sand by the lake at Biscarrosse on 3rd June 1980,  when a fault occurred in the American NAVROD early warning system, The entire French Atlantic Airforce scrambled from their base just north of Biscarrosse. They were breaking the sound barrier before they had crossed the lake. That night I was sure I was going to die.

The quays at Landon and La Reole are still in remarkable good condition though they are no longer used. They could not be considered attractive but they certainly are very interesting.They are conveniently close to Sauterne.

“La Maison de Prince Noir” in La Reole is still inhabited and it is not possible to gain access. On the other had his other property, just outside La Reole, the Château Levison is a winery and the owner gave me a guided tour.

All the towns along the Garronne have attractive settings.

The top of the hill at Clermont Dessous, where the festival of the moon was held, really does have spectacular views.

One of the best restaurants I have ever visited is the Pont Napoleon at Moissac.

The mill at the Ile de Beaucaire still exists, spanning the mill race. The island is now a campsite and the mill houses the campsite administration.

The swimming hole at Muret still exists.

Château Foix is wonderful, although Lady Eleanors apartments are in ruins. It is now considered too dangerous to enter the caves and they are barred off.

I climbed Monsegur and saw the alignment of the suns rays at daybreak.

The views from the top of Monsegur are also quite remakable.

Though we don’t quite get there in book 1, but everyone should visit Carcassone once in their life.

If the “The Prisoner of Foix” were to be successful, I would do a travel guide to the whole of the route ( references to places of interest and best markets and restaurants).  I would of course have to visit everywhere one more time, to make sure my information is up to date!

I know, I know that is more than you wanted or needed but…

On the web site under HOME/BOOK1 THE PRISONER OF FOIX/PRISONER PROMOTIONAL/PLACES. There is a photo essay on all  the places on the journey.

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The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.