Hello all you lovely people out there. I've been kinda busy of late - even more so than usual! - because there's LOTS coming soon! One title is a joint venture with myself and three other authors - Geraldine Hillis, Angela Stone, and J Wackford Colton. It's called The Curiosity Shop, and it has a supernatural theme. Whoever ventures into the shop gets what they deserve ... and some of the customers are so very deserving. I remember writing up the introduction and describing the proprietor of the shop, Conrad Black. He really came alive inside my head. I love it when the muse strikes hot!
Here's the introduction as a little taster. The book will be available from LSF Publications in a couple of weeks time:
He strode through the crowded street, a tall enigmatic figure, sartorially elegant in his formal though dated attire. He wore a frock coat of charcoal grey. His trousers were of the same fabric and colour with a subtle pin stripe. The sombre colours were complemented by a pristine high-collared white shirt, worn with a silver and black cravat and an embossed silk waistcoat the colour of rich claret.
From his waistcoat pocket hung a polished silver watch on a silver chain. His height was enhanced by a top hat of black felt, and the finishing touches to his attire were a pair of highly polished black lace-up ankle boots and a gentleman's walking stick with a silver plated head and a black hardwood shaft. He held the stick in his right hand - a large, well proportioned, yet delicate hand, with long tapering fingers and perfectly manicured nails. The point of the stick tapped smartly on the pavement as he walked.
He looked every inch the Victorian gentleman, totally incongruous amidst the hoards of Saturday shoppers jostling on the crowded pavements. He cast a disdainful glance at a noisy group of girls eating burger and chips from brown paper bags outside McDonald's. They ignored him. No-one gave him a second glance, which was odd given his unusual garb, his striking good looks, thick dark hair and commanding presence.
His sharp eyes missed nothing. Deep set and dark brown, they glittered and sparked in the late morning sun as he observed the goings on around him. On the busy main road the traffic was building up for the afternoon's football match, and some cars drove past with supporters leaning out of the windows, yelling and waving. He watched carefully. Sometimes his wide sensual mouth would twitch into a smile at the things that amused him; and when he was displeased, he would frown and narrow his eyes into a baleful glare.
Still, he rather enjoyed his indulgence of people watching. There were always deserving people to be found amongst the throng, and he derived great pleasure in selecting the special ones and ensuring they got precisely what they deserved.
He turned off into a small narrow side street away from the surging crowds, leaving the hubbub behind. At the end of the street was the green door to a shop which had double fronted bow windows, and a sign above that read The Curiosity Shop - antiques and curios from all corners of the globe. At the bottom of the sign, in small ornate lettering was the name Conrad Black, Proprietor.
Taking a small brass key from his pocket, Conrad Black used it to unlock the door. He locked and bolted it behind him, and walked through the shop. The rather ordinary external façade revealed a startlingly opulent and large interior. It was a sparkling Aladdin's cave, brim full with all manner of furniture and collectables.
There were bookcases, desks, chests and coffers; sofas, chairs and stools; cupboards, cabinets and dressers; clocks and watches and barometers. Gilt framed mirrors, oil paintings and watercolour prints hung from the walls, and display stands were bedecked with glass, porcelain and ceramic items, silver plate and glittering jewellery. There were all manner of lamps and chandeliers, iron grates and firedogs, interspersed with decorative planters, stone lions and garden ornaments. Further down the shop were beautiful Persian rugs and silk tapestries and wall hangings, and library shelves filled with ancient books.
Conrad Black walked past the books and opened an oak paneled door set into a dimly lit recess. It led in to a large private room with an adjacent small kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. This was his personal space and the place where he kept his private collection. He opened a large carved armoire and ran his hand along the rows of canes, crops, floggers, straps and paddles. He selected a two-tailed Lochgelly tawse of dark brown leather. It felt solid and heavy in his hand, and the two stiff tails at the business end of the implement were specially designed to maximize sting.
Removing his coat, he seated himself at his desk, his long sensitive fingers caressing the stiff leather of the tawse. He remained deep in thought for a few moments before he reached a decision. At that point he knew exactly who would shortly be on the receiving end of the tawse. The thought brought a wolfish smile to his lips and his dark eyes gleamed in anticipation.